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What are the pros and cons of using lithium batteries?

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Compared with other battery types, lithium batteries have a higher energy density and can hold higher voltages than other batteries of similar size and weight. Conversely, rechargeable lithium batteries require careful monitoring during charging and discharge, and at times pose a risk of self-ignition and fire. Product defects in lithium-based batteries are also difficult to detect during production.

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Full Answer

The energy density of lithium batteries makes them smaller and lighter than batteries using other cell chemistries, which saves space and provides more power and battery life. The capacity to hold higher voltages makes lithium batteries versatile, meaning their cells have a wide application stretching beyond the conventional two-cell design that consists of cells arranged in series.

Lithium-based cells require a constant charge and a discharge profile that is within a defined limit, making them prone to overheating and at risk of reduced capacity if users fail to adhere to the profile. Lithium batteries that have manufacturing defects can self-heat and ignite, even when they are not in a charging circuit.

Being highly reactive, lithium can easily catch fire, and such a fire tends to be self-sustaining because it relies on the cell’s internal chemistry and does not require oxygen to keep burning. Given that manufacturing problems, which may appear later during usage, are difficult to detect during production, users cannot use lithium batteries with 100 percent certainty that they are defect-free.

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