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LSV Batteries: Lithium v Lead Acid

Low speed electric vehicles (LSVs) are a fun, affordable, and environmentally friendlt alternative to cars. But have you ever thought about what powers them? Obviously it's a battery, but if you're considering buying an LSV, you need to know what kind of battery. The most common battery is lead acid. You may hear the terms FLA or AGM, but these are both lead acid. If you've paid any attention to the electric car market, you know that industry leaders like Tesla are using lithium batteries. This is also an option for your LSV. But what's the difference? Which one's better? Let's break it down.

  • Capacity: Lithium ion batteries have a higher energy density than lead acid. That means if you have two batteries of the same size, the lithium can take you farther on a single charge. That means that when charged to full capacity, you'll have a lot more range with a lithium battery.

  • Weight: Does higher energy density mean a lithium battery is heavier? Suprisingly no. A lithium battery often weighs 1/5 as much. And since a battery also has to haul it's own weight, that can also add a little bit to the range.

  • Battery Life: Have you ever noticed how your smartphone's battery gets worse and worse over the years? The same is true with LSV batteries. A lithium battery can last 3 times as long as a lead acid, and they tend to maintain their effectiveness longer.

  • Charging Time: Waiting for your LSV to charge can be a pain. But here's some good news: Lithium batteries charge faster. While the exact time depends on a lot of factors, a quick charge while you run errands will get you a lot more juice on a lithium.

  • Environment-Friendliness: Let's be real, any battery has the potential to harm the environment (although not as much a gas vehicles). They have to be replaced and if you don't dispose of the old one properly, you'll be sending some toxic materials to a landfill. However, since lithium ion batteries have a longer lifespan, you're replacing it a lot less often and producing a lot less waste.

A pallet of lead acid batteries
A pallet of used lead acid batteries heading for disposal
  • Price: Now, for the elephant in the room - cost. Lithium-ion batteries usually cost more upfront than Lead Acid batteries. That's why a lot of LSV manufacturers use a lead acid battery in the base model. But upfront cost is just part of the picture. If you're replacing your battery 3 times as often, you're going to end up paying a lot more over time.

So which one's better? We're not too subtle about the fact that we love lithium batteries. If you have the option, we highly recommend upgrading from a lead acid. If you're not interested in the high mark up some of the companies make you pay, there are plenty of non-street legal options, but there are only a handful companies making street legal LSVs with lithium batteries as the default. Two of our favorites are Wink Motors and Mars Cars.

A red Wink Motors Mark 1 LSV
Wink Mark 1

A white D3 Commuter LSV made by Mars Cars
Mars D3 Commuter

Image attributions:

Pallet of batters: Lack Thereof at English Wikipedia, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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