Don't crash and burn - Looking after your Drone's batteries

Drone batteries are an expensive and critical part of the aircraft. Learning to look after them can help save you money and make your flights safer. Unfortunately DJI guidance is a little sparse (see the official DJI "manual" by clicking on the image below)

DJI Phantom 4 Lithium Polymer battery

I’ve spent some time reading up on how to look after my Phantom 4 batteries, and the results of my research are here:

  • Lithium Polymer (aka “Lipo”) batteries can be dangerous if overcharged or misused so check the battery for swelling, bloating or cracking before and after charging/flying. If it shows any signs of damage, dispose of it immediately as damaged Lipos can become unstable and explode. It’s unlikely, but not worth the risk.

  • When charging, place it in a non-flammable “Lipo bag” – these are designed to reduce the risk of damage or fire in the event of the battery exploding – and never leave it unattended.

  • Store your battery in the Lipo bag and at room temperature (5C to 25C)

  • If you’re not flying for a few days, store your battery at around 50% charged (never fully charged or completely exhausted)

  • Never discharge the battery completely as this will damage the battery and possibly render it useless. Land your drone with about 20-25% of battery left to help reduce this risk.

  • After a flight, wait for the battery to cool before re-charging.

  • Only charge your battery to 100%, the the day before you fly.

  • Calibration: There is a lot of conflicting advice on whether you should or shouldn’t periodically (after 20 flights) discharge the battery to below 8% and then recharge it. The idea is that this recalibrates circuitry on the battery which works out how much % of a charge is left and helps it accurately reflect the charge stored in the battery. My view is don’t do this - the risk of damaging the battery by over-discharging it, outweighs the possible advantage.

  • Automatic discharge: Using the DJI Go App, you can set the batteries to automatically start discharging after a set number of days. Again there’s a lot of conflicting advice, but my view is that this should be set to 3 days.

So in summary, aim to land your drone with about 20-25% of battery left, store the battery at around 50% charge and only charge it to 100% the day before you fly. Your mileage may vary of course, but this is how I personally look after my Lipo batteries.

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