LiPo or lithium polymer batteries are a foundational component of drones, as they offer these vehicles longer flight times, lower weight, and more precise flexibility. Well-maintained LiPo batteries feature a chemical composition which allows for higher capacities, as well as discharge rates, meaning the drone will remain airborne for longer periods of time. These batteries rarely self-discharge, which makes it possible to store them for one to two months, and they will remain in flying condition. Moreover, their chemistry happens to be more volatile than other battery types while also presenting a fire hazard, so extra caution must be taken when working with them in transport, storage, or shipping.
Lithium ion batteries are different from lithium polymer batteries in that they look similar to an AA battery and are often found in power tools, computers, and mobile phones. Li-Ion models are manufactured to be more rigid, meaning they are not able to be modeled into as many shapes as LiPo batteries. LiPo batteries are also less prone to leakage than their alternative because they are encased in an aluminum plastic film and are less than 1 mm thick, making them far smaller. In addition to their compact size, they also have a higher power output and capacity.
As there are many different types of LiPo batteries, it is crucial to select the correct one for your particular application, and to also keep multiples available in case of component failure. One thing to consider is the maximum takeoff weight of the drone in question. The longer the flight lasts, the more expensive the components become, and in order to acquire additional speed, your LiPo needs to offer a higher discharge rate. Lengthier flight times require a larger battery, but these are heavier than their alternatives and have the potential to create an inefficient system.
For safety reasons, LiPo batteries should be stored at room temperature in a fireproof area or fire-resistant containers or ammo boxes. The U.S. Post Office only permits lithium batteries to be mailed when they are inserted into the equipment they are meant to operate through surface transportation. FedEx and UPS both offer shipping options for LiPo batteries as well. It should also be noted that LiPo batteries must be entirely discharged at 100 percent emptiness before recycling them. If you notice that they’re burned, punctured, or corroded, be sure to place them in a non-flammable mixture such as cat litter and proceed to get in contact with the Consumer Product Safety Commission or the supplier you purchased the LiPo batteries from and follow their instructions. You can also place the battery in a clear plastic bag and bring it to a hazardous waste recycling center, but make sure to never put them in the regular trash.
While traveling with your drone and LiPo batteries, it is important to bring more than one battery and detach them before placing them in your carry-on luggage. Once on the aircraft, remove any spare lithium batteries and keep them on your person during flight. You should also be sure to pack your drone loaded with a battery into your checked luggage and keep your spares in the carry-on.
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