Batteries are the lifeline of any uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system[i] supporting critical applications. Falcon has always been at the forefront of battery selection to provide maximum service life and reliability. We continue that tradition onto the next generation of battery selection with our lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries.

The key point that is often misunderstood is that not all lithium-ion batteries are the same. The lithium batteries used in consumer electronics and the UPS industry are lithium-ion, but different types. This short guide explains:

Lithium Batteries in Consumer Electronics: Lithium Cobalt Oxide and Lithium Polymer

Lithium batteries in consumer electronics are offered in various lithium-ion chemistries which are selected based on the type of device it supports. For example, your laptop, tablet or camera may use a battery with lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) cathode material. Other devices such as smartphones, may use lithium polymer type batteries. These lithium batteries are great for everyday use in consumer electronics, however, they are insufficient for use in industrial or commercial-grade UPS battery backup applications.

LiFePO4 – Best Choice for UPS

A UPS provides power to equipment when utility power is not available. This requires a reliable and capable battery to provide power backup function during such critical events. Due to a UPS’s safety requirements and high energy demand, the best suited lithium-ion chemistry is LiFePO4   (lithium iron phosphate).

Iron Phosphate: Safe, Cathode Material

Selecting the proper lithium battery chemistry for a UPS is very important. There are many shared characteristics and materials amongst the different lithium battery chemistries. LiFePO4 and other lithium-ion batteries are in the same category as they all use lithium ions as the main charge carrier within the cell. A key difference in lithium-ion chemistries is in the cathode material. Lithium iron phosphate is a very stable chemistry that offers superior thermal and chemical properties resulting in a highly reliable, safe and long-lasting battery. The LiFePO4 battery is also non-toxic and safe for the environment since it has no caustic materials or dangerous odors.

For comparison, a lithium cobalt oxide battery cell has a nominal voltage of about 3.6 Volts. This results in higher energy capacity but can produce more heat in the electrolyte that causes break down and reduces the capacity. The higher thermal potential reduces stability and increases the possibility of gassing which can lead to rapid venting and combustion. LiFePO4 batteries have a lower nominal voltage of about 3.2 Volts resulting in slightly less energy capacity. They produce less heat resulting in better stability in the electrolyte solvent. LiFePO4 batteries provide higher thermal stability making them virtually incombustible and safe with a long service life – even in high-temperature environments.

Conclusion

This guide explains the different lithium-ion battery types. LiCoO2 and lithium polymer are appropriate for consumer electronics but have safety issues. However, LiFePO4 is the safe and reliable choice for a UPS since it is a very stable chemistry. Maintaining our standard of technical excellence, Falcon has selected high-quality LiFePO4 batteries for our LifePO4 UPS product family that provide maximum safety, high reliability and a long service life.

[i] There are three UPS types: online, standby (off-line) and line-interactive. Click here for comparison guide.

Engineering Department
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