FYI: Most of the people online selling LiFePO4 Bats are Scammers
I have recently seen a lot of very good deals for lithium iron phostphate batteries. They're on B2B sites like Alibaba, custom E-commerce sites and of course eBay.
It's unfortunate, because this is a good technology and there are some good companies like Schenzhen Optimum Battery Co. (http://www.optimum-china.com).
This is the only seller on eBay currently who I believe is legit:
There might be some others, but as far as I can tell they all have under 100 feedback and are selling 50+ very expensive items each at very good prices. Not worth the risk. Even a legit looking seller on eBay like the one I linked can decide to close out their account after making a number of large sales, then open a new one building up feedback with cheap little batteries. If a Chinese company screws you there's no recourse. These scammers have multiplied to the point that 90% of the ones I found are not distributors according to Schenzhen Battery Co, in other words, 90% of the people selling these things are scammers.
If I were to be ordering one of these things, I'd contact the supplier directly. Usually they have a rep who speaks english pretty well. If they don't, it's probably a scam.
I had an excellent transaction with seller dy-power for my 20Ah LiFePO4 pack. I see they now only have 3 cell phones for sale, hope I never need that 1 year warranty.
I'd make a distinction between a scammer and a distributor; it's safe to say all scammers are distributors, the reverse is not necessarily so. Many are just hard working people who happen to buy and sell anything they can get their hands on, hopefully legally. Your advice to be careful is good as it's hard to make the distinction based on eBay feedback, level of grammer on the listing and a general feel for the sellers legitmacy.
The problem is how to remove the risk. The only sure way is to buy batteries stateside from a local dealer, we all know what that's going to cost, same for mailorder. Occasionally I see eBay or craigslist listings from someone stateside that bought the wrong thing from China and now wants to flip it, still has some risk.
For now, China owns the LiFePO4 game, you pays your money, you takes your chances!
Yeah, I'm there are other non-scam sellers on eBay.
Originally Posted by misslexi
More specifically, I was talking about the many E-commerce websites and plethora of listings on Alibaba.
^^ Most of those are scam listings. eBay is a little bit different, since on eBay you're probably dealing with one guy who is running a small electronics resale business from his flat. He's not going to be an authorized distributor so the cues you mentioned are what you have to go off of. But people on Alibaba and E-commerce resellers should be authorized distributors from Schenzhen Battery Co or one of the other big manufacturers. None of the ones I checked out were!
And actually, you don't have to gamble just because you want cheap LiFePO4! You can pretty much eliminate risk, even when sourcing products from China. Call the manufacturer and buy direct. Schenzhen will sell small quantities (I got 10 cells from them for my Father's plug in hybrid project).
I have bought lifepo4 batteries from "pingping" on eBay because others on this forum have mentioned that it is a good seller, and IMO they are good packs. But havng never bought lithium batteries for this kind of application, what would it be if it is not lifepo4? Are there any ways we can tell whether the battery is a different type of lithium combination? (weight, dimensions or voltage?)
It depends on how specific they are with the voltage. LiFePO4 will always have a voltage which is a multiple of 3, since the chemistry provides a potential of 3V. Sometimes they just round up or down though.
Originally Posted by Antranik
But if it's exact, a Lithium ion battery will have a voltage of 37V. A LiFe battery will have a voltage of 36V.
My warning is not so much about getting the wrong product, but getting nothing at all. PingPing looks like a good seller, or go direct to the manufacturer. Avoid any B2B or E-commerce website offering great prices, they're doubtless a scam artist.
Being careful of what you're doing online sometimes is just common sense though
I happen to know that the batteries being sold at Power In Motion cost comparatively more than something you could buy online, for instance. However, I also know that they're professionally designed and packaged, that Ken has a constant line of communication with his suppliers for improving and developing the product, and that each and every battery he sells, whether online or not, is brought to the shop first and tested on two different machines by trained and knowledgeable individuals before ever going out. And even if you did have a problem after that, he backs up the customer.
I also hear that the Ping batteries are okay. Personally, I would rather spend a little more for the professional service, testing and polish, but people seem to get good results with them.
If you're unsure about a battery:
Li-poly types are 3.7v/cell, LiFEPO4 is 3.2v/cell.
A true LiFEPO4 pack should come out to 38.4v optimally, although I suppose you could find one at 35.2. That would suck.
LiFEPO4 is bulkier and heavier than any lithium polymer out there, you can look up the weight and dimensions for packs online from a bunch of different retailers and kind of get the idea. Not much heavier, but usually a pound or two for the average pack, and bulkier. There will be more cells in a LiFEPO4 pack, they have to use more to match the voltages.
I bought a 48 volt battery from Ping. The product seems decent with 500 miles so far. This is not a plug-and-play operation though, so having good customer support is important. Ping's service exceeds most out there even locally . When my charger went out, he immediately sent me a new one by express mail. Hopefully other sellers will also step up.
That's interesting, some people list them as having 3V. It must depend on what they consider nominal voltage to be.
Originally Posted by Abneycat
And yeah, being safe online is common sense, but I don't think its common sense that you need to order from the manufacturer to be sure you wont get ripped off. I wouldn't have bothered posting, except that I almost got ripped off by one of these outfits...
Yeah, Ping is the only seller I'd buy from on eBay.
Last edited by NorskeDivision; 12-10-08 at 11:01 AM.
Has no one has ever thought to seek out any american suppliers of LiFepo4 batteries.? http://www.falconev.com
Good tip falconev, thanks.
I personally tried to find a 36v 20ah pack stateside when I was looking back in August; they were either invisible to Google or vastly uncompetitive at that time. I would definitely consider these guys if I needed a pack today.