You bought a new drone to enjoy flights, and you really do enjoy it. But, you have just one battery, and you can fly for a very short period of time in one take. Which is not enjoyable too much.
If you ready to upgrade your drone LiPo battery, but you don’t know where to start, don’t look any further. Keep reading this article and educate yourself. You will be very confident and you will understand a lot about drone batteries after reading all from this post.
I know that you’re excited to learn all about LiPo batteries, and I’m glad I can help you. That’s why I created this 19 awesome tips you should know before drone battery upgrade.
1. Are LiPo drone battery generally safe?
Drone batteries are safe when you handle them well, but can be dangerous if you don’t handle them properly.
If you don’t do crazy stuffs with your drone, for example FPV race flights, you should be fine. But if you race with a drone and do extreme flights, your battery is in greater danger.
Batteries in drones are not protected well enough, so if your drone fail during flight your battery may damage from impact onto the surface. It could bent or pock a hole, and can catch a fire. Or simple they can be overheated and catch a fire.
This is some of the safety LiPo battery rules:
- When you charge your drone batteries use only chargers that are design to charge LiPo drone batteries. This chargers have built-in overcharging safety, and will charge drone battery properly.
- When your battery is on charger, you should always monitor because you’ll never know.
- It would be good if you buy one fire extinguisher just in case.
- If your drone fail during flight immediately inspect your battery to see if it gets damaged.
- If your LiPo battery is inflated, which means that your LiPo is about to explode. And toxic gases will burst out and it will ignite once get in contact with the air.
- Never poke a hole in drone battery, it will catch a fire.
- Be careful when you charge your LiPo drone battery. Do this on a flame resistant surface and in a well ventilated space.
- Don’t charge drone LiPo battery shortly after you finished flight, leave it to fully cool down.
- Don’t leave battery under direct sunlight.
2. Lithium polymer batteries
Lithium Polymer or LiPo batteries for short are basically Lithium Ion batteries.
Difference between of LiPo and Li Ion are in type of electrolytes they use.
Li Ion use liquid electrolytes and LiPo use high conductive semi-solid gel polymers for electrolytes.
LiPo batteries are higher in density and lightweight compare with the Li Ion counterpart.
And they can be shaped in any size. Because of that, manufactures can build very thin phones and laptops, because they can fit them in any empty part of a device.
3. What is a LiPo technology
LiPo technology is a type of technology that is used to make battery from Lithium and polymers.
This is similar to Lithium Ion batteries, but difference is in electrolytes they use.
LiPo use polymer gel type electrolyte which is more powerful than Li Ion liquid form electrolytes.
As you can see, technology of battery electrolytes slowly evolve.
First liquid, now gel type, and in the future it will be solid. Which is already happening, and it’s called ssb, solid state batteries.
4. How to know what size of battery your drone need?
Battery is one of the most important part of your drone. Choosing right battery for your drone is essential to get best experience ever.
So, you should choose a largest size you can get, in terms of capacity.
But, bare in mind that you must do that within a right battery specs of your drone.
This means that if you use larger battery that your drone can take, you will have purely experience.
Larger batteries are also heavier. Using heavier battery than your drone can take, it will not be able to takeoff in the first place, or it will takeoff, but it will struggle a lot and it will have a bad performance.
Choose battery that will suit your drone, higher in capacity but within a drone takeoff weight specs.
5. Battery discharge rate or C rating
If you want to get full performance out of your drone, you must understand that discharging rate and capacity are key factor in getting it full potential.
People often completely ignore C rating, but paying more attention to capacity, which doesn’t always means better.
If you have a battery with low C rating, your drone won’t perform as good and motors won’t be able to generate enough power due to low battery C rating.
Battery will eventually fail because motors will try to draw more power that battery can provide.
But in the flip side, if you buy battery with higher C rating than your drone need, you will actually buy a heavier battery, and again your drone motors will suffer, because they can’t lift that much weight.
If you want to buy a new battery you must first consider a couple key factors. First look at your drone motors specs, and apply to this formula below:
Motors Max current draw = Battery C rating X Battery capacity
6. Drone battery capacity
Drone capacity will generally play a big role in flight time.
So, larger battery in capacity will give you a longer flight time, right? Not necessarily!
This is not always the case. As you already read above for battery C rating, you saw that with larger capacity batteries will come more weight too.
And if your drone can’t takeoff with that kind of weight that day is tossed.
So, in order to find out how much capacity you should get, you can use formula from above to find sweet spot between C rating and capacity.
Again look at a drone motors specifications.
7. Battery voltage (cell count)
Like in any other Lithium Ion battery LiPo batteries have nominal voltage of 3.7V. And when you fully charge LiPo battery single cell you will get reading of 4.2V, this is a max voltage that single cell can take.
And safe minimum discharged cell is 3V by cell.
Battery industry just use nominal value of 3.7V/cell, and that how you should use too.
When it comes to drone LiPo batteries you may heard of 1S, 2S, 3S and 4S battery packs.
This means that number before letter S means a cell count.
So, let’s say 3S, this LiPo battery pack use 3 LiPo cells connected in series.
Also voltages will vary depending on a cells count.
I talked that one LiPo cell is 3.7V, so 3S battery pack have 3 cells, and everyone of them have 3.7V.
Which means we should multiply. 3 X 3.7V = 11.1V.
So, let’s simplify list this one for you:
1S = 3.7V
2S = 7.4V
3S = 11.1V
4S = 14.8V
With a more powerful drone motors you should use more powerful LiPo batteries. The higher the voltage of the battery the higher your propeller will spin.
8. Battery connector types
When it comes to battery connectors it’s pretty simple, stay away from bad stuff and use only a good quality connectors.
I recommend that when you choose one type of connector you stick with it, because if you want to build new drone down the line in the future you want to reuse all of your batteries.
But, if you still change your drone connector with a new drone build, if you want to use all of your old LiPo batteries you must re-solder a new matching connectors on the batteries.
We have different types of connectors for different types of batteries. For example:
1S LiPo battery connector types are: Pico blade, JST-PH and LOSI.
From 2S to 6S LiPo battery connector types are: XT30, XT60, XT90, EC3, EC5, HXT-4mm, JST and Deans (Tplug).
9. Number of batteries
If you want to use more than one battery you must consider couple of things first.
If you think that adding additional battery will increase your fright time, you must think twice.
Because, with one more battery you will also increase drone weight too, so motors will draw more power and time you will get will not be significant.
It’s better to use one battery at a time. Downside is that you will need to land your drone to replace with a second LiPo battery.
But in the other side, if you use two batteries at a time your drone will benefit from that setup if one battery fails, so it can use another to safely land down.
Either way you can benefit, but you must think of what you really need your drone for.
10. What is the best battery brand?
First of all, if you’re suffering from must having a new things right now, don’t apply that formula to a LiPo drone batteries.
New brands needs to be tested first, so it’s better to wait on some honest review, just to make sure that new brand proves it’s battery quality.
Second, if you wonder how to make drone battery at home, just don’t. Buy proper one and do not diy batteries.
You maybe heard about cell phone battery in drone, if you heard that don’t look any further, just completely ignore and forgot what you heard about that.
Go to the store or online and choose your LiPo battery for good.
Do not buy, under any circumstances a no name LiPo drone battery.
Avoid them in a big circle. With no name brands you will don’t know what you get, and you may damage your precious drone too.
They tend to fail more often and overheat regularly.
And without a good battery overheating protection your drone may catch a fire, and you don’t want that, do you?
Here is the list of some of the best known brand names LiPo drone batteries: Tattu, Dinogy, Acehe, Infinity, Turnigy, Hobbyking, Revolectrix.
There are more of them out there, but I just mention a couple of them.
You must do your own research before you decide to do a drone battery upgrade.
11. Replacing the batteries
Depending on a battery that you buying, it will come with some kind of connector.
If you buy a LiPo battery with a connector that fits your drone input style connector, than you can just unplug your old battery and connect a new one, it’s simple is that.
But, in the other hand, if for some reason you buy a battery with a different connector which will not fit your drone input connector, you must do some soldering first.
Take your old and new battery.
Use soldering iron to heat solder onto the connectors and unsolder both of them.
Take connector from an old battery and solder back to a new battery.
Watch out which side is positive and which is negative.
After this procedure you are all set.
Plug your new battery to a drone and take a good fly.
12. Flying style affects your battery selection
When it comes to LiPo battery selection you will have a couple of option.
First you must consider for what type of flying your drone will be used.
If you plan to fly regularly in higher RPM or higher throttle, which is more than 50 percent, then you want to user battery with a higher C rating, to get maximum power output for your drone motors.
But, if you plan to just fly around for fun then any battery will be OK.
Racers will often use battery with lowest weight and higher C rating.
For a free style flying you might consider a bigger battery if you want stay longer on the sky, and bare in mind that this will affect drone performance.
13. How to charge LiPo
When it comes to charging a LiPo drone battery you must know that there is a right time when to do so. And this is pretty obvious one.
Never, but never charge your battery right after you finish flight, period.
You must understand that when you fly your drone, motors draw power from a battery in high amps, which means your battery will be hot, not warm, but hot.
And heat is one of the biggest enemy of the batteries.
When you finish flying your drone, leave your battery to cool down, and I mean to be cold to the touch.
It will be cold in hour or two, depending on a temperature where you live.
LiPo batteries in general are rated for 3.7V.
And that is by the standard.
You should never discharge your drone battery below 3.0V, if you do so it will be completely empty and not usable anymore.
Same rule apply for a overcharging. Never charge your LiPo battery more than 4.2V.
After that threshold it will be extremely dangerous and may explode and catch a fire.
If you not in a hurry, always charge your drone battery at a lowest charging rate.
This way it will stay just barely warm to the touch, and your battery will have long working life.
14. Charge balancing vs charging
Charging your LiPo drone battery with a balancing charger is a one of the best way to prolong its life.
If you’re using regular LiPo charger your cells will be out of balance, which means that every cell will hold different amount of volts, either in charged or discharged state, and that is not good.
Using balancing charger will ensure that every cell will be at the same charge state.
If your battery cells are out of balance, balancing charger will charge your battery cells at different rate, which will make sure that battery cell in the end of charging will hold equal amount of charge.
And this will also prolong your LiPo drone battery life.
15. Battery chemistry
Batteries are made in general from three elements, anode, cathode and electrolytes.
Anode is a positive element, cathode is a negative element and electrolytes are there to prevent electrolytes to flow when it not necessary to flow.
And that’s what batteries are made of in general.
LiPo batteries are made from Lithium Ions and polymers.
And this technology is cutting edge up to date.
There’s no better one currently that you can use with your drone.
In the future there will be Solid State Batteries or SSB.
Here electrolytes are in solid state, which is why they called like that.
Solid State Battery will have twice as much capacity on the same size as LiPo battery.
But SSB are currently under development.
So, LiPo batteries are made out of Lithium Ions and polymers.
This is not standard Li-Ion battery, LiPo is newer tech which provides more power than Li-Ion battery.
16. Batteries don’t last forever
LiPo drone batteries are consumable, so we should treat them well to last a long time.
Either way they don’t last forever due to buildup of an internal resistance.
When your battery is discharge, what will happen is chemical reaction that will form small crystals over time.
And this crystals will form that internal resistance.
So remember to always re-charge your drone battery, and do not leave it discharged for a long time because it will form internal resistance more quickly.
If you plan not to use your drone recharge your LiPo battery to a 3.8V and leave it somewhere.
This is a storage voltage which brings us to the next title.
17. Battery storage
As I mentioned above, if you don’t plan to use your drone for more than a week you should prepare your LiPo battery for storage.
This means that you should charge, or discharge your LiPo battery to a certain volts. For a LiPo drone battery this is a 3.8V.
This is a halfway charge and it’s most safely to keep it in this state of charge.
Better quality chargers have this function built-in, so it is simple. Just plug your LiPo battery to a charger and set it to storage settings.
If battery is discharged it will charge it to 3.8V.
And if it’s fully charged, it will discharge it to a 3.8V.
18. LiPo disposal
We must be responsible to our beautiful nature, so we have to act accordingly.
When you have an old or damaged LiPo battery you should properly do a disposal process.
First of all you should never puncture your LiPo drone battery, it will catch a fire.
Second, before disposal make sure to completely discharge your battery to a 0V (zero volts).
And the last, bring it to a local recycling center.
19. Summary and thoughts
I talked about what are a LiPo batteries, what they are made of, how to pick a proper one for your drone, how to replace one, how to charge them, how to store them and how to dispose them.
With this guide I cover everything I know in order to help anybody who is interest into drone flights and LiPo drone batteries.
I hope this is very helpful, and I can’t wait to see you reading my article.