Comprehensive Guide to Properly Charging LiFePO4 Batteries

Charging LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries correctly is crucial for ensuring their longevity, performance, and safety. This guide delves into the specifics of LiFePO4 battery charging, addressing common concerns and providing detailed instructions for various charging scenarios. Whether you’re using a standard charger, solar systems, or an alternator, this guide will equip you with the knowledge to optimize your LiFePO4 battery charging process.

Understanding LiFePO4 Battery Charging

Nominal and Charge Voltages

LiFePO4 batteries have a nominal voltage of 3.2V per cell. The charging voltage range is typically between 3.50V to 3.65V per cell. It’s vital to avoid exceeding 3.65V per cell to prevent over-voltage, which can degrade battery cells, cause performance issues, and even damage the battery.

For different battery configurations, refer to the following charge voltage recommendations:

Battery Pack Voltage Best Charge Voltage Acceptable Voltage Range
12V (12.8V) 14.4V 14.0V – 14.6V
24V (25.6V) 28.8V 28.0V – 29.2V
36V (38.4V) 43.2V 42.0V – 43.8V
48V (15S) (48V) 54.0V 52.5V – 54.7V
48V (16S) (51.2V) 57.6V 56.0V – 58.4V

Charging Stages

Unlike lead-acid batteries, which require full daily charging to prevent sulfation, LiFePO4 batteries do not need to be fully charged regularly. They utilize two main charging stages:

  1. Constant Current (CC) Charge: Also known as bulk charge, this stage involves charging the battery at a constant current until it reaches the desired voltage.
  2. Constant Voltage (CV) Charge: Also known as absorption charge, this stage maintains the voltage at a set level while the current gradually decreases as the battery approaches full charge.

Discharge Range

The optimal discharge range for LiFePO4 batteries is between 10% to 90% State of Charge (SOC). Current LiFePO4 batteries can endure up to 6000 cycles within this range. A slightly broader range of 5% to 95% SOC is also acceptable.

Checking Compatibility with Existing Chargers

Step-by-Step Guide

To determine if your existing charger is suitable for LiFePO4 batteries, follow these steps:

  1. Check for Repair or Desulfation Function: Chargers with this function use high pulse surge currents, which can damage LiFePO4 batteries. Avoid using such chargers.
  2. Battery Voltage Detection Function: If the charger has this function, it might not charge a LiFePO4 battery when its voltage is detected as 0V after discharge protection is triggered. Disable this function or use a different charger.
  3. Condition and Insulation: Ensure the charger is in good condition and properly insulated. Verify the output voltage and maximum current using a voltmeter to ensure they fall within the recommended ranges.

Charging Scenarios

AC to DC Chargers

For direct battery chargers and chargers used with low-speed vehicles (golf carts, electric bikes, etc.), follow the same steps outlined for existing chargers.

Solar Systems and Charge Controllers

Solar charge controllers designed for lead-acid batteries typically use a 3-step charge process. For LiFePO4 batteries, only two steps are needed. Set the charge voltage to 14.40V (3.60V per cell) and the float voltage to 13.60V (3.40V per cell).

Battery Pack Voltage Best Charge Voltage Float Charge Voltage
12V (12.8V) 14.4V 13.6V
24V (25.6V) 28.8V 27.2V
36V (38.4V) 43.2V 40.8V
48V (15S) (48V) 54.0V 51.0V
48V (16S) (51.2V) 57.6V 54.4V

Alternator Charging

While alternators can charge LiFePO4 batteries, they can draw high current due to the battery’s low internal resistance, causing the alternator to overheat. Using a DC to DC converter to limit the current is recommended. Additionally, the BMS (Battery Management System) will cut off the circuit at the protection voltage, creating high voltage spikes harmful to the battery.

Charging and Discharging in Parallel and Series

Parallel Charging

Ensure that the charge current is evenly distributed among all batteries connected in parallel. For example, if charging two 12.8V 100Ah batteries in parallel, the maximum charge current should not exceed 50A per battery. This prevents one battery from overcharging and ensures both batteries charge evenly.

Bad and Best Connections

Proper connections are crucial to maintain similar resistance and current across all circuits.

Series Charging

Before connecting batteries in series, ensure the voltage difference between them is within 50mV. Regularly balance the batteries to maintain performance and prolong lifespan.

Additional Considerations

Battery Meter

Using a battery meter helps monitor voltage, current, and SOC, providing real-time data on battery conditions. Voltage-based meters are less effective for LiFePO4 batteries due to their flat discharge curve. Instead, use current and time-based meters for accurate SOC readings.

Charging Below 0°C

Self-heating batteries use internal heating films to raise the cell pack temperature above 5°C before charging. This heating process is typically powered by the charge current but can be set to draw from the battery for specific applications.


Store LiFePO4 batteries at around 50% SOC. If the battery has a switch, turn it off to prevent accidental short circuits.


  • For 12V (12.8V) LiFePO4 batteries, use a charge voltage of 14.4V, with an acceptable range of 14.0V to 14.6V.
  • Ensure existing chargers lack repair/desulfation functions and battery voltage detection features.
  • Maintain balanced connections for parallel and series configurations to optimize performance.
  • Regularly use a battery meter to monitor SOC and charging conditions.
  • Consider self-heating options for charging in sub-zero temperatures.
  • Store batteries at 50% SOC and turn off switches to prevent damage.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure the optimal performance and longevity of your LiFePO4 batteries, whether for personal, commercial, or industrial applications.