Tips for LiFePO4 Battery Performance During Cold Weather
Cold weather doesn’t stop me from riding and it shouldn’t stop you either! In general LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron) motorcycle and ATV batteries are a moderate climate power source, but they can be used in some cold weather conditions with a little bit of knowledge. Let’s take a look at LiFePO4 powersport batteries and cold weather performance.
LiFePO4 batteries have an operating temperature down to about 0°F and we’ve heard of people using them at temperatures below this. We’ve even tested them ourselves right out of a freezer, and they worked, but that doesn’t mean they will always work! Most customers can start their vehicle on the first try when above 20°F if you keep in mind some cold weather starting tips.
Warming the LiFePO4 Battery Before Starting Your Vehicle
Once temperatures start to reach the mid-40s it is often helpful to warm the battery before starting. This doesn’t mean you need to wrap your battery in an electric blanket, or take a blow dryer out to heat up the battery! Instead we suggest running your headlights, running lights, or an accessory such as the radio for 30 seconds prior to starting your ATV.
This simple procedure will cause the passing of ions in the battery membrane, which effectively starts to heat the lithium in the battery thereby increasing the battery’s performance. Headlights are always the best option as they take a good amount of amperage to run and will heat up the battery quicker. You may need to increase the warming time to a couple of minutes if you have some low energy LED lighting on your vehicle.
Why will this help? LiFePO4 batteries typically have a simulated CCA test done at about 70°F because of their nature and the need for the lithium to be warm in order to perform. A normal lead acid battery CCA test is done at 0°F and shows how the battery will perform at extreme temperatures right from the get go.
In general, the more you pull from a lead acid battery, the weaker it becomes. Lithium motorcycle and ATV batteries are not meant for extreme temperatures, so the technology is different, and in a way it is the reverse of the typical lead acid battery that your application came with. Let me explain.
In LiFePO4 batteries the lower the temperature the higher the resistance is in the battery, and the higher the resistance the lowers the available capacity is in the battery. This means in lower temperatures the cutoff voltage to start the vehicle may be too low given the batteries available capacity. By running your headlights or accessories it will warm the lithium in the battery thereby lowering the resistance. Less resistance equals an increasing capacity, which increases the voltage under load, and allows you to start your vehicle.
At about 0°F you are at the bottom operating temperature range of a lithium powersport motorcycle and ATV battery. In order to get your vehicle to start at these low temperatures, you may need to run the headlights or accessories longer in the vehicle, but not too long. We suggest running them for about a minute, and then attempt to start the vehicle.
Keep in mind that if the first attempt to crank the vehicle over fails, the amperage pulled by the starter helps to heat the battery even more and the second attempt will perform better than the first. You may need to pause briefly between attempts in order to give the lithium a chance to warm. Several attempts to crank over the vehicle may be required the closer you are to 0°F, so do allow for those brief pauses, which will allow the battery to heat up.
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