Can I charge a lithium battery with a normal charger?

We use batteries of many types in automobiles, including Lithium-Ion, but can we charge them with a regular charger?

In most cases, the answer is no. This is because Lithium-Ion batteries need a constant voltage and constant current charge. Most lead-acid battery charges use varying voltage and current to charge and revive a battery.

This brief article describes how to charge a Lithium-Ion battery and the types of chargers you can use.

Can I charge a lithium battery with a normal charger?

In simple terms, the answer is a straight no.

Standard battery chargers do not provide the constant voltage and current that a lithium-ion battery needs. Some regular chargers may have the features required to charge lithium-ion batteries, but if you are unsure, don’t use them.

In general, a regular battery charger will provide varying current and voltage to a battery until it is 80% charged and then switch to a trickle charge. This is a risky circumstance for lithium-ion batteries, as they are sensitive to overcharging.

The cells in a lithium-ion battery are charged to 4.2 volts, around 70% of their capacity. At this point, a dedicated lithium-ion battery charger will shut down. A standard charger will continue to charge with a high risk of the cell breaking down and expelling explosive gas.

Can a lithium battery be charged with other chargers? 

With lead-acid charger

Some automobiles now come standard with lithium batteries, specifically the LiFePO4 kind. For this reason, it’s essential to know if you can use your old lead-acid battery charger with your lithium battery.

A few problems make charging a lithium battery with a lead-acid charger unadvisable. We discuss them below.

Can I Charge A Lithium Battery With A Normal Charger?
There are 4 different features: nominal voltage, peak voltage, float charge & full charge, monitor individual cells between charging LiFeP04 and lead-acid battery.

First, the individual battery cell voltages are different. LiFePO4 cells are generally around 3.6 volts, whereas lead-acid cells are usually 2.4volts.

A standard lead-acid charger is not usually suitable, as the charger’s current and voltage vary during the charging cycle.

The charger may also include a maintenance stage, providing a trickle charge which will damage a lithium-ion battery. Many lead-acid chargers also have a float charge at the end of the cycle, overcharging the lithium-ion cells.

Lithium-ion batteries have battery management systems that monitor individual cells and balance the voltages. Lead-acid battery chargers cannot measure individual cell voltages, which could cause dangerous overcharging in a particular cell.

With a regular trickle charger

Never try to charge a lithium-ion battery with a trickle charger. If you do, you run the risk of the battery being overcharged, causing it to overheat and catch fire.

Once a lithium-ion battery cell reaches 4.2 volts, it must switch the charging circuit off. A trickle charger will continue to supply current and voltage.

With a solar panel

This is an excellent way of charging a battery since the electricity is free. However, you will need a controller that can provide the correct voltage and current for the battery you are charging.

With a car alternator

Yes, this is possible, but as with the solar panel, a specific charge controller must be used to ensure the battery is charged correctly.

Can i charge a lithium battery with a normal charger
Best types of chargers that can be used to charge a lithium battery: solar panel, car alternator with controller, and special charger designed for lithium battery.

What is the best way to charge a lithium-ion battery?

The best way to charge a lithium-ion battery is to use a battery charger designed for the purpose. The charger should stop charging when the cell charge reaches 4.2 volts, around 70% charged. Chargers that do not shut off at this point could overcharge the battery and cause a fire.

Take a glance at the three best chargers for lithium batteries below

 <br />
CTEK (56-926)
CTEK (56-926)
Check Price
<br />
OptiMate TM-291

OptiMate TM-291
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<br />
NOCO GENIUS5

NOCO GENIUS5
Check Price
Customer Rating
4.8
4.8
4.7
PriceCTEK (56-926)'' price<br />
OptiMate TM-291 price<br />
NOCO GENIUS5 price
Charging Current4.3A5A5A
Supported vehiclesmotorcycle, carmotorcycle, car, ATV, mowermotorcycle, car, ATV, mower
Battery Type12V LiFePO412V LiFePO4 / LFP / LiFe / LiFe12V LiFePO4, 12V AGM, Lead Acid
SafetyConnect and forget charger – will not overchargeReset Battery Management System (BMS) featureFully automatic
Test battery healthNoYesNo
Outstanding featurePacked with safety featuresExternal temperature charging adjustmentExcellent price and value for money
Score898

RELATED: Noco Genius2 vs Genius5 vs Genius10: Which Is An Overpriced Charger?

Lithium-Ion Batteries: Charging Guide for Maximum Endurance

With careful battery care, you can extend the life of your battery substantially. Here are a few quick tips to get the most from your lithium-ion battery.

The final 10% of a battery’s charge can put a lot of strain on the cells. The battery is at 80% or 90% charge extends the life of the cell.
  • Unplug the battery from the charger as soon as it is enough charged. Overcharging it can damage the battery or even cause a fire.
  • Don’t charge batteries that are already at 80% or more.
  • The last 10% of charging a battery can put a lot of stress on the cells. Disconnecting the charger at 80% or 90% charge will increase the cell life.
  • Try not to discharge batteries below 30% of their capacity.
  • Keep the batteries at a charge of around 30% – 70%.
  • Heat damages batteries and fast charging can cause internal heat. Try to charge slowly to avoid battery damage through heat.
A video about Lithium Battery Longevity: Double or Quadruple the Life of Your Lithium Battery.

Conclusion

Standard battery chargers, in summary, do not offer the continuous voltage and current required by lithium-ion batteries. If you demand and expect the best in Lithium batteries, the best option is to utilize chargers made exclusively for Lithium batteries.

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