Charging and Storing Drone Lithium Batteries
- 1 Charging and Storing Drone Lithium Batteries
- 2 Charging your battery:
- 3 Take fire-containment measures:
- 4 Storage of Batteries:
- 5 Transport of Batteries:
- 6 How to properly Use your Battery:
- 7 Inspection of Batteries:
- 8 Disposing Damaged Batteries:
- 9 Picking the Right Battery:
- 10 Pick the correct Battery Charger:
Handling drone batteries are particularly dangerous and they are highly explosive if not handled properly. In fact of all electronics related injuries from 2012 to 2017, at 100 recorded emergency rooms, more than 200 involved lithium drone batteries. The batteries are reported to explode like a little bomb and may harm the pilot or personnel near them.
The most commonly used battery is the lithium-polymer (Lipo) battery. It functions like a lithium-ion battery and can store large amounts of energy in small sizes. Here we will discuss the possible dangers regarding these batteries and how to properly handle them in order to achieve better performance and reduce battery failure.
Charging your battery:
While charging, batteries may often over-heat and in some cases, catch fire. The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission states that more than half of all drone battery incidents occurred while the battery was charging. Usually, cheaper brands and low-quality batteries are more potent to catch fire. According to Greg Funk (Product line manager for Cadex Electronics), you shouldn’t leave your batteries charging for too long, especially overnight. He also suggests charging your batteries outdoors. It is less likely to cause more damage and the toxic gas may easily disperse in an open environment. Do not leave your batteries out in the sun or in dry environments since they can over-heat.
Take fire-containment measures:
There are a few measures you can take if you’re charging your battery inside. For example, you can change the setup. One suggestion is to charge your battery inside cinder blocks and keep a bucket of sand nearby in case of any fire. Another suggestion is by FliteTest, is to use cinder blocks or unsealed ammo can. But make sure that your battery isn’t near anything flammable.
Also instead if sealing your battery in a container, create a setup that can direct the heat energy radiated from an explosion or accident towards a safe direction. You can use sand or water to extinguish any fire so keep such sources nearby.
Storage of Batteries:
One thing to remember is to always drain your batteries before you store them. Remember to keep it at room temperature or close to room temperature, and keep it somewhere you could spot any potential fire. DJI (Da- Jiang Innovations) suggests that if your store your battery for 10 days or more, discharge your battery at least 40%-60% before you store it. This will help to reduce stress and increase battery life.
Transport of Batteries:
While transporting, remember to monitor, charge and store your batteries carefully. Make sure that your batteries do not collide with each other, or bump around during transportation. In case you’re planning to transport your battery via air, read the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) rules for transporting batteries. It’s best to keep your drone and battery with you in your carry-on luggage.
How to properly Use your Battery:
Most batteries usually have a flying-temperature range for you to follow. In many cases, drones may crash and catch fire due to the batteries inside. Keep in mind to never fly above the temperature-range and to never drain your battery too fast. In order to maintain a long lifespan for your battery keep it within the flying-range. For example, DJI recommends keeping the range from 10 °C to 40 °C. Also don’t drain your batteries too fast as they heat up and may cause hazards, especially when you use your drone at full-throttle for too long.
Inspection of Batteries:
Proper inspection of batteries is important before and after use. Look for signs of damage or puffing, if so; then dispose of the battery. However, there may be internal damage that may not be visible. It is, therefore, preferable to use an analyzer such as the HobbyKing HK-010 to see a readout of the battery and to detect any problems. The cells should remain in balance at the voltage they are marked with, if there is a difference in the balance of the cells by 0.1 V or more, they may be actually weak and more potent to overheating while charging.
Disposing Damaged Batteries:
For proper disposal, you should contact a proper hazardous waste disposal center at your region or country. Before your dispose of your battery, make sure to discharge it completely so it does not cause any damage along the way. Not all places take damaged batteries so you will have to confirm first.
Picking the Right Battery:
The first step is getting the right battery to reduce the risk of damage later on. You may find tons of batteries on sale online at low prices, but such batteries are usually made of low-quality material and have a higher chance of catching fire while charging or discharging or when crashed. Therefore, you should buy batteries that are certified and have safety features. For example, look for batteries that are IEC 62133 (or equivalent) and UN38.3 certified. Also look for features such as hard plastic shells and other durability features. They may cost more but it is suggested to use them.
Pick the correct Battery Charger:
Choosing the correct charger is also essential. Try to opt for programmable battery chargers. It may be costly but is worth it. It allows checking your battery’s regular charging and discharging and can perform battery-management tasks. Also, try to use the charger from the same manufacturer you got your battery from.