Advantages & Limitations of Lithium-ion Batteries

The usage of lithium-ion batteries has grown remarkably in recent years. They offer a few distinct improvements over other forms of battery technology. Nonetheless, like all technologies, lithium-ion have their advantages and limitations. We are going to list a few in order for you to understand the lithium-ion battery better and use it to its full potential.


  • Weight: In general, these batteries are much lighter than other types of rechargeable batteries of the same size.
  • Stored Energy: The electrodes of these batteries are made of lithium and carbon. Lithium is a highly reactive element, therefore a lot of energy can be stored in its atomic bonds.
  • Higher Capacity: It has the ability for higher capacity because of the higher energy density/substance for lithium-ion batteries. This means that a typical lithium-ion battery can store 150 watt-hours of electricity in a 1 kilogram battery, whereas a NiMH (Nickel-metal hydride) battery pack can store up to 100 watt-hours per kilogram of battery, although 60-70 watt-hours is more common. A lead-acid battery can store only 25 watt-hours per kilogram. Using lead-acid technology, it takes 6 kilograms to store the same amount of energy that a 1 kilogram lithium-ion battery can handle. With electronic equipment like mobile phones, batteries with a much higher energy density have clear advantage. These batteries are also used in power tools and electric vehicles.
    Low Maintenance: Lithium-ion batteries are low maintenance because they carry no memory, therefore no periodic discharge is needed.
    Hold Charge: They hold their charge. Generally Lithium Ion batteries lose about 5 percent of its charge per month. The NiMH battery on the other hand loses about 20 percent of its charge per month.
    Charge/Discharge cycles: These batteries can also handle hundreds and, for some types, thousands of charge/discharge cycles without damaging the battery.
  • Cell Voltage: The nickel metal hydride and standard alkaline cells produce around 1.2~1.5 volts, lead acid around 2 volts and lithium-ion around 3.6 volts per cell. The voltage of each lithium-ion cell is higher which requires less cells in many applications.
  • Priming: There is no requirement for priming when receiving their first charge. The lithium-ion battery are supplied ready to go.
  • Variety: There are different types of lithium-ion cells available. This means that the right technology can be used for a specific application.


  • Requires Protection: Lithium-ion batteries are not as robust as other rechargeable batteries. They require protection in order to maintain voltage and current within safe limits.
  • Ageing: One serious disadvantage for consumer electronics is that lithium-ion batteries suffer from ageing, even if not in use. Generally batteries will only be able to withstand 500-1000 charge/discharge cycles before their capacity falls. With the development of Li-ion technology, this figure is increasing, but after a while batteries need replacing which can be an issue if embedded in the equipment. Storage in a cool place can reduce the ageing effect. Manufacturers recommend a storage temperature of 15°C.
  • Transportation Restrictions: Large shipments may be subject to regulatory control. However lithium-ion batteries can be part of carry-on luggage, although future restrictions might change this. Many airlines limit the number of lithium-ion batteries they take which limits transportation to ships.
  • Cost: Lithium-ion batteries are expensive to manufacture. Typically they are about 40% more costly than NiMH or NiCD cells. This has a major effect when considering mass production.
  • Developing Technology: Although not considered a “mature” technology, Lithium batteries have been around for some time. The technology has improved vastly over recent years and this has opened up even more applications to use the safer and even more energy dense and lightweight Lithium batteries.
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