Is this scenario likely? NO! Would you be considered nuts if you did that? YES!
Then why is it likely that you may buy an expensive premium lithium battery that works at a higher voltage and then charge and maintain it with an old lead-acid charger designed for lead-acid batteries that work at a lower voltage? Surely a volt or so cannot make a difference?
Well, it does, but you might be forgiven as buyers of lithium starter batteries have been fed false information that originates from this assumption : as the lithium battery is replacing the lead-acid in the vehicle, surely it must be charged the same?
Unfortunately it has caused many a lithium battery do die prematurely and many riders have ended up on the growing list of ‘disillusioned former users of lithium starter batteries’.
Let’s set this right : Lead-acid and lithium batteries operate the same in the vehicle ONLY within the range of 13 to 14.4V. Below that it changes : a lithium (LiFePO4) is close to 0% at 12.8V, it has no useful power left to give, around the same voltage where the sealed AGM lead-acid battery is at full charge (12.7 to 12.9V)!
If you want your super light lithium battery to perform as intended, you should charge it with a lithium battery charger!
Why OptiMate Lithium should charge your lithium starter battery! (PDF)
OptiMate Lithium battery chargers have been specifically designed to make lithium batteries perform. At TecMate we did our homework on lithium starter battery technology in 2010, we know power sport people (we ride too!) and how they sometimes treat batteries, from that research and experience we designed the charger range that works best on lithium batteries and help you save your battery when you forgot to maintain the battery and allowed it to run down.
So, what do we do differently and why?
Saving a low volt lithium battery – There are NO lead-acid chargers that can effectively SAVE a lithium battery that is discharged below 8 Volts. In fact, the opposite is true, a lead-acid charger is more likely to kill that weak lithium battery!
A lead-acid charger is designed to deliver high current at low volts, exactly the opposite that a lithium battery needs when completely discharged. A lithium battery below 8 Volts is in an unbalanced and sensitive state, cells are at different resistances; applying high current will develop different voltages across the cells and the weakest is most likely to develop too high a voltage, which will effectively kill that cell and cause a short circuit. Then there are 3 cells left, each with increased over voltage ….. rapidly there will be none!
OptiMate Lithium’s SAVE mode has been developed following extensive R & D how to bring back low voltage lithium cells safely. If a cell had developed damage during the deep discharge OptiMate Lithium will detect that and stop charging, preventing unnecessary overcharging of healthy cells or overheating the battery.
TIP on jump starting a low volt lithium battery: DON’T! As soon as the vehicle engine fires up very high current is delivered to the battery and the unbalanced cells will suffer. Rather SAVE and CHARGE it with an OptiMate Lithium!
Correctly charging a lithium battery – A fact that no one can dispute – lithium batteries are voltage sensitive, they cannot accept higher than their maximum rated voltage! LiFePO4 cell’s ideal maximum charge voltage is 3.6V, calculating to 14.4V per 4 cell battery. Some advanced cells are able to accept a slight over voltage for short periods of time, up to 3.65V per cell, calculating to 14.6V on the vehicle. Over that all cells rapidly become ‘seat heaters’ and then they die!
OptiMate Lithium’s multi step charge mode is specifically designed to recharge lithium batteries to 100% and no more. The unique pulsing equalization mode removes the need to individually balance cells.
Maintaining a lithium battery – Lead-acid batteries have a higher internal drain and that demands continuous charge to keep them at 100%. Lead-acid maintainers are designed to do that.
Lithium batteries have a very low internal drain and do not need continuous maintenance, it will in fact weaken the battery over time.
Once a lithium battery is fully charged (100%) it cannot, should not, receive further charging. Best practice is to charge the battery to full, and then only recharge it when the charge level has dropped a few points below 100%. OptiMate Lithium’s maintenance charge mode automatically does that, it monitors the battery charge level and delivers charge only when the battery needs it.
Find OptiMate Lithium chargers here!