Caring for LiPo Batteries
Maintaining the performance of your batteries and getting maximum service life from them depends on how you care for them—specifically, how you use them and how you store them. Follow these rules and you’ll be certain to get the maximum number of runs from your packs, and peak performance with each charge.
Use low-Voltage Detection
Unless your vehicle’s speed control is a few years old, it should have a low-voltage detection system, low-voltage cutoff, or “LiPo mode.” Regardless of name, these systems do the same thing: they slow or stop your vehicle or otherwise alert you that your LiPo pack needs to be recharged. Always make sure this mode is selected when using LiPo packs. If you don’t, you run the risk of over-discharging the battery. At a minimum, this will reduce performance and take away a big chunk of the batteries overall life. At worst, the battery will swell (generally known as “ballooning” or “puffing”) and must be discarded. If that occurs, take the pack to your local hobby store for proper disposal.
Set low-Voltage Detection for 3.3 Volts Per Cell
…if it’s adjustable, that is. Setting the system to cut off at 3.3 volts (or higher) will assure you get the maximum number of runs from your pack. The only downside is that the low-voltage detection system will slow or stop your car sooner in the run, but the little bit of run time you lose during a single run will be more than recovered in the additional runs you get over the life of the battery.
Keep Your Packs Clean
This goes for all batteries, NiMH, LiPo, or otherwise: promptly repair damaged shrink wrap, bum connectors, frayed wires, worn insulation, etc. If you don’t, you’re inviting further damage and short-circuits.
Store LiPos 50% Charged
When not in use, LiPo batteries should be stored at about 50% charged. If you charge a battery and don’t get to use it, avoid storing it fully charged for more than 10 days. Any longer, and the pack’s capacity and voltage will begin to permanently degrade. If you deplete a pack and store it without recharging, don’t worry quite as much; assuming it wasn’t over-discharged when you ran it, the pack can be safely stored for up to three weeks and you should have no trouble. However, if you let the pack go too long without recharging, it will eventually self-discharge itself to the point of being over-discharged. If your charger has a “storage charge” function, use it; this will make certain the pack is balanced and charged to 50% capacity. If your charger doesn’t have a storage mode, just fully charge the pack, then run it in your car for half as long as it usually takes to activate its low-voltage detection system. Then store your batteries in a cool, dry place. Like potato chips.
Depending on your model’s speed control, the low voltage detection system may switch on automatically when a LiPo is connected, or you may need to activate the feature yourself. Check the manual!
Keep your packs clean and inspect them for damage after each driving session.