Electronic – Charging Li-ion batteries in parallel

batteriesbattery-charginglithium ion

I wanted some opinion on my set up here, just to make sure I got the basics right.

I have a Li-ion battery charging circuit based on the MCP73113. This is designed to be a single-cell battery charger.

The battery itself (3.7V, 650mAh) comes with its own PCB with Schottky diode and current regulators as protection.
EDIT: Not a Schottky diode. Current limiter and a Protection IC.

By design, they work together just fine.

I have more batteries from the same manufacturer and wanted to make higher capacity packs by putting two cells in parallel. The two cells come with their own PCB, but I only kept one of them, as I soldered their leads together. It seems to work and they are charged and discharged just like regular batteries (3.7V, now 1300 mAh).

However, not all the packs I made work smoothly and I get a failure rate of 2 in every 10 packs. They all start out normally, but occasionally when the batteries are not charged for some time, or are used up, they tend to not work anymore. So far, in only 1 pack I found the voltage to be different (both now below 2V, aka dead).

I assume my method is not the right approach to ensure 100% success rate, so I was wondering how can this be solved. All the controllers I looked into was designed for multiple cells in series, not parallel. Am I fundamentally missing something here?

Best Answer

Connecting cells in parallel is common practise with professional battery pack manufacturers, so there is nothing wrong with it. What pros do is they assemble packs from cells out of the same box (same shipment, same lot), having very tight tolerances. This way, you even get packs with serially connected cells (eg. 3s1p) where the cell voltages stay closely matched over the lifetime of the pack (several years) - without balancing of course. This is quite a considerable achievement, you can calculate yourself how much self discharge difference the cells can have in order not to have significant unbalancing.

Your case is much simpler (1s2p) so I guess you are using low quality cells. The above is only valid for top quality cells (Panasonic, Samsung etc), a lot of "noname" cells like used in aftermarket camera batteries are just crap. Which cells are you using?