Q. Can I use Lead-Acid battery chargers or charger/tenders?
A.Yes. HOWEVER, you may NOT use a charger/tender if it has an automatic "desulfation mode", which cannot be turned off. We have confirmed with Deltran, makers of the "Battery Tender" brand, that their products do NOT have a desulfation mode, and are therefore OK for use with Shorai LFX, for example. But the best possible charger/tender for Shorai LFX is the SHO-BMS01, which will be released on about March 15th 2011, we expect. It uses the 5-pin BMS port in the LFX batteries, in order to monitor, diagnose, and balance the individual cells during charge. And it also has an optimized storage mode that will give the longest possible service life to your LFX.
If you are storing your vehicle and want to check the remaining capacity, or you're a racer with a constant-loss system, you'll want to know how resting voltage (i.e. with no load or load under 200mA) maps to remaining capacity. LFX batteries should be maintained such that 20% capacity remains at minimum, as best practice. Use a good-quality voltmeter to check remaining capacity, and consider recharge whenever the battery capacity falls to about 50% remaining. Of course, if you get the Shorai dedicated BMS01 charger, you can just hit the "Store Mode" button and leave it to do the work for you.
Lithium-ion battery advantages and disadvantages:
Note that both advantages and disadvantages depend on the materials and design that make up the battery. This summary reflects older designs that use carbon anode, metal oxide cathodes, and lithium salt in an organic solvent for the electrolyte.
-Wide variety of shapes and sizes efficiently fitting the devices they power.
-Much lighter than other energy-equivalent secondary batteries.
-High open circuit voltage in comparison to aqueous batteries (such as lead acid, nickel-metal hydride and nickel-cadmium).This is beneficial because it increases the amount of power that can be transferred at a lower current.
-No memory effect.
-Self-discharge rate of approximately 5-10% per month, compared to over 30% per month in common nickel metal hydride batteries, approximately 1.25% per month for Low Self-Discharge NiMH batteries and 10% per month in nickel-cadmium batteries. According to one manufacturer, lithium-ion cells (and, accordingly, "dumb" lithium-ion batteries) do not have any self-discharge in the usual meaning of this word. What looks like a self-discharge in these batteries is a permanent loss of capacity (see Disadvantages). On the other hand, "smart" lithium-ion batteries do self-discharge, due to the drain of the built-in voltage monitoring circuit.
-Components are environmentally safe as there is no free lithium metal.
-Charging forms deposits inside the electrolyte that inhibit ion transport. Over time, the cell's capacity diminishes. The increase in internal resistance reduces the cell's ability to deliver current. This problem is more pronounced in high-current applications. The decrease means that older batteries do not charge as much as new ones (charging time required decreases proportionally).
-High charge levels and elevated temperatures (whether from charging or ambient air) hasten capacity loss. Charging heat is caused by the carbon anode (typically replaced with lithium titanate which drastically reduces damage from charging, including expansion and other factors).
-Internal resistance increases with both cycling and age. Rising internal resistance causes the voltage at the terminals to drop under load, which reduces the maximum current draw. Eventually increasing resistance means that the battery can no longer operate for an adequate period.
-To power larger devices, such as electric cars, connecting many small batteries in a parallel circuit is more effective and efficient than connecting a single large battery.
If overheated or overcharged, Li-ion batteries may suffer thermal runaway and cell rupture. In extreme cases this can lead to combustion. Deep discharge may short-circuit the cell, in which case recharging would be unsafe. To reduce these risks, Lithium-ion battery packs contain fail-safe circuitry that shuts down the battery when its voltage is outside the safe range of 3–4.2 V per cell. When stored for long periods the small current draw of the protection circuitry itself may drain the battery below its shut down voltage; normal chargers are then ineffective. Many types of lithium-ion cell cannot be charged safely below 0°C.
Other safety features are required in each cell:
-Shut-down separator (for overtemperature)
-Tear-away tab (for internal pressure)
-Vent (pressure relief)
-Thermal interrupt (overcurrent/overcharging)
These devices occupy useful space inside the cells, add additional points of failure and irreversibly disable the cell when activated. They are required because the anode produces heat during use, while the cathode may produce oxygen. These devices and improved electrode designs reduce/eliminate the risk of fire or explosion.
These safety features increase costs compared to nickel metal hydride batteries, which require only a hydrogen/oxygen recombination device (preventing damage due to mild overcharging) and a back-up pressure valve.