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If you have any RC vehicle from cars and trucks to drones and planes, it is important for you to know how to store the batteries properly
In this article you will learn more about LiPo and NiMH battery storage and how you should and shouldn’t store them.
In general most RC batteries should be stored at 40-60% of their capacity and stored in a fireproof bag (for LiPos). You should also be sure to store the batteries in a cool dry place where they won’t overheat or get damaged by moisture.
Compared to NiMH, LiPo batteries are used a lot more often in the industry of radio control models. This is due to higher performance efficiency, much more reliable power, and often longer run times.
The rechargeable LiPo battery is widely used in remote-controlled cars, boats, aircraft, helicopters, drones, and even power tools.
Indeed, LiPo batteries are quite well known in the remote control model world and among RC hobbyists.
One common issue that people experience is the fact that they end up shorting the lifespan or destroying the battery entirely. If you don’t take care of your battery properly it could even result in it exploding or catching on fire!
Of course everyone wants to avoid damaging or destroying the battery so learning. How to properly care for and store your RC battery is vital to increasing the longevity and keeping it in good condition.
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Read the instructions first
Some people purchase their RC batteries and immediately put them in the vehicle because they can’t wait to run the car on the track. Racing a powerful RC car can be very exciting but neglecting something important may cause serious consequences.
For beginners, it’s vital to read and understand the instructions completely. Never underestimate the significance of following the instructions that contain tips and methods to use and maintain batteries.
Often batteries will come partially charged and will need to be fully charged up before using them for best results. Some batteries also require you to change the settings on your RC car so again reading and following the instructions is vitally important.
Take out the battery in between uses
You might forget or don’t want to take out the battery and let it be in the machine all the time but this isn’t a good idea as it can cause severe damage to your batteries. The battery still has a small current output that leads to the over-discharge of the cell, thus shortening the service life of the battery or possibly destroying it entirely.
Anytime you plan on not using your RC car for a couple of days you should take the battery out.
Store the power pack with a 40-60% charge
After using an RC vehicle, you will find that some people take the batteries out of the vehicle that has no power at all and stores them immediately. Others charge the battery fully before storing them which if you aren’t racing for a few days can damage the battery if it is a LiPo.
Both not charging and charging entirely should be avoided when you are going to store your LiPo batteries.
You should not store your LiPo batteries with a full charge or with a charge of less than 40%. The correct charge to store this type of battery is between 40-60%. When you practice this you LiPo battery will work as good as when you first got it for a long time.
Charge and store the batteries in an appropriate environment
Temperature is one of the most crucial factors that has a significant influence on the charge and discharge performance of the batteries. Electrochemical reaction on the electrode interface that is regarded as the heart of the battery is related to the temperature.
If the temperature goes down too far, so does the electrodes reactivity rate. In a situation where the battery voltage remains the same and discharge current lowers, so does the battery power output.
To charge effectively, it’s better to keep the temperature of the area around 75 degrees.. Primarily, the higher the temperature is, the bigger the charge rate would be, and when it gets up to or over 100 degrees, the performance of the battery materials would be miserable, and the lifespan would be shortened.
How to store a NiMH battery
Most of the above information is general to both LiPo and NiMH batteries but some only applies to LiPos (such as storing at 40-60% charged).
If your application involves draining your batteries over several hours, you can actually store this type of battery however you wish, however you should ensure that they don’t drop below an open circuit voltage of 1 volt.
If your usage involves pushing your cells to the limits and voltage retention under load is necessary, then you need to try to keep your battery vibrant during storage. Keeping your battery vibrant it’s not easy, it requires more work, but you will enjoy the performance from them.
To keep a NiMH battery vibrant, you should store them when discharged and perform a charge/discharge cycle on them every 30 days. To remove your cell, you apply a 1C load and stop when the voltage under load hits 1.0 volts. With the battery pack, you should stop when it hits 1.0 volts per cell.
It will not work for batteries which have a high rate of self-discharge. You need to store your cell fully charged, and since they lose their capacity faster, charge them every other week to maintain 1.0 volt per cell.
The challenge with this you have to charge your battery before use, and they aren’t ready to go if you need them. A modification to this is to discharge the cells and battery packs, and then charge them a little.
If you store your cells charged and ignore them for an extended period, you can bring them back by using the standard charge and performing several charge/discharge cycles.
More points on NiMH battery storage
Find a dry, cool and alkaline resistance place
You should not store your batteries in wet and hot or freezing conditions. It causes faster self -discharge, degradation, or even shorting out the whole battery pack. For instance, you can store your batteries in a drawer or individual cells in plastic boxes to avoid shorting out any cell.
Charge and check batteries regularly
Batteries discharge themselves over time so check the voltage of the batteries regularly and if energy goes below 1.0V per cell, you should charge it immediately. Never store NiMHs entirely discharged as this can cause failures or irreversible capacity losses
Clean batteries poles
If you do regular cleaning of your battery pole, there is a reward in it because batteries will last for a longer time and lower the possibility of damage. Besides, you can prevent corrosion of the cell terminals this way as well.
Write some information about battery date, usage and real capacity
Knowing how worn and used your batteries are, you can, for instance, use your batteries more regularly or prevent using one pack too often as the second one lays unused.
Buy a smart charger, multimeter or battery tester
A smart charger makes it more manageable for you to measure real voltage levels and perform capacity tests. So you can notice when batteries and cells are charged or not and how much capacity they have.
A smart charger also prevents overcharges and can recharge each cell individually to achieve the best charge. A multimeter makes accurate voltage readings possible.
Never store NiMH batteries in devices for a long time
Leaving NiMH, especially multi-cell batteries, in your RC vehicle can lead to a faster discharge and also this can result in pole reversal, which can slowly damage the cell.
I hope this article has been helpful in giving you some tips about the proper way to store RC batteries no matter if you have NiMH or LiPo ones. Storing your batteries with the right charge, at the right temperature, and in the right environment will help them last a long time and in turn will save you a significant amount of money.