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Beware of Low Cost Lithium Battery Cells

Posted by Carl Clark on 8/25/2021

Don’t become a victim!

Keep in mind this fact.  Lithium is considered a rare metal.  Just like Gold.  You cannot buy gold at dramatically lower prices.  Neither can you buy lithium at bargain prices.

Also remember that the country of China is a Communist controlled country, and the government owns all the land.  The Government also owns and controls all the lithium and other raw materials that go into the production of a lithium battery.  Therefore, all the lithium manufactures in China must pay the same amount for the same grade raw materials.  The only way prices can be reduced is in the automated assembly process.  The companies that are automated can reduce their labor costs.  However, the labor cost of making a lithium battery is only a small fraction of the total battery cost.  If a person buys what is known as an ‘A-‘ or ‘B’ grade lithium battery it will not be warranted by the factory and will not last as long as a good ‘A’ grade cell.

Please be aware that there are a lot of low cost or even counterfeit lithium cells flooding the market.  Almost all of them are a lower grade cell or are even factory rejects that are being advertised as good cells.  Recently a man told me that he had ordered a quantity of batteries from China at a really low price.  When they arrived they had already started to swell.  A swollen battery is a clear sign that the battery is in the final stages of its life.

About 9 years ago when I was still innocent, I found a company in China operated by a guy named Jack who gave me some really good prices for some lithium battery packs.  Being a cautious person, I bought two small batches and tested them.  They tested good.  So, with my confidence in them up I advertised these batteries and instantly received an order for $70,000 worth of them.  My customer wire transferred the money into my account.  So, everything looked good.  Except I was worried.  Jack sent me pictures of his factory and did everything right.  But I still worried.  I thought that if I sent $70,000 to China and Jack just took the money and disappeared, I would be facing some really big problems because I didn’t have $70,000 to give back to my customer in the event we never got any batteries or that the batteries were poor quality.  The only solution that I could come up with was to buy a plane ticket and go to China and find out the facts firsthand.  So, I went to China and found out that the batteries we were going to receive were factory rejects.  Jack was a con artist. Unfortunately, he and several others are still around. He always has nice bilingual, usually young, women working for him.  He did not have a factory.  Neither do these other con artists.  He sent some pictures of a factory that he claimed he owned, but the pictures were photoshopped. My trip to China was a very valuable lesson.  After that experience I decided to go to China often, which I have done every year up until Covid stopped me.  We never deal with any lithium manufacturing company until I have toured the factory and verified that they also have a good quality control department that thoroughly tests and documents every cell or pack.

That experience with Jack happened a long time ago. Regrettably, the lithium battery industry has now drawn a lot of new opportunistic people who operate by selling batteries of questionable quality with impunity.  Some of these shady companies even buy equipment to put phony laser marking to identify counterfeit cells that are actually ‘B’ grade, that will not last as long, or worse.

Getting a little philosophical John Ruskin once wrote, “It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all.   When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. “

He also wrote, “There is hardly anything that some person cannot make cheaper and sell for less.  The person who buys based on price only is this person’s lawful prey!”

In more layman terms.  A guy at the farm feedstore once told me, “If you want to buy oats, we will sell you nice clean fresh oats at a fair price.  After they have been through the horse, we can sell them to you much cheaper.”

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