Ever wonder why off-brand lithium batteries cost 30-70% less than brands like Tesla/Panasonic, LG, and Samsung? They even have cells that read 2600-3400mah upon initial tests right? In this article I will cite studies and educate you on why some batteries are cheaper than others so you can make an informed decision.
There are many different forms of Lithium battery chemistries.
- Lithium Cobalt Oxide
- Lithium Manganese Oxide
- Lithium Iron Phosphate
- Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide
- Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (Tesla and Panasonic 3400mah cells)
- Lithium Titanate
What we want to focus on is the Cathode materials typically used in cheaper priced batteries.
Although labor is much cheaper in some countries than others, batteries are made by machines. What really makes a battery cheaper is the raw materials used to making the battery.
Ni-Rich NCM cathode cells are very popular in the off-brand manufacturing of lithium batteries because the material is cheap and gives high initial capacity readings, thus lowering the cost of comparable name brand cells of the same capacity made of different cathode materials. Except the Ni-Rich cells will degrade rapidly and here is proof. I'm including links to studies that have exposed this and notice how they say "severe" degradation. After reading the studies continue reading below and I will give you personal experience and follow up with a video when we are finished our testing.
The Journal of Physical Chemistry
What has been discovered is that Ni-Rich NCM cathode batteries are cheaper to manufacture and offers high initial capacity, but that performance severely degrades at a rapid rate. Meaning your ebike battery, if using Ni-Rich cells may get you 20 miles, but by the end of the year you'll be lucky to get around the block on a charge. And your powerwall using these cells will... well... suck by next year.
I can tell you as a lithium battery recycler, that I have confirmed these findings to be consistent based on millions of tested batteries by our facility. I have a unique opportunity to see how certain brands of batteries perform after being used for a certain period of time in various applications and we get the refining results of the raw materials recovered from those cells. For example, there are certain model modem batteries that we found to contain either Molicel or LG cells in them. The same batch, environment, application, storage, cycling, region, etc. The batteries with the LG cells test around full capacity still and the batteries with Molicel cells are degraded 50-80%. Javier Camacho can attest to these findings and I am creating a video showing the difference between name brand cells and off-brand cells on a large scale and how they compare after a certain amount of cycles and years. The results may make you reconsider purchasing off-brand cells. Especially one that claims to have the same cycle life as Samsung and Panasonic. Panasonic uses a different, superior chemistry. I doubt that Elon Musk would agree with those false claims.
Don't believe me? Buy some new Ni-Rich NCM cathode Chinese cells (or a brand that simply had their name printed on a Chinese cell). Then buy some of our modem batteries that have genuine LG and Samsung cells in them that still test full capacity. If, after 2 years, our used/overstock genuine cells degrade at a faster rate than the new Chinese cells, I will refund you 100% and you can come to Pennsylvania and give me a swirly in our warehouse toilet.
Just for reference, the cells we have tested that are rapidly degraded are of various off-brand names, not just Chinese manufactured, claim to have 500 cycles to remain at 80% of original capacity. That is an absolute joke. If you believe that then go buy the 9800mah Ultrafire 18650 cells.
Here are the genuine modem batteries that my swirly and 2 year guarantee is referencing.
Do yourself a favor and stick to the popular brand name batteries. There's a reason why the big companies pay more for them. They have engineers and chemists figuring out the best option for their products.