top of page

The Difference Between Tubular and Lithium Batteries

We will be addressing the following questions in our upcoming blog post:

  • Which battery type is more affordable upfront?

  • Which battery requires less maintenance?

  • Which battery is better for frequent cycling?

  • Which battery is safer?

  • Which battery is more environmentally friendly?

  • Which battery is better for portable applications?

Blog Contents:


Introduction:

In today's fast-paced world, the demand for dependable and effective energy storage solutions has never been greater. Two widely recognized options in this domain are tubular and lithium batteries. Despite serving the same purpose of storing electrical energy, these two types of batteries differ in terms of technology, performance, and applications. Understanding these variances is crucial in making an informed decision that aligns with your requirements.


Chemistry and Construction:

These are a type of deep-cycle lead-acid battery. Lead plates submerged in an electrolyte solution of sulfuric acid generate electricity. The positive plates are constructed with a lattice-like tubular design, offering improved durability compared to traditional flooded lead-acid batteries.

These come in various chemistries, but Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) is a popular choice for stationary applications due to its safety and stability. Unlike lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries rely on the movement of lithium ions between electrodes made of lithium compounds.



Weight and Size:

Tubular Batteries:

Tubular batteries are noticeably heavier and larger compared to lithium batteries with the same capacity. This is because of the lead plates and electrolyte solution, which substantially contribute to the overall weight of the tubular batteries.

Lithium Batteries:

Thanks to their higher energy density, lithium batteries can store more energy in a smaller and lighter package. This makes them ideal for applications where space and weight are critical factors, such as portable electronics and electric vehicles.


Depth of Discharge:

Tubular Batteries:

They are typically designed for a Depth of Discharge of around 50%. Discharging them beyond this level can significantly shorten their lifespan. Regular maintenance, including topping up the electrolyte with distilled water, is crucial for optimal performance.

Lithium Batteries:

Lithium batteries boast a much deeper Depth of Discharge, often exceeding 90%. This translates to more usable energy before needing a recharge. Additionally, lithium batteries require minimal maintenance, eliminating the need for water top-ups.


high quality batteries

Charging:

Tubular Batteries:

Tubular batteries require a significantly longer charging time compared to lithium batteries. They typically reach a full charge in 8 to 10 hours, while lithium batteries can often be charged in a matter of hours.

Lithium Batteries:

Lithium batteries are known for their straightforward charging characteristics and shorter charging times. They are capable of reaching full capacity within just a few hours, which makes them particularly suitable for applications that require frequent use due to their convenience.


Lifespan:

They typically have a lifespan of around 3-5 years with proper maintenance. The number of discharge cycles they can withstand is limited, usually around 2000-3000 cycles.

Lithium Batteries:

Lithium batteries boast a significantly longer lifespan, often exceeding 10 years. They can endure a much higher number of discharge cycles, typically ranging from more than 6000 cycles.





Safety:

Tubular Batteries:

Tubular batteries, despite being generally safe, have the potential to cause acid spills and emit hydrogen gas during the charging process. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure proper ventilation when using these batteries and to avoid installing them in living spaces.

Lithium Batteries:

Lithium batteries, especially those using LiFePO4 chemistries, are known for their enhanced safety features. Unlike some lithium-ion batteries, they are less susceptible to thermal runaway, which is a leading cause of fires. Nevertheless, it's essential to ensure proper installation and usage to maintain safety.


Environmental Impact:

Tubular Batteries:

Tubular batteries, a type of lead-acid batteries, contain lead and are classified as hazardous waste. It is crucial to recycle these batteries to reduce their environmental impact and minimize harm to the environment.

Lithium Batteries:

While lithium mining has environmental concerns, lithium batteries are generally considered more eco-friendly than lead-acid batteries due to their longer lifespan and higher efficiency. Additionally, lithium battery recycling technology is continuously improving.


best lithium batteries

Cost:

They are generally less expensive upfront compared to lithium batteries.

Lithium Batteries:

Despite the higher initial cost, lithium batteries often offer a lower total cost of ownership due to their longer lifespan and lower maintenance requirements.


Applications:

These are commonly used in applications requiring high surge currents and moderate backup times, such as UPS systems, off-grid solar power systems, and telecom backup power.

They are increasingly favored for applications where weight, size, efficiency, and long lifespans are crucial. This includes electric vehicles, portable electronics, solar power systems with frequent cycling, and grid energy storage.


best tubular batteries

Further Considerations When Choosing Between Tubular and Lithium Batteries:

Beyond the core factors, additional considerations can influence your decision:

Temperature Tolerance:

Tubular batteries have a wider operating temperature range than lithium batteries. They can perform well in extreme heat or cold, making them suitable for environments with significant temperature fluctuations. Lithium batteries, particularly LiFePO4 chemistries, offer a good compromise, but their optimal performance range might be narrower.

Maintenance:

Tubular batteries require regular maintenance, including topping up the electrolyte with distilled water and cleaning the battery terminals. Lithium batteries are virtually maintenance-free, eliminating these ongoing tasks.

Scalability:

Tubular batteries can be easily scaled by adding additional batteries in parallel to increase capacity. Lithium battery systems might require more complex configurations for larger installations.

Discharge Rate:

Tubular batteries can deliver high surge currents, making them suitable for applications with sudden power demands. Lithium batteries, however, might have limitations on their discharge rate depending on the specific model.

Future Developments:

Lithium battery technology is constantly evolving, offering the potential for even higher energy density, faster charging times, and lower costs in the future.


the best lithium batteries

Examples of Applications:

Off-grid Solar Power Systems:

For remote locations with limited access to grid power, tubular batteries can be a cost-effective choice for moderate backup needs. However, if frequent cycling and portability are priorities, lithium batteries might be a better fit.

Home Energy Storage:

Lithium batteries are becoming increasingly popular for home energy storage systems paired with solar panels. Their efficiency, long lifespan, and minimal maintenance make them a compelling choice for homeowners seeking to maximize the self-consumption of solar energy.

Electric Vehicles:

Lithium batteries are the undisputed choice for electric vehicles due to their high energy density and ability to deliver sustained power. Their lightweight design also contributes to improved vehicle range.

Industrial Applications:

Both tubular and lithium batteries find application in industrial settings. Tubular batteries might be suitable for backup power in facilities with less demanding cycling requirements, while lithium batteries can power critical equipment like automated guided vehicles (AGVs) where efficiency and long lifespans are crucial.


best lithium batteries

Installation Differences Between Tubular and Lithium Batteries

Choosing the right battery for your needs goes beyond just its capacity and chemistry. Installation methods are a crucial consideration, impacting your initial setup time and ongoing maintenance requirements. In the following paragraphs, we'll delve into the world of tubular and lithium batteries, exploring how their installation processes differ.

1. Tubular Batteries:

Tubular batteries, a type of deep-cycle lead-acid battery, are known for their reliability and affordability. However, their installation demands a bit more effort:

Safety First:

Lead-acid batteries require proper ventilation. Choose a well-ventilated location, away from living spaces, to avoid hydrogen gas buildup during charging.

Flooded vs. AGM:

Flooded tubular batteries necessitate periodic electrolyte (water) level checks and top-offs with distilled water to maintain optimal performance. AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) tubular batteries are maintenance-free in this regard but might have slightly lower capacities.

Cable Connections:

Ensure proper cable sizing and secure connections to the battery terminals. Corrosion protection on terminals is essential to prevent future issues.

Racking and Support:

Tubular batteries are heavy! A sturdy rack or battery box capable of handling their weight is necessary for a safe and organized installation.

2. Lithium Batteries:

Lithium batteries, particularly Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) chemistries, offer a compelling alternative with a simpler installation process:

Ventilation:

While generally considered safer than lead-acid batteries, proper ventilation is still recommended for lithium battery installations.

Maintenance-Free:

No electrolyte top-offs are required with lithium batteries. They also typically don't suffer from significant terminal corrosion, minimizing maintenance needs.

Dedicated Battery Management System (BMS):

Most lithium battery systems incorporate a BMS, which regulates charging and discharging parameters, protecting the battery and ensuring optimal performance. This eliminates the need for complex manual charging procedures.

Mounting Options:

Lithium batteries often come in compact, lightweight packages, offering more flexibility in mounting options. Wall-mounted units or free-standing battery boxes are readily available depending on your space constraints.


premium lithium batteries

3. Beyond the Basics:

While the above outlines the core differences, additional factors might come into play during installation:

Parallel vs. Series Connection: Both tubular and lithium batteries can be connected in parallel to increase capacity or in series to increase voltage. Understanding the desired output and consulting the battery manufacturer's instructions is crucial for safe and proper connection.

System Integration:

When integrating batteries with solar panels or inverters, ensure compatibility between system components. Reputable solar installers can handle the entire installation process for a seamless experience.

Choosing the Right Installer:

Regardless of the battery type, consider working with a qualified installer. Their expertise can ensure a safe, efficient, and code-compliant installation, maximizing the lifespan and performance of your battery system.

Ideal Features for All Uses:

1. Tubular Batteries:

Tubular batteries are a popular choice for a variety of applications, thanks to their unique design and superior performance. Whether you're looking for a reliable backup power source for your home, a deep-cycle battery for your solar system, or a safe and eco-friendly solution for industrial use, tubular batteries offer a compelling set of features.

Wide Range of Options:

Tubular batteries come in a wide range of capacities, from 50Ah to 500Ah. This allows you to choose the perfect battery size for your specific needs, whether you require a small battery for occasional use or a large-capacity battery for extended power backup.

Safe and Easy Installation:

Tubular batteries are designed for safe and easy installation. They are sealed units, eliminating the risk of leaks or spills. Additionally, their straightforward design makes them simple to integrate into your existing system.

Extra Reserve Power:

Tubular batteries boast excellent reserve capacity, ensuring they can deliver consistent power even during demanding applications. Their low self-discharge rate minimizes energy loss when not in use, further enhancing their reliability.

Environmentally Friendly:

Tubular batteries are an eco-friendly choice. They help reduce reliance on fossil fuels and promote a cleaner environment. Their special design ensures efficient resource utilization, and they are a non-polluting source of energy.

Deep Cycle Capability:

Tubular batteries are perfect for deep-cycle applications, where they are repeatedly discharged and recharged. This is due to their use of a PE separator, which allows for high charge acceptance, and special additives that improve both acceptance and retention of charge.

Low Maintenance:

Tubular batteries are designed to require minimal maintenance. Special alloy grids minimize gassing and water loss, reducing the need for frequent topping up. Additionally, features like extra electrolytes and leak-proof seals contribute to their low maintenance needs. Float indicators also provide a convenient way to monitor electrolyte levels.







By combining these ideal features, tubular batteries offer a versatile and reliable solution for a wide range of applications. Whether you prioritize safety, eco-friendliness, deep cycle performance, or low maintenance, tubular batteries are a strong contender for your next battery purchase.

2. Lithium Batteries:

Lithium-ion batteries have become ubiquitous in our modern world, powering everything from smartphones and laptops to electric vehicles and even large-scale grid storage. But what makes them the ideal choice for such a wide range of applications? Here's a look at the key features that make lithium batteries stand out:

Long Cycle Life:

Lithium-ion batteries boast lifespans exceeding 6,000 charging cycles. This translates to years of reliable use before needing replacement, making them a cost-effective and sustainable option in the long run.

High Energy Density:

Unlike their predecessors, lithium batteries pack a significant amount of power into a compact size. This allows for slimmer and lighter electronic devices without sacrificing performance. Additionally, lithium batteries offer rapid charging capabilities, making them perfect for our fast-paced world.

Wide Operating Temperature Range:

Extreme temperatures can wreak havoc on batteries. Thankfully, lithium batteries excel at retaining their charge even in harsh environments. Their exceptionally low self-discharge rate ensures they hold their power over extended periods of inactivity, regardless of the climate.

Excellent Safety and Reliability:

Safety is paramount, especially with devices that store large amounts of energy. Lithium batteries are built with high-quality, rigorously tested materials and designed to meet the highest safety standards. This unwavering reliability is particularly crucial in backup power applications and emergency devices where uninterrupted performance is essential.



best lithium batteries for homes


These ideal features make lithium-ion batteries a versatile and dependable power source for a multitude of applications. From keeping our phones juiced up to powering the future of electric transportation, lithium batteries are undeniably shaping the way we live and work.


Conclusion:

The choice between tubular and lithium batteries depends on your specific needs and priorities. Tubular batteries offer a cost-effective option for moderate backup applications, while lithium batteries excel in terms of performance, lifespan, and environmental impact. Weighing the various factors discussed above will help you select the most suitable battery for your situation. Ultimately, the most suitable battery type depends on the specific application and its unique set of requirements. By carefully considering the factors outlined above, you can make an informed decision that optimizes performance, cost-effectiveness, and long-term value. Consulting with a battery expert or solar installer can be beneficial in determining the best solution for your specific needs.

53 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page