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With the number of electrical and electronic gadgets that need to be operated in a day, the auxiliary battery has become essential to enjoy life in the van.

For good performance and durability, forget the old lead-acid battery technology right away, regardless of the model.

It’s now clear that lithium batteries are the best option. With a lifespan five times longer than a traditional lead-acid battery, lithium batteries are also lighter, safer and up to 400 times more efficient in cold temperatures. Around -10°C, a good lithium battery will still deliver 80 amps, compared to only 15 amps for an acid battery.

That said, there are different grades of lithium batteries available and you need to make sure you choose the right one. There are many poor-quality products available on the web and at some retailers, and while these cheap batteries may attract you with a tempting price, they will not give you all the benefits that lithium has to offer. Worse, they may not be as safe as a lead-acid battery.

There are three main criteria that define the quality of lithium batteries: the cells, the electronics and the engineering quality. If these three aspects are respected, you will have in your hands a battery that will be faithful to you for 10 years or even more. On the other hand, a poor-quality lithium battery could show signs of weakness in the first few years.

Let’s take a closer look…

Batterie au lithium - Volthium

The cells

Denis Geoffroy, a chemical engineer by training, has more than 25 years of experience in the field of lithium batteries. For him, there is no risk to be taken with cheap batteries, which are often powered by cells of inferior quality.

This quality is measured mainly by the purity of the metals used and the conditions in which these materials are assembled to build the batteries. It may not sound like much, but there is a huge difference between a 99.9% pure lithium battery and a 99.9999% pure lithium battery. “If there are copper pipes in a factory, there is a risk that air will come in contact with those pipes and copper particles will get into the battery. It’s as simple as that,” says Geoffroy, adding that the quality behind the production line is absolutely crucial.

A lower-cost battery could therefore have the same specifications on paper, but use less pure cells, the consequences of which will inevitably be felt sooner or later.

Femme avec un ordinateur

Crédit: Karolina Krupa

First, the longevity of the battery will be significantly compromised if the quality of the cells is not up to par. “It’s going to damage the surfaces, and slowly through the cycles, the battery is going to lose its efficiency,” Geoffroy says. Eventually, this will result in heating that will degrade the battery’s capabilities.

You have to understand that a lithium cell is constantly reacting, just like a living organism. Throughout all these interactions, impure metals will inevitably cause degradation of the battery’s performance. The cold temperatures in Quebec can accelerate this process, even if the battery is not in use.

Sprinter van sur la plage

Crédit: Karolina Krupa

Safety can even become a major issue with batteries using bad cells. The risks of explosion are very real and are certainly not to be taken lightly. Denis Geoffroy cites the example of certain Samsung phones, which were not even allowed on planes a few years ago because of the real risks.

“It’s worth taking a few minutes to look at YouTube to see what a burning lithium battery looks like,” says Geoffroy. “I would never choose a battery from an unknown Chinese supplier. “

Papa avec bébé et chien dans une van

Electronics

No matter where its cells come from, a lithium battery always needs an electronic system to stay balanced. This system, known as the Battery Management System (BMS), must also be of impeccable quality for a battery to function properly over the long term.

“A good BMS will control the unbalancing of each cell, and not just by monitoring the voltage,” says Yves Choquette, a chemist by training who specializes in electrochemistry. Very involved in the world of lithium batteries since the 1990s, Mr. Choquette is unequivocal: a cheap and inadequate BMS can have significant negative repercussions on the durability of a battery.

Batterie au lithium Volthium

Over time, a low-end BMS will have difficulty monitoring each cell properly, which will cause the battery to heat up more. “When recharging and especially towards the end of the charge, it’s very bad for a battery to get hot. This will lead to a loss of capacity over time,” explains Mr. Choquette, noting that the cold temperatures in Quebec make the work of a BMS even more important.

Among the components of the BMS, the metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistors, or more commonly known as mosfets, play a crucial role in the balancing of the cells. If they are of a lower quality, these small parts will crack over time and make the battery fail and become obsolete.

All of this means that a battery with a low-end BMS will die prematurely, even if the cells in it are still good.

Famille et chien dans un Sprinter Van

Engineering quality

As you can see, the differences between a good and a bad lithium battery are enormous. The problem is that it is difficult to assess the quality of the cells and electronics with the naked eye. To make sure you don’t get confused, it’s wise to turn to a trusted retailer who can confirm the source and quality of these components.

That’s where a well-known Quebec company like Volthium comes in.

Using UL1973 certified cells from a world-renowned supplier, notably for its contracts with BMW, Tesla, LG and Volkswagen, Volthium relies on the best electronic components available, but also on impeccable engineering quality and thoughtfulness for Canada.

Batterie au lithium Volthium

In order to deal with our often-bumpy roads, Volthium welds its cells instead of bolting them together. All screws are also sprayed with an adhesive additive to avoid any risk of long-term defect. The 12V batteries are assembled in a compact format (Group 24) that allows you to carry them with you easily, especially since their weight is very light.

Guaranteed for 10 years, Volthiumbatteries are also equipped with a custom-made case that allows free access to the electronics. In case of breakage, you can simply replace the defective part instead of the complete set, which is not possible with all suppliers. In fact, if you use several batteries in parallel, some manufacturers will force you to replace the other batteries… by offering you a warranty only on the one that was defective!

Couple avec Sprinter Van en Colombie-Britannique

Crédit: Karolina Krupa

In summary

What you need to remember about all this? The world of lithium batteries is full of mediocre manufacturers whose only goal is to offer the cheapest product possible.

Except that in the long run, it pays to choose a quality battery that will last longer and pose less of a safety risk. “It’s like choosing between a Lada and a Toyota. The Lada, you’ll pay less, but it won’t last as long,” Denis Geoffroy cleverly concludes.

In collaboration with Volthium Energy

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