Comparison of lead acid and lithium-ion batteries

Updated: Jun 2

There are a variety of battery options available if you're considering residential energy storage. In this post, we will examine lithium-ion and lead acid batteries, two of the most prevalent battery solutions for solar setups. Other than the varied materials that make up each type of battery, cost and performance are the primary distinctions between them. Lead acid batteries are often less expensive, however lithium-ion batteries are more efficient and perform better.

Key takeaways

Due to its dependability, efficiency, and battery life, lithium-ion battery technology is superior to lead-acid for the majority of solar system configurations.

Lithium-ion batteries are more expensive than lead acid batteries.

A comparison of lithium-ion and lead acid batteries

The use of battery storage to solar energy systems is growing in popularity. The two most prevalent types of battery chemistry are lithium-ion and lead acid. As their respective names imply, lithium-ion batteries are composed of the element lithium, and lead-acid batteries are composed of lead.

How do lead acid and lithium-ion batteries operate?

Both batteries function by storing and discharging electrons through electrochemical reactions. Lithium ion batteries function by discharging lithium's positive and negative ions between electrodes. Lead acid batteries utilize a similar method, but a different substance.

With these variations in chemistry come variations in performance and price. While both lithium-ion and lead acid batteries can be utilized as effective storage solutions, here is how they differ in major categories:

In the majority of instances, lithium-ion battery technology is superior to lead-acid due, among other qualities, to its reliability and efficiency. In the case of tiny, infrequently used off-grid storage systems, however, less expensive lead-acid battery choices may be preferred.

How do lithium-ion and lead acid batteries compare in detail?

Both lithium-ion and lead acid batteries can successfully store energy, but each has its own pros and disadvantages. Consider the following comparison factors when choosing on a battery type:


In terms of price, lead acid batteries appear to be superior to lithium-ion alternatives. A lead acid battery system may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars less than a comparable sized lithium-ion system — lithium-ion batteries presently cost anywhere from Rs1,60,000 to Rs1,70,000, installation included, and this range can be higher or lower depending on the size of the system you require.

While lead acid batteries often have lower purchase and installation costs than lithium-ion alternatives, lithium-ion batteries have a greater lifetime value. Below, we will describe additional essential characteristics of each battery type to examine and explain why these characteristics contribute to lithium-ion battery systems' higher total value.


The Tesla Powerwall 2 is among the most widely used lithium-ion solar batteries.

The capacity of a battery is a measurement of how much energy it can store (and eventually discharge). Although capacities vary between battery models and manufacturers, lithium-ion battery technology has been demonstrated to offer a much higher energy density than lead acid battery technology. This means that a lithium-ion battery can store more energy in the same amount of physical area. Because lithium-ion technology can store more energy, it can discharge more energy, allowing it to power more appliances for longer durations.


Intensity of discharge

The depth of discharge of a battery is the proportion of the battery that can be safely discharged without causing damage. While it is typical to use 85 percent or more of a lithium-ion battery's total capacity in a single cycle, lead acid batteries should not be discharged beyond approximately 50 percent, as doing so reduces the battery's lifespan. Lithium-ion batteries have an even greater effective capacity than lead acid batteries due to the superior depth of discharge available with lithium-ion technology, especially when the higher energy density of lithium-ion technology is considered.


Similar to the efficiency of solar panels, battery efficiency is an important parameter to consider when evaluating various solutions. The vast majority of lithium-ion batteries are at least 95 percent efficient, meaning that 95 percent or more of the energy stored in a lithium-ion battery can be utilized. In contrast, the efficiency of lead acid batteries is closer to 80 to 85 percent. In a manner similar to the depth of discharge, batteries with a higher efficiency charge faster and have a greater effective capacity.


Batteries, like solar panels, degrade with time and lose efficiency as they age. One "cycle" consists of discharging a battery to power your home or appliances and then recharging it with solar energy or the grid. Depending on the study, lithium-ion batteries typically survive several times as many cycles as lead acid batteries, resulting in a longer useful lifespan for lithium-ion goods.

When should a lead acid battery be installed as opposed to a lithium-ion battery?

If you require a backup battery system, both lead acid and lithium-ion batteries are viable solutions. However, lithium-ion batteries are typically the best option due to the numerous benefits of the technology, which include a longer lifespan, higher efficiency, and greater energy density. Despite greater initial prices, lithium-ion batteries are typically more value than lead-acid alternatives.

In situations involving infrequently utilized off-grid solar installations, lead-acid batteries may be the superior choice. For instance, maintaining a lead-acid battery on a boat or RV as a backup power source that is only used once or twice a month is less expensive than lithium-ion, and owing to the lower consumption rate, you will avoid many of the disadvantages of lead-acid technology, such as their shorter lifespan.

Questions frequently posed concerning solar batteries

- What distinguishes a lithium battery from a lithium-ion battery?

Due to the primary cell construction of lithium batteries, they are intended for a single use, however lithium ion batteries can be recharged and used repeatedly due to their secondary cell construction.

- What drawbacks do lithium-ion batteries present?

Because lithium ion batteries might potentially overheat, they are less safe at higher temperatures.

- Can lithium-ion replace a lead acid battery?

Yes, it is possible to replace a lead acid battery with a lithium ion battery if an external charger is included.

- What distinguishes lithium ion batteries from lead acid batteries?

The materials from which lithium ion and lead acid batteries are constructed are dissimilar. Lead acid batteries are less efficient and have a lower capacity than lithium ion batteries, which are more expensive.

- Solar and storage combine well - compare estimates today!

Consider your alternatives before making a significant purchase, such as solar panels and batteries (either together or separately). On the Bigwit Energy Marketplace, you may register to receive turnkey solar installation bids from pre-screened local solar professionals. If you're interested in coupling your system with battery storage, please indicate in your account preferences that you're interested in pricing and information regarding batteries. Even if a solar installer does not install batteries, they can design a solar panel system to accommodate the addition of a battery in the future.

As a producer of electrified power solutions, Bigwit Energy is frequently asked about technologies that promote the adoption of electric vehicles. A frequently asked question is, "What is the difference between lead acid and lithium ion batteries, and when should each be used?"

Here are the top three distinctions between the two battery chemistries, as well as examples of which technology to use when electrifying your vehicle.

Lithium ion batteries versus lead acid batteries

A full-size infographic is included at the conclusion of the article.

Cost This is typically at the forefront of everyone's thoughts and a major factor in determining "what is the best product for my fleet?" As is frequently the case, there is no easy solution, and the cost-effectiveness depends on the requirements of your application. Lead acid is a common, cost-effective battery chemistry that is readily available in large quantities with no concern for supply security and in a range of standard pack sizes. Lead acid is ideally suited for large-scale stationary applications with abundant space and minimal energy demands. However, when considering pricing in terms of power or range, lithium ion technology is frequently the more cost-effective option.

2. Vitality and Range

In a side-by-side comparison, lithium ion batteries have an energy density of 125-600+ Wh/L compared to 50-90 Wh/L for lead acid batteries. In other words, if you were to drive the same distance using both types of batteries in the same vehicle, the lead acid battery would require up to 10 times the volume and weight of the lithium ion battery. Consequently, the use of lithium ion batteries makes room for other essential payloads, such as more people in a bus or more packages in an electric delivery truck. Powered by lithium ion technologies, a vehicle with a high energy density has a significantly longer range, so the user does not have to recharge as frequently.

3. Costing

Depending on the size of the battery, lead-acid batteries might take more than 10 hours to charge, whereas lithium ion batteries can be charged in as little as a few minutes. Lit