Most people probably think of the lead acid variant when they talk about batteries. And that is not a fault of their own. Lead acid batteries have become the most economical option to store electrical energy. You can find them everywhere, from car batteries to solar power backup systems.
Still, scientific evidence shows that the design is not sustainable long-term. Other batteries are catching up and offering cleaner, more viable alternatives. One of the most promising versions is lithium-ion, which uses solid-state electrolytes and can fit various shapes.
But that versatility comes with additional cost. So, if you’re confused about which variant might suit a particular application, this guide will clarify the difference between lead-acid batteries vs. lithium-ion batteries.
How Do Lithium Lead Acid Batteries vs Lithium-Ion Batteries Compare?
Every electrical storage device has a few defined parameters that help you compare two batteries side-by-side. Let’s observe them to determine which ones favor lead acid or lithium-ion batteries.
It’s perhaps the most crucial aspect when choosing the battery most suitable for an application. It can be challenging to decide the right one, as the short and long-term budget can scale drastically depending on the variant. A 12V lead acid battery may cost around $69, whereas a Li-ion battery of similar capabilities can set you back over $100.
Regarding capacity per volume, the lithium-ion battery is the clear winner. The latest versions can offer a capacity of 670 Wh/L, whereas even high-end lead acid batteries can manage 120 Wh/L.
Depth of Discharge
Depth of discharge is the percentage of energy that can be safely drained without damaging the battery. On average, a lead acid battery can withstand 50% of discharge without damaging its integrity. However, lithium-ion batteries can give out 85% of their capacity while maintaining stability. They can also be charged faster and retain their energy for longer.
Lead acid batteries are usually inefficient, as they can lose their electrolyte through evaporation or leaks. The terminals are also more reactive to the surroundings and can undergo corrosion. As a result, the battery’s efficiency decreases within a few years. For lithium-ion batteries, you avoid such instances due to a solid electrolyte. Therefore, they are far more efficient for several years.
A typical lead acid battery loses its viability after three years. Even if you avail yourself of top-of-the-line AGM batteries, you can extract a maximum lifespan of ten years with adequate maintenance. On the flip side, a Li-ion battery can go for 25 years before giving out.
Lithium-Ion vs Lead Acid in Cold Weather
Almost all batteries lose their efficiency in cold weather because the lower temperatures slow the chemical reactions and prevent ions from converting to various states. As such, lithium-ion batteries are much more adept at supplying power in cold weather because they don’t have ions that exchange their state.
Li-ion batteries decrease their charging efficiency by 7% when subjected to sub-zero temperatures. In comparison, lead acid batteries can lose 40% of their efficiency if not sealed properly.
Application Comparison of Lead Acid Batteries vs Lithium- Ion Batteries
|Lead Acid Batteries
|Best for regular sedans, hatchbacks, pickups, and motorbikes
|Best for hybrid and pure EVs, trucks, SUVs, and sports cars
|Domestic Power Backup
|AGM batteries that require minimal maintenance are best. Require checkups every few months
|Multiple low-density Li-ion batteries are ideal. Almost zero maintenance
|Commercial Power Backup
|Not advisable as the current density is too low
|Large Li-ion batteries are perfect as they can deliver enough energy for longer
|Renewable Energy Systems
|Best to use lead acid batteries for locations with a grid supply
|Li-ion batteries can support infrastructures completely isolated from the grid
|Not recommended as the acid can leak or cause fires
|Li-ion batteries with waterproof and dustproof casings are suitable
Applications of Lead Acid Batteries
Lead acid batteries only offer extensive current density if your setup has enough space to scale up the capacity substantially. It also helps to ensure that you’re using sealed batteries instead of flooded lead-acid batteries, which are much more durable and require lower maintenance. They are suitable for smaller vehicles such as motorbikes, hatchbacks, and sedans, although there are AGM variants that can power pickups and RVs.
Applications of Lithium-Ion Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are rugged and can be designed in almost any shape. Thus, they are suitable for anything, from small mobile devices to backups for large buildings. You can use them to rely entirely on renewable energy and separate your home from the local power grid. In addition, their high current discharge makes them ideal for pure electric EVs, marine vehicles, and ATVs that often require electrical energy for more than just propulsion.
Lead Acid Batteries vs Lithium-Ion Batteries: Which Batteries To Choose?
Several manufacturers can let you pick the battery most suitable for any situation. Still, a few are better at manufacturing a specific battery type than others. Here are our picks for lead acid batteries vs. lithium-ion batteries.
Best Lithium-Ion Batteries
While Li-ion batteries are in high demand for vehicles and power supplies, here are some outstanding versions according to each application.
- Antigravity Re-Start battery – Best for regular cars
- Panasonic Type-2170 battery – Best for EVs
- Tesla Powerwall 2.0 – Best for domestic battery backup
- Expion360 VPR 4EVER – Best for RVs and campervans
Best Lead Acid Batteries
Lead acid batteries still dominate the market, thanks to their low costs and high accessibility. A few notable products include the following.
- VMAXTANKS Deep Cycle AGM battery – Best for power backup
- DieHard Platinum AGM battery – Best for SUVs and pickups
- Optima RedTop AGM battery – Best for regular vehicles
- Odyssey PC680 – Best for motorbikes
See full this video: Lead Acid Batteries vs Lithium Ion Batteries
How To Tell if the Battery Is Lead Acid or Lithium?
A battery usually has labels that tell you its specifications. Nevertheless, there can be times when they are distorted or illegible. In that case, you must pay attention to the terminals and weight of the battery. Lead acid batteries have bulkier and more exposed electrodes, as that saves them from excessive reaction with the electrolyte. Additionally, those batteries are at least 50% heavier than their Li-ion counterparts.
Which Is Better: Lead Acid Battery or Lithium Battery?
Lithium-ion batteries are generally better for most applications thanks to their reliability and compact design. Still, consider a lead acid battery if you don’t have the budget.
Which Is Safer: Lead Acid or Lithium Ion?
Lead acid batteries are much safer as they don’t leak electrolytes and can withstand high-energy impacts and vibrations.
Are Lead Acid Batteries Better Than Lithium?
You should only go for lead acid batteries if you can’t procure the budget for a lithium-ion retrofit and can ensure consistent maintenance cycles.
Why Is Lithium-Ion Battery Better Than Lead-Acid Battery?
Lithium-ion batteries can fit in compact spaces and possess higher energy density. You don’t need to maintain them often and can recharge them faster than lead acid batteries of similar capabilities.
What Happens if You Use a Lead Acid Charger on a Lithium Battery?
A lead acid charger has an equalization mode that balances the charges for both terminals as the battery charges. It remains active by default on most chargers. That can damage a lithium battery beyond repair if you charge it for 15 Volts or more.
Are Car Batteries Lithium or Lead Acid?
Most cars come installed with lead-acid batteries from the factory, but you can swap them for lithium-ion alternatives if you want.
Are Lithium Batteries Better in Cold Weather?
Yes. Lithium-ion batteries have a solid-state electrolyte that doesn’t freeze or lose efficiency, enabling better working in cold weather.
Are Lead-Acid Batteries Affected by Cold?
Yes. Lead-acid batteries change the state of ions from solid to liquid and vice versa. The process can slow down in colder conditions, reducing the battery’s efficiency.
When it comes to lead acid batteries vs. lithium-ion batteries, the latter trumps the former in almost every metric. Still, you may want to consider a lead acid battery if you focus on budget and don’t require a substantial charge draw regularly.