Common lithium questions

Below is a small collection of our most frequently asked questions or concerns. If you have specific requirements or questions, please send us a message - we'll be more than happy to be of assistance.

Upgrading to TITAN lithium

In almost all cases, you can upgrade to our lithium batteries with no issues. Our lithium batteries are designed as a drop-in replacement for traditional lead-acid batteries. Lithium does however work a little differently and has a strict working window due to the built-in BMS:

  • Lithium has a slightly higher nominal voltage of 12.8V rather than lead acid's 12.6V - this higher voltage will not affect equipment.
  • Lithium has a flat discharge curve - this means voltage is relatively unchanged throughout a discharge cycle - our BMS targets 12.8V while discharging to ensure all 12V equipment works well, be it at 100% capacity, or 20%. This does however mean that older style battery meters, or in-built battery monitors that only use voltage to calculate the battery state of charge (SOC) will not display/calculate properly. This is why we decided to install Bluetooth as standard to all TITAN products, so you can monitor the battery more accurately than ever and with ease.
  • The Battery Management System (BMS) controls and monitors everything with split second accuracy to ensure the battery cannot be damaged through normal day to day use. Because of these protections, there are limits to how the battery will operate - these thresholds are normally unique to each battery size and brand - higher quality items will have higher thresholds due to the better quality materials used in construction.
  • Lithium batteries don't like to be charged in the cold. TITAN lithium will keep working (discharging) all the way down at -20°C (internal temperature), but the BMS will not allow charging below 0°C unless a heater BMS option is installed. In most cases here in the UK, we do not expect the battery to reach 0°C as most applications have the battery located in an internal compartment or box so frosts typically do not reach them. If you are concerned, we recommend either going for a option with a heater installed, or simply insulate the area around the battery.

Lithium Battery BMS - Battery Management System

A Battery Management System (BMS) is a circuit board that is mounted on top of the internal cells inside the battery which is connected in between the cell terminals, and external battery terminals. The BMS controls and monitors everything with split second accuracy to ensure the battery cannot be damaged through normal day to day use. This is how LiFePO4 batteries are so safe; so much so, they are classed as being safer than lead-acid.

BMS inside a battery image
Battery BMS inside the case before it is sealed

Our BMS currently has 11 protections built in e.g. over discharge protection, over voltage, under voltage, temperature protection and short circuit protection to name a few. Because of these protections, there are limits to how the battery will operate - for example, our discharge over current protection will, in effect, disconnect the internal cells from the external terminals should there be too many amps drawn over a period of time; you will see this on our product pages under maximum consistent discharge, and peak discharge.

All protections are temporary and are designed to self-reset or reset when the battery put on a charger.

TITAN lithium's BMS has one of the highest rated BMS allowances on the market because we use the best quality materials and internal cabling.

These protections should not get in your way with normal every day use but if you're unsure if your equipment will take too many amps, or if one of the protections is causing concern, please get in contact as we have a wealth of knowledge will all kinds of DC equipment and we will be more than happy to hear from you.

BMS / Cells without their cases image
Our battery packs before inserted into their outer cases. Each 12V pack consists of 4x 3.2V lithium cells (these are inside the yellow case)

What to do if a BMS protection triggers

If a BMS protection activates, in most cases the protection will reset itself within a few seconds or minutes, or will need an offending issue to be disconnected (i.e. over voltage protection will need the incoming high voltage charge to be stopped). The over discharge/low voltage protection (when the battery is discharged fully) will require the battery to go on charge ASAP in order to release this protection.

In the rare case the battery is fully discharged with no voltage at the terminals, then it will need to be charged with a lithium charger that has a UVP mode (under voltage protection mode) - our recommended lithium chargers are Victron; who have UVP modes as standard as part of their lithium charge mode.

Typically though, if the battery is showing 0V, there is a load still trying to take energy so we'd recommend switching everything off (or disconnecting all loads) - the battery should hover around 10-11V when this protection is active, and nothing connected.

Traditional automatic chargers work by quickly measuring the battery voltage before starting their charge so they know what stage to start at, as well as give indication of when the battery is fully charged. When it comes to a triggered BMS and the lithium battery shows 0V at the terminals, in effect the charger doesn't see any voltage, so it thinks there is nothing connected and will not start charging. The UVP mode on lithium chargers essentially removes this step by quickly putting some voltage through the battery at the start (no matter the battery voltage) and then seeing if any of that charge has been absorbed by the battery. The BMS on the battery will see this and should then output its voltage as normal, essentially 'resetting' this protection.

Our app will show a list of active protections as well as a status page so you will be able to see what is happening with the battery at any point.


TITAN lithium and safety

Lithium batteries unfortunately have had a bit of bad rep. due to coverage on things like EV fires and smaller lithium packs being volatile, as well as some misinformation around charging and use of existing equipment. Lithium is still a fairly new chemistry, but a lot of the issues that have plagued the battery type have already been fixed thanks to the massive development in the EV market.

The important distinction when it comes to safety is the type of lithium battery that is used:

  • NMC or Lithium nickel manganese cobalt batteries have fantastic energy capacities and are typically 3.6V per cell which is great if you need to get high DC voltages, but NMC batteries are at a higher risk of thermal runaway (when heat builds up and creates further heat build up) and they use rare materials like Cobalt and Nickel, which in turn has negative human rights issues. These are the batteries in use in the first few years of EVs due to the range they could provide. They require active temperature control and strict charge/discharge monitoring to ensure they are kept in a safe working window - this is why EV battery packs are in the thousands of pounds.
  • NCA or Lithium nickel cobalt aluminium batteries are very similar to NMC, and share the same characteristics with also a target market of EVs. These are typically more stable than NMC as the aluminium ions in NCA increase stability and safety, but they reduce capacity - this is the current choice for most current EVs.
  • LiFePO4 batteries (our batteries) are inherently safer both chemically and thermally, and do not use rare materials like Cobalt or Nickel. In return, we get a slightly lower cell voltage of 3.2V per cell (4x cells = 12.8V), and a lower energy capacity compared to NMC, however LiFePO4 are much more stable at a chemical level, and have much higher lifespans - our batteries can last between 2,500 and 10,000 cycles (depending on use) - NMC is typically 1,000 to 2,500 cycles. The omission of Cobalt means we have lower cathode resistance, which vastly reduces the chance to start thermal runaway.

For those interested in the detailed chemistry differences

The PO bond in the PO4 ion in LiFePO4 batteries is stronger than the Co–O bond in the CoO2 ion in Cobalt batteries, so that when worked hard or abused (short-circuited, overheated etc.), oxygen atoms are released slower. This stabilization of oxygen helps promotes faster ion migration, which means faster, more efficient charging and discharging - it's why our batteries have a efficiency rating of 99%.

As lithium migrates out of the cathode in a LiCoO2 (NCA) cell, the CoO2 undergoes non-linear expansion that affects the structural integrity of the cell. The fully lithiated and unlithiated states of LiFePO4 are structurally similar which means that LiFePO4 cells are more structurally stable than LiCoO2 cells, which is immensely important for safety - a lot of lithium fires are due to the cells expanding and rupturing themselves, causing short-circuits and thermally running away.

No lithium remains in the cathode of a fully charged LiFePO4 cell. In a LiCoO2 (NCA) cell, approximately 50% remains. LiFePO4 is highly resilient during oxygen loss, which typically results in an exothermic reaction in other lithium cells. As a result, LiFePO4 cells are harder to ignite in the event of mishandling and during charge.

LiFePO4 batteries do not decompose at high temperatures which keeps the chemical reactions stable.

Charging TITAN Lithium

If you have a lead-acid charger that is 'smart' or 'automatic' with AGM or Gel modes/settings, then you will not need a new charger.

Our batteries are compatible with most battery chargers on the market.

Lithium is not compatible with trickle charging, 'normal' or wet/flooded modes or recondition modes on normal chargers - this is due to how the lithium chemistry reacts to the charging voltage in these modes. AGM or Gel settings remove some of these stages as part of their charge curve, as these battery chemistries also do not get on with them, and slightly increase the charging voltage which is ideal for lithium.

A lithium charger or mode is always the preferred choice as it will always charge at the correct voltage. If you want your battery to last as long as possible, then we'd recommend looking into a lithium charger.

If you have a custom charge input, the recommended charge algorithm is CCCV (Consistent Current, Consistent Voltage) and the specific stage voltages are:

  • Absorption or Bulk voltage - 14.2V - 14.6V
  • Storage/Float voltage - 13.3V-13.8V
  • Maximum voltage - 14.8V
  • To charge to 100% - 14.6V - 14.8V at a lower charge current (we only recommend to do this if you will use the battery within a week or two)
  • Charging Amps should be within the individual battery's specification

When Charging

No matter what charger, we recommend to turn the charger off when the battery is fully charged. You can keep a lithium charger/mode connected for longer, but we'd still recommend to switch off within a week or so.

To get the best life out of lithium batteries, discharge and charge between 10% and 90%, and when not in use, charge/discharge to 70% before leaving the battery for a long period of time.

The top and bottom 10% of a lithium battery is naturally at a higher resistance - think of it like a sponge which cannot take anymore water. High resistance creates heat and increases wear on the battery cell internals.

If you charge to 100%, please only do so when you know you will use that charge soon - charging to 100% won't cause issues or effect performance, but leaving the battery at 100% will degrade the cells over time and reduce the overall lifespan of the battery - we want your battery investment to pay off for as long as possible.

If you plan to or believe you will discharge our batteries fully or to less than 10% when in use, then we would recommend a charger with a lithium mode, or a full on lithium charger. This will ensure you are charging at the correct voltage, and have the added lithium UVP (under voltage protection) reset mode in case the low voltage BMS protection kicks in. We recommend Victron's Blue Smart range, as they have the best lithium charge curve compared to other leading brands, plus have normal lead-acid charge modes in case you need to charge your vehicle battery, and they are very reasonably priced.

Traditional automatic chargers work by quickly measuring the battery voltage before starting their charge, so if they 0V, or in this case, they don't see any voltage, so they won't start charging. The UVP mode essentially removes this step by quickly putting some voltage through the battery at the start and then seeing if any of it got absorbed by the battery.

Lithium, TITAN & the environment

While it's no secret that lithium does use some rare earth materials in their construction, TITAN lithium does not use Cobalt or Nickel in our batteries.

Lithium is tricky to produce and recycling is not fully developed, but we are making headway with large state of the art lithium recycling centres across Europe and the UK, and we'll soon be able to recycle lithium batteries with relative ease, however reusing these long life batteries is the best way to keep our impact down.

We at TITAN are dedicated to keep our emissions and impact as low as possible and we believe we are the most proactive UK lithium battery brand for reducing environmental impact. The steps we take:

  • we repair rather than replace - we prefer to repair any warranty issues rather than scrap and replace with a new battery; lithium batteries have many components that are accessible by us so we can replace the issue part with very little waste - any waste that is made in the repair, is recycled. As we are battery specialists, we are immensely confident with diagnostics and repair work, unlike others who typically will scrap the whole battery at face value.
  • we use DPD for our courier services. DPD offset their carbon impact with every delivery, actively monitor city air quality, actively persuing new micro-depots, reducing miles driven, plus they have the UK's leading EV fleet of delivery vehicles.
  • we contribute a percentage of every sale revenue to Stripe Climate - a carbon removal project hosted by our payment provider; Stripe. Click this link to see where our contributions are going, and check out Frontier who are the AMC behind Stripe Climate.
  • any lithium battery or cell requiring disposal, is sent for recycling via official channels with registered recyclers.

Comparing the footprint to lead-acid

Due to the immense life span of our batteries, you would only need one battery in every 10-20 years, compared to 3 to 6 lead-acid batteries in the same time (average lifespan for lead-acid is 3-4 years) - those lead-acid batteries and components each need to be mined, assembled, involve toxic chemicals like lead and sulphuric acid in manufacturing, shipped to the destination country, put into the distribution network to get to you, then sent for recycling once the battery is at the end of its life; which is an energy intensive process; all of this happens 3 to 6 times in up to 20 years, compared to just once with our lithium batteries.

TITAN Lithium's typical battery composition (in weight %):

  • Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) - 20-40%
  • Lithium hexafluorophosphate - 10-20%
  • Aluminum - 10-20%
  • Graphite - 10-20%
  • Copper - 7-13%
  • Poly (vinyl chloride) - 1-5%

Comparing lithium batteries and brands

With a growing number of brands all competing for your custom, it can be tricky to know where and who to go with.

At face value, comparing batteries between brands can look simple using battery capacity and price.

In reality, there is a lot of impossible-to-see internal differences that have a huge effect on life and performance of the battery so we believe the easiest way to compare lithium batteries is using the BMS specifications, cell grade and business reputation. There is also the workmanship aspect as all lithium batteries are hand assembled and soldered, but this is far more difficult to compare.

The best BMS value we like to use when comparing is the maximum continuous discharge- the higher the value means the BMS can handle higher amp throughputs, which means the battery is using higher quality materials and a well made BMS that enables this.

Cell grading is an unofficial rating that tells us the quality of the cell used - they are in alphabetical ratings like A, B and C; these grades typically have the most effect on price. Some prismatic lithium cells can be nestled under 'Automotive' grade, which essentially means the cells are made for us in EVs. All of TITAN Lithium batteries use Automotive Grade A+ cells.

There is no false economy when it comes to batteries; cheaper batteries are cheap because they use cheaper components and low grade cells which are more likely to cause early failures, issues and just not last as long. As some companies are competing to be crowned the cheapest on the market, other aspects of their business suffer which effects their willingness and ability to provide good customer service, and fair warranty processes; something we see all too often in our market unfortunately.

So why buy from us?

Because lithium has a long service life and high initial cost, we believe it's best to buy from a real battery specialist who has real working knowledge of batteries, answer any and all questions about batteries and their connected systems, and knows how to provide a customer service to match the product. We know the market and understand the chemistries involved, plus we are the UK's longest running battery family business; all of which helps us provide a world class customer service that our customers deserve.

While our batteries are at the pinnacle of quality and performance, we aim to price ourselves in the middle of our competition and are always adjusting to ensure we remain competitive.

We generally recommend to stay away from the cheaper end of the market and spend a little extra on the product and business that will live up to expectations. We have seen far more battery failures at the cheaper end of the market than at the top due to poor materials and workmanship. Many businesses at this level are not UK based, so warranty claims or issues are rarely resolved positively.

Cheaper lithium does have its place in the market, depending on the application, but unfortunately there is not enough information out there to help customers compare accurately, so it can lead to some confusion when comparing.

We at TITAN Lithium try to be as transparent as possible and add all the information we can to our site so to give our customers the best possible chance to compare us to others.

Why is this important? Lithium batteries are expensive, last a long time, and it's extremely easy to mislead as many figures or statements cannot be verified by the average user. If our customers are spending £500-£2,000 with us for a single item, we want to ensure they are comfortable and confident with the product, our service, and that our support will be available to them from day one and in 10-20 years time - it's tricky to convey the value of customer serivce over the internet, so we believe it's all worth mentioning.

Things to look out for when comparing lithium batteries:

  • BMS stats - we've seen others who do not include any BMS information on their products
  • Cell grades - the majority do not share their cell quality. The difference is most obvious if a battery at the same capacity is significantly cheaper; there would be a lower cell grade installed
  • Limited warranties - a marketing tactic to over inflate numbers, so you may see longer warranties like 10 years, but these are limited so you may need to pay the company a fee should anything be claimed under the warranty
  • Partial warranties - warranties that only include certain parts of the battery e.g. cells but not BMS or Bluetooth modules; a common failure point for some
  • Return processes - some will charge for warranty claim collections or returns
  • Company reviews - like any online product, we'd always advise care when looking at reviews. Many battery company reviews are based on delivery speed and if the product works out the box - not the most helpful when you are buying an item meant to last 10-20 years. The best way to filter these is to look at the worst reviews and see how the company handled the situation (TITAN is a fairly new brand so we haven't collected many reviews under our name yet, but click here and here to see our parent company reviews)
  • Company background - many lithium brands are simple resellers/dropshippers of imported goods, not battery businesses or specialists, so do not have a working battery knowledge

Can I start an engine off TITAN batteries?

In short, no.

There are a few different types of lithium batteries - just like lead-acid (deep-cycle, thin plate, etc). Our batteries are in the deep-cycle range, so do not have high cranking amps that a starter battery would have. Starting an engine from one of our batteries would engage our over-current protection on our BMS.

Starter lithium batteries do exist, but they are the opposite of deep-cycle - they have fantastic starting amp outputs, but have little to no capacity to run equipment.

If you are looking for a starter lithium battery, we'd recommend our friends at Anti-Gravity batteries.

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