LifePO4 batteries are at the forefront of lithium technology. They offer better performance than lead-acid alternatives, and increased safety and stability. This makes them an especially good fit for solar power applications.
But if you’ve recently invested in a LifePO4 battery, then you may be wondering how to charge it properly. That’s what this article will explain. It covers four methods for charging a LifePO4 battery and other important pieces of information you need to know before proceeding.
So, without further delay, let’s get started.
- Things to Know About Charging Your LifePO4 Battery
- Four Ways to Charge Your LifePO4 Battery
- BougeRV Can Help You Charge Your LifePO4 Battery with Solar Panels
Things to Know About Charging Your LifePO4 Battery
We’ll begin by covering some key points that you should be aware of before getting started with the charging process. These tips will help you charge your battery more effectively and with less risk.
Overcharging can be dangerous
LifePO4 batteries are absolutely safer and less flammable than traditional lead-acid models. But that doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want with them and not worry about the repercussions.
Extreme overcharging will lead to heating within the battery cells. This can eventually damage the LifePO4 battery and even cause a fire if the overcharging really gets out of hand.
This is why you want to try to avoid overcharging your LIfePO4 battery. If you leave it on the charger overnight once or twice, that’s fine. But try to avoid leaving the LifePO4 battery on the charger for days, weeks, or months at a time, as this can get dangerous and damage your investment.
You don’t have to charge them fully after every use
Unlike lead batteries, LifePO4 batteries don’t sustain any damage if you leave them in a partially charged state. That means you don’t have to charge the battery to its full capacity each time that you use it.
It’s perfectly fine to use some of the LifePO4’s battery charge on one day and some more on the next day without worrying about charging it in-between uses. This is another big advantage that this kind of battery has over lead-acid alternatives.
Venting is not needed
Another nice advantage of LifePO4 batteries is that you don’t have to worry about ensuring they have enough ventilation while you charge them.
The chemistry featured in this kind of battery is much safer and more stable than other options. This means it’s able to charge in a low-ventilation environment, such as a tackle box in your fishing boat, without seeing a higher risk of damage.
That being said, venting is good to provide during the charging process if you can do so just because it may improve charging times by regulating the temperature more effectively. But it’s not dangerous if you don’t do so.
You can typically charge and discharge at the same time
Finally, it’s also worth keeping in mind that you can charge your LifePO4 battery while using it at the same time.
For example, if you forget to charge the battery before leaving for a trip, you can use the charge that’s left in it while also refilling the battery by using one of the methods we’ll cover in the next section.
Four Ways to Charge Your LifePO4 Battery
Okay, now that we’ve covered some LifePO4 charging basics, let’s get down to business and look at the four different ways you can charge one of these batteries.
1. Use a Smart Charger
The best way to charge a LifePO4 battery is with a smart charger that’s designed for the specific battery that you own. This is because every battery has its own unique chemistry. So if you can charge your battery with a charger made for its specific chemistry, you’re always going to get the results.
Smart chargers are able to adjust the current they provide as your battery refills. During the first so-called “bulk stage,” the battery charge will gradually increase over a period of 1-2 hours.
After that, the “absorption stage” begins. This happens when the LifePO4 battery has reached a charge of about 90%. Here, the voltage reaches a constant, and the current decreases to about 5% - 10% of the battery’s overall rating.
The bottom line is that this method will give you the best results because smart chargers are specifically created to deliver those results for your battery. No other charging method for LifePO4 batteries can say the same.
2. Use Solar Panels
Solar panels are another fantastic method for charging your LifePO4 battery. They’re also more cost-effective since you won’t have to purchase a stand-alone smart charger or pay for energy that you’re pulling from the grid.
The charging process with solar panels begins when the panels convert the sunlight they receive into usable electrical energy.
After that, the system’s charge controller will take the energy and regulate it to match the specific charging requirements of your battery. This ensures that your LifePO4 battery doesn’t overcharge or waste any energy.
Your LifePO4 battery will receive its energy through the solar charge controller. The system also features an inverter, which basically converts this energy into usable electricity that can be fed directly to your appliances.
3. Use a Lead-Acid Battery Charger
You might be surprised to hear that you can actually use a lead-acid battery charge on some LifePO4 batteries. You just have to make sure that the charging settings on your lead-acid charger are within the acceptable parameters for your LifePO4 battery.
You’ll typically want to turn the float charge option off, if possible. If that’s not possible, then try to set the floating voltage under 13.6V to avoid wasting energy and potentially decreasing the efficiency of your battery.
4. Use an Alternator
Finally, you also have the option of using an alternator. This is a generator that takes mechanical energy and turns it into electrical energy. These aren’t specifically made to charge LifePO4 batteries, though, and should only be used as a backup option because of the reduced efficiency they offer.
How often should I charge my LifePO4 battery?
You only need to charge your LifePO4 battery when you need to refill it for use. With this type of battery, there’s no need to worry about recharging it just to maintain the unit’s long-term efficiency.
Should you leave your LifePO4 battery on full charge?
No, there’s no need to worry about keeping your LifePO4 battery on a full charge. You can if you want. But don’t waste power trying to reach full charge just for the sake of doing so.
What’s the best way to charge a LifePO4 battery?
The two best options for charging a LifePO4 battery are with either a smart charger or solar panels. Both can provide optimal energy flow for the specific kind of battery that you have.
What are the best LifePO4 charge settings?
Most manufacturers recommend a charge voltage of between 14 and 14.6V. Keeping your charge settings here and regulating the temperature of your battery can help to give it more charge cycles.
BougeRV Can Help You Charge Your LifePO4 Battery with Solar Panels
Solar panels are an extremely cost-effective way to keep your LifePO4 battery charged while you’re using it. BougeRV sells a wide variety of affordable solar panels for on-the-go use.
Whether you’ve got an RV, you love camping, or you enjoy taking your boat out on the lake, we’ve got solar panels, batteries, and more to give you the best experience possible while generating energy on the go.
Take a look at our product page to learn more about what we have to offer.