Charging Dos and Dont’s

Jul 28, 2011 4 Comments by

Don’t let your battery get below the minimum voltage

This is more of a flying issue than a charging problem, but it needed to be addressed, so here it is.

 

When flying, try not to let the battery drain until the speed control starts shutting off, because in most cases unless you changed it, the battery is near its minimum voltage. Then you have extra time on the pack and more draining until you land the aircraft. You can set the minimum speed control cut-off above the pack’s minimum voltage so as to have some extra time to set up for landing. I like to time my first flight until the speed control cut-off and then set my timer on the transmitter to a minute before that. On all flights after that, I land right after my transmitter timer goes off.

 

Do charge any LiPo, LiFe or Li-Ion at 1C

All packs of this chemistry can be charged at 1C and should be charged at that rate. A 1C charge does take a bit of time but this charging rate is the easiest on your packs and will not cause undue heat, which is your battery’s enemy. This charge rate will give your battery its longest life and let the balancing port do its job. For example, a 3400mAh battery charging at 1C would have the charger set at 3.4 amps charging rate.

Don’t ever charge without a balancing plug connected

There is no reason to charge without balancing a pack. This keeps all the cells even, allowing them to work together with less stress on each. A balanced pack will always outlast a pack that has never been balanced. Keep this in mind—almost every new charger has balancing ports for keeping the packs balanced.

 

Do keep battery packs in a cool place for storage

Batteries hate heat and having them in the hot car or trailer all the time will shorten their life.

The same can be said for leaving them in a place where they can freeze. Store the packs in a controlled environment that has a cool dry place. I like to keep them in a small refrigerator set to the lowest setting so they stay cool without freezing.

 

Follow these tips and you’ll increase the life expectancy of your battery packs and your investment. By charging correctly, your packs will always stay fresh and perform like new. This is something we all want out of our equipment, because this allows us to fly longer and more often—what’s not to like there? Enjoy!

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About the author

West Coast senior editor About me: I’ve been involved with RC aircraft since high school and have flown just about everything. I started my RC career with scratch-building, but now like many pilots I rely on ARFs to get me in the air. My main focus is on pylon racing, aerobats, combat and scale warbirds.

4 Responses to “Charging Dos and Dont’s”

  1. dave jaggie says:

    I have a batt. pack that has developed a little puffeness–should I be concercend or dose this indacate the pack going bad

  2. David says:

    I also would like to know about puffeness of batteries,and what is considered min volts of lets say a 14.8 volt battery ?

  3. John Reid says:

    Dave,
    Many packs get a little puffiness to them; this can come from them getting a little hot during the flight, or many other reasons. However, a little puffiness will not harm them; your key information on the health of the battery will be how well it charges and hold on to that charge. If the pack is charging ok and the battery seems to perform normal, then just keep an eye on it and make sure it does not get overheated. Check the temperature of the pack after the flight, and make sure there is good air flown over it as needed.
    If the pack is puffed up so that all of the wrapping is very tight, no give when you push on it, then that is a different story. In that case the battery will most likely not be performing as well as it used to with a fair drop off in charge input and discharge output. Then my friend you may have a bad battery and it will need to be replaced.

  4. High Nitro says:

    David, I fly four cells a lot, and 15.2 volts after a run translates to 3.8 volts per cell. Fully charged the battery will read 16.8 volts. You can take the battery lower than 3.8 per cell, but you are inviting puffing, heat, and a shorter life. As a bonus, you can store the battery after a run at that 15.2 level, and that’s really the best voltage for storage.

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