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Tuesday, 8 August 2017


Lithium battery technology headed for center stage

As far back as 2009, battery maintenance and diagnostics specialist TecMate realized that the initial ‘niche’ aftermarket trend of fitting lithium batteries into powersport vehicles was something that had the potential of becoming mainstream.

Straight out of the box, lithium battery technology was delivering up to 4 times higher cranking amps than the replaced lead-acid battery, and, as Martin Human, CEO/CTO of TecMate, says: “It prompted our engineering team to learn everything they could about lithium batteries, in particular Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4/LFP). That is the safest and only lithium battery technology used in modern SLI (starter-lighting-ignition) batteries.” 

TecMate released their OptiMate Lithium 4s 5A (TM290 series) charger at the start of the 2011 season. The major step forward in terms of the available technology for managing lithium batteries at the time was the unique OptiMate Lithium charging algorithm that included 10 steps of safe battery saving, charging, testing and maintenance – at that stage it was, and remains, “way ahead of the competition,” says Martin Human.
Fast forward to 2017, and lithium as OEM recommended battery technology is now a reality; KTM, Husqvarna, Honda and Yamaha have introduced lithium starter batteries in some of their high-performance motorcycles, and all four of these OEMs have preferred OptiMate Lithium chargers as their charging partner of choice.
Indeed, Harley customizers and performance engineers are already embracing lithium, and with the Motor Company inevitably being drawn closer to embracing lithium battery technology as their plans for development of their ‘Live Wire’ e-bike evolve, there will come a time when it will only be a short leap for them to start trickling down the technology into their mainstream offer. Let’s also not forget that with their investments in e-bike and e-vehicle technology and platforms (Brammo etc), it may even be that Indian Motorcycle beats them to it.

“cost-effective, yet still highly advanced battery saving charger and tester”

The flagship OptiMate Lithium 4s 5A boasts an advanced SAVE mode that will safely recover a lithium battery discharged below the critical level of 10V, even from as low as 0.5V. The propriety algorithm continuously tests during this critical recovery period, comparing the result against the ideal charge curve of a perfect battery. If the charger detects a deviation, it will immediately stop charging, as continued charging will cause a damaged cell to heat up rapidly and even melt down. 

The charge steps include ‘AmpMatic’ technology that will adjust the charge rate according to battery size and condition, and the ‘OPTIMIZE’ step’s unique cell balancing method guarantees the battery arrives at full charge, ready to deliver the incredible cranking amps that even the smallest lithium battery is capable of.
“The OptiMate Lithium 4s 0.8A (TM470 series) is a cost-effective, yet still highly advanced battery saving charger and tester. The 4-bank version (TM484/485) is ideal for dealers to prepare lithium batteries before fitment. New shipping laws being introduced will require that lithium batteries are shipped at no more than 30% charge, so the batteries should be recharged before fitment. All OptiMate Lithium chargers can reset the BMS in an advanced lithium battery. 

Martin Human, CEO and Chief Technology Officer for Tecmate, says: “Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4/LFP) is the safest and only lithium battery technology used in modern SLI (starter-lighting-ignition) batteries”

“The OptiMate O-127 smart battery lead gives the rider peace of mind even during riding, a warning light that will flash rapidly if the vehicle’s charge voltage exceeds the critical level of 14.6V, above which lithium batteries will quickly suffer permanent damage.
“The OptiMate State of Charge tester (TS-126/127) helps dealers and their customers understand that lithium is a special high energy battery that operates at a higher voltage than lead-acid; the voltage ranges of STD and AGM lead-acid and LiFePO4 batteries are clearly marked.
OptiMate Lithium products make it easy for dealers and riders to enjoy the benefits of this new technology, and TecMate promises that there are more to come!