Caring for LiPo Batteries: Maximising the Lifespan
Caring for LiPo batteries is essential if you want to maximise their lifespan, as well as keep things safe. Lithium polymer batteries are commonplace, but they can present some dangers if not looked after properly.
With photography in mind, you have probably used LiPo batteries with a drone. But whatever the use case for your batteries, the principles of caring for LiPo batteries remains the same.
Denting, dropping, or crushing a lithium polymer battery can reduce the lifespan – even causing it to short out and cause a fire.
Fire is the biggest threat from a LiPo battery. Let’s have a look at how best to care for LiPo batteries.
How to store a LiPo battery
Loose batteries should not be stored together in a manner where the terminals could make contact. This can cause a short circuit, should they touch.
The solution is to store them with dividers, or tape up the terminals. If you are transporting batteries on a flight, you will need to tape the terminals up anyway.
Pay attention to the temperature which you’re storing them, particularly if you live in an extreme environment. Batteries should be kept within a range of -10℃ to 45℃.
You should also disconnect batteries. For example, do not leave a LiPo battery attached to a drone or other device whilst in storage.
Finally, consider storing your LiPo batteries in a dedicated fireproof sleeve or case.
If you’re using LiPo batteries for a drone, you may find that it takes two batteries at a time. If so, you should label your batteries in pairs.
From that point onward, you should only use the dedicated pairs together. This ensures that the voltages remain the same as the batteries age and lose efficiency.
You should also charge the pairs together. This maximises the efficacy.
If you have drone batteries with mismatched voltages, you may find that your drone doesn’t take-off because of it.
Only use the manufacturer approved chargers. Don’t try and use a charging system that isn’t suitable for a LiPo battery.
If you’re using bespoke or “homemade” LiPo batteries, particularly in the FPV drone world, then I recommend this article for best charging practices.
When to retire a battery
It’s important to look for any visible changes in a LiPo battery. Particularly, if you see the battery start to swell and change shape then it is time to dispose of it.
Any disposal should be done properly. Many local councils have information about how best to dispose of such batteries, and some supermarkets offer battery disposal stations.
There’s no need to be scared of using a LiPo battery. A lot of the health and safety warnings surrounding them can seem intimidating, but with proper handling you should have no issues.