Wahl stainless steel lithium ion: Stainless Steel Lithium-Ion +™ Trimmer 09898

Wahl Lithium Ion Plus 9818 Review


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Originally released in 2011, the Lithium stainless steel trimmer (Model #9818) is Wahl’s top of the line beard trimmer. Despite it’s age the Lithium Ion is still more than capable of holding it’s own against more modern beard trimmers.

Is the Lithium Ion Plus the right beard trimmer for you?

We attempt to answer that question and more in our detailed review!

Wahl Lithium Ion Plus

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Unboxing the Wahl Lithium Ion Plus

If you were to tear open the box of your brand new Wahl Lithium Ion, this is what you will find inside:

Let’s break it down:

  • 9818 Wahl Lithium Ion Plus Stainless Steel beard trimmer
  • Shaving head
  • Nose hair trimmer head
  • Detail trimmer head
  • Power adapter
  • Long hair Combs
  • Stubble Combs
  • Cleaning brush
  • Trimmer blade lubricating oil
  • Beard comb
  • Travel Pouch

In the box you will also find an instruction manual outlining how to use all the various combs and trimmer heads. We will cover all the different accessories further down the review.

At the rear of the instruction manual you will find Wahls 60 day money back guarantee. If for any reason you are unsatisfied with the Wahl Lithium Ion Plus you can return it to the place of purchase within 60 days. It’s a nice safety net allowing you to trial the Lithium Ion Plus to ensure it is the right beard trimmer for you.

Examining The Wahl Lithium Ion Plus Beard Trimmer

The Wahl Lithium Ion Plus is one of the shiniest beard trimmers available. The stainless seamlessly wraps around the handles of the trimmer, giving it a high end look.

The Lithium Ion Plus is incredibly simple in design. It’s like the whole purpose of the trimmer is to showcase the gorgeous stainless steel body.

Towards to top of the trimmer you will find the power button:

Made up of a soft rubber, the power button is the only thing on the entire beard trimmer that is not metal. Despite being made from rubber, the button doesn’t have a whole lot of give and is firm to push.

Hidden behind the power button is a small led indicator that shines blue when the Lithium Ion trimmer is turned on or charging.

If you look at the very base of your brand new Lithium Ion Plus you will notice an unusual looking red piece of plastic:

This is the travel plug. The plug sits in the charging socket and is designed to be used when you pack the beard trimmer way in your luggage.

With the travel plug in place pressing the power button will no longer turn your Lithium Ion Plus on. With the beard trimmer unable to turn on you do not have to worry about the battery draining or the trimmer head cutting away at your clothes while packed in your luggage because it accidentally turned on.

To be clear, we did not think highly of how Wahl has decided to implement the travel lock. We would have preferred to see a dedicated switch or secondary function built into the power button.

Removing the Travel plug requires you to pull it out. Because the plug sits nearly flush with the base of the beard trimmer, removal can be difficult. This is a particular problem if you trim your nails to a short length.

When you manage to remove the travel lock you then have to keep track of it. Despite it’s bright red color, the small size of the travel plug makes it easy to misplace.

Flipping the Lithium Ion Plus over reveals a sleek but plain looking rear:

The stainless steel exterior continues on the rear. If you struggle to hold any object that doesn’t have a rubber grip then this isn’t the beard trimmer for you.

The smooth surface of the stainless steel makes the beard trimmer slipperier to hold than the rubber heavy Lithium Ion All-In-One.

At the top of the Lithium Ion Plus you will find a great example of workmanship, the T-blade trimmer:

The T-Blade trimmer is the jack of all trades trimmer included in the box and likely the trimming head that you will use the most.

The Trimmer gets it’s name from the shape of the blade and comb that extends out past the body of the beard trimmer. Looking at the entire head you will give you a better idea of the shape:

If you look closely at the blade and comb you will notice just how fine they are. This is because Wahl grinds it’s trimmer heads. Grinding is the process of taking a piece of metal and grinding it down until sharp. Grinding allows you to get a finer detail.

Many other beard trimmers use a process known as stamping to create their blades and combs. Stamping essentially means cutting the shape out of metal, similar to using a cookie cutter. Stamping does not give the same amount of detail.

Confused? A picture says a thousand words. Below on the left you have Braun’s flagship beard trimmer, the BT5090 and on the right you have the Wahl’s Lithium Ion Plus:

As you can see, the T-Blade Trimmer of the Lithium Ion Plus is much more detailed and refined.

Wahl Lithium Ion Plus Attachments

As you probably noticed from our unboxing section earlier in the review, Wahl includes a whole load of different attachments and accessories to personalize your hair trimming experience.

Let’s take a closer look at the attachments.

Guide Combs

The first attachments we will look at are the combs. The combs add more space between the blade and your hair, allowing you to cut your to a set length depending on the comb chosen.

To install a comb you simply clip it over the T-Blade trimmer head:

Installing the comb is easy and attaching it takes seconds, a small plastic tag clips the comb onto the trimmer.

The problem is that without without this tag the comb simply falls off the trimmer.

By Design the plastic tag will drag across the T-Blade trimmer as you install it. Needless to say we do not have a whole lot of faith in the durability of the combs.

While we didn’t have a tag break on us we did only test the trimmer for a month. Even so, there was noticeable wear on the comb we used most over the testing period.

Stubble Combs

The stubble combs are perfect for those of you that not only want to tidy up your beard but also keep it’s length. The size of the comb determines the length of hair left behind.

Stubble comb sizes from left to right:

  • 1/16” (2mm)
  • 1/16” (2mm)
  • 1/8” (3 mm)
  • 3/16” (4 mm)
  • 5/16” ( 8 mm)

You may have noticed that Wahl has included two 1/16” stubble combs. Oddly enough, one of these two combs is just awful (the one on the end in the above photo).

The comb is made from thinner plastic than the rest, has sharp ends that can scratch and bends and flexes during use. Wahl would have been better leaving it out of the box completely.

When it came to grooming the stubble combs worked surprisingly well. The teeth were secure and the rounded ends easily passed through the beard without catching.

Long Hair Combs

The long hair combs are designed for those of you who wish to give yourself a haircut or have a longer beard that needs tidying up.

Long hair combs from left to right:

  • 1/4” (6 mm)
  • 3/8” (10 mm)
  • 1/2” (13 mm)
  • 5/8” (16 mm)
  • 3/4” (19mm
  • 7/8” (22mm)
  • 1” (25mm)

While the long hair combs worked just fine for trimming longer beard hairs, they were not all that great when it came to the hair on your head.

This is more a problem with the beard trimmer than the combs. As is common with rechargeable trimmers, the Wahl just did not have the power to cut through head hairs at a reasonable rate.

While the Wahl Lithium Ion can eventually cut through your hair, you will have to go slow. A big problem we noticed was when cutting longer lengths of hair to a much shorter length, the clippings would get caught in the comb and need to be removed before taking the next swipe.

The Wahl Lithium Ion may be marketed as a “do it all” trimmer, but it works best for your face and body. The key to success when it came to trimming longer hairs was to go sloooooow.

Trimmer Heads

In addition to the combs, three detachable heads are also included in the box. In order to use them you will need to remove the T-Blade trimmer.

Removal is as easy as pushing down on the blade with your thumb:

With the T-Blade trimmer removed you are now free to install any of the other heads.

Note: Wahl currently has 6 different heads available for use with their trimmers, while not all available in the box they can be purchased separately.

1. Detail trimmer head

A much smaller trimmer than the T-Blade allowing you to shape and tidy up elaborate facial hair designs. Suitable for mustaches and goatees, the small size of the detail trimmer offers a precise trim that cannot be obtained with the larger blade.

Unlike the T-Blade trimmer the detail trimmer has a stamped blade, making it much less sharp. We found the blades sharp enough to cut through hairs without pulling although this definitely should not be used as your go to trimmer.

While Stamped blades wear much quicker than ground blades, it shouldn’t be an issue for a detail trimmer. You will only pull this trimmer out once or twice a week to cut small amounts of hair at a time, which should hardly wear the blades out at all.

2.Detail shaver head

The Detail shaver allows you to to shave the hair back to the skin, leaving it looking hair free. The detail shaver is used for hollowing out your goatee and quickly removing hairs from your cheeks.

The Shaver head was our least favorite of the included heads. While it may work just fine for those with a teenager/young adult beard (the type that contains soft, sparse hairs) the shaver did not impress when it came to thicker coarser hairs.

While the shaver initially worked well, it did not take long for the blades to dull. We noticed that the blades were more blunt after just a month of use. As you would expect, performance suffered and many passes were required to completely shave the hair to the skin.

It is worth mentioning that the shaver worked best on hairs that were shorter than a three day growth. Any longer and the shaver had a tendency to pull hairs rather than cut them.

3. Ear, nose and brow trimmer head

If you have bushy nose and ear hairs then the nose trimmer head will allow you to cut them to a less visible length without cutting the delicate skin around it.

The nose hair trimmer is virtually identical to the head found on the 5546-400, Wahl’s stand alone nose hair trimmer. While it is far from the best nose hair trimmer we tested, it will do the job.

Sticking the trimmer in your ears or nose and moving it around will cut the thicker and longer hairs trying to escape into the light. If you don’t already have a nose hair trimmer then this makes a great entry level model.

As for an eyebrow trimmer, the blade left too much length to slay unibrows. You were better off using tweezers to pluck the stray hairs.

Charging the Wahl Lithium Ion Pro Beard Trimmer

Before you can use your brand new Lithium Ion Plus beard trimmer, you are going to have to charge the battery.

And to do that you are going to need to use the charger, included in the box:

The charging cord is multi-voltage (100-240v). What this means is that you can use it in nearly any country in the world, from the United States to Australia and everywhere in between.

We are pleased to see that the charger is multi-voltage as it allows you to charge trimmer when you travel internationally. The only thing you will need it a travel adapter to fit the odd shaped power outlets you come across in your travels (sold separately).

The cord stretches to 6 foot in length and should be more than long enough to allow you rest the beard trimmer on your bathroom counter while it charges. Hang on to the twist tie that keeps the cable tidy in the while in the box, you can use it to help shorten the cable. As you know, excess cable can be a hazard in the bathroom.

The moment you plug the charger into the beard trimmer the power button will shine blue. When the Lithium Ion Plus has finished charging the light will turn off.

Wahl named the Lithium Ion Plus after the battery found inside the trimmer. The battery takes one hour to charge. We found ourselves getting three and a half hours worth of use on average off a single charge before the battery would completely die.

When the shaver has around 15% of charge left the indicator light will flash, alerting you that you will need to recharge you’re the trimmer. If the trimmer does die on you a minute of charge will give you three minutes of usage time, more than enough time to finish trimming your beard.

Testing the Wahl Lithum Ion Plus

With the battery fully charged it is time to take the Wahl Lithium Ion Plus for a test drive.

We brought in 5 testers to trial out the Wahl Lithium Ion. The following contains summaries of there experience with the beard trimmer.

The first thing you will notice when you pick up the Wahl Lithium Ion is it’s heft. The stainless steel body adds quite a bit of weight to the whole trimmer. As a result the beard trimmer is much heavier than those that are mostly plastic.

Whether you like this or not will all depend on personal preference although the extra weight did make the beard trimmer feel more like a premium product, something that could not have been achieved with a plastic body.

Despite initial reservations about an all stainless steel body, we found it to be surprisingly resistant to finger prints and smudges. In fact hardly any showed up at all. The lack of a rubber grip also meant that less dust was attracted to the beard trimmer.

The area which got the dirtiest was the polished chrome section of the head that the power button sits into. Hairs, fingerprints and other marks showed were very visible on this section. Fortunately the area covered by the chrome metal is only a small part of the trimmer.

While the power button performed it’s function, no one was particularly fond of it. It lacked the tactile experience that is found on other high end grooming equipment.

While researching the Lithium Ion Plus beard trimmer we came across many reviews claiming that the power button failed within a year of use. While we gave the beard trimmer a rough time over the course of a month we failed to notice any wear or failure as reported in these reviews.

While we could not replicate the problem we felt that this was a big enough concern to mention it in the review. It is worth mentioning that Wahl does offer a 5 year warranty on the Lithium Ion Plus, however this does involve sending your product back to Wahl which will see you without a beard trimmer for the duration of the repair.

The motor will burst into life when you press the power button. Your ears will be greeted with the familiar low pitched hum that is found on nearly all beard trimmers. While the sound is not overly loud, it may still wake a light sleeper in the next room.

Without the guards the T-Blade trimmer works exceptionally well and was capable of trimming coarse and fine beard hairs alike. The fine ground teeth helped to lift flat laying hairs while the sharp blades cut them to length. If you like a short stubble then you will be impressed with the trim offered without a comb.

Using the combs was a mixed experience. As we commented on earlier in the review, we do not recommend you use the trimmer to give a full hair cut. The motor just isn’t fast enough to cut through thick tufts of hair in a reasonable time.

On the beard hairs the guards worked better. The rounded teeth of the combs prevented them from getting caught in the beard. Testers noted that the comb measurements did not mean a whole lot and instead used trial and error to find which comb was suitable for them.

In this regard it is best starting off with the longest comb possible before working your way down to the appropriate length. This will prevent you from cutting the hairs too short.

While the various trimmer heads worked well enough, they in no way came close to what a dedicated nose hair trimmer or shaver could offer. Those of you wanting a single tool to do all jobs will be happy with the quality relative to other “all-in-one” solutions, however for those serious about grooming you will be better served by purchasing each product separately.

One thing we didn’t like about the Lithium Ion Plus was cleaning. You cannot rinse the trimmer head under running water. Not only does this make the blades wear quicker but we noticed rust forming on one of our blades in just weeks.

Instead you will have to sweep out all the beard hairs with a brush before applying oil to the blades. While it is nice that Wahl have included a cleaning brush and oil in the box it does not make the cleaning job any easier.

It is a time consuming process and if you barely find yourself with enough time in the morning to shave will likely put it off for far too long. Dry brushing hairs is a messy job and the compartment that attaches the blade to the beard trimmer handle excels at catching hair clippings.

Spending ten minutes to remove each and every clipping is a luxury that few people will have time for. We much prefer the approach taken with water proof beard trimmers. A quick dunk under running water and all the beard hairs are gone.

When it comes to storage Wahl has included a small zippered carry case to keep your Lithium Ion Plus and accessories together. We struggled to fit every accessory in the carry case. And even if you can, removing the beard trimmer will result in the contents of the big spilling out anyway. The bag is cheap and nasty and we managed to break the zipper on two out of the three test units before the month was up.

Final Thoughts

The Wahl Lithium Ion Plus suffers from a problem many products have today. It tries to do too many things at once. Rather than just be an amazing beard trimmer with combs it also tries to be a shaver, nose hair trimmer and hair clipper.

The extra accessories working poorly actually detract from the excellent quality T-Blade and gorgeous stainless steel body. As a beard trimmer for those that want to maintain a stubble or short beard the Lithium Ion Plus works great.

But those looking for a solution for their longer hairs would be better off looking elsewhere.

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WAHL T-Blade Personal Beard Trimmer

Last updated date: June 1, 2023

DWYM Score

Why Trust DWYM?

DWYM is your trusted product review source. Along with our in-house experts, our team analyzes thousands of product reviews from the most trusted websites. We then create one easy-to-understand review. Learn more.

Show Contents


  1. Our Take
  2. Features
  3. Specifications
  4. From The Manufacturer
  5. Expert Reviews
  6. Overall Ranking
  7. Our Beard Trimmer Buying Guide
  8. Our Beard Trimmer Tip and Advice

We looked at the top Beard Trimmers and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we’ve determined the best Beard Trimmer you should buy.

Update as June 1, 2023:
Checkout The Best Beard Trimmer for a detailed review of all the top beard trimmers.

Overall Take

WAHL Stainless Steel Lithium Ion Rechargeable Hair Clipper’s patented blades are sharp enough to cut through even the thickest hair growth. If your battery runs out, just one minute of charge will you enough juice for a fast shave — a plus for those who spend a lot of time on the road. Another benefit of this trimmer is that if the battery reaches a certain level, an LED light alerts you so that you can charge it. We liked how solid this trimmer felt in our hands during testing.

In our analysis of 75 expert reviews, the WAHL T-Blade Personal Beard Trimmer placed 13th when we looked at the top 21 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

The WAHL 9818 lithium ion stainless steel all-in-one groomer kit includes; rechargeable beard trimmer/shaver/razor, T-blade, detail shaver head, rotary ear/nose/brow detail head, 12 T-blade guides, comb, storage pouch, charger, cleaning brush, blade oil, and English/Spanish instructions. Accessories Included – Facial Hair Guide Combs: No. 1 – 1/8 inches Guide, No. 1/2 – 1/16 inches Guide, No. 2 – 3/16 inches Guide, No. 3 – 5/16 inches Guide. Haircutting Guide Combs: T-Blade 1/8 inches Guide, T-Blade 1/4 inches Guide, T-Blade 3/8 inches Guide, T-Blade 1/2 inches Guide, T-Blade 5/8 inches Guide, T-Blade 3/4 inches Guide, T-Blade 7/8 inches Guide, T-Blade 1 inches Guide. Do not place or store appliance where it can fall or be pulled into a tub or sink. Do not place in or drop into water or other liquid

Expert Reviews

Expert Summarized Score

6 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

3,139 user reviews

What experts liked

The motor and blade are powerful and sharp enough to approximate a shave or to cut through thick, fully-grown beards with ease, but it’s also slim enough for grooming and precision detailing.

– New York Times Wirecutter

| Full review

Perhaps the coolest feature of the battery is its charging time. If you’re in a hurry and your battery is depleted it only takes roughly one minute to get enough juice for a quick shave.

– Male Sense Pro

April 11, 2018 | Full review

Solidly constructed and it doesn’t feel cheap or plastic.

– Beard Trim & Groom

| Full review

This machine is impressive because it has an inbuilt precision trimmer which grooms to perfect without changing a setting.

– Instant Grooming

| Full review

Patented Wahl blades, made of precision ground carbon steel.

– Major Beard

| Full review

What experts didn’t like

The smart LED is designed to blink when the battery is nearing depletion and to light up when charging, but sometimes it doesn’t light up, and it can be difficult to tell whether you are getting a charge at all.

– New York Times Wirecutter

| Full review

Full-size shaving head attachment not included.

– Male Sense Pro

April 11, 2018 | Full review

Some users had a difficulty getting this groomer to turn on and off while others experienced problems simply with shutting off the groomer.

– Beard Trim & Groom

| Full review

Body is very heavy

– Instant Grooming

| Full review

This doesn’t come with a full-size shaving head like the 9864 trimmer. If you want a close shave with it, you’ll need to pick one of those up

– Major Beard

| Full review

1. Wahl 5622 Groomsman Battery Powered Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9.7

2. Gillette 3-In-1 Easy Grip Handle Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9.6

3. King C. Gillette Battery Powered Pivoting Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9.5

4. Ufree Long-Lasting Battery Powered Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9. 4

5. Arkam Advanced Tech Full Groomer Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9.3

6. Panasonic ER-GB42-K Sculpting Ergonomic Grip Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9.3

7. Philips Norelco Rechargeable Sensitive-Skin Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9.2

8. Philips Norelco MG3750 Self-Sharpening Alloy Steel Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9.2

9. Panasonic Cordless Men’s Precision Dial Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9.2

10. SUPRENT All-In-1 Long-Lasting Adjustable Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9.2

11. Braun MGK3980 9-In-1 Waterproof Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9.2

12. Wahl Easy Clean Detachable Blades Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9.1

13. WAHL T-Blade Personal Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9. 1

14. Braun BT5070 Cordless & Rechargeable Men’s Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 9.0

15. Remington Rechargeable Washable Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 8.9

16. Philips Norelco Ultra-Strong Fiberglass Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 8.8

17. Wahl Clipper Groomsman Adjustable Guide Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 8.5

18. Pure Enrichment TRYM II Professional-Grade Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 8.4

19. Andis Outliner II High-Speed Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 8.4

20. Braun Series 7 Sonic Technology Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 8.4

21. Philips Norelco Detachable Head Ion Battery Beard Trimmer

Overall Score: 8.2

Keeping your beard neat and tidy can be tough work. But with the right tool, you’ll be able to quickly get that look you want. Today’s beard trimmers go beyond facial hair. Many come with attachments that help you trim your hair and mustache, as well as tools that let you control the length of the hair you’re trimming.

But beard trimmers can have a variety of features that make them stand out. One consideration is the motor, which determines how much power your razor will have. You’ll also be able to use some beard trimmers in the shower, cutting down on the time it will take to get ready each morning. As you look at the features, decide which ones matter most to you and choose accordingly.

In addition to trimming length attachments, some beard trimmers provide different trimming heads. You may also get a freebie, like a nose trimmer, along with your order, which will provide an all-in-one solution. Lastly, accessories like carrying cases can be very useful in keeping things together, so consider that a perk while you’re shopping.

You’ll also notice that some beard trimmers are cordless, while others are corded. On the surface, the cordless models seem much more convenient since you won’t be limited to a certain distance from a power plug. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that battery-powered trimmers need charging, and you’ll only be able to use your trimmer for a limited time before putting it back on the charger.

If you do choose a battery-operated model, weigh the benefits of one with a warning light that lets you know when the battery is nearing depletion. This will keep you from having to deal with that sudden battery drain when you most need your trimmer to work. If you plan to only use your trimmer for a few minutes each time, this may not be as important. But if you’re on the road and away from your charger, you may find yourself pushing your trimmer’s battery to its limits.

  • Few things can be as frustrating as trying to trim your beard, only to find your razor isn’t making any difference at all. True cutting power is a combination of a sharp blade and a strong motor, which can help with even the thickest hair growth. The Wahl Groomsman Rechargeable Beard Trimmer uses patented Wahl blades, which are made from precision-ground carbon steel, backed by a motor strong enough to power through. Other models use self-sharpening surgical steel blades that are situated at the perfect angle for facial hair.
  • Noise can be important, especially if you’re trimming early in the morning when everyone else is asleep. Look for a trimmer that has a powerful motor but still maintains a low noise level.
  • Grip becomes increasingly important while you work on cleaning up your facial hair. Consider a trimmer with a non-slip body with a rubber grip that keeps you comfortable while also giving you the control you need.
  • Weight is also an important factor. Some trimmers are lightweight, which makes a big difference if shaving is taking a while.
  • Cleaning is always a little extra work with a beard trimmer. Some beard trimmers have a built-in water drain. Just open the drain and let the water flow through.
  • Cordless trimmers have their benefits, but having a cord can come in handy, as well. You won’t have to worry about your battery running out before you finish. So unless you plan to wander around while trimming, this could be a handy feature to have.
  • For cordless trimmers, you’ll need to pay close attention to charging time and battery life. Certain trimmers can charge in just one minute if all you need is a quick shave. Some models will need to charge at least overnight before you can use them, providing 35 to 50 minutes of use after a 10-hour charge.
  • One downside to a battery-powered device is the fact that without warning, you’ll lose juice just when you need it. Some models feature a smart LED setting that blinks as your battery runs dow.
  • Attachments are an important part of a beard trimmer. Some models come with four combs and a traditional razor. The Wahl Groomsman Rechargeable Beard Trimmer comes with a full suite of accessories, including a nose and ear hair trimmer, trimming and stubble guards, an accessory storage bag and a cleaning brush.
  • If you haven’t bought a new beard trimmer in a while, you may not have one with a dial that makes it easy to change trim length. There are beard trimmers with dials that let you choose between 19 different settings.
  • With most trimmers, you’ll merely need to clean them out and put them back on the charger. However, some trimmers will require occasional maintenance using the oil included in the package. You’ll get hair pulling if you go too long without doing this. Of course, you can always go with a model that doesn’t require oil.

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Oster rotary hair clippers

Li-ion battery in the cold, what lithium batteries are afraid of | Voltmarket

Sergey Kurtov

Reading time: 5 min on) batteries have become the most common on this moment. One of the few areas where lithium batteries have not taken root is vehicles with an internal combustion engine, where the battery is used only to ignite and power the main components.

With the popularity of electric vehicles, the need for lithium batteries has increased even more. Electric transport means not only electric cars, but also electric bicycles, electric scooters and other equipment driven by an electric motor.

Due to the fact that li-ion batteries are used almost everywhere, users often wonder what the lithium-ion batteries are afraid of. This is useful to know, especially if you have an expensive assembly of a large number of elements that you don’t want to change almost every year.

What Li-ion batteries are afraid of

Each type of battery has certain operating requirements that must be met in order to achieve the longest life possible, close to the declared one. Usually these requirements are the same, differing only in specific numbers. Among them are the following:

  • Charge and discharge current. Each battery has a maximum allowable charge and discharge current. For many lithium-ion batteries, this is not very relevant due to the presence of a BMS controller that controls all processes and protects against misuse;
  • Charge level. Any battery can be damaged by discharging it “to zero” and leaving it in this state for storage. The battery must always be charged. The optimal charge level for storage is usually around 60%. It will also not be possible to discharge a lithium battery 100% due to the BMS controller, but nothing will protect against self-discharge during storage;
  • Temperature regime. Both storage and operation must take place at a temperature suitable for the particular type of battery. In most cases, the battery is operated indoors, or it is possible to move it there, so lithium batteries are rarely used in the cold. This was the case before the popularization of electric transport. Now the work of lithium-ion and polymer batteries in cold weather excites users much more.

What happens to a Li-ion battery in the cold

Despite the fact that the problem of operating li-ion batteries at low temperatures has become acute relatively recently, in some areas it was relevant many years ago.

Many probably remember situations when a smartphone (usually it concerned already outdated iPhone generations) turned off after a long stay outdoors in sub-zero temperatures. This is due to the fact that a lithium-ion battery in the cold loses a lot in current output and charge level.

Now imagine that we are not talking about a smartphone, but, say, an electric bicycle. Yes, many people wisely prefer to wait until spring, but fans of winter cycling can be taken by surprise by a quick loss of charge. The situation is similar with electric cars. The essence of the problem lies in the fact that many chemical reactions slow down at low temperatures, and a lithium-ion battery is just a chemical power source. Accordingly, in cold weather, the battery runs the risk of being deeply discharged even while idle. This should be taken into account and charge the battery on time. Please note that charging the battery immediately after frost is not recommended. It should naturally warm up before starting the process.

If a lithium-ion battery is left unattended and allowed to self-discharge to critically low voltages (below 2.5V per cell), then after some time of storage, the battery may fail without the possibility of recovery. Within, say, one 18650 cell, this does not seem to be a problem, but if we are talking about tens or even thousands (more than 7 thousand 18650 cells from Panasonic are installed in Tesla cars), the losses will be significant. Therefore, carefully monitor the condition of the battery and maintain a stable medium-high level of charge to store it.

How to solve the problem of operating a lithium battery in the cold

If you cannot avoid the operation of a lithium battery in the cold, there are a couple of ways to alleviate the situation a little.

The obvious solution is to insulate the battery. In the role of a heater, any heat-insulating material can be used up to polystyrene foam. The main thing is that space allows. Thanks to the insulation, the heat generated by the batteries during operation will maintain an acceptable temperature. During idle, this heat will help keep the battery warm for a while. Thus, at least the operation process and a short downtime will take place in more or less acceptable conditions.

The second solution to the problem is more radical. It consists in choosing a different type of lithium batteries that can better tolerate operation at low ambient temperatures. These types include lithium iron phosphate batteries (LiFePO4). They work great even at temperatures of -20°C, however, they differ in not the most standard voltage of one element. Another extremely promising type of lithium batteries for electric vehicles are lithium-titanate batteries. They offer not only reliable operation in cold weather, but also a long service life (the service life of some models may exceed the period of operation of the electric vehicle itself), as well as the possibility of fast charging.