Emergency, How to Light

How to Light: Are lithium batteries safe for emergency lighting?

This question was answered by Jonathan Bell, commercial director of Liteplan Limited.

Not all of them. Certain lithium batteries are fantastic and Liteplan is about to release products across all our ranges that use lithium batteries as the energy store. However, I would recommend that everyone applies a degree of caution when specifying/purchasing products with lithium batteries.

There are many different battery chemistries that use lithium, but in my opinion only one is currently suitable for emergency use. As a company, we have carried out extensive testing over the course of the last four years, and the results have shown that the safest type use phosphate as the cathode material. These are known as lithium iron phosphate or LiFePO4 batteries.

The LiFePO4 battery is protected against overcharging or short circuit, and even mechanical damage such as piercing the battery casing will not result in any kind of combustion or toxic chemical leakage. In fact, they have been found to be far safer than most other chemistries currently being used in emergency lighting. The same cannot be said for other types, which can be more unstable.

There are proven benefits of the LiFePO4 batteries: lower parasitic load (power consumption), longevity and battery life. But, as with all new technologies, there are cheaper versions. In the case of lithium batteries, you will need to ensure that you are using lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4). Do not compromise on this.

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