Lithium Polymer batteries are common in phones, power banks, and drones. In this post, you’ll learn about LiPo battery storage and special care. Their sensitive chemistry requires more attention than typical batteries. Learn how to store, care, and travel with these batteries.
If you own a drone or are thinking about getting one, there are a few LiPo battery safety tips you should know about.
1. How to Charge a LiPo Battery Safely
Don’t wait until you fully deplete the battery before charging it. It’s safer not to let the battery charge drop below 20%.
You need to use a charger compatible with your LiPo battery.
You might get one with your new DJI drone, but you can shop for a replacement if needed. It’s best to invest in a balance charger such as this one for RC and hobby vehicles. For DJI drones, you’ll need a charger from DJI directly.
Don’t leave batteries unsupervised when charging, and avoid parallel charging.
Update Firmware on LiPo Batteries by DJI
To safely store your drone batteries, you should confirm that you have the latest firmware. DJI recently updated their auto-discharge feature for the Mini 2 drone.
Here’s more about that in this video.
2. LiPo Battery Storage
A fireproof, explosion-proof bag case is a great way to protect your LiPo battery for storage or taking your drone places. This LiPo bag by Colcase is fireproof and can contain temperatures of 1000°F (550°C).
It’s made to allow charging while the batteries are inside the bag. Some reviews have shared photos of the inside of the bag charred with melted wires. The bag saved them from a dangerous fire inside their home.
Some drone storage cases include compartments for your batteries. But it’s safer to store them in a separate, fireproof case. LiPo batteries are a fire hazard and could cause damage to your home, car, and drone.
Some drone pilots like to store lithium polymer batteries in old ammo boxes.
3. What About Long-Term Storage?
It’s best to use a fireproof bag for long-term storage. Some people use ammunition boxes and take additional measures such as placing sandbags around the box that holds the LiPo battery.
It’s best not to leave a fully charged LiPo battery for more than 48 hours. If you don’t plan on using your drone for a while, discharge the battery to 40 to 60% of its capacity.
You can invest in a multimeter so you can check the voltage of your LiPo battery and make sure it’s at 3.8V per cell for long-term storage.
I must admit that I have a multimeter here, but I need to take some time to learn how to use it.
4. How to Travel with a LiPo Battery
If you need to fly with a LiPo battery, you’ll have to place it in your carry-on luggage only.
You might be able to have a LiPo battery in checked baggage as long as it’s inside of a drone or other device.
You may need the original packaging, a pouch, or a case to protect the battery in your carry-on luggage. There are also regulations regarding watt-hour limits. You might be able to travel with as many LiPo batteries as you want as long as their watt-hour limit is under 100Wh. If you have a large-capacity battery like the DJI Inspire 1 TB48, you can only travel with two batteries.
Here are guidelines for the United States, Canada, and British Airways. Always check with the airline you’re flying with. And the countries you’ll be visiting and transiting through.
You should also contact the airline you will be flying to ask about charging requirements. Some airlines require you to deplete the battery to 30 or 50% of its capacity.
5. Temperature Matters
You should always keep your LiPo battery at room temperature. A common mistake is to let your spare batteries sit in a vehicle that could get hot when flying your drone.
Some operators recommend taking breaks when flying your drone to check the battery temperature. If it feels warm to the touch, take a break or swap it for a different battery.
6. How to Discharge a LiPo Battery
One of the advantages of LiPo batteries is that they don’t lose their charge if they sit around. However, you need to partially discharge your battery to store it safely if you don’t plan on flying your drone for a while.
Unless you’re ready to discard an old LiPo battery, you shouldn’t discharge it lower than 20%.
The safest way to do it is to fly your drone until the low battery voltage alert comes on or to use the discharge feature on your charger.
If you have a smart external charger (like this DJI hub) you don’t have to worry. The hub will handle the safe discharge of your batteries, down to a safe level. Make sure that you’ve updated the firmware on each battery in order to take advantage of this feature.
In the following video, you’ll get a crash course on the relationship between watts, volts, and amps. And how to safely discharge LiPo batteries safely.
7. How to Safely Discard an Old LiPo Battery
Recycling centers have to puncture old batteries to remove dangerous chemicals. But puncturing a LiPo battery with a charge is extremely dangerous and can result in a fire or explosion.
You can eliminate this risk by fully depleting your old LiPo battery before getting rid of it. The safest way to do it is to use the discharge feature on your charger.
You can then place the battery in a clear plastic bag and take it to your local hazardous waste recycling center.
You should consider buying Lipo voltage checker alarm. These can check your voltage and display any errors.
Here’s a good overview of how to safely dispose of Lipo battery, by TheRcSaylors.
8. How to Handle a Damaged Battery
A punctured LiPo battery represents a serious fire hazard risk. You should also watch out for corrosion, leaks, or burns.
If you have a damaged LiPo battery, pack it in non-flammable materials. You can use bags filled with sand, dirt, or kitty litter.
Contact your local hazardous waste recycling center to get rid of the damaged battery.
9. How to Ship a LiPo Battery
You can ship a LiPo battery with ground UPS services or by air with FedEx or UPS.
You’ll have to protect the battery terminals and ship it in a hard case if possible. If you’re shipping more than one battery, use a non-conductive divider between them. You’ll also need a closed liner that is leakproof.
Make sure you indicate that you’re shipping a battery since you’ll need a special label.
10. Do You Need to Cycle LiPo Batteries?
There is no need to cycle LiPo batteries unless they’ve been in storage for a few months.
Some users recommend that it’s best to bring your battery out of storage every three months, discharge it down to 20%, and charge it up to 80% to improve its longevity.
Of course, the most fun way to discharge your batteries is by tossing them in the air (with your drone) and having a good flight.
11. Don’t Leave a LiPo Battery in Your Drone
It’s best to remove the LiPo battery from your drone when you’re done flying it.
Leaving the battery inside of the drone can be more convenient, but there is a risk of damaging your drone if there is an issue with the battery.
More reading: Drone Pilot Glossary
12. Use the Right Battery for Your Drone
If you purchase a DJI drone, you’ll get a battery with your drone and can shop for additional DJI batteries if you need a spare or replacement.
If you decide to purchase a battery from another brand, make sure it’s compatible with your drone by checking the discharge or C rating.
This rating will tell you how quickly you can discharge the battery safely. In other words, it indicates how much power the drone can safely draw from the battery.
You’ll find a continuous and a burst rating on your new LiPo battery. The continuous rating indicates the average discharge rate while the burst rating tells you how much power your drone can use when accelerating.
You’ll have to check your drone’s specs to find the maximum amount of power it can draw as well as how much current it needs for continuous use.
13. Crash Course in LiPo Battery Management
Here’s a great overview of managing lithium polymer batteries by Mr Steele.
More Reading: What is Headless Mode on a Drone: 9 Pros & Cons
These LiPo battery safety tips will make your batteries last longer while preventing issues. We recommend investing in a sturdy EVA case or LiPo safe bag to store and protect your batteries, as well as a quality charger with a discharge feature.