Lithium vs Lead-acid batteries for Ground Support Equipment

What battery type should you choose – Lithium or Lead-Acid? It’s a question that’s not answered easily. We have the view that both solutions can be valid for Ground Support Equipment (GSE), but the right solution for your operation depends on a range of individual factors. Here are some considerations to think about:

Equipment Types

Some equipment require lithium batteries as the power draw from the machine that is too high for the capabilities of lead-acid batteries. In this case, there is no choice – Lithium batteries are required.

qantas plane on tarmac


  • Daily travel: this is the biggest drain on battery discharge. The task requirements should be carefully mapped out to get an idea of the overall daily travel. This will influence the size of the battery but can also play a part in the type of battery.
  • Daily schedule: does the machine have availability for charging throughout the day or will it have very infrequent breaks?

Fleet Size

Part of the analysis on fleet size should be two-fold – the more equipment means the more charging infrastructure required. If there are restrictions on charging infrastructure, then can the assets cycle through a charge in the given timeframe?


There is still a large difference in cost between the two options – and this certainly carries a big weight in the business case analysis. However, it should be broken down on a Total Cost of Ownership basis over the life of the battery, considering:

  • Battery initial cost
  • Battery longevity: the total cycles available
  • Maintenance requirements

Compatibility with other Airport GSE

Standardising charging infrastructure wherever possible is going to have positive NPV impacts in most cases. Can the asset be charged with infrastructure already available or will it require a unique charger?

Future-ready solutions

While it is hard to predict the future pathway of the industry – there are many emerging technologies from both a Lithium and Lead-Acid perspective, and even further afield, the chance of Hydrogen making a leap into the mainstream market. You should check with the manufacturer to ensure that there is the flexibility to upgrade to future technology if and when it becomes viable to do so.

To explore our range of Ground Support Equipment