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LiFePO4 Lithium Batteries in Series & Parallel: How-to & Everything You Need to Know

12 Feb 2023
LiFePO4 Lithium Batteries in Series & Parallel: How-to & Everything You Need to Know - LiTime

Connecting lithium-ion batteries in parallel or in series is not as straightforward as a simple series-parallel connection of circuits. To ensure the safety of both the batteries and the individual handling them, several important factors should be taken into consideration. Before diving into the necessary precautions, it's important to have a basic understanding of what parallel and series circuits are, their definitions, and unique characteristics.

Part 1: Series Connection of LiFePO4 Batteries

1.1 The Definition of Series Connection

Series connection of LiFePO4 batteries refers to connecting multiple cells in a sequence to increase the total voltage output. In this configuration, the positive terminal of one cell is connected to the negative terminal of the next cell and so on until the desired voltage is achieved. 

connect battery in series

The overall capacity of the battery pack remains the same as that of an individual cell, but the voltage output is increased. Series connection is commonly used in applications where high voltage is required, such as electric vehicles, solar power systems, and backup power supplies for buildings.

1.2 The Advantages of Series Connection

Series connection of LiFePO4 batteries has several advantages, including:

  1. Higher voltage output: By connecting multiple cells in series, the overall voltage output of the battery pack increases, making it suitable for applications that require higher voltage.For example, 4 packs of 12.8V battery connect in series, they can provide 51.2 V energy in total.
  1. More efficient energy storage: In a series-connected battery pack, each cell shares the load equally, ensuring that each cell is charged and discharged at the same rate. As a result, the overall energy storage is more efficient.

Series connection is ideal for applications that require high voltage, such as electric vehicles and solar power systems. It allows for efficient energy storage and ensures even distribution of charge and discharge within the battery pack.

LiFePO4 Batteries connect In Series

1.3 The Disadvantages of Series Connection

Series connection of LiFePO4 batteries also has some disadvantages, including:

  1. Risk of overcharging: If cells in a series-connected battery pack have different capacities or ages, they may discharge at different rates, leading to an imbalance in the pack's voltage. This can result in overcharging of some cells, which can be dangerous and reduce the lifespan of the entire battery pack.
  1. Decreased capacity: In a series-connected battery pack, the overall capacity remains the same as that of an individual cell. Therefore, connecting cells in series does not increase the overall capacity of the battery pack.

To avoid these problems, it is essential to ensure that all cells in the series-connected pack have similar capacities and ages. Additionally, proper charging and monitoring of the pack's voltage are crucial to prevent overcharging and ensure efficient operation of the battery pack.

Part 2: Parallel Connection of LiFePO4 Batteries

2.1 The Definition of Parallel Connection

Parallel connection of LiFePO4 batteries refers to connecting multiple cells together by linking the positive terminals and negative terminals to increase the overall capacity of the battery pack.

connect batteries in parallel

In this configuration, each cell shares the load equally, resulting in a higher current output, and thus an increase in overall capacity. The voltage output of the battery pack remains the same as that of an individual cell. Parallel connection is commonly used in applications where high capacity is required, such as backup power supplies for buildings, off-grid solar power systems, and electric vehicles.

2.2 The Advantages of Parallel Connection

Parallel connection of LiFePO4 batteries has several advantages, including:

 1. Increased capacity: By connecting multiple cells in parallel, the overall capacity of the battery pack is increased, making it suitable for applications that require high capacity. For example, 4 12.8V 100AH batteries connect in parallel, the voltage doesn't change while the capacity becomes to 400Ah.

 2. Reduced risk of overcharging: In a parallel-connected battery pack, each cell charges and discharges independently, reducing the risk of overcharging or undercharging any individual cell. This helps to ensure the safety and longevity of the entire battery pack.

LiFePO4 Batteries connect In parallel

Parallel connection is ideal for applications that require high capacity, such as backup power supplies for buildings and off-grid solar power systems. It allows for efficient energy storage and ensures even distribution of charge and discharge within the battery pack.

2.3 The Disadvantages of Parallel Connection

Parallel connection of LiFePO4 batteries also has some disadvantages, including:

  1. Lower voltage output: In a parallel-connected battery pack, the overall voltage output remains the same as that of an individual cell. Therefore, connecting cells in parallel does not increase the overall voltage of the battery pack.
  1. Less efficient energy storage: Because each cell in a parallel-connected battery pack charges and discharges independently, there may be some variation in the state of charge of each cell, resulting in less efficient energy storage.

To avoid these problems, it is essential to ensure that all cells in the parallel-connected pack have similar capacities and ages. Additionally, proper monitoring of the pack's voltage and state of charge is crucial to prevent undercharging or overcharging and ensure efficient operation of the battery pack.

Part 3: Comparison Between Series and Parallel Connections of LiFePO4 Batteries

In this part, we’ll explain the similarities and differences between series and parallel connections.

Similarities:

① Ability to increase overall battery performance: Both series and parallel connections of LiFePO4 batteries can increase the overall performance of the battery pack. In a series connection, the voltage output of the battery pack increases, while in a parallel connection, the capacity increases.

② Use in various applications: Both series and parallel connections are used in a variety of applications such as RVs, boats, and solar homes. They can also be used in electric vehicles and other off-grid systems.

Differences:

① Voltage output: Series connection of LiFePO4 batteries increases the overall voltage output of the battery pack. For instance, if four 12V batteries are connected in series, the output voltage of the battery pack will be 48V. In contrast, parallel connection of LiFePO4 batteries increases the overall capacity of the battery pack, but the voltage output remains the same as that of an individual cell or battery.

② Capacity: Parallel connection of LiFePO4 batteries increases the overall capacity of the battery pack. For instance, if 4 100Ah batteries are connected in parallel, the overall capacity of the battery pack will be 400Ah. In contrast, series connection of LiFePO4 batteries does not increase the overall capacity of the battery pack; it only increases the voltage output.

③ Efficiency: Parallel connection of LiFePO4 batteries is generally more efficient than series connection because each cell or battery charges and discharges independently. This ensures that the entire pack is not affected if one cell or battery fails or becomes damaged. In contrast, if one cell or battery in a series-connected pack fails or becomes damaged, it can affect the performance of the entire pack.

④ Cost: Parallel connection of LiFePO4 batteries is generally more expensive than series connection because it requires additional wiring and hardware to ensure proper operation and safety of the pack. However, the increased capacity and efficiency may justify the additional cost in some applications.

LiFePO4 Batteries connect In Series&parallel

In conclusion, the choice between series and parallel connections of LiFePO4 batteries depends on the specific needs of the application. If high voltage output is required, then series connection is the way to go. If high capacity is required, then parallel connection is the best option. While both configurations have their advantages and disadvantages, they both offer the ability to increase overall battery performance and are commonly used in various applications such as RVs, boats, and solar homes. When selecting a configuration, it's essential to consider factors like voltage output, capacity, efficiency, and cost to determine which configuration is best suited for your specific needs.

Part 4: Matters Needing Attention in Parallel and Series Connections

When connecting LiFePO4 batteries in parallel, there are several matters needing attention to ensure optimal performance and safety:

  1. Uniformity: It's crucial to use cells or batteries with the same specifications, including capacity and age, in a parallel connection. A mismatch of cells can lead to imbalances in charging and discharging, increasing the risk of battery failure. 
  2. Balance: Monitoring the state of charge of each cell or battery is essential to maintain balance and prevent overcharging or undercharging of any individual cell or battery. This helps ensure the longevity and safety of the entire battery pack.
  3. Wiring: Proper wiring of the parallel connection is critical for efficient operation and safety of the battery pack. Incorrect wiring can lead to short circuits or other hazardous conditions.

When connecting LiFePO4 batteries in series, the following should be considered:

  1. Uniformity: Just like parallel connections, it is necessary to use cells or batteries with the same specifications, including capacity and age, in a series connection. A mismatch of cells can cause an imbalance in voltage distribution, leading to overcharging or undercharging of individual cells or batteries.
  2. Charging: Overcharging can occur in a series connection if one cell or battery reaches its full charge before others. To prevent this, a battery management system (BMS) is recommended to monitor the voltage of each cell or battery in the series connection.
  1. Safety: In a series connection, the total voltage output is increased, which can pose a higher risk of electrical shock. Proper insulation and grounding of the battery pack must be considered for safety purposes.

Additionally, it is not recommended to connect old and new batteries (bought in 3-6 months), as they may have different internal resistance, affecting the overall performance of the battery pack. It's also important to use batteries with consistent performance and never mix lithium-ion batteries of different brands, capacities, or types. Lastly, always pay attention to the polarity of the battery to prevent voltage drops or other hazards.

don't connect different brands battery in sereis or parallel

To effectively expand your battery bank, it is crucial to take prompt action. It is advisable to acquire new batteries soon after purchasing the original ones, preferably within a three-month period. The closer the age and condition of the new and used batteries, the better the outcome. Thus, it is important to purchase new batteries that closely resemble your existing ones. LiTime suggests this approach to ensure that the new batteries have a comparable charge cycle life and can seamlessly integrate with your current system.

Part 5: How Many Batteries Can You Wire in Parallel or Series

The number of batteries that can be connected in series is typically determined by the battery manufacturer's specifications. For instance, LiTime allows for a maximum of four 12V lithium batteries to be connected in series, resulting in a 48-volt system. It's always important to consult the battery manufacturer to ensure that you stay within their recommended limits for series connections.

how many batteries can i connect in sereis and parallel

On the other hand, there is no strict limit to the number of batteries that can be connected in parallel. Adding more batteries in a parallel configuration increases the overall capacity and extends the runtime of the system. However, it's important to consider that a larger parallel battery bank will require more time to charge fully.

When using a large parallel battery setup, it's crucial to employ appropriate system fusing to prevent accidental shorts. With a significant current availability from the parallel configuration, any mishaps could have severe consequences. Therefore, it's vital to take necessary precautions and implement proper safety measures.

Conclusion

In conclusion, parallel and series connections of LiFePO4 batteries offer the ability to increase overall battery performance and are commonly used in various applications. However, it is important to be aware of the matters needing attention when connecting these batteries to ensure optimal performance and safety. Uniformity, balance, and proper wiring are crucial for parallel connections, while uniformity, charging, and safety must be considered for series connections. Additionally, it's essential to avoid connecting old and new batteries, use batteries with consistent performance, and pay attention to the polarity of the battery. By following these precautions, we can ensure efficient operation and safety of our LiFePO4 battery packs.

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