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Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries are used in most consumer electronics such as RC devices due to their high power and long run times. They are lightweight, available in any shape and size, and have higher capacities and discharge rates.
On the other hand, LiPo batteries require special care during storage and charging for they react to chemicals and can cause fire easily if they get mechanical damage.
The easiest way to tell if your LiPo battery is bad is by looking to see if it is inflated or bubbled at all. This is the first way you will be able to tell if your LiPo battery is bad.
You can also see if your LiPo batteries or cells are damaged when they show any unusual features like these:
- Damaged plastic cell envelope or visible deformities on the battery packs.
- The smell of leaking electrolytes. A physically compromised LiPo pack may have a leaking electrolyte solution. The liquid is acidic in nature, and it may destroy your electronics, while the leaking gases can ignite because they are flammable.
- Unusually high internal resistance (IR). There are several factors that affect IR; they include the quality of the cells, capacity, chemical properties, temperature, age, voltage, and discharge rating. Therefore, the IR of a LiPo battery pack is low, but when you measure it and find out that it is abnormally high, then the cell is damaged.
- Dented corners.
- Puffing or swelling shows that the battery is damaged, and therefore you should discontinue discharging or charging immediately. Further, swollen cells have a higher IR; thus, you should stop using the entire pack immediately.
- Damaged LiPo batteries get puffy, and release smoke when charging.
A healthy LiPo battery should not have any of the above signs. Therefore, if your battery pack has any of these signs you should stop using these cells and dispose of them properly. They should not just be thrown in the garbage or trash either as they can explode or ignite.
Don’t store these batteries either. They can explode and cause serious injuries or damage to your personal property.
Just be sure to take all of the proper safety precautions with your lithium-ion battery for your radio-controlled vehicle so you don’t hurt yourself or others.
To see the most popular LiPo batteries on the market just click here.
How Do You Know If Lipo Battery Is Puffed?
LiPo puffing is the swelling that you notice on the battery or cell. Puffing occurs when the electrolyte forms gas through the process of electrolyte decomposition.
It happens when the electrolyte breakdowns into lithium and oxygen or lithium oxide. The compound then settles on the cell cathodes and anodes based on whether you discharged or overcharged them.
You can tell if a LiPo battery is puffed by simply looking at it. A LiPo cell or battery will begin puffing due to abusive use or simply after going through many power cycles over the years.
Puffing takes place when a considerable amount of oxygen is released during the chemical breakdown. Electrolyte decomposition may produce other compounds and elements like CO2.
The puffing is accelerated by how you discharge the battery, the frequency of charging it, storage, quality of the packs, age, and the amount of heat they release when in use.
These batteries can even start puffing when they are not in use and are in charged state or fully discharged.
On the other hand, you can continue using these batteries if the LiPo puffing is minor and goes off when the pack cools down. However, you need to keep the swelling in check and discontinue using the battery if the swelling continues.
How Can You Delay Battery Puffing?
If you are worried about your battery puffing, you may be wondering if there is a way to delay it from happening. No one wants to have their battery puff up soon after they purchase it.
So how can you delay puffing of your LiPo battery?
You can delay the puffing of your LiPo battery by following these steps.
- Always use the official LiPo charger that was bought with the battery because less expensive chargers have no volts requirements rating, and this can contribute to overcharging.
- Avoid over-charging or over-discharging a battery. Discharge LiPo batteries when fully charged for they start overheating quickly, and this contributes to electrolytic decomposition. On the other hand, don’t completely drain the LiPo batteries. Basically, just make sure you have a balance charge and don’t use too high of a charge rate.
- Always use the LiPo battery’s polymer laminated case. However, these cases may not prevent mechanical damage caused by dropping.
- Avoid LiPo batteries with small punctures because they are flammable.
- Keep your batteries in a cool place to delay electrolytic decomposition.
Now that you know about delaying puffing for your battery and making it last longer, you know what you need to do and what rules you need to follow. While it is not hard to follow these steps, some people will just go and buy new batteries rather than take care of their current ones.
How Do You Know If You Need To Buy A New LiPo Battery?
You should replace the old LiPo battery or cell when they begin swelling, which doesn’t go away even when the battery is not in use. Although the battery may last a few more months, the swelling is an indication that you need a new battery.
You should also replace old batteries when they have a reduced capacity. Most manufacturers recommend that you should replace a battery when it begins to hold only 80% of its initial maximum capacity.
So if your battery will no longer hold a load that is 80% of the original specifications then it is time to replace it.
A new battery will eliminate risks such as explosion and will give you better performance.
The best way to know if you need to buy a new LiPo battery is if your current battery is not working properly. If your battery is not working properly or it begins swelling it should be replaced.
If the electric motor on your RC car does not have the power or RPM that it once did it might be the battery causing the issue. Brushless motors pull a lot of power so if your RC car doesn’t have the oomph that it once did the battery likely needs replaced no matter which type of battery you use (NiMH, LiPo, or NiCd batteries).
You should dispose of a swollen battery properly to avoid causing injuries and damage to your property. However, you need to discharge the battery completely before disposing of it. This can be done by submerging the battery in salt water or simply taking it to a hobby store that accepts old batteries.
How Can You Improve The Lifespan Of Your LiPo Batteries?
When you have a LiPo battery you will want to make sure that it lasts a long time. There are many ways to improve the lifespan of your LiPo battery. What are the best ways to improve your lifespan?
You can improve the lifespan of your LiPo battery by following these steps.
- Use a quality charger on your new battery. Make sure that you use the correct charger and connector for your battery to prevent a short circuit or shortening the life of your battery.
- Never use or charge batteries when they are warm because heat kills them. Therefore, allow the battery to cool off before charging and give it time to cool after charging before using it.
- Stop using your battery when it reaches the low voltage cutoffs.
- Avoid storing your battery in a hot place, such as on the trunk of your car in warm months. You should also store them at the right storage voltage since swelling begins in 4 hours when the battery has more than 80% charge.
LiPo batteries are prone to catching fire, mechanical damage, or puffing prematurely. It takes more effort to care for these batteries because you need to store them when partially charged, in a cool place, and protect them from any physical damage.
You should stop using a LiPo battery when it begins to swell because it can’t hold the required charge. Discard these batteries using the proper battery disposal practices after fully discharging them.
Do LiPO Batteries Go Bad?
LiPo batteries will go bad over time. Exactly when that will happen will depend largely on how well you take care of your battery.
Even a LiPo battery that is well taken care of will still eventually go bad. You will know it is time to replace the battery when it begins to swell or it no longer holds a charge very well.
What Is The Lifespan of a LiPo Battery?
A LiPo battery that is well taken care of will last 150+ power cycles (discharge and recharges) while one that is stored improperly or abused might only last half that long.
There is no amount of years that a LiPo battery will last as one that is stored properly should last indefinitely. However, after approximately 150 charges and discharges, the battery life will be severely reduced and the LiPo battery will need to be replaced.
How Long Do LiPo Batteries Last On One Charge?
A LiPo battery will anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours on one charge. Exactly how long it will last before needing to be recharged will depend on the size of the battery (how many mAhs it is) as well as what it is powering.
A LiPo battery for an RC car will last significantly longer before needing a recharge than a LiPo battery for a drone even if the battery size is identical. This is because the drone requires much more power to zip through the air than an RC car does to roll across the ground.