Almost every electronic device we use in our daily lives, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, cameras, portable speakers, smart watches, flashlights, and portable power stations, contains a lithium-ion battery. However, there are 6 different types of commercial lithium-ion batteries with different chemistries and thus different characteristics. However, two types of portable power station batteries account for the majority of market share: LFP (lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) and NMC (combination of nickel, manganese, and cobalt with lithium).
What are LFP Batteries?
LFP batteries have a cathode made of lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) and an anode made of graphite backed with metal. LFP batteries were created in 1996 after scientists discovered that Li could be extracted and inserted from LiFePO4. Since then, LFPs have evolved and expanded their capabilities to include the following:
Number of charging cycles: LFPs are rechargeable battery types, but it doesn’t mean that they will continue to recharge indefinitely. Like all batteries, it depletes over time, but LFPs can reach up to 3000 charging cycles on a 100% DOD (Depth Of Discharge). What exactly does 3000 cycles mean? For example, if you charge your LFP once a day, your battery life will be approximately 3000 days, or nearly 8 years at 100% depth of discharge.
Safety: Batteries are used in a variety of applications, and it is possible for the battery to be damaged in a wide range of ways. LFPs have passed all 4 tests below:
- Overcharging: The LFP battery used in the test could withstand overcharging without any explosions or material leakage.
- Short Circuit: Compared to the other types of batteries that have undergone the short circuit test, LFPs produced the least leakage and
- Mechanical Damage: This test mainly depends on the type of battery shell,but even when the LFP was damaged, it produced a large amount of smoke, yet what was interesting was that it didn’t explode or catch fire.
- Ignition: In this case, applying direct flame to the LFP battery caused no catastrophic results because the battery's shell is made of hard plastic. It will, however, differ depending on the type of shell or package used.
What are NMC Batteries?
The cathode in NMC batteries is nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC), and the anode is graphite with silicon added. Because of its chemistry, NMC batteries have different features that have been a problem for other types, such as a higher energy density, a higher discharge rate, and a wide working temperature range. NMC batteries are frequently used in electric vehicles and other applications that require high energy density, discharge rates, and operating temperatures.
- Higher energy density: NMC batteries have a higher energy density than most lithium-ion batteries, ranging from 270Wh/kg to 300Wh/kg, which means they can store more energy per unit of weight. To give you an idea of how important this number is, other types of batteries have around 160Wh/kg, so we're talking about nearly double the capacity on the same weight. This makes them ideal for applications requiring a low weight, such as electric vehicles and portable power stations.
- Higher discharge rate: A C-rate is used to measure the discharging rates of lithium-ion batteries. The majority of batteries have a 1C rating that delivers the rated power, but NMC batteries can work with a 2C rating without affecting battery lifetime or performance. In other words, 2C delivers twice the power of the battery for a set period of time, allowing for applications such as EV motor acceleration and transient high-power delivery, as shown in the table below.
- Working temperature: NMC batteries can work from temperatures starting at -20℃ to 60℃ which is sufficient for almost any application without the need to heat up the battery to maintain the performance, as other types of lithium-ion batteries do.
What is the difference between LFP and NMC batteries?
Both types of batteries are lithium ions, but the chemistries differ due to the combination of lithium with different materials; for LFP, it's iron and phosphorus, while NMC uses nickel, manganese, and cobalt. As a result, the properties and features of each type differ.
- Energy Density
Manufactures of portable devices and the electric automotive industry are really keen on the energy density of their batteries. In this case, an NMC battery can achieve up to 300Wh/kg, whereas the LFP can only reach 160Wh/kg, limiting its use in products or applications where weight is crucial. They may, however, be a better option for high-power applications.
- Temperature Tolerance
Both batteries at high temperatures have stable performance while at low temperatures its the chemistry difference that starts to kick in. LFP batteries work fine until it reaches 0℃ battery performance will drop by 10 to 20% & when the temperature gets lower to -15℃ ≈ -20℃ the performance drops by 40%. This explains why some EV manufacturers are using heaters to warm the batteries up in winter to maintain their performance.
- Charging Cycles
In other words, the number of charging cycles is the battery operation lifetime. It’s the number of charging cycles that the battery can perform in its lifetime. LFP batteries can reach 3000 charging cycles while NMC is around 800 cycles. It seems that NMC batteries have a low number of charging cycles, but let me tell you that lead acid batteries have roughly half that number and are used in several different applications, such as starting the spark ignition in every diesel or petrol car, and can have a lifetime of easily 3-5 years. However, this means that LFP have a much longer operating lifetime, which can be up to 10 years.
Because of the structural formula, LFP are so stable and rigid that even if they are mechanically penetrated, overheated, electrically shorted, and overcharged, the battery is unlikely to catch fire and will only emit smoke. NMC batteries, on the other hand, have an unstable formula that easily deforms if damaged or passed through any of the previously mentioned points, causing them to catch fire. However, most NMC battery manufacturers have developed very strong shell types for NMC, making it less vulnerable to catching fire under the most extreme conditions.
What are the Applications of LFP batteries?
LFP batteries, also known as LiFePO4 batteries, have a number of applications. LFP batteries are commonly used in electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles (EVs and HEVs), as well as UPS systems and backup power supplies. LFP batteries outlast other types of batteries and are more resistant to overcharging and deep discharge cycles. LFP batteries are also suitable for use in golf carts, scooters, bicycles, and other forms of personal transportation. Furthermore, LFP batteries are increasingly being used in portable electronic devices such as laptops, cell phones, and digital cameras.
Electric vehicles: As LFPs have a longer lifetime than other lithium-ion batteries, EV manufacturers such as Rivian, intend to use them in their future models.
Renewable Energy storage systems: With the growing demand for off-grid renewable energy power plants (Solar, Wind, and Hydro), renewable energy storage systems have became critical worldwide. LFPs make a great fit for this application as the weight of the storage system won’t be an issue and the battery’s lifetime will be an important pillar.
Grid backup storage systems: Grid instability caused by natural disasters or failures of fossil fuels power station can result in multiple effects such as frequency variations and blackouts. LFP BESS(Battery Energy Storage System) can be the solution to these types of emergencies, saving a lot of money for the utility grids in damage caused by grid instability.
What are the Applications of NMC batteries?
There are a variety of applications for NMC batteries, ranging from consumer electronics to electric vehicles. In consumer electronics, NMC batteries are often used in portable devices such as laptops, cell phones, power tools, and portable power stations. NMC batteries have a high energy density and a long life cycle, making them ideal for these applications because weight is a deal breaker in portable applications.
Moreover, NMC batteries are becoming more popular in electric vehicles. Due to their high energy density and ability to withstand high discharge rates, NMC batteries are well-suited for use in electric cars. Additionally, NMC batteries boast a longer lifespan than traditional lead-acid batteries, they are more cost-effective option for many applications.
Electric vehicles: Starting with the newest Nissan leaf models and progressing to the high-end Mercedes EQS. NMC batteries are the most popular, effective, and durable EV battery pack available today.
Portable power stations: Several portable power stations have mind-blowing compact power that no one could have imagined to fit in such a small and compact size. But what really took things to the next level was comparing different types of portable power stations and finding that Growatt portable power station is almost half the weight of any other type of portable power station. Because Growatt’s portable power station uses NMC batteries. This clearly demonstrates NMC is far-sighted in the following applications of portable power stations:
- Portable outdoor office or workshop: If you need to work outside all the time and need to charge your laptop and smartphone for work, portable power stations will allow you to have a great outdoor office anywhere and
- Vehicle battery emergency kit: Portable power stations with 12V battery output sockets allow you to save your car’s dead battery and get back on the road in minutes.
- Home UPS: When the power goes out, everything from the Wi-Fi router to the refrigerator becomes extremely important. Therefore, portable power stations work as UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply), which will not even cause your appliances blink and will keep them running smoothly until the power is restored.
- Camping electricity kit: Cooking and grilling food in camping is one of the best exciting activities. Having portable power stations to power your electric cooker or grill and to illuminate your night for entertainment.
- Solar energy off-grid: Solar energy has always been a great source of energy, but the issue of storing it and using AC power has always limited the use of solar in off-grid communities. However, portable power stations solved this problem by using their batteries to store power for later use and their built-in inverters provide an AC supply to power all the devices needed.
Home storage: Home storage is also known as the most popular type. Home energy storage is typically used on cold winter days, which is why NMC makes a great fit being used in the Powerwall. Working at a temperature of -20℃ with no loss of performance.
LFP VS NMC Battery, Which One is the better option?
After reading this article, you should have a good understanding of the key differences between LFP and NMC batteries. Here’s a brief comparison to explain the value of LFP and NMC.
0℃ ~ 60℃
√-20℃ ~ 60℃
Based on above comparison table, we would recommend LFP batteries for your solar generator if you want your solar generator have longer longtime, better safety performance, and act equally well as NMC batteries on most aspects.
While NMC batteries continue to be excellent at storing solar energy, you should definitely choose NMC batteries if you need one to withstand harsh conditions. If you have limited storage space and are constantly on the go, you might also want to think about the portable NMC batteries. You should prioritize choosing the best solar generator over selecting the best battery chemistry. Because both NMC and LFP batteries have advantages.
Growatt LFP batteries power solar generator
Growatt LiFePO4 Power Station INFINITY 1300 uses lithium iron phosphate battery, which can provide a life cycle of more than 3000 times and last for nearly 10 years. At the same time, it has a built-in advanced battery management system (BMS), with a battery capacity of 1382Wh (watt-hour) and a power output of 1800W. Helps you power virtually any appliance as a reliable backup power source during emergency blackouts, travel, RV, off-grid living, and more. Allows you to work anywhere and complete any project as its 1382Wh capacity and 1800W output are capable of powering even your heavy equipment. It's perfect for off-grid living, camping, tailgates, emergency preparedness, and more.
|Growatt INFINITY 1300 LiFePO4 Power Station
|1382Wh Capacity & 1800W Output
AC Outlet: 4 x 120V~, 50/60Hz, Pure Sine Wave Max. 1800W, Surge Peak 3600W
Car Outlet: 1 x 13.2V/10A, 132W Max.
DC5521 Output: 2 x 13.2V/3A, 36W Max.
USB-A: 2 x 5V/2.4A, 12W Max.
USB-A Fast Charge: 2 X 5V/2.4A, 9V/2A,12V/1.5A, 18W Max.
USB-C: 2 x 5V/9V/12V/15V/20V, 5A, 100W Max.
Wireless Charging: 1 x 15W Max.
|Solar 800W: 2.5H
Wall Charging: 1.8H
Car Charging: Support 12V/24V Standards