Your drone comes with a LiPo or a Lithium Polymer battery. Your smartphone has a LiPo battery too. But, the similarity ends there. Drone batteries are comparatively more volatile and dreadfully expensive. Hence, taking care of them should be top priority. Now, not all drones and their batteries are manufactured in the same way. For instance, Phantom batteries will last you longer than Mavic batteries. And Mavic batteries have a longer life compared to Spark batteries. The life of your drone battery depends on three main factors –
So, let us talk about each of these factors.
If you do not fly for a long time, your batteries can go bad quickly. We strongly recommend you have a Flyday every Friday. This is a great way of keeping your battery in mint condition. Moreover, you can continuously improve your flying skills as well. Setting your battery to auto-discharge every 7 days is a great reminder to go out and fly your drone.
If your schedule does not permit you to go out and fly every week, at the very least, you SHOULD fly once every month. Your LiPo batteries have a high chance of failing if your drone remains idle for longer than this. Apart from a 1 week auto discharge, we recommend storing your drone batteries at 30% to 60% of total charge.
Deep cycle your batteries once every ten flights. So, how do you deep cycle your drone batteries? There are two ways to do this –
In the first way, you fly your drone till it is about to lose power. When battery voltage drops to around 3.5 V or 5% of total charge, you can get your drone to hover and then eventually, auto land. Do not forget to roll your drone left and right during auto landing. This toilet bowl movement will extract out all possible charge out from the drone.
Another way of deep cycling your drone batteries is to land your drone but leave the power on. The LiPo battery will exhaust all charge after some time and the drone will automatically power off.
Planning on flying on a balmy summer day? You need to take extra precautions with your drone batteries. First of all, do not charge your batteries when they are too hot. For instance, in the Phantom 4 and Phantom 3, the light closest to the button will start blinking when the drone batteries are really hot. If you press the button, the warning will go away. But, we recommend waiting for at least 30 minutes to let the batteries cool down. Do NOT leave the battery charging when this light is blinking.
Another note of caution here. Do NOT attempt to artificially cool down your battery by putting it in a refrigerator or in front of an air conditioner. By doing so, you will drastically impact the life expectancy of your drone battery.
If you are flying in winter, you will not get as much flight time. In such instances, having a professional case like GPC will really help. Your LiPo batteries will be kept well insulated and warm.
If you are flying in a cold environment and your batteries have been left off in the cold, you can do this – Fire up your drone and leave the power on for a couple of minutes. Do not take off just yet. Turn the drone off and then back on. Doing so will help you get a couple of minutes of extra flight time.
If it is really freezing out there, you can go one step further. First turn on your drone and leave it on for a couple of minutes. Then turn it off. Turn your drone back on and hover at 5 feet for 30 to 60 seconds. Bring the drone back and again turn it off. Turn on your drone again, and you shall be able to squeeze out some additional minutes of flight time.
So, what is the best way to travel with your drone batteries? We recommend avoiding the regional carriers and traveling with an airline like Southwest. Southwest’s entire fleet consists of 737’s. And because you can fit your drone case in the over-head cabinet, this is a great choice for drone pilots. Remember – FAA regulations do not permit storing Lithium Polymer batteries below the deck.
If you are going by road, do NOT leave your drone batteries in the trunk of your car. There have been instances when drone batteries left in pickup trucks have caught fire, and burned a hole right through the steel bed!
Check out our Medium page for more such content
Do not forget to subscribe and Listen to Ask Drone U, the #1 drone podcast
Connect with a vibrant drone community by becoming a Drone U member
Stay up to date on all the latest content released on the Drone U site by getting our weekly newsletter. It's informative, helpful, and easy to get through.