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Batteries are an easy thing to take for granted. Almost everything we use requires some kind of battery. Many battery types are very safe and pose little risk and minimal maintenance.
The LiPo battery does not fall into this category. Lithium-Polymer batteries require special care and maintenance to keep them working well and to keep you safe.
Charging Lithium Polymer or LiPo batteries have very specific charging requirements and must only be charged by specific chargers designed to charge lithium polymer batteries. Mishandling of these batteries can lead to fire or explosions.
Lithium Polymer or LiPo batteries are a great new way of storing energy for portable devices from cell phones, and home electronics to RC hobby battery packs used in cars, boats, and flight
Below are LiPo battery charging safety tips that you should know.
- Always use the charger made to charge LiPo packs.
- Double-check that the settings for the lithium polymer charger are correct for the pack being charged. This includes the cell count, as well as the current settings. In general, most lithium polymer batteries should be charged to no more than 4.2 volts per cell or depleted to less than 3.0 volts per cell.
- Ensure that charging leads are connected correctly. Reverse charging can lead to cell damage or a fire.
- Always charge LiPo batteries on surfaces that won’t catch on fire such as cement, steel, ceramic, or stone. Wooden tables and carpeted floors are not recommended charging surfaces.
- Do not charge batteries near flammable products or liquids.
- Never charge a LiPo battery while inside your model or another electronic device.
- LiPo batteries should be charged within a temperature range of 0C to 50C.
- Batteries charged outside this temperature range may experience leakage, heat generation, or cell damage.
- Never leave a charging lithium polymer battery pack unattended.
- Do not charge inside an automobile, especially while driving.
- Do not store batteries inside an automobile.
- If unsure of the charge rating, never charge a lithium polymer battery pack at a rate over 1C (1 x the battery pack’s rated capacity).
- Never charge a LiPo pack that has ballooned or swelled due to over / undercharging or from a crash.
- Never charge a lithium polymer battery pack that has been punctured or damaged in a crash.
- Never, under any circumstances let the positive and negative battery leads touch each other. It can lead to cell ballooning, cell damage or fire, or an explosion.
- Have a fire extinguisher near the charging area or a large bucket of dry sand. Do not try to distinguish the fire using water.
- If you notice your LiPo battery pack is swelling, stop the charging process immediately, put the battery in a safe container and observe it for 15 minutes.
- Always charge your Lipo battery packs in a Lipo charging-safe bag.
You now know all the different safety tips for charging your LiPo batteries. Following these tips will help you stay safe while charging your LiPo batteries.
Another thing that you should pay attention to is the maximum charge rate (sometimes called the maximum charge current) you will want to make sure that you don’t charge your LiPo battery too quickly as that will reduce the capacity of the battery and could decrease your maximum charge cycles (or discharge cycles).
When charging your LiPo battery you will also want to make sure you are using the official charger for your RC car, plane, or drone. For example, if you have a Traxxas RC car you will want to use the official Traxxas charger. This is so you don’t send too much power to the battery causing it to swell.
Also if you use a third-party charger and the battery gets damaged it could void your warranty (depending on your battery manufacturer).
Official battery chargers will detect the voltage of the battery, which type of battery you are charging (NiMH, LiPo, or NiCD) and make sure to charge it properly. Of course one drawback to using an official charger is that they are more expensive.
Despite the popularity of many third party RC battery chargers I would not recommend using them for your vehicle. A third party charger might not charge the cell voltages correctly or it might not detect the energy density of your LiPo battery.
So although a thrid party charger might seem to be cheaper, in the long run you risk ruining your battery’s capacity.
Another bonus to many official branded LiPo battery chargers is that they might offer the special connectors and adpters that the different types of batteries that you own might need. So rather than buying multiple third party chargers you might be able to simply use one branded one to charge all of your batteries.
As you can see it isn’t as simple as just buying the cheapest charger to fill your battery’s “fuel tank”. Instead you should consider many different factors before making a decision.
LiPo Battery Handling & Storage Tips
After you charge your LiPo batteries, you will need to know the best and proper way to handle them and store them when they are not in use.
Below are LiPo battery handling and storage tips you should know.
- Keep LiPo battery packs out of reach of children.
- Do not put battery packs in pockets or bags where they can short circuit.
- Do not store or transport batteries where they can come into contact with sharp or metallic objects.
- Do not store your LiPo pack in extreme temperatures below 0C or above 50C.
- Always store your LiPo pack in a safe and nonflammable container away from flammable objects. A LiPo sack or metal/ceramic storage container is best.
- Always store your LiPo’s partially charged. They will maintain their performance levels over time and there’s no need to cycle them unless stored for periods longer than 3-6 months.
- Do not immerse the battery in water or allow the battery to get wet.
- Do not dispose of it by putting it in a fire
- When mailing or shipping LiPo batteries, always ship them at a 30% charged state for safety reasons.
- When storing batteries for extended periods, store in a half-charged state.
- To dispose of a LiPo battery, discharge it fully then place it in a bucket of salt water for one week. To dispose of, follow your municipal battery disposal guidelines.
You should always follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions and charging guidelines for lithium polymer battery packs. These are there for not only the longevity of the battery pack but also your safety.
Can You Leave A LiPo Battery Charging Overnight?
When using LiPo chargers you know there are specific things that you should do and avoid. You should know these safety tips when you own a LiPo (lithium ion polymer) battery and charger.
Once you own a LiPo battery, you are probably curious if you can leave your battery charging overnight or if it will damage the LiPo cells of the battery. After all, it would be convenient if you could just leave it and let it charge overnight while you slept.
But can you leave your LiPo battery charging overnight?
You should not ever leave a LiPo battery charging overnight. You should always watch your LiPo battery charge, in order to make sure it doesn’t expand or begin to smoke or overcharge.
Safety should be your top concern when you are charging a battery. It does not matter if it is a LiPo battery or any other type of battery.
LiPo batteries can be dangerous if they overcharge or get damaged in some other way. The charge current will continue to flow into the damaged battery and the battery could explode. That is why it is important to always watch your LiPo battery while it is actively charging and connected to the power supply.
If your LiPo battery has started to swell or it is not giving you the high power for your RC cars, trucks, drones, etc. that it used to then it is likely time to purchase a replacement. When the capacity of a battery starts to diminish and the run time of your RC vehicle goes down then your battery is at the end of its life span.