Lithium polymer batteries have many benefits that have made them the preferred source of power in consumer drones. They feature high electrical energy density in relation to their overall size and weight, and their 3.7V voltage per cell rating means they provide the necessary power using fewer cells if compared to other rechargeable batteries found in the consumer market. LiPo batteries also discharge at a considerably slow rate meaning they can hold a charge longer when they are not in use.
The darker side of LiPo batteries is that they can’t give the intended peak performance if they are not properly charged or used. Worse, they can catch fire and bring in a lot of property damages, and the drones may be one of the properties. Much of the things that can be done to keep LiPo batteries in their required performance depend on common sense, and the urge to regularly adhere to the maintenance practices. Here are some of the top LiPo battery maintenance practices that can be used to keep a drone flying high and safe.
For the best charging results, a balancing charger should be used to ensure that all the battery cells get to have the same voltage. When connecting the LiPo battery to the balancing charger, make sure that the pins or the contacts are fully connected. Never the battery and the charger unattended, and also ensure that the charging surface is non-flammable. Also, the charging should not be done in enclosed areas that have flammable materials that can cause a fire to develop quickly. It is safe if fire-resistant battery charging bags are used as they can help in containing any fire that may arise.
Never overcharge or undercharge
Lithium polymer batteries should not be charged to more than 4.2V per cell, or allowed to discharge beyond 3.0V. That means you should have a battery checker to ensure that charging and discharge don’t get to exceed the recommended threshold. Inexpensive battery checkers can be sourced from Amazon, and they are necessary items in ensuring that a drone’s LiPo battery gets to be in its desired peak performance. Overcharging and undercharging can lead to permanent damages to a battery. Any battery that swells when charging, or is damaged in any way shouldn’t be used to power a drone as this may lead to defects.
It is best recommended that lithium polymer batteries are stored at room temperature conditions. For safety purposes, the batteries should be kept in a metallic box or a fireproof storage container. If the battery is not going to be used within the next few days and is on a full charge, it is best if it is discharged, and stored when the state of charging is at least 40% – this should be the case if charge and discharge cycles are performed once a month. Lithium polymer batteries don’t have the “memory effect” as the nickel batteries, but storing them for too long may make them charge again.
Avoid extreme heat and cold
Extreme temperatures often do interfere with batteries’ lifespan and performance. Any charging should be done at room temperature, and that means avoiding the cold basements and garages, or areas that may be under direct exposure to sunlight. The battery must be at the room temperature anytime it is being used or charged. If the battery is exhausted, it is considered best practice if it is let some time to cool before any recharge attempts.
Keep them clean
Drones do encounter dirt, and so are batteries. Excessive dirt can slow down battery performance, and the connectors must always be free of any debris or dirt. If the contacts get dirty, it is best to wipe them using brush having soft bristles for the intentions of avoiding unnecessary scraping off some of the contact’s material.
Regularly check your batteries
FAA classifies lithium polymer batteries as number one leading cause of fires in aviation cargo and baggage. For this reason, you may not want to put your batteries in a checked baggage anytime you are planning to fly with your drone. The LiPo batteries belong to carry-on luggage and must have prior approval from airport authorities. The terminals of the batteries must be well protected, and the size, as well as the quantity of the LiPo batteries you intend to carry, may limit your traveling plans. Just ensure that you check with the relevant airport authorities so that you can have guidance on materials considered hazardous for airline travel.
Estimations have it that lithium polymer batteries have lifetime durability between 300 and 500 charging cycles. The lifetime factor is dependent on how regularly the drone is put to use, the battery quality, and how well the battery is maintained. If a battery stops working only after a few charging cycles, then it means it could be damaged, of poor quality or has defects, and if that is the case – stop using it immediately.