Do you know? Lithium-ion batteries can be subdivided into many types, including LiFePO4 and LiPo. However, they each have different characteristics and are suitable for different fields. Understanding the differences between them can help you choose a more appropriate power source.

What Is LiPo Battery? 

The full name of LiPo batteries is lithium ion polymer batteries (LPB). They are evolved from lithium-ion batteries and are also known as polymer lithium-ion batteries. The reason they are called lithium polymer batteries is that the electrolyte they use is not liquid but solid or gel-like polymer.

What Is Lifepo4 Battery?

Lithium-ion batteries that use lithium iron phosphate as the cathode material are known as lithium iron phosphate batteries, also called LiFePO4 batteries or LFP batteries. They possess good thermal stability and safety performance, but have a relatively lower energy density.

Related article: Complete Guide To Understanding Lifepo4 Battery

12.8V 120Ah LiFePO4 Battery

12.8V 120Ah LiFePO4 Battery

Since they both belong to the category of lithium-ion batteries, what are the similarities and differences between them?

Difference Between Lipo And Lifepo4

Chemistry

The cathode material of lithium polymer batteries can be selected from a variety of oxides based on performance requirements, including lithium cobalt oxide, lithium manganese oxide, lithium iron phosphate, and lithium nickel cobalt manganese oxide. The electrolyte comes in two forms: solid-state and gel-like. The non-liquid electrolyte provides great flexibility in battery design.

The cathode material of lithium iron phosphate batteries is lithium iron phosphate, which gives them excellent thermal stability and safety, along with a longer cycle life. Moreover, their anode material is graphite, and the electrolyte is a liquid organic solvent containing lithium salts.

Energy Density

Lithium polymer batteries have a high energy density. Their specific energy density can reach 150-200 Wh/kg, and the volumetric energy density can reach 200-270 Wh/L, or even higher. Therefore, they are relatively lightweight and support the creation of ultra-thin designs according to the spatial requirements of the application, making them popular in lightweight solutions.

Lifepo4 batteries have a relatively lower energy density among lithium-ion batteries, with a specific energy density typically between 90-120 Wh/kg, and a volumetric energy density of less than 200 Wh/L. However, with continuous technological advancements, the specific energy of CATL’s LiFePO4 cells can reach up to 160 Wh/kg. BYD’s lfp cells have achieved a specific energy of 150 Wh/kg. Delong’s lithium batteries use grade A lifepo4 cells from BYD.

Power Output

Lithium polymer batteries have a lower internal resistance, allowing them to deliver power output at higher currents. They are suitable for use in situations that require large current discharge, such as remote-controlled models and drones.

Lifepo4 batteries, on the other hand, are more oriented towards long-term, stable power output. They are commonly used in electric bicycles, large-scale energy storage systems, and other applications that require extended discharge times.

Lifespan

Lithium polymer batteries have a relatively short cycle life, typically between 300-800 cycles, which results in a higher frequency of replacement in practical use.

Compared to other lithium-ion batteries, LFP batteries have a longer cycle life, generally over 3000 cycles. High-quality suppliers can provide LFP batteries that can withstand over 6000 charge-discharge cycles. For instance, Delong’s 12V lithium batteries can last for more than 10 years.

Safety Features

Lithium polymer batteries have a flexible casing, and the electrolyte is either solid or gel-like, making them more susceptible to physical damage. They are more likely to short-circuit or swell when overcharged or overheated.

LFP batteries have a sturdier casing that can withstand certain external damage. Moreover, the LFP chemical structure is very stable; it is less likely to undergo thermal runaway in the event of overcharging or overheating, offering higher safety performance compared to other lithium-ion chemistries.

LiPo Vs Lifepo4 Cost

LiPo batteries use an expensive metal, cobalt, which increases the cost of raw materials. However, LiPo batteries benefit from mature manufacturing processes and a substantial market size, which gives them a certain level of competitiveness in pricing within some sectors.

LFP batteries, on the other hand, contain iron and lithium which are less expensive, and they have a stable supply chain with a relatively simple manufacturing process. However, early manufacturing techniques and limited production scales resulted in higher initial costs. With the rapid growth of the electric vehicle and energy storage markets, the cost of LFP batteries has gradually decreased.

Although they each have their advantages at different levels, in the long term, the increasing demand for sustainable energy sources and changes in the raw material supply chain will likely further reduce the cost of LiFePO4 batteries.

Temperature Tolerance

LFP batteries have stable chemical properties and good heat resistance. They can operate within a wide temperature range, maintaining good performance from -20°C to 60°C. Some batteries designed with a self-heating feature can work at even lower temperatures.

LiPo batteries have poorer heat resistance but do possess some tolerance to cold. Their performance declines and their lifespan shortens when operating under extreme temperatures, which also increases safety risks.

Lipo VS. Lifepo4 Voltage

Lithium polymer batteries start with a high voltage during initial discharge but the voltage gradually decreases as the battery is depleted.

Nominal voltage: 3.7V

Maximum charge voltage: 4.2V

Minimum discharge voltage: 2.7-3.0V

Lifepo4 batteries are able to maintain a relatively stable output voltage throughout the discharge process, resulting in a flatter discharge curve.

Single cell nominal voltage: 3.2V

Minimum discharge voltage: 2.0-2.8V

Maximum charge voltage: 3.60-3.65V

Type Nominal Voltage Maximum Charge Voltage Minimum Discharge Voltage
Lithium Polymer Battery 3.7V 4.2V 2.7-3.0V
Lifepo4 Battery 3.2V 2.0-2.8V 3.60-3.65V

Lifepo4 VS. Lipo Charging

Both types of batteries require dedicated chargers and utilize a charging method that begins with constant current followed by constant voltage.

However, LFP batteries support a charging rate of 1C or higher, allowing for shorter charging times.

LiPo batteries, on the other hand, require more precise charge management, typically charging at a rate of 0.5C to 1C, which results in longer times to fully charge.

12.8V 280Ah LiFePO4 Battery Charging Methods

12.8V 280Ah LiFePO4 Battery Charging Methods

Maintenance Requirements

Both types of batteries need to be charged with a dedicated charger for balanced charging and it’s necessary to regularly check that the voltage of individual cells is consistent. Avoid overcharging and deep discharging the batteries, as this will affect their lifespan, especially with LiPo batteries.

Additionally, when they need to be stored for a long period, ensure they are kept away from direct sunlight and in a temperature-appropriate environment. Prior to this, you may need to charge the LiPo batteries to a voltage between 3.7V and 3.85V.

Overall, LiFePO4 batteries have simpler and more forgiving maintenance requirements compared to LiPo batteries, as they have greater stability and safety.

Environmental Impact

The mining of cobalt, a rare metal used in lithium polymer batteries, can lead to environmental degradation. The greenhouse gases and other substances produced during the manufacturing process can also negatively impact water, soil, and air. In addition, hazardous materials from discarded batteries need to be properly managed during the recycling process to prevent environmental harm.

LiFePO4 batteries are made from materials that are more abundant and easier to obtain, which means their mining and production processes have a lesser impact on the environment. They have longer replacement cycles and greater stability, resulting in less harm during their recycling process.

Environmentally Friendly

Lifepo4 Environmentally Friendly

Applications

Lithium polymer batteries, due to their high energy density, are lightweight and very popular in portable electronic devices where space is limited, such as mobile phones, laptops, drones, racing models, wearable applications, and more.

Lifepo4 batteries have a long service life, high safety performance, and good stability, making them well-suited for systems that require long-term power supply. These include electric vehicles, solar energy storage systems, portable industrial equipment, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), and recreational vehicles, among others.

Pros And Cons Of Solar Battery Storage

Solar Battery Storage

Which Is Better? Lifepo4 VS. LiPo

Before discussing this issue, let’s first summarize their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of Lifepo4 Battery

• High safety performance: The chemical properties of lithium iron phosphate are very stable, and it is not prone to fire or explosion even when overcharged or overheated.

• Long service life: It has more than 2000 charge-discharge cycles. For example, Delong’s lifepo4 batteries can last for 12 years.

• Low self-discharge rate: It has a very low monthly self-discharge rate, so it can maintain a high level of charge even when not used for extended periods.

• Environmentally friendly: The environmental impact of lifepo4 batteries is minimal, making them a green and eco-friendly energy source.

Cons of Lifepo4 Battery

• Lower energy density: Compared to other types of lithium-ion batteries, LFP battery has a relatively lower energy density.

• Higher initial cost: Although there is a higher long-term return, the initial investment cost has not yet fully decreased.

• Limited low-temperature performance: The battery’s performance significantly decreases under low-temperature conditions, making it unsuitable for extremely cold regions.

Pros of Lipo Battery

• High energy density: Its energy density is higher than that of lfp batteries, resulting in smaller size and weight.

• Flexibility in shape: It can be designed in various shapes and sizes to meet the space requirements of the application.

• Lightweight: LiPo batteries are relatively light, making them ideal for use in portable devices.

• High discharge rate: LiPo batteries can provide a current several times their own capacity, suitable for applications that require high current output.

Cons of Lipo Battery

• Safety: LiPo batteries are prone to swelling when overcharged, deeply discharged, or physically damaged.

• Short lifespan: LiPo batteries have a shorter cycle life, with only a few hundred recharge cycles.

• Maintenance requirements: LiPo batteries require regular balanced charging and voltage checks.

• Environmental impact: LiPo batteries contain the heavy metal cobalt, which has a negative impact on the environment.

It’s clear that each can shine in different application scenarios by leveraging their own strengths. Therefore, we need to clarify our own needs (performance, budget, lifespan) and judge who is more suitable based on specific scenarios, rather than simply stating who is better. Of course, I think you might already have your own choice in mind based on the above comparison.

FAQ

Are Lipo And Lifepo4 The Same?

They are not the same. Their chemical compositions, performance characteristics, and application fields are all different, representing two distinct types of lithium-ion battery technologies.

Is Lifepo4 A Lipo Battery?

No, lifepo4 batteries are not lithium polymer batteries. They use different cathode materials, but both fall under the category of lithium-ion batteries.

Can You Charge Lifepo4 With Lipo Charger?

You cannot use a LiPo charger to charge LiFePO4 batteries because these two types of batteries have different charging requirements and voltage thresholds. It is only advisable to do so if the charger explicitly states that it supports LiFePO4 batteries and has the corresponding charging algorithm. Otherwise, using a mismatched charger to charge LiFePO4 batteries could damage their lifespan and even pose safety risks.

Is Lifepo4 Charging Better Than Lipo?

They differ in their charging characteristics and performance, so it’s not straightforward to say which one has a better charging method. For example, LiFePO4 batteries have higher chemical stability, generate less heat during charging, and have better tolerance to overcharging. However, LiPo batteries support fast charging, which is advantageous for applications that need to return to a working state quickly.

Conclusion

We have compared LiFePO4 and LiPo batteries from multiple aspects, hoping it will be helpful for your learning, work, and daily life. We believe that you also have your own judgment and answers, and you are welcome to share your thoughts on LiFePO4 vs. LiPo. 

If you are looking for lifepo4 or lithium polymer batteries, feel free to contact Delong. We are a battery manufacturer with 14 years of production experience.