Are Lithium-ion Batteries “GREENER” than Lead Acid?

Lithium-ion Batteries and lead-acid batteries are two major battery types that are used for solar. The lead-acid batteries are tried-and-true technology. They cost less but require higher maintenance. On the other hand, Lithium-ion Batteries are premium battery technology. They have a higher lifetime and efficiency. If willing to pay extra, you can even get a boost in the performance!

Lithium ion Vs Lead acid batteries

To describe a product as environmentally friendly, there are several factors to be considered.  Lithium-ion batteries do not have any hazardous materials while on the other hand, Lead-acid batteries do. Both these battery types are recyclable. However, present-day lead-acid batteries are more easily recycled in most regions of the world than Lithium-ion Batteries.

The Lithium-ion Batteries that are used in IPSs and electric vehicles are harder to recycle. To have a complete overview of the impact Lithium-ion Batteries have on the environment, we need to look at the carbon print of the battery’s lifetime.

Carbon use in batteries life

In the entire lifetime of the Lithium-ion Batteries, we can divide the carbon accumulation into four stages.

  • When extracting the raw material for the batteries.
  • To generate energy used to produce and transport these batteries.
  • The operating energy keeps the batteries cooled and charged.
  • The carbon is discharged when the batteries are recycled, along with their impact on the earth.

To argue about which battery greener is based on the carbon footprint of the batteries over a 10 – 15 years lifespan is difficult. Hence we need to look at other factors. The following are some of the factors that we can consider while deciding on a greener battery.

Have you read: How Can You Improve The Performance And Life Of Lithium-Ion Batteries?

Operational losses

It has been analyzed that the operational losses, which is the amount of energy used to keep the batteries charged, are dominating the carbon footprint of Lithium-ion Batteries. Over a life cycle of 10 years, these battery systems and UPS are using more energy to be charged and to stay cool without any damage.

Nevertheless, when compared to lead-acid batteries, the difference is not huge. Which battery is better in terms of operational losses can only be defined based on the situation. In different cases, when the batteries are used for different uses, these losses vary.

Energy required

Although the Lithium-ion Batteries have high operational losses while keeping charged, the average energy required is a little less compared to lead-acid batteries. This is because of the charge cycle of the batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries have a charge cycle of 90% whereas lead-acid batteries have 80-85%. The higher the charge cycle the greater is the efficiency of the battery.

Despite these advantages, the fact that Lithium-ion Batteries need a battery management system ( BMS) balances out two battery types. This battery management system is used to keep the battery protected against overcharging and any possible short circuits. Energy is used to keep the BMS and therefore, the energy losses are almost equal for two batteries.

Further read: Are Lithium-Ion Batteries Compatible With a Sustainable Future?

Cycle life

Cycle life is nothing but the time taken by the battery to be recharged, after being used to power up any appliance. The lifetime of the batteries is measured in terms of how many cycles the battery can withstand before it expires and not years.

Just like a car, where the mileage matters more than the year it was produced, several cycles determine the battery’s efficiency.

In a vacation home, a lead-acid battery can have 100 cycles a year whereas, in a full-time residence it will have more than 300. The average cycle for Lithium-ion Batteries is 300-500 cycles. We need to understand that the batteries that have gone through 100 cycles are in better shape, than the one that has been through 500 cycles.

Depth of discharge

The cycle life directly depends on the depth of discharge. This is measured as the amount of capacity used before you have to recharge the battery. If only a quarter of the battery’s capacity is used, then the depth of discharge is 25%.

The cycle life is shortened when the depth of discharge is high as it stresses the battery. Batteries never fully discharge when used. Each battery has a recommended amount of depth of discharge. This recommended amount specifies how much you can use before recharging.

Lead-acid batteries have a depth of discharge of 50 percent. If you use the battery beyond that, you risk the lifespan of the battery.

Lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, can handle higher discharge rates up to 80%. This high discharge rate adds an advantage of high usable capacity.

Learn more: Advantages and disadvantages of lithium-ion battery


Among both, Lithium-ion Batteries are more efficient. This efficiency means that the amount of your solar power stored and used is high.

For example, lead-acid batteries efficiency is 80% – 85% based on the model and condition. If you have 1,000 watts of power entering the battery, only 800 – 850 watts are available for you to use after the discharging and charging process. With the Lithium-ion Batteries’ efficiency being at 95%, you can use 950 watts of power.

With high efficiency, your batteries charge faster. This high efficiency could also help you to manage the whole system with fewer solar panels, smaller backup generators, and less battery capacity.

The Lithium-ion Batteries contain landfill-safe materials. Due to this, they are easy to recycle, and given that their lifetime is 2-3 years more than the lead-acid batteries, they are more efficient.

But the rate at which these lithium batteries are recycled is considerably lower than lead-acid batteries. Lead batteries are recycled at a high rate of 99 percent! The weight of the lithium-ion batteries is considerably small, and they have a high backup. By hoping that the recycling rates will increase in the future, Lithium-ion Batteries can be considered greener than lead ion batteries.

If you want to switch to Lithium-ion Batteries and enjoy all the benefits provided, contact us at +917069022124. Our team at Waaree ESS will be waiting to assist you with a wide range of solar products. To learn more about our products, you can email us at

You can also read: Lithium ion Battery vs Lithium polymer Battery