The Lithium-Polymer (Li-Po) batteries are a popular battery choice because of its unbeatable appealing attributes. These include high energy density, low weight, and greater discharge rates. LiPo batteries have transformed all the facets of radio controlled (RC) batteries. While it has many great benefits, extreme caution is necessary when recharging this battery.
LiPo Batteries Offer a Host of Electric Advantages
LiPo batteries come in different sizes and shapes and are now commonly found in RC cars, boats, and aircraft. Compared to other types of batteries, LiPo holds a more significant charge and is lighter too. Since its emergence and continued improvement, it has provided a substantial boost to the performance of RC cars, boats, aircraft, helicopters, and more. Additionally, new types of vehicles like multi-rotors now use LiPo batteries.
Lithium-polymer batteries offer many electric advantages. However, this does not come without cost. This particular battery has a higher risk of damage if not handled correctly. For this reason, users must be aware of some precautions to make the most of LiPo batteries.
Capacity and Voltage
When properly handled, LiPo batteries can provide high battery performance compared to other battery types. In terms of proper handling and use, there are two main aspects of the battery that one must understand. These are the capacity and voltage of the battery. An example of this is a battery with a shorthand “4S-2200”, which denotes the capacity and voltage of the LiPo battery.
In this, the “4S” means it has four cells in a series. Since each cell has 3.7 volts (or 4.2 volts when fully-charged), the battery has a total pack voltage of 14.8 volts or 16.8 volts. The second number, on the other hand, refers to the battery’s capacity in milliamp-hours (mAh). A 2200mAh battery at full charge can provide a current of 2200 milliamps for one hour before it becomes fully discharged.
A LiPo battery’s capacity value is not affected by the number of cells in a series. The capacity value provides you valuable information so you can estimate the duration which the battery can provide you with useful power. In practical settings, though, this information only provides a rough comparison between different batteries.
Another important aspect of a LiPo battery is the discharge rate. This serves as an important factor so that a user can better determine the applications that the battery can be used for. The discharge rate is the value that allows users to determine how much amps that the battery can continuously output without sustaining damage.
Many RC applications require high amperage, which makes it a crucial factor to know a battery’s discharge rate to ensure a vehicle’s overall performance. LiPo batteries run a risk of catching fire when not properly charged. On that note, fire departments are always keen to give warnings and precautions for safe charging.
Charger and Operator
There has not been any a case of a LiPo battery bursting into flames while in storage. The fire accidents involving LiPo batteries often happen during the battery’s charge or discharge. The majority of battery problems occur during charging, and the fault usually lies on the charger or the person operating it. This does not always happen, but these are the common factors in most LiPo battery fire cases.
There are lessons to learn from these incidents. First, users must invest in a good quality charger to avoid it being the cause of a fire. Second, the operator of the charger must learn how to operate it properly. An excellent choice of a charger LiPo battery is those with built-in checks. This type of battery charger allows the user to configure it properly.
Usually, these chargers can be used to charge not just LiPo batteries but also other battery chemistries. While they come with useful safeguards, the user of the battery is ultimately the one responsible for making sure that everything is above-board and proper. The user has to ensure that the charger set is suitable for the number of the battery’s cells, that the charge rate is within the battery’s limit, and etc.
Charging and Discharging Guidelines
Manufacturers often provide guidelines and warnings when it comes to charging and discharging of LiPo batteries. The guidelines for charging and discharging of the battery must always be followed along with common sense. To avoid fires and other accidents, one must always be on the side of safety. One of the most critical reminders is to do a visual inspection of the battery before charging.
The user or operator must look for any sign of damage, like damaged connectors, frayed wires, swelling, and other irregularities. If the battery sustains damage that cannot be repaired, then it should be discarded. Charging it could result in the battery to explode and catch fire. Charging the battery using chargers not designed specifically for this type of battery is also not a good idea.
Users should always only use Lithium balance charger. They must also follow the instructions in the use of the battery and charger carefully. Common sense and safety precautions must always be used when charging LiPo batteries. Leaving the batteries unattended while charging or discharging is not ideal as there might be problems that might arise during the process.
The user has to be there to unplug the battery if a problem ever occurs quickly. The charging and discharging process must be done on a fire-resistant surface within an open area. Charging the batteries near a flammable material is a big no. If there is no proper space for charging, one can use a LiPo battery safety charging bag instead. The batteries must be at ambient temperature before charging/discharging.
These are only a few of the guidelines, and warnings that any user of LiPo batteries must keep in mind. With common sense and self-awareness of safety precautions, then keeping the batteries from catching fire or sustaining damage will be easier. Lithium-polymer batteries have many great advantages in various applications. These are great batteries but to make the most of it, proper safety use is critical.