Lithium Iron Phosphate – Smarter Than Your Average Battery
Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries represent the latest in innovative battery technology and due to their popularity in countless industries, they continue to be developed to meet the requirements of the modern user. Part of this development has been the integration of SMART electronic systems which include Battery Management Systems (BMS), wireless connectivity and mobile monitoring to enhance the performance and longevity of the battery.
What is a SMART battery?
The term SMART refers to any Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology and describes technology or devices that can connect, share and interact with a level of automation.
However, there is a key difference between automation and SMART and although many products are marketed as SMART they lack the distinguishing characteristic that it must have the functionality to engage with the user.
In the case of batteries, the definition of a SMART lithium battery varies depending on which organisation and manufactures you talk to. However, it is widely considered that a SMART lithium battery should, at the very least, display the State of Charge and the State of Health to the user. Increasingly though, the modern-day user is demanding that their SMART batteries provide extensive information, identify any potential or existing issues and that it automatically protects the product from catastrophic failure.
How do Invicta Lithium Batteries utilise SMART technology?
Invicta Lithium Batteries utilise a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi device connected to its integrated BMS which monitors and displays the battery’s status via a free mobile application available on Android or iOS.
While the BMS manages and automatically protects the battery from unsafe voltage, current, temperature and short circuit issues, the wireless interface relays critical information and allows the battery to be conveniently monitored remotely.
The critical information received from the device, which includes state of charge, discharge, capacity, temperature, voltage and BMS safety features, can be used to identify specific issues which ensure the user can take the most appropriate action. An especially useful tool if the battery is placed in a location where accessing or testing the battery is difficult or potentially unsafe for example under a trailer, in an engine room or behind a roof cavity.
Internal vs external technology
Currently, if a battery does not have integrated technology the only way possible to view and manage the battery’s State of Charge and Health is by installing external equipment. Although great for managing complex systems this equipment can be costly for even the most basic of setups as it requires specialised calibration and fitting.
However, batteries with internal technology are ready out-of-the-box as its BMS is specifically designed for the type of battery it is connected to, this is particularly cost-effective and time-efficient for basic and complex setups. Interestingly both internal and external technologies are compatible with each other, providing an opportunity to add functionality to an external BMS as they typically don’t have mobile connectivity.
Although there is one drawback to using a battery with mobile connectivity and that is it can only be connected in parallel with another battery. Nevertheless, the majority of batteries are ready in standard voltages so unless your project is unconventional there would be no need to worry.
It should also be noted, if considering an AGM system that these battery types can’t support integrated management systems, potentially turning what was a cheap alternative into an expensive and far lower performing solution.
Why you should use a SMART lithium battery?
Batteries which have integrated its BMS and monitoring technology provide the user with a safer and longer-lasting product that is easy to install and maintain. Remember, purchasing a lithium battery is an investment and although the up-front cost for a modern battery maybe more, in the long term it is cheaper and more efficient to run as this technology is ultimately aimed at maximising the life of the battery and ease of use.