When choosing the best golf cart batteries for longevity and performance, lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries are likely the two options available. As lithium-ion batteries become more popular due to better capacity, high specific energy, and greater depth of discharge, lead-acid batteries are no longer the only choice.
However, owing to their affordability and ease of installation, many golf owners still opt for lead-acid batteries. In short, both these types of batteries have a fair share of pros and cons that led us to do a lithium batteries vs lead-acid batteries blogpost. So, buckle up and be ready for the ultimate showdown between these two battery giants.
Batteries made of lithium-ion are rechargeable energy storage devices that are used in a wide range of applications and vehicles. These batteries produce a reliable source of electricity through the movement of lithium ions between the positive and negative. You will find these lithium batteries powering devices like smartphones, laptops, electric vehicles, and renewable energy systems. Why? Because they offer high energy density, consistent power, and are lightweight.
Lead-acid batteries are rechargeable storage devices that use lead and sulfuric acid for energy. They’re common in cars and backup power systems due to their affordability and reliability. However, they’re heavier and have lower energy density compared to newer options.
Lithium Batteries vs Lead-Acid Batteries | Key Differences
Here are the top differences that you must know before you buy batteries:
The first thing we are going to compare is the price. Lead-acid batteries are the more affordable option. Lithium-ion batteries are pretty expensive— you must pay between $5,000 to $15,000 plus additional installation costs. However, this is where the scales start to tip – the longevity and value offered by lithium-ion batteries over their lifetime make them more cost-effective.
Lifespan ticks for batteries as they degrade over time. The cycle count, the heart of this narrative, shines a spotlight on lithium-ion batteries.
Compared to lead-acid batteries, they withstand several times as many cycles, resulting in a longer overall lifespan. The outcome? The battery life of lithium-ion batteries is up to 10 years, whereas lead-acid batteries are hardly expected to last longer than 3-7 years.
A battery solution that outlasts its lead-acid counterpart, emphasizing durability and value.
Both lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries have the same working principle: charge moves from the positive terminal to the negative terminal through the electrolyte to produce energy/electricity. The main difference between the two lies in their materials.
A lead-acid battery has lead anode plates paired with lead oxide cathodes suspended in a sulphuric acid. Meanwhile, lithium-ion batteries steal the show with carbon anodes, lithium oxide cathodes, and lithium salt electrolytes. These material distinctions ripple through their performances.
Energy density is an important parameter that gives a relationship between battery capacity and weight. Simply put, a heavier battery has a lower energy density. Lithium-ion batteries have higher densities (300 Wh/kg) than lead-acid batteries (25–35 Wh/kg) because of their lightweight designs. That is why these batteries are the first choice for electric vehicles, where lower weight and higher energy storage are key considerations.
Weight and Size Matters
The weight and size showdown finds lithium-ion batteries flexing their muscles. Thanks to their superior energy density and battery capacity, these batteries don a sleeker and lighter profile compared to bulkier lead-acid batteries of equivalent caliber.
Durability, the race against time, unfolds as a key player. Lead-acid batteries, when pampered, can last around 2 years or approximately 350 cycles. Contrastingly, lithium-ion batteries strut their stuff with warranties stretching up to 10 years and the ability to weather around 10,000 cycles, demonstrating their resilience.
Cycle life, the tale of charging and discharging, finds lithium-ion batteries triumphant with a cycle life of about 5000-8000. Even full discharges leave only a minor dent. In the other corner, lead-acid batteries clock in at 300 to 500 cycles, with full discharges packing a heavier punch to their longevity.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most efficient when it comes to charging. With charging times up to eight times faster than lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries stand out in the fast-paced world of electric cars.
Amid the spotlight, safety claims its rightful place. Both lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries walk a tightrope of potential hazards. Overcharging leads to a list of pitfalls for both, with lead-acid batteries risking leakage and lithium-ion counterparts flirting with thermal runaway—a condition where excess heat meets inadequate dissipation, potentially resulting in explosions. Robust battery management systems are the knights in shining armor here, reducing these risks to a minimum.
The essence of energy storage lies in capacity – the measure of a battery’s energy-holding prowess. Here, lithium-ion technology claims its throne, boasting superior energy density compared to lead-acid counterparts. This advantage translates into the ability to store more energy in a smaller physical space, granting lithium-ion batteries the power to fuel appliances for longer periods. The iconic Tesla Powerwall 2 stands as a testament to lithium-ion’s prowess, offering substantial capacity in a sleek package.
Depth of Discharge
The depth of discharge (DoD) presents an intriguing chapter in the battery tale. Lithium-ion batteries shine with their ability to safely utilize around 85% or more of their energy content in a single cycle. Lead acid batteries, however, hold back, allowing only about 50% DoD to maintain their lifespan. This disparity in DoD translates into a higher effective capacity for lithium-ion batteries, an attribute reinforced by their superior energy density.
Just as solar panel efficiency shapes their performance, battery efficiency dictates their prowess. Lithium-ion batteries proudly wear the crown in this category, boasting efficiency rates of 95% or higher. This means that almost all stored energy stands ready for use. In contrast, lead acid batteries trail with efficiencies hovering around 80% to 85%. This efficiency discrepancy not only influences charging speed but also amplifies the effective battery capacity.
Our Thoughts on Lithium Batteries vs Lead-Acid Batteries
While lead-acid batteries are affordable and simple, lithium-ion batteries are more energy-dense, have a longer cycle life, and charge more quickly. Careful consideration of the specific application’s requirements and safety measures is vital when selecting between these two battery technologies.