I am supposed to measure a Li-Ion Battery cell's energy efficiency. For this purpose i have built up the apparatus setup which charges and discharges the battery cell to calculate its energy.

One thing that i studied before, and also noted while experimenting is that the cell's voltage is higher than the open circuit voltage during the charging process, and is lower during the discharging process. For e.g during charging when it was showing to be 3.9 volts, when i disconnected the charger, the cell voltage showed to be approx 3.7 volts (OCV). (i know the reason for this voltage difference is the drop across internal resistance of the battery cell)

My question is that if i charge and discharge the cell, without doing any extra calculations (compensation) for this thing, and i calculate the energy efficiency based on charging and discharging current and voltage values straight away, will i be getting the right results for energy efficiency ? Or do i have to do some kind of compensation for this thing (the difference between charging/discharging voltage and OCV) in order to calculate the right energy efficiency of the cell ?

Also, disregarding the energy calculation of the cell, when we have to fully charge the cell for normal use for e.g, do we compensate for this thing ? As i am guessing that the open circuit voltage becomes equal to the charging voltage in the CV region, so may be its not necessary to do the compensation. Which means that one can disregard this thing and simply charge and discharge the battery cell for normal use. Am i right ?


After posting my question, i just read @Russell McMahon ' s reply to this post: Maximum *charging* voltage for Li-Ion battery

And by reading it I'm assuming that i dont need to worry about this thing, i.e i should just keep a check in my software (like ive already did) "if(Vread >= 4.2) then go to constant voltage CV cycle" during charging, and "if(Vread <= 2.75) then stop the discharging" during discharging.

Still i would like to ask @Russell McMahon to verify my assumption, and also tell me about its validity in case of energy efficiency calculation.

Your helpful comments and suggestions would be appreciated.



1 Answer 1


You must limit the maximum charging voltage to 4.2V, or else the battery will explode! When you do this the charge current will naturally taper off (once it drops below 10% of the original charging current you can consider the cell to be fully charged). At normal discharge rates the cell will be almost completely drained when it reaches 3.0V. You may get a bit more out by continuing down to 2.75V, but also risk damaging the cell.

The energy efficiency of the cell is the ratio of energy extracted during discharge to energy input during charge. To get correct results you must use the actual terminal voltages measured during the test. Compensating for differences between charge or discharge and resting voltage will remove the very thing you need to measure - energy lost inside the cell.

Where you may have a concern is how to ensure that the start and end points are the same for both charge and discharge. Since discharge voltage is lower than resting voltage, if you charge the cell and then discharge it you don't know whether you have taken it down to the same amount of charge it had originally - perhaps it was already partially charged and you took out more than you put in, or perhaps the discharge cut off early and you didn't extract all the charge you put in.

The answer is to first charge the cell up fully to get it to a known state, then discharge it, then recharge it again. The discharge end-point may vary depending on current drain and temperature, but the charging end-point will always be the same.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If i am calculating the SOC using coulomb counting method, isnt it necessary for me to FIRST DISCHARGE it to 0% soc in every scenario, so that i can get a reference point for soc calculation. To make my self clear, lets say my cell is at unknown SOC, and i want to measure its complete charge/discharge cycle energy efficiency, i would 1) discharge it fully so that it reaches 0%, then 2)charge it fully to 100%, and then 3) again discharge it to 0%, while noting down the V &I values in 2 & 3 for energy efficiency calculation. I mean since energy % is Eout/Ein, isnt it necessary for me to first... \$\endgroup\$
    – yiipmann
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 14:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ ... charge the cell (as done in 2), not down the values, THEN discharge it (as done in 3) while noting down the values, and then calculating the energy efficiency ? I mean you said it the other way around, 1) charge it fully(to a known state) 2)discharge it, and then 3) charge it again, so basically for the energy efficiency calculation you FIRST DISCHARGED it, and THEN CHARGED it. my confusion here is that does this sequence matters ? would there be any difference in results in between your and my sequence ? I hope i made my self clear, as its very confusing for me \$\endgroup\$
    – yiipmann
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 14:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ ""If i am calculating the SOC using coulomb counting method, isnt it necessary for me to FIRST DISCHARGE it to 0% soc in every scenario, so that i can get a reference point for soc calculation."" The reason i said this thing in first comment is that i dont know at what SOC my cell is, so i can do 2 things to begin with: 1) i would first discharge it, untill it reaches lower cut-off voltage, and then ill know that its on 0% SOC.Also i can 2)charge it to upper cut-off voltage, and at that point ill know that my SOC is now 100%.so basically im trying to reach a reference point from where i can... \$\endgroup\$
    – yiipmann
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ ... continue further. So which is the better way to go ? discharging it fully to lower cut-off coltage to get 0% SOC, or charge it fully to upper cut-off voltage to get 100% SOC ? Please note that i asked 2 different questions in my 4 comments. my first 2 comments are regarding the SEQUENCE of charge/discharge for efficiency calculation, and last two comments(including this one) are regarding the reference point to which we should get before starting our energy efficiency calculation \$\endgroup\$
    – yiipmann
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 14:16
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Have some patience, it's 5:30 in the morning here! The problem is how to determine where the point of 0% SOC is, since the discharge voltage is lower than the resting and charging voltages. You can discharge to a set voltage and take that as the 0% SOC point, but if the discharge current or temperature changes then the 0% voltage may also change. This shouldn't be an issue if you maintain constant ambient temperature and discharge at a low rate to avoid self-heating (note that I said that it 'may' be a concern). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 16:54

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