Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries can power up the smallest and simplest mobile phones to things as power-demanding as radio controlled cars. Why not? These batteries are far way better than other rechargeable batteries. They can store up to about 350% more power. Plus, they weigh about 20% lesser. LiPo batteries can be charged even without fully draining them. But be very careful with these batteries. LiPos can be toxic and can cause fire if mishandled or charged improperly.
Rules When Charging LiPo Batteries
There are only two important rules when charging these batteries.
- Charge LiPo batteries to their specific charging requirement. Basically, each cell in a battery should only be charged up to 4.2v and should never be discharged below 3.0v. Therefore, if you want to charge a 4-cell LiPo battery, it needs to achieve about 16.8v first before it can be fully charged.
- Use only the specific charger that was designed to charge specific LiPo batteries. Since every LiPo battery has specific needs, it is more practical to use only a charger designed to charge a certain battery.
- You can also use the common LiPo battery chargers. But make sure that you know how to properly charge the batteries using them. These chargers can be classified on how they count the battery cells—automatic and manual. Automatic LiPo battery chargers can automatically detect how many cells a battery has and will charge the LiPo based on its count. The manual charger requires manual setting, which means you’ll have to enter how many cells the LiPo battery has and it will charge it based on your given data.
- If you can’t choose between the two, then it’s better to pick the automatic-and-manual LiPo battery charger. This thing automatically detects how many cells a battery has and then will ask you to enter how many cells it has just to double check its accuracy. Some chargers of this kind might do it the other way—ask you how many cells there are in the battery and then double check it.
- Connect the charging leads correctly. Cell damage, fire, and explosion might happen with reverse charging. Never allow that negative and positive leads to touch. This might cause cell damage, explosion, or fire.
- LiPo batteries should be charged only after removing them from the device. Put them on non-flammable surface while charging. Wooden tables and even carpeted floors can easily catch fire.
- The room temperature while charging LiPo batteries should not be more than 50oC, or else, battery leakage, cell damage, and heat generation might happen.
- Never charge LiPo batteries in a vehicle, especially while you are driving. Even storing these batteries inside a vehicle is not advisable.
- Discard and never use LiPo batteries that are swelling, ballooned, or crashed. Even punctures or any other damages on the battery should be signs that they can be dangerous for charging.
Besides charging LiPo batteries properly, take note also of how you should handle, store, and take care of these batteries. You can avoid fire or explosion caused by these batteries if they are always dry, they do not short circuit, and they are always away from sharp objects. Never play with the batteries, too. Never let children to play with them. Hitting these batteries with a hammer might cause explosion. Even the smoke from these batteries can harm people and might cause fire.
It’s not enough that you know how to use LiPo-powered devices. It’s much more important that you know how to be responsible on your possession, especially if it is potentially harmful.