How To Handle LiPo Batteries

How to handle LiPo Batteries

Table of Contents

Lots of people don’t really know (or aware of ) how to handle LiPo batteries. Probably, the battery is something you less interested in. I mean, that assuming you bought yourself a drone, you as the pilot will take care of the drone, but less of the battery. You see, most people take batteries for granted, and when they see it swollen they accuse the quality of the battery or the store where they bought the battery from.

But in fact, the reason many batteries get swollen of puffed is due to bad maintenance. And honestly, taking care of a battery is quite simple, and won’t take too much time for you. So, following simple rules will let you enjoy your batteries for a long time.

Starting With A New LiPo battery

When you buy a new LiPo battery, be aware that the manufacturer set the batteries to storage charge before shipping them out. And, honestly, you can never know how long was the battery sitting aside before it actually arrived in your hands. During that time, which can be days, weeks, or even months, the battery was draining down. So it is important that you will put the battery into the balance charger and set it to “storage charging”. This way, you will bring the battery back to a safe level of energy. But failing to follow this tip, and assuming you won’t be using the battery right away, you can end up with a dead battery even before your first usage.

How Many Charging Cycles a LiPo Battery has?

Normally, a LiPo battery has no more than 300 charging cycles. 300 cycles is a long time and on average use, it can last a couple of years. However, handing the batteries improperly will shorten their lifespan dramatically. And in some cases, you will use them only once.

Why LiPo Batteries Puffs or Swollen?

Okay, so now let’s talk about the ugly part. Unfortunately, a puffed battery is a common issue, and knowing how to handle LiPo batteries will prevent it from happening. A swollen battery usually happens when you let your battery sit for more than a few days while not making sure it is on a safe level.  If the LiPo battery is undercharged, gasses will get inside the cells of the battery and will make it look puffed. As much as it may not sound like a serious thing, these gasses damage the battery.

On the other hand, leaving the battery overcharged, also damages the battery due to pressure between the cells. This pressure can tear the battery inner casing, which will lead to a gas leak – ending up with fire.

Is it OK to leave a LiPo battery charge overnight?

Absolutely not. Always make sure you are near the battery as long as it is plugged into the balance charger. Never ever let it charge unattended. The reason for it is since a non-healthy battery can catch fire during charge. Always make sure there is no smoke coming out of the battery. In case you see smoke, disconnect the battery as fast as possible, and try to place it in a safe place that can’t catch fire, use any good extinguisher you have in your possession. Here is a video showing how a small LiPo battery can end up badly.

Cold Weather

I am sure you know that heat and a LiPo battery is not a good combination. However, cold weather is not good as well.  Cold weather will slow down the chemical activity within the battery. In addition, it will reduce the total charge cycles of the battery. Using LiPo batteries below -10C (14F) is totally not recommended, as it can suddenly cause the drone to fall down without notice.

While some people tend to store LiPo batteries in cold places, such as a refrigerator, the storage itself is okay. But, taking the battery out of the fridge can cause condensation on the inside of the battery, which is very dangerous.

Avoid Doing These Mistakes

Most people don’t know how to handle LiPo batteries properly. Hence, there are common mistakes people always do. So, I will list here the most common ones:

  1. Always make sure you charge your LIPO battery using a balance charger.
  2. You should never fully discharge the battery. It is dangerous, and this will result in killing the battery. The minimum voltage per cell cannot be less than 3V.
  3. Never let a fully charged battery sit with no usage. If you fully charged the battery in order to use it on the same day, that’s okay. But if for some reason, you ended up not using the battery, make sure to plug it into the balance charger to discharge it up to 3.8 volts per cell. Otherwise, it will cause cell degradation, which, can lead the battery to swell or puff, even if it sits for a few days only.
  4. After using the LiPo battery, it is important to plug the battery into the balance charger and set it to a storage charge. This will discharge all the extra power out of your LiPo battery and will bring the battery to its safe level. That keeps your battery in a healthy state, and allow you to store your battery safely.
  5. Always store your batteries in a cool and dry place.
  6. If you just finished using your battery and you want to charge it right away, first, let the battery cool down. Don’t charge it when the battery is still hot.
  7. Don’t leave LiPo batteries in the car, hot garage. Leaving batteries in a hot place is dangerous. By the way, leaving the battery in a refrigerator is dangerous as well. 
  8. Not using a battery for a long time will require you to plug it into the balance charger, making sure it will come back to its healthy state with the right needed voltage. As a rule of thumb, don’t let a LiPo battery sit for more than 2-3 months without plugging it into the balance charger.
  9. Before tossing the LiPo battery in the trash, make sure you fully discharge the battery. This can prevent fires from happening.

Keeping these rules will help you maintain your LiPo batteries properly. Doing so will let you enjoy them for a really long time.

Avoid using a used LiPo battery

As much as it is not always possible, always do your best to buy brand new LiPo batteries. The reason for that is simple. Since you are reading this post, it means that you want to maintain your batteries properly. But it doesn’t mean that the person you will buy the batteries from did the same. Actually, you can buy a used battery which is already damaged and you don’t know it. You just can’t trust anyone that sells LiPo batteries – no matter what he promises you.

How To Handle LIPO Batteries – Storage Charge

Make yourself a rule of thumb, every time you finish using your battery, plug it into the balance charger, and set it to “storage charge”.  The reason for that is since when you finish using the battery, it may have too much energy or too little energy to be stored for a few more days. So, after every use put your battery back to the balance charger, and set it to a storage charge. This way, it brings your battery to a safe level in case there is too little energy, or otherwise, too much energy.

My Balance Charger Does Not Discharge. What can I do?

Okay, so you got the idea of discharging the battery in case it is overcharged. But, it is possible that you have a balance charger that does not support this feature. So, in case your balance charger does not have s discharge setting, any time you finish using your battery, check how much voltage your battery reads. In case it is over 3.8 volts, just plug it back again into your drone and use it until it drains out. At this point, the voltage level will probably be 3.2 volts (which is lower than the storage charging level). Now, all you have to do is plug the battery back to the charger until it gets to 3.8 volts.

Another great solution for discharging the LiPo batteries, in case your charger does not have such an option, is to use a discharger. VIFLY makes a great battery discharger for LiPo batteries. It is called VIFLY StoreSafe, and it is basically a smart LiPo battery discharger. You can choose from 2 different connectors, XT30 or XT60.

VIFLY StoreSafe Discharger XT60 XT30

Conclusion

It is very important you will learn how to handle LiPo batteries correctly. Knowing so will save you money, save your drone, and will prevent fire and other serious damages. Handling batteries properly is not hard and it will allow you to enjoy the battery for a longer time.  And please, avoid doing the mistake I listed above.

The way I see it, make sure you do the following:

  1. Each time, before you want to store your battery, plug it into the balance charger, and set it to “storage charge”.
  2. Store the battery in a cool and dry place.
  3. Despite most people don’t do it, always use a fireproof safety bag for storing the batteries inside.

Hope you learned something new today, so it will extend your batteries’ life.

Till the next time, tight lines and fly safely.

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