What is the difference between A+, A- and B grade LFP cells?

Automotive Grade Cells:

Purpose: These cells are specifically tailored for use in electric vehicles (EVs) and other automotive applications.

Stress Levels: Automotive Grade cells experience significantly greater stress due to higher rates of charge and discharge. EVs demand rapid power delivery during acceleration and regenerative braking, which can strain the cells.

Internal Resistance (IR): Automotive Grade cells are designed to have lower and more consistent internal resistance (IR). This characteristic makes cell balancing easier and contributes to their longevity.

Testing and Documentation: Manufacturers provide an official test report for each Automotive Grade cell, including both the internal resistance and the rated capacity.

Quality Assurance: These cells are built to withstand rigorous environments and demanding performance requirements.

Warranty: Automotive Grade cells come with an Australian-backed warranty, ensuring reliability and performance

Special note May 2024 # We recommend A+ Grade for 16s 51.2v and above in 2024, due to the pricing being very similar to B grade, since January 2024.

A- Grade cells:

These are generally B grade cells with the QR code replaced, or relasered so that the cells appear to be Automotive grade, the capacity will likely be somewhere in the middle of A+ Automotive grade and B grade cells. The cost of replacing a QR code is about $1-2USD.

B Grade Cells: aka A Grade aka A- Grade

Purpose: B Grade cells are more cost-effective and are commonly used in applications where extreme stress levels are not a concern.

Initial Similarity: When brand new, B Grade cells can have almost the (5-15%) same capacity (in Ah) and impedance (internal resistance) as Automotive Grade cells, making it difficult to distinguish between the two.

Long-Term Usage: B Grade cells are sometimes suitable for steady, long-term energy storage. They don’t experience the rapid charge and discharge cycles typical in automotive applications.

Testing and Documentation: While B Grade cells don’t come with an official manufacturer’s test report, they usually still undergo secondary external to the manufacturer testing to measure their capacity in order to sell them as either A- or B grade cells. The internal resistance may be higher, but usually this is not too much of a concern for solar energy use. Also as you cannot buy B grade cells anywhere, and there is a high number (10,000+) of cells produced daily, we can confirm all A-Grade cells are actually B grade cells rebadged and sold as A-Grade and Solar Grade.

Cost: B Grade cells are approximately 20-30% less expensive than Automotive Grade cells in 2024.

Warranty: Like Automotive Grade cells, B Grade cells purchased from a reputable supplier can also come with an Australian-backed warranty.

In summary, Automotive Grade cells prioritize performance, longevity, and consistency for demanding applications, and should be used in 16s 51.2v or higher strings while B Grade cells offer less reliability at a more affordable price point for less demanding scenarios. Choose the right grade based on your specific needs and backed by the warranty assurance

When buying a lithium battery what are the top concerns a person would want to consider?

When purchasing a lithium battery, there are several important factors to consider. Let’s explore these considerations:

Capacity (Ah or Wh):
The capacity of a battery determines how much energy it can store. It’s usually measured in ampere-hours (Ah) or watt-hours (Wh). Consider your energy needs and choose a battery with sufficient capacity for your intended use.

Voltage (V):
Lithium batteries come in various voltages (e.g., 3.2V, 3.6V, 3.7V). Ensure that the battery voltage matches the requirements of your application. Series connections can achieve higher voltages if needed.

Different lithium chemistries exist, such as Li-ion (lithium-ion), LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate), and LiPo (lithium polymer). Each has unique characteristics:Li-ion: High energy density, commonly used in consumer electronics.
LiFePO4: Excellent safety, longer cycle life, and stable performance.
LiPo: Lightweight and often used in RC models.
Choose the chemistry based on safety, cycle life, and specific application.

Cycle Life:
The number of charge-discharge cycles a battery can endure before its capacity significantly degrades. LiFePO4 cells generally have longer cycle life compared to standard Li-ion or LiPo cells.

Safety is crucial. Look for batteries with built-in protection circuits (BMS) that prevent overcharging, over-discharging, and short circuits.
Avoid damaged or swollen batteries.

Temperature Range:
Lithium batteries perform best within a specific temperature range. Extreme cold or heat can affect their capacity and lifespan.

Charging and Discharging Rates:
Consider the maximum charge and discharge rates. Some batteries can handle high currents, while others are more suitable for low-power applications.

Weight and Size:
Choose a battery that fits your space constraints and weight requirements. Lighter batteries are preferable for portable devices.

Consider the specific application (e.g., solar energy storage, electric vehicles, drones, backup power). Different applications have varying demands on battery performance.

Brand and Quality:
Opt for reputable brands known for quality and reliability. Cheap or unknown brands may compromise safety and performance.
Remember that no single battery is ideal for all situations. Assess your needs, balance trade-offs, and choose wisely based on the factors above.

What is the difference between Lithium batteries and LiFePO4 batteries?

Let’s explore the differences between Lithium NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt) and LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries:

LFP Batteries:

Chemistry: LFP batteries use lithium iron phosphate as the cathode material.

Advantages:Longer Lifespan: LFP batteries typically last longer than other lithium-ion batteries, enduring thousands of charge cycles.

Enhanced Safety: They have higher thermal stability, reducing the risk of overheating and fire hazards.

Fast Charging: LFP batteries charge quickly, making them suitable for applications like electric vehicles.

Wide Operating Temperature Range: They perform well in both hot and cold environments.

Environmental Friendliness: LFP batteries contain no cobalt, addressing environmental and ethical concerns

Disadvantages:Lower Energy Density: LFP batteries store less energy per unit volume or weight compared to other lithium-ion batteries.

Reduced Specific Power: While they handle fast charging, LFP batteries may have limitations in delivering high power outputs.

Limited Availability: They might not be as widely accessible as other lithium-ion batteries in some markets.

Larger Size and Weight: Due to their lower energy density, LFP batteries may require larger dimensions and heavier weights for comparable energy storage capacities

NMC Batteries:

Chemistry: NMC batteries use a combination of nickel, manganese, and cobalt for the cathode material.

Advantages:High Energy Density: NMC batteries store more energy in a relatively small space or weight.

Long Lifespan: They offer good longevity.

Performance at High Temperatures: NMC batteries excel in various applications, including consumer electronics and electric vehicles.

Considerations:Safety and Stability: While NMC batteries are safe, LFP batteries prioritize safety even further.

Ideal Applications: NMC batteries suit consumer electronics and EVs, while LFP batteries are ideal for stationary energy storage and renewable energy applications.
In summary, choose LFP batteries for safety, stability, and longevity, especially in stationary energy storage. Opt for NMC batteries when high energy density and performance at high temperatures are critical, such as in electric vehicles and consumer electronics. 

What happens if you draw a higher current than an Lifepo4 cell is rated for?

Exceeding the battery’s rated discharge can lead to an increased heat generation, too much heat in a cell will decrease capacity by a significant amount. Using the example on a 314ah EVE cell, it would expected 30-50w of heat would be generated internally at 0.5c-1C draw. This is significant.

Here is a report funded by the National High Technology Research and Development Program (863 Program) of China (No. 2012AA110203) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51634003).
IN SUMMARY – You will damage and degrade the battery life, by how much depends on all the things you would expect, the C rating, the timeframe, and the temperature, and some cells are designed for 0.5C and some for 5C so its all relative.

How do I safely charge a LiFePo4 cell?

A LiFePo4 cell needs to be charged above its nominal voltage of 3.2V, anywhere from 12-15% above would be considered safe and appropriate. LiFePo4 has a low internal resistance, meaning it will accept the charge, more easily and quickly compared to an SLA or Lead Acid. Lifepo4 chemistry does not need an absorption stage, but it can be floated at 100% SOC, between 13.6v-13.8v. However, it will see more degradation than if it was between 30-70% SOC

The best charge voltage for – Multiply 3.65 x the number of cells – According to all manufacturers datasheets

12v (12.8v) Charge at 14.6v
24v (25.6v) Charge at 29.2v
48v (51.2v). Charge at 58.4v

Multiply 3.65 x the number of cells

As all LiFePo4 batteries are controlled by a BMS, usually with minimal balancing, It is recommended to charge the Battery slower, if possible, especially when nearing the 100% SOC. Most LiFePo4 cells are rated for a maximum of 0.5C charge.

If you are unsure what C charge means, you can think of 1C as 100% of the capacity of the cell in 1 hour. Therefor 0.5C is 2 hours. and 0.2C is 5 hours.

What is C rate and how can I calculate it for my application?

A C-rate is a measure of the rate at which a battery is discharged relative to its maximum capacity. A 1C rate means that the discharge current will discharge the entire battery in 1 hour.

Let use examples

0.1C = 100% of the capacity in 10 hours
0.5C = 100% of the capacity in 2 hours
1C = 100% of the capacity in 1 hour
2C = 100% of capacity in 30 minutes
10C = 100% of the capacity in 6 Minutes

For LFP its almost always recommended to try to stay below 1C, we recommend 0.5C (2 hours charge and discharge as the fastest) for longer life.

What are the best brands of LiFePO4 Cells for Energy storage and why?

We use, sell and recommend these Brands
1. EVE
2. REPT,
6. BYD(cars),
7. CALB,
8. CATL (worlds largest battery manufacturer) ,

There are at least 20 more manufacturers in China and almost none anywhere else in the world, which we can actually purchase from.

This list is in order of availability and quatlity of that availabilty.

A common question we get is why isnt CATL at the top of your list. The answer is because CATL is very difficult to purchase new cells from. All the cells on the market are B grade cells, even the known suppliers of brand new CATL cells are supplying B grade cells as new Solar grade cells.

EVE, REPT and HITHIUM all have good value pricing, and allow for purchases direct from them to our high standards.

What are the best BMS for Lifepo4 Batteries?

We use, sell and recommend,

1. JBD – High quality BMS Manufacturer
2. JK BMS – Very good features, especially around balancing and Victron support.

and can source, REC, Daly, Chargery, and others because sometimes it depends on the use.

How to Top Balance LiFePO4 Cells?

Hook up the LiFePO4 cells in parallel and charge at 3.65v

(parallel means connecting all the positives together and the same for the negatives, and using a power supply with over voltage protection is essential, this is more difficult that it may sound) The main issue people face with doing a parallel top balance is finding a charger that can output a current high enough to make this process happen in a reasonable amount of time.

We have our own 30A 0-5v Lab Power Supply which we custom made to top balance faster than is available on the general market.

To give you an idea of how long it takes to top balance 1 single 300AH cell from 30% capacity to 100% we need to do some math. 300Ah x 30% = 90ah leaving us with 210Ah that needs to be pushed into the cell. mIf we set the 30A to maximum, It takes 7 Hours (ideal conditions)

For 16 cells x 7 hours = 112 Hours.

The actual process will take at least 25% longer. Lets say 150 hours. Its about a week to do a top balance on 16 x 300ah cells at 30A. If we compare that to the 10A power supplies, we will find it will take 2.5- 3 weeks to top balance a single pack.

If I buy lithium batteries on AliExpress and Alibaba what should I expect?

When purchasing Lithium batteries from platforms like AliExpress or Alibaba, there are several factors to consider. Let’s delve into the details:

Quality and Reliability:
Alibaba is a wholesale trading platform where you can find numerous suppliers offering Lithium batteries. However, not all sellers are equally reliable.
Some vendors on Alibaba are considered trusted by the community. For example, Amy at Luyuan is known for providing quality cells.
However, the cost is not attractive
Let me explain the cost according to Alibaba today the 9th of May 2024, is USD 1,667.20, without Customs or GST.
That translates into a cost of over $3000 AUD for 16 x 304AH EVE cells. That is not including the additional 2% payment fee.

AliExpress, on the other hand, can is a total scam and very shadyWhile you can find good deals, be cautious about the quality and authenticity of the batteries.

Price and Shipping:
Prices on these platforms may seem attractive, but remember that additional costs may apply. Duties, taxes, and shipping fees can significantly impact the final price.
Consider that the advertised price in China may double after accounting for all additional costs.

Risk and Safety:
Be cautious when buying directly from China. There have been many tens of thousands of cases of poor-quality batteries, damaged shipments, and safety hazards.
For instance, one user shared their nightmare experience of buying a lithium battery directly from China, which turned out to be a fire hazard.

Research and Due Diligence:
Research the suppliers thoroughly. Look for reviews, ratings, and feedback from other buyers.
Consider reaching out to local contacts in China to verify the quality of the batteries before making a large purchase.
Remember that while you can find good deals, safety and reliability should be your top priorities. If possible, consult with experts or experienced buyers in the community to make an informed decision. Always prioritize safety, warranty in Australia and even the cost! 

You may think you are buying new Automotive Grade A+ cells from Alibaba and AliExpress and other sellers even in Australia, but it’s almost 100% you are buying Storage and B grade or in some cases, used Bus, truck or UPS cells that may have been used and dismantled and then rewrapped. Especially CATL, as they most often appear as used cells, but it can be any cells.

If you use the internet, you can find almost anything, and the chances are that cheap cells are bad cells.

Why are there so many warnings about LiFePO4 Batteries?

Batteries are not all the same, they are made to strict standards, and the production of good quality cells is still quite difficult, the B grade rate of a new factory in china can be as high as 50%, comapnies such as EVE and CATL on the other hand has less than 20%.
New factories are always opening in China, there are now more than 100 factories churning out 280-330ah cells. And at a rate of over 100,000 large cells a day.
If we quickly calculate, that between the B grade factory failed cells, and the increasing dismantling of cells from Bus, Truck and EOL battery packs, there is at least 20,000 cells a day that are needing a new home.

One of our Trusted suppliers actually also offers us used cells regularly, they rewrap the cells and clean then up for sale as high quality used cells, usually at a discount of about 30%.

The demand for large LFP cells is rapidly growing, Australia in particular is purchasing many tens of thousands of A+ grade cells per month for Grid and Commercial Energy storage, if we put that in perspective for a minute, Australia is only about 2% of the worlds battery purchaser.

What are P- C- and B- on a BMS

B- is where you connect the main Battery negative of the pack of cells, so you have to use that for that purpose, and only that purpose, if you want the BMS to be able to protect your cells

C- is where you connect the charger to Charge the battery

P- is where you connect the controller to Power it from the battery.

If the BMS has a common charge/discharge (charger/controller) port, then you only need to use whichever single wire / pad goes to that port for the Charge input and Power output connections. This may be either C- or P- or it may have a completely different designation and not even have a C- / P-; the manufacturer instructions for that specific BMS must be followed. You still have to use the B- for the Battery negative of the pack of cells.

If the charge and discharge ports are separate, then you must use the correct port for the correct input or output connection. If you do not do it this way, then your cells are not protected against overcharge and/or overdischarge, depending on how you miswire it.

Lifepo4 Cell Configurations

Cell configurations
Here is a pdf file you can download to choose your optimal cell configuration

PDF here

How to Top Balance LiFePO4 Cells? (Advanced)

This method is more detailed.

Set the Charger to 3.45v (especially when using a non regulated PSU.

Once it hits 3.45V, then adjust the target voltage to 3.65V, keep an eye on the cells during this stage, the voltage will rise very rapidly and it’s good not to rely solely on the overvoltage protection feature of the power supply. Check with a multimeter very regularly.

Once you hit 3.65V, turn off the power and leave for an hour or more. Check to see if it’s still over 3.5V. If not, charge it up to 3.65V again and leave it for another hour. Repeat until it does.

Once done, reassemble the pack into your desired battery Voltage eg. 12V or 24V, and discharge

Storing at a high level of charge is not good for the LiFePO4 cells. If storing for a long time, discharge down to 30-50%. If possible, keep the battery below 90% SOC and above 10% SOC. It will increase the lifespan of the cells. And definitely help with cell bloat.

Congratulations you have successfully manually top balanced.

An alternative way to top balance a battery pack with a BMS, such as the JK BMS is to connect the battery cells in series, and slowly, incrementally increase the pack voltage inside the Bluetooth app. (occasionally this will not work if the cells are at significantly different SOC, please be aware, it could take weeks to balance if that were the case, and therefore it’s not usually recommended unless you don’t have any access to an appropriate voltage limited Lab PSU)

1. Wire up the Battery in series. Eg, connect the 4 cells (positive to negative) Which will create a battery of about 13.2V for a 4s LiFePo4 Battery.
2. Charge with a charger between 14v and 14.6v. Slower is better
3. Inside the JBD Bluetooth app (XiaoXiang), set the fully charged voltage to 3.45v, and a total pack voltage of 13.8v and charge it until the BMS stops. Inside the app turn off the charge balancing feature and leave until all the cells are balanced.
4. The following day or more inside the BMS Bluetooth app settings increase the pack voltage to 14.4v (3.6v per cell) or 14.6v (3.65v) and ensure the balance on charge is turned off. The battery will then go and top balance itself. Leave here until balanced

When it could be fine to use matched B grade cells

If you are using the cells for camping purposes. You will probably only use a few cycles each time you go camping. This type of battery does not need to be rated for 6000 cycles, even if you go camping for 60 days a year, you might only do 30 cycles. At that rate, it would take you several lifetimes, to use the cells to a point where they still output 80% of their original capacity, and calendar aging will eventually kill them anyway.
An example of this is that I have been using my 200ah cells on a daily cycle for almost 2 years, and they still have only done about 200 complete cycles. They likely have another 10+ years in them. They have 1C or 200amps pulled through them about 20 times a day for a coffee machine. They still have 95% stated original capacity.
B grade cells may already have degraded to 85% by this stage, and remember it only takes one weak cell, to pull the whole pack down. That is the biggest issue with battery packs in series, the more cells in the series eg, 16 cells, only a single cell needs to be degraded for you to loose that same capacity x 15 for the other remaining cells.
If you don’t want the hassle and you are a serious camper, then by all means get an automotive grade, but for 12v it can also be ok to choose the far cheaper option of B-grade cells. the higher the voltage of your battery, the more you should want to get only the best cells. Because only 1 bad cell pulls the rest down, and can kill a battery.
I would imagine many campers, may only use 20-50 cycles over 5 years or even more. But the best thing about LiFePo4 is that they are much happier to sit without a full charge for 12 months or more, than a Lead Acid equivalent.
They have a much better shelf life than any Lead-based batteries and they are much lighter in weight too.
One of my favorite things about LiFePo4 is that it takes about 98% of the power from the solar charge controller, whereas, Lead-based can need a lot of absorption, many times they need twice as much solar to stay within the usability range of the very heavy lead acid with only 50% usability of the AH rating of that battery.

For long LiFePo4 battery life, you should be mindful of the following

Keep the battery temperature under 45°C (113°F) (Very Important)
Keep charge and discharge currents under 0.5C
(A- or B grade cells 0.25C for an longer life)
Keep battery temperature above 0 Centigrade and below 35C when charging & discharging
Do not cycle below 10% – 15% SOC unless you really need to
Do not float the battery at (3.65v) 100% SOC if possible
Clamp your battery cells together to prohibit bloating.
That is it! Now you too can find happiness with your LiFePO4 batteries!

What is the energy density of LiFePO4 Cells in production today?

The current range of energy density of LFP cells ranges from about 75wh per kg to over 200wh/kg with the introduction of the CATL Shenxing PLUS LFP battery cell allegedly at over 250wh/kg.

Some examples include

LFP 280ah – 896.0Wh Weight 5.4Kg @ 160wh/kg
LFP 304ah – 972.8Wh Weight 5.5Kg @ 170wh/kg
LFP 320ah – 1024Wh Weight 5.6Kg @ 180wh/kg
LFP 345ah – 1104Wh Weight 5.8Kg @ 190wh/kg

Sources for
1. 345ah cell beginning mass production in late 2024
2. 345ah Showcases Wending Batteries
3. CATL Shenxing PLUS LFP

Charge Rate based on Temperature of LFP Cells

EVE MB30 + MB31 Charging Temperature to C rate

C rate

EVE MB30 + MB31 Discharging Temperature to C rate

C rate

CATL recommends the Charge rate of 0.5C and Discharge of 1C with 7000 Cycles@70%SOH, this is because my information and official suppliers of CATL cells tell me they are actually B grade cells sold to all small battery factories as brand new Solar grade cells. Hence CATL adjusts the data. “Officially” CATL has a 12000 cycle cell, when its A+ grade and thermally managed and used in Grid applications.
Hithium also quotes 10000-12000 cycles when A+ grade and thermally managed in Grid Storage.

Things to do after building any battery pack!

Remember! that about a week after the battery pack is installed, it is necessary to double-check that all battery terminals and the busbars are still tightened, because once loose, there is a risk of causing high resistance connections, which can reduce the performance of the battery pack. At the same time, there are also some risks of electrical fire, and specifically undesired heat.

Warranty on cells

Our warranty varies based on the grade of cells, but all warranties are pro-rata.
That means that the warranty amount is based on the age and usage of the cells.
As Lifepo4 cells have maximum and standard charge current rates, no warranty will be valid if you exceed the maximum rates. In order to be eligible for a warranty, you must have planned and used the cells according to the specifications sheet for that cell.

You must understand rechargeable batteries have a service life, and as such, they will degrade over time and usage, they are likely to change shape and bloat over time, and this is more likely without compression, this is not grounds for a warranty claim, as you yourself will have created this scenario. Even with compression LFP cells will bloat with age and usage with discharge and charge rates over 0.2C. We aim to be fair with the warranty, that is the intention, and we are very happy to sort out any issues early in the process, as this is when the cells are less likely to have been used. As the cells age, there is a much smaller chance of a warranty claim being approved, as you have already been in the use of the cells for a period of time, and as each cells is unable to show how you used it, we can simply refuse a claim on the grounds they are a consumable item, and that we cannot know if the cell is used in accordance with the specifications sheet.

More Examples of Charge Ratings based on Temperature of LFP Cells.

This is an example taken from a popular 100ah 3.2v Prismatic cell, you can see from the table that temperature plays an enormous role in what charge rate a LFP cell should be charged with.

C Ratings 100ah prismatic charge 1

Typical Charge Rates for LFP:

Cell TemperatureStandard ChargeRapid ChargeCell Temperature
<0°CProhibited to chargeProhibited to charge<0°C
0-10°CCharge Current 0.1CProhibited to charge0-10°C
10-15°CCharge Current 0.2CCharge Current 0.3C10-15°C
15-25°CCharge Current 0.3CCharge Current 0.5C15-25°C
25-45°CCharge Current 0.5CCharge Current 1.0C25-45°C
45-55°CCharge Current 0.3C
>55°CProhibited to charge

Australian Standards and Safety information – A list of applicable standards at the time of publishing

  • AS/NZS5139 Electrical installations -Safety of battery systems for use with conversion equipment
  • AS/NZS 3000 Electrical installations (known as the Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules)

Other relevant standards include:

AS 1319
Safety signs for the occupational environment
AS 1530.4
Methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures – Fire-resistance test of elements of construction
AS 3011.2
Electrical installations – Secondary batteries installed in buildings – Sealed cells
AS/NZS 4509.1
Stand Alone Power Systems – Installation
AS 4086.2
Secondary batteries for use with stand-alone power systems – Installation and maintenance
AS/NZS 3000
Electrical installations (known as the Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules)
AS/NZS 5033
Installation and safety requirements for photovoltaic (PV) arrays
AS/NZS 4777.1
Grid connection of energy systems via inverters – Installation requirements
AS/NZS 4777.2
Grid connection of energy systems via inverters – Inverter requirements
AS 62040.1.1
Uninterruptible power systems (UPS) – General and safety requirements for UPS used in operator access areas
AS 62040.1.2
Uninterruptible power systems (UPS) – General and safety requirements for UPS used in restricted access locations
AS/NZS 60529
Degrees of Protection Provided by Enclosures (IP Code)
AS/NZS 60898.2
Circuit-breakers for overcurrent protection for household and similar installations – Circuit-breakers for AC and DC operation
AS/NZS 60947.3
Low-voltage switchgear and control gear – Switches, disconnectors, switch-disconnectors and fuse-combination units
AS/NZS 60950.1
Information technology equipment – Safety – General requirements
IEC 62109-1 Ed. 1.0 (English 2010)
Safety of power converters for use in photovoltaic power systems – Part 1: General requirements
IEC 62109-2 Ed. 1.0 (Bilingual 2011)
Safety of power converters for use in photovoltaic power systems – Part 2: Particular requirements for inverters

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