Cost Control for Customized Battery Packs

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customized battery packs cost control

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:

  • Cell Chemistry Selection: Affects performance, safety, lifespan, and cost; lithium-based chemistries offer high energy density and long cycle life but may require complex BMS.
  • Physical Attributes: Weight, size, and number of cells impact portability, design, and costs; higher voltage requirements may increase pack size.
  • Enclosure Design: Must accommodate cell type, internal components, and safety circuits; material selection balances cost, strength, and environmental resistance.
  • Potting Technology: Enhances environmental adaptability and performance but adds to cost; justifies expense through improved durability and reliability.
  • Smart Battery Packs: Offer real-time status monitoring and advanced features like embedded chargers and remote monitoring, but may increase complexity and cost.
  • Battery Certification: Ensures safety and regulatory compliance, but involves additional testing and costs; strategies include needs assessment and alternative solutions.

When developing a custom battery pack, the primary concern is often the upfront expenses, as they ultimately affect the final product’s pricing and market viability.

If the battery pack cost exceeds what the market is willing to pay, it will lead to low sales. Moreover, if the initial investment fails to demonstrate a viable ROI, the entire project’s feasibility could be in question. 

Therefore, understanding the cost drivers of a battery pack is essential. It can help you choose the right components and cell chemistries without going over the budgets. 

The main cost drivers include:

  • Selection of cell chemistry
  • Weight, size, and number of cells
  • Enclosure design and battery potting
  • Smart battery pack features
  • Battery certification requirements

Selecting the Right Cell Chemistry

The initial step in creating a customized battery pack is choosing the suitable battery chemistry. It directly influences a battery’s ability to deliver power safely and efficiently, impacting its lifespan and overall cost.

Overview of Cell Chemistries

Currently, the main battery chemistries are nickel-cadmium (NiCd), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH), and lithium-based chemistries, such as lithium-ion (Li-ion) and lithium-polymer (Li-Po). Each chemistry has unique characteristics and application.

NiCd Cell

  • Voltage: 1.2V/cell
  • Energy density: low
  • Overcharge and over-discharge resistance: strong
  • Cost: low
  • Environmental impact: contains cadmium, which is harmful to the environment 
  • Typical application: electric tools, portable appliances, such as handheld vacuum cleaners

NiMH Cell

  • Voltage: 1.2V/cell
  • Energy density: higher than NiCd
  • Memory effect: none; no need for full discharge
  • Cost: moderate 
  • Typical application: auxiliary batteries for hybrid vehicles, portable electronic devices, some electric toys and model aircraft

Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) Cell

  • Voltage: 3.6V/cell or 3.7V/cell
  • Energy density: very high
  • Cycle life: long
  • Self-discharge rate: low 
  • Typical application: modern smartphones and tablets, laptops and portable workstations, electric vehicles and hybrid cars, high-performance drones

Lithium-Polymer (Li-Po) Cell

  • Voltage: 3.7V/cell
  • Energy density: very high, typically higher than Li-ion
  • Customizable shape: can be tailored to specific needs in terms of shape and size
  • Lightweight: lighter than li-ion 
  • Typical application: remote-controlled aircraft, electric racing cars and high-performance model cars, wearable devices and flexible electronic products

Chemical Stability and Durability

In addition to cost and voltage, consider the chemical stability and durability of the battery when selecting a chemistry.

Lithium-based cells generally offer better chemical stability and longer lifespans but may require more complex battery management systems (BMS) to ensure safety and optimize performance.

In comparison, nickel-based batteries, while chemically stable, may not perform as well as lithium-based ones under high-load or high-temperature conditions.

Weight, Size, and Number of Cells Required

Physical attributes like weight and size significantly affect the battery pack’s overall cost. The total weight and size of the battery pack are not only related to the portability and design of the product but also affect transportation and manufacturing costs.

Voltage Matching

Various cell chemistries come with predefined voltages.

For example, nickel-based cells typically offer 1.2V each, while lithium-ion cells provide approximately 3.6V. If an application requires a higher voltage, this can be achieved by increasing the number of batteries rather than selecting a single high-voltage battery. This approach can reduce costs to some extent but will also increase the weight and size of the battery pack.

Balance Between Space and Weight

When designing a battery pack, you need to consider the spatial limitations if it have. 

If space is limited, it may be necessary to choose cells with a smaller volume and higher energy density, which usually means higher costs.

On the other hand, if there are weight restrictions, it may be necessary to choose lighter cells, even if this means sacrificing some energy density.

Enclosure Design and Potting Technology

The design of the battery pack’s enclosure and potting technology is a key aspect of ensuring the safety and stable operation of the battery. 

They are not only safeguard the battery pack but also play a role in cost management and overall product performance. A well-designed enclosure and potting scheme can enhance the durability and reliability of the battery pack while adapting to various application environments.

Key Factors in Enclosure Design

The design of the battery pack’s enclosure needs to consider the following key aspects:

  1. Application Space: The available space directly impacts the enclosure’s design and size.
  2. Cell Type: The choice between cylindrical or prismatic cells will influence the internal structure and mounting method of the enclosure.
  3. Internal Components: Apart from the batteries, the enclosure must also accommodate protective circuits, temperature sensors, voltage/current monitors, and other internal components.
  4. Safety Circuits: Especially for lithium-based batteries, safety circuits are needed to prevent overcharging, over-discharging, and short-circuiting.
  5. Material Selection: The choice of materials for the enclosure must balance cost, strength, temperature resistance, and environmental adaptability.

Material Selection and Cost-Effectiveness

Metal vs. Plastic

Metal enclosures provide stronger impact resistance and temperature tolerance but are more expensive. Plastic enclosures are less costly but may degrade in extreme temperatures.

Plastic Material Choices

ABS plastic is a cost-effective option but can become brittle at low temperatures. Plastic enclosures are commonly manufactured using injection molding, which is a cost-effecient method for mass production.

Economical Enclosure Techniques

PVC shrink wrapping or vacuum-formed plastic can serve as more budget-friendly solutions, especially suitable for designs where the battery pack is embedded within the product.

Application of Potting Technology

Potting technology is an important means of enhancing the environmental adaptability and performance of the battery pack:

  • Waterproof and Corrosion-Resistant: For products that may be exposed to water, solvents, or corrosive environments, potting can provide necessary protection.
  • Impact and Vibration Resistance: The battery pack, protected by potting materials, can better withstand external shocks and vibrations.
  • Performance Optimization: Potting can improve the thermal management of the battery, reducing the impact of temperature on performance.

Cost Considerations for Potting

While potting technology enhances battery pack performance and reliability, it also adds to the overall cost.

During the design phase, it is necessary to assess whether the long-term benefits of potting justify the short-term costs.

Smart Battery Pack Considerations

Smart battery packs, integrated with advanced electronic devices, offer comprehensive insights and precise management of battery status. These smart features not only elevate the battery’s performance but also improve the product’s safety, reliability, and user experience.

Core Functions of Smart Battery Packs

The core functions of smart battery packs lie in their ability to provide real-time data on the battery’s status, including but not limited to:

  • State of Charge (SoC): Indicates the current battery charge level to prevent overcharging and over-discharging.
  • Error Reporting: Provides timely notification to the user about potential issues with the battery, such as voltage irregularities or high temperatures.
  • Operating Temperature: Monitors the battery’s temperature to prevent performance degradation or safety risks by overheating.
  • Runtime: Records the battery’s usage time, aiding in predicting replacement cycles and maintenance schedules.
  • Current and Voltage Status: Monitors the current and voltage output of the battery to ensure stable device operation.

Integration of Value-Added Features

Beyond the core functionalities, smart battery packs can integrate value-added features to expand their application scope and enhance user experience. These may include:

  • Embedded Chargers: Enable direct charging of the battery pack without external chargers, enhancing user convenience.
  • GPIO (General Purpose Input Output) Options: Provide interfaces for communication with external devices, increasing the battery pack’s versatility.
  • Remote Monitoring: Allows users to remotely access and manage the battery’s status via wireless or wired connections.
  • Wireless Charging: Eliminates the need for wiring, offering a more flexible user experience.
  • Cell Balancing: Ensures that each cell in the battery pack charges and discharges at the same rate, prolonging the battery’s life.
  • Communication Protocols: Enable the battery pack to exchange data with other systems or devices, allowing for more advanced power management.

Balancing Design and Cost

While integrating more intelligent features can enhance the performance and user satisfaction, it can also lead to increased design complexity and costs. When designing a smart battery pack, striking a balance between feature richness and cost efficiency is crucial.

Advanced features often require more complex circuit designs and additional components, which can lead to higher costs.

Before adding any functionality, conduct a cost-benefit analysis to ensure that the additional costs can be justified by the improved performance or user experience.

Battery Certification Requirements

Battery certification, particularly for lithium-based batteries, is an important step in product compliance, ensuring the safety of the battery under various usage and transportation conditions.

Overview of the Certification Process

  • Regulatory Requirements: International regulatory bodies such as the United Nations/Department of Transportation (UN/DOT) mandate safety certification for lithium batteries..
  • Testing and Costs: The certification process involves sending battery samples to testing agencies for a range of tests, including overcharge, over-discharge, short-circuit, and extreme temperature tests, all of which incur additional costs.

Certification Cost Control Strategies

  • Certification Needs Assessment: At the initial stages of product design, assess the necessity of certification to avoid unnecessary certification costs.
  • Alternative Solutions Exploration: Consider using battery chemistries that do not require certification, such as alkaline, nickel-cadmium, or nickel-metal hydride, to reduce or eliminate certification costs.

Industry-Specific Considerations

Industries such as medical, aviation, and military may have additional testing and documentation requirements, even for non-lithium batteries, which can lead to extra costs.


In developing a custom battery pack, you need to consider chemical composition, physical properties, safety, and cost-effectiveness. 

Close collaboration with experienced custom battery manufacturers can ensure prudent decisions throughout the design and production process, achieving the optimal balance between performance and cost. This strategy not only enhances the product’s market competitiveness but also ensures product quality and reliability, delivering genuine value to the end-user.

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