Frequently Asked Questions
What is lithium iron? How does it differ from other lithium types, such as lithium-ion?
Lithium iron batteries are a type of rechargeable batteries, and is technically a lithium-ion battery. So, they are very similar to lithium-ion, except they use a different cathode material, which they are named for. Typical lithium-ion batteries used in consumer electronics use lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) cathodes, while Shorai batteries use lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4, also called LFP).
The short answer is a lithium-ion battery has higher performance, but lithium-iron batteries are less sensitive to temperature extremes. This increase protection against heat makes lithium iron preferable in applications like motorcycles.
What makes Shorai LFX different from other batteries?
Shorai proprietary lithium iron prismatic cells contain no poisonous lead, no dangerous acid, and do not create explosive gases during charge, as traditional Lead-Acid batteries do. Shorai batteries are extremely light, in many cases weighing in at less than half the total weight of their AGM equivalents. They have a much lower self-discharge rate, do not sulfate (more on this below-- see "Can I use a Lead-Acid battery charger or maintainer?"), and are environmentally friendly.
You may have seen other companies that offer lithium-iron based power-sports batteries. But, all except Shorai uses cylindrical cells originally made for power tool applications. These are inferior to Shorai's Prismatic batteries, for several reasons.
- Cylindrical cells only come in one size, limiting the possible shapes and sizes for starter batteries. This causes the battery fit to be poor, as the batteries are commonly too wide or too tall. Shorai prismatic cells are free to be designed to fit the size requirements of the battery case. This allows Shorai to make their batteries to drop-in perfectly to make vehicles. If cases where the battery made be slightly smaller, high-density, adhesive-backed foam shims are included in your packaging. These are easy to apply to insure a perfect "as original" fit, without the hassle of saws, cutting torches, or duct tape
- Power tool cells may crank a vehicle successfully, but they were not intended for high current discharges in starter systems. This causes the batteries to wear out more and more with each start, and the cranking performance will suffer. The Shorai battery, in comparison, has been designed from the ground up to be a power-sports starter battery with a long lifespan and high performance, under an array of temperatures. They've been used in some extreme projects, such as aircraft, electromagnetic rail gun research, and submarines, to name a few.
- Quality control. Every Shorai battery is built in their own ISO 9000:2008 certified factory. The primary ingredients are sourced from Taiwan, which allows production of the most consistent and reliable cells. Every cell goes from quality control and matching over a six-week period. This testing is up to four times longer than normal and is expensive, but it definitely shows in the product.
How does Shorai CCA compare to lead-acid?
CCA ratings are a way lead-acid makers have tried to convey starting power. Unfortunately, they are generally based on a "half-nominal-voltage" delivery. That is, at their CCA spec, you can expect 7.2 volt delivered, at best; and 7.2V isn't useful, as you won't start a vehicle with it...
CCA ratings aren't about actually drawing that much current from a battery. The typical vehicle which uses a 200A CCA-rated battery, for example, will only draw 45A~80A from the battery. What the CCA rating really intends to convey is how much voltage will be delivered. Higher CCA rated batteries will delivery more voltage at the same actual cranking current. Shorai batteries are rated to deliver 9V for a 5-second crank at the CCA rated current. At actual cranking currents (which are always well below CCA), Shorai batteries deliver up to two volts more than an equivalent-CCA-rated lead acid battery.
Can I use a Lead-Acid battery charger or maintainer?
Yes. HOWEVER, you may NOT use a charger if it has an automatic "desulfation mode", which cannot be turned off. But, since Shorai batteries do not have issues with sulphation, lacking this feature on your charger will not be a problem.
The optimal charger we offer at BatteryMart.com is Deltran's 12 Volt, 1.25 Amp Battery Tender (Model 021-0128).
I hear that lithium crank poorly when it gets cold, is that right?
Lithium do increase in resistance more as temperature drops, compared to lead-acid. However, they also react to cranking under cold conditions in a much better way. Lead-acid will increase resistance on each subsequent cranking attempt, until it won't turn over. If your LFX fails to start the engine on first crank, that first crank has warmed the battery, and the second attempt will be much stronger, and so on until you get a good start.
Shorai LFX are much better in cold-weather conditions than other-brand lithium starter batteries, due to our extreme-rate formulation with low resistance. Down to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7C) most users find that they can start normally on first crank. If your headlight comes on at key-ON, it is good for the batteries to flow some current before cranking in cold weather. The suggested headlight-on time before cranking depends on the temperature. If starting at 40f (5C), 30 seconds will help wake the battery and increase cranking performance. If at 0f (-17C), leave the lights on for 4~5 minutes before cranking. The result will be a better first crank, and longer battery life. Any other accessories that can be turned on before cranking can also be used for this purpose, such as heated gear, radio, etc...
Do you have any tips for installing Shorai batteries?
Shorai has put together a guide and a video for installing their batteries. You can find the guide and a printer-friendly, downloading PDF here.