What You Need to Know When Upgrading Your Sailboat to Lithium

Posted October 01, 2020

In this week’s blog, we’re discussing the benefits of upgrading your sailboat to lithium batteries. In an unforgiving environment, like the open ocean or a lake, being able to run critical systems like radios, running lights, and navigation systems is vital to safety and survival. We believe RELiON LiFePO4 batteries are the best choice for power because of the many benefits and dependability of lithium batteries. Today, we’ll review models that our customers have used with great success.

RELiON Chart

Efficiency & Performance

Lithium batteries are the most efficient operating choice when it comes to delivering rated amp hours, constant voltage regardless of state of charge, and charging efficiency. RELiON LiFePO4 batteries will deliver their nominal capacity with 99% efficiency regardless of the rate you discharge at. Unlike lead-acid, there’s no worrying about the variable capacity of the battery if you discharge at a 5, 10, or 20 hour rate. Additionally, at a 1C discharge rate our 12V batteries will maintain above 12V under load to about 90% depth of discharge. This means your running lights won’t dim deep into a discharge cycle like they do with lead-acid. Lithium batteries can also be recharged much faster than lead-acid. Where a lead-acid bank of batteries could take six to 12 hours to charge, RELiON lithium batteries can charge in as little as one to three hours. If you’re forced to run a generator to charge, lithium batteries can result in substantial fuel cost savings by charging four to six times faster than lead-acid. Finally, lithium batteries weigh about half that of their lead acid counterparts, saving several hundred valuable pounds that could be used elsewhere or excluded to increase vessel performance.

Adaptability & Safety

RELiON lithium batteries can be set up in series or parallel to meet your voltage or capacity requirements, can be charged through multiple methods, and do not emit any gasses while charging or discharging. Although we recommend individually charging batteries connected in series, our batteries may be charged through multiple sources that include alternators, DC to DC chargers, inverter chargers, and or charge controllers. Please see our charging document for more information. Additionally, lithium batteries aren’t affected by remaining in a partial state of charge. On cloudy days you don’t have to worry about damaging your batteries if your solar panels aren’t operating at maximum efficiency. LiFePO4 is an inherently safe chemistry because its structural stability results in significantly less heat generation than other lithium chemistries. Additionally, RELiON LiFePO4 batteries are equipped with several layers of fail safes that prevent catastrophic failure. Lithium batteries may also be stored in just about any dry place on the vessel. Because they do not emit any gasses during operation, ventilation is not a concern so batteries could even be placed in living quarters.

RELiON Chart

Longevity & Cost

Lithium batteries will outperform lead-acid in almost every category including overall life cycles, cost per cycle, and maintenance. Directly compared to AGM or GEL, lithium batteries will outlast their lead-acid counterparts by 6 to 10 times. Although the up-front cost of lithium seems higher than lead-acid, the costs are recouped in a much longer life span and reduced cost to charge. As for maintenance, with lithium there isn’t any!

RELiON Comparison Chart

Beyond the benefits of greater efficiency, performance, adaptability, safety, longevity and cost, RELiON LiFePO4 batteries provide dependable peace of mind, whether you enjoy weekends on the water or live on your sailboat full time.

If you need help selecting the right model for your vessel or if you have any questions please contact us.

About the Author:

Chi Woodruff

Chi Woodruff is a Sr. Product Manager at RELiON Battery. Chi's experience includes product management in distribution and manufacturing industries along with a history of analysis, product launches, rebranding and life-cycle management in the battery industry. In his free time, Chi is an avid runner and pacer at many races in Southern California. Keep up with Chi on LinkedIn here.