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Are Lithium-Ion Batteries Better Than Other Battery Types?

For cordless vacuum cleaners and other cordless appliances, are Lithium-Ion batteries better? Yes. Learn why.

Why Are Lithium-Ion Batteries Better?

Lithium-ion batteries are considered the most suitable option for cordless vacuum cleaners and several leading brands endeavor to provide appliances which feature them. But what is it about lithium-ion batteries which has made them the power supply of choice for cleaning your home on the go? And how do they fare compared to other varieties? In other words, do they live up to the hype?

We invite you to find out below.

What Are Lithium-ion batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries that are often used as a power supply for various electronic devices. And nowadays you can find them just about everywhere: they’re present in our mobile phones and laptops and even electric vehicles. They’re also widely used in household appliances such as cordless vacuum cleaners. And it’s easy to see why they’re so popular once you’ve taken a look at some of their main properties that make them stand out among other options:

  • They can handle the rigors of being charged and discharged more effectively compared to other batteries.
  • They retain their charge rather effectively: Lithium-ion batteries are known to lose a mere 5 percent, unlike other varieties, which have been known to lose as much as 30 percent.
  • They are the lightest available battery. There are two reasons for this. The first is the fact that they are able to hold a higher amount of energy compared to other available alternatives (a lithium-ion battery contains approximately 1.5 times the same amount of energy as a nickel metal hydride battery). The second is due to their electrodes which are rather light since they’re made of carbon and lithium.
  • The absence of memory effect: Lithium-ion batteries can be recharged without being fully discharged.

In spite of the rather impressive capabilities listed above, lithium-ion batteries do also have a few disadvantages as well. These include the following:

  • A higher cost than average: Lithium-ion batteries are more expensive compared to other options. One reason for this is the mini-computer they’re fitted with, which is responsible for ensuring they function effectively.
  • A rather short shelf life: Batteries in this category deteriorate pretty quickly. As a result, they tend to last for a maximum of two or three years.
  • Susceptibility to heat: Exposure to high temperatures will negatively affect their durability and make them deteriorate even faster than usual.

The qualities mentioned above show that lithium-ion batteries are considerably more powerful compared to other types of batteries. They’re also lighter since manufacturers are able to create smaller batteries with considerable energy capacities. However, they do have a few disadvantages of their own, such as being rather susceptible to heat, and poor durability.

Next we shall be taking a look at brief overviews of alternatives commonly used by manufacturers of cordless vacuum cleaners, to see just how they measure up compared to batteries in this category.

What Are Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries?

Nickel metal hydride batteries are the environmentally friendlier answer to their nickel cadmium counterparts and even come with twice the capacity of the latter. Batteries in this category happen to be another popular choice for appliances that require high amounts of energy, such as cordless vacuum cleaners, digital cameras, power tools, and even electric cars (such as Toyota Prius, for example). The following qualities make them an excellent choice in this regard:

  • Absence of memory effect: Like lithium-ion batteries, the most recent NiMH batteries can be recharged without being fully discharged.
  • A more cost effective option: NiMH batteries are less expensive compared to lithium-ion batteries.
  • Lower reactivity compared to lithium-ion batteries making them safer as a result.

The main drawbacks of NiMH batteries include:

  • Lower performance at high temperatures: the performance of NiMH batteries tends to drop at high temperatures, unlike lithium-ion batteries which tend to prove somewhat more resilient under similar conditions.
  • Excessive loss of charge: Unlike lithium-ion batteries which only lose about 5 percent per month, NiMH batteries lose far more - as much as 30 percent in certain instances.

What are Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) batteries?

The precursor to nickel metal hydride batteries and a considerably more powerful replacement for their lead acid counterparts, NiCad batteries are used in less-expensive vacuum cleaner models. They are also used in aircraft, electric cars, power tools, and cameras. However due to the toxicity of cadmium, most manufacturers prefer using NiMH or lithium-ion batteries. Their advantages compared to the latter include:

  • Lower costs due to being less expensive to manufacture.
  • A shelf life that lasts almost twice as long: Five years compared to an average of three for lithium-ion batteries.
  • A higher efficiency in handling the process of being discharged and recharged: A NiCad battery comes with an average of 1500 charge cycles compared to 1000 for a lithium-ion battery.

The main drawbacks of NiCad batteries in comparison to lithium-ion options include:

  • Susceptibility to memory effect.
  • Excessive loss of charge: NiCad batteries tend to lose 20 percent of their charge which although less than NiMH in some instances, is pretty considerable when compared to the 5 percent loss incurred by lithium-ion batteries.
  • NiCad batteries tend to be heavier than lithium-ion batteries, which can be a disadvantage when using cordless appliances such as vacuum cleaners.
  • Toxicity due to the presence of cadmium.

So Are Lithium-ion batteries really better?

Just how well do lithium-ion batteries hold up when compared to the most popular alternatives? They seem to do pretty well. Their immense power is a huge plus. The fact that they are also really light is also another.

And although they do tend to come with a higher price tag attached, their widespread popularity is a clear sign that most house-proud individuals prefer to spend a bit more on a turbo-charged cordless vacuum cleaner than one which may struggle to keep up with the demands of modern housekeeping.

Resources— Spotless Vacuum, Smart Vacuums, Cobalt Institute, House Tech Lab, Battery University