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LiPo Battery Danger - You should read this!

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A bit of reality. Our Breeze’s are nice little Drones if you understand the limits of the Breeze and use it as intended. The price point, lately, of $150, with batteries at $21, makes this a great introduction to flying a drone. There is a hidden danger: The LiPo Batteries. I am seeing more and more posts about low battery voltage and questions like; ‘can I recover my battery pack’ – as the Breeze charger will not charge the battery any longer (due to low voltage on one or more cells). So people want to know how to charge just one cell, or 2 cells, to bring the voltage up so the battery (as a whole) can be charged in the Breeze charger.

HOWEVER !!!!;

I am becoming concerned with people trying to charge a cell, or two, that is very low (0-2V or so). Playing with LiPo's is very dangerous. We seem to be missing how the cell or cells got that low to start with. It's not normal. We don’t have answers for that, but it’s not normal, and it's a warning to be careful. If you don’t know what you are doing, DON’T DO IT! (whatever ‘it’ is)

I don't know if you have looked at YouTube about LiPo fires (below are some links), but the guys I fly with (electric Airplanes and Helicopters) know a lot about LiPo batteries and they still have fires and issues. Novices (the guy that just bought a Breeze) should be aware of the LiPo potential danger. We MUST (should) all respect the LiPo technology and how much current these batteries can instantly provide; in excess of 100amps – and this will blow the end right off a screwdriver (I’ve done it – not on purpose!! And there is a very loud BANG and lots of smoke), and these batteries will catch your car on fire (batteries in your car traveling to your flying site), or home on fire (batteries charging in the garage), in an instant – this is no joke!

I only want to provide a warning about playing with LiPo’s. You need to know what you are doing, how much current you are putting in, how much current is still left in the cell or battery pack, watch the balancing time – taking too long? Not a good sign. As the Internal Resistance starts to change in a battery pack the charge times, and discharge times change. You need to be aware of this. Does your battery get hot when charging? Is it warmer than normal after a flight? All signs something is happening.

There are many YouTube videos of LiPo fires. Here are a few I picked at random.

https://youtu.be/_q-l6cybjwg

https://youtu.be/sVs_lofsjgQ

https://youtu.be/ypwJllmkDWI

https://youtu.be/CWRiJYTX0Mo

https://youtu.be/fF9fhlr9S5s

https://youtu.be/osfgkFyq7lA

https://youtu.be/QjkW3KUz5uo

https://youtu.be/gz3hCqjk4yc

https://youtu.be/m_8QGBv4v7E


Two things are main issues -- NOT balancing your batteries through a balancing port - meaning that any 'cell' in the battery can become overcharged - a huge issue, and shorting the battery terminals together by mistake - this causes an approximate 100 AMPS discharge - another huge issue. Keep these in mind an be safe.
 
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DoomMeister

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Thanks for stressing the importance of this matter. We all want to have fun flying and want to save money doing it, but not at the expense of our own and our family’s safety.

With you being an Electrical Engineer by trade and me being an Electrician we both understand the potential danger of a shorted cell. Anything that can vaporize the tip of a screwdriver can injure with hot metal as well as cause temporary or even permanent eye damage from the arc flash. The fire potential is to be respected as we would not want to see anyone suffer the loss of a home or life due to negligence.
 

NorWiscPilot

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Thanks for the revisit.

Agree with DM, we all need to be vigilant no matter what the craft.

Perhaps the impetus for creating a separate “battery care” section?

Maybe if people see a stand-alone section, they might pop in and see what’s up. A couple sticky threads inside, housing the basics and mandatory knowledge items, for reference only - no replies... might be beneficial.

One containing links such as the ones Scott shared, in a heading “what can go wrong!” could be a good start.

Jeff
 
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Thanks guys, as ever, you are hitting the nail on the head.
I am a first time drone owner, with no experience with batteries and electricity. I am frustrated with the breeze batteries, this is the third one that goes blinking blue on me and stops charging.. like Scott asked:
-why is this happening and is there anything I can do to prevent it from happening??

now my next question: should I try to "revive" the battery using some of the methods mentioned in other posts? what are signs of danger I should be looking for? heat?

third and last question: I already spent on batteries more than I spent on the drone itself! should I just give up on the breeze and go for some more "stable" drone (if such a thing exists?) I am an amateur photographer and that's my main interest in droning, starting to save for a DJI entry drone, (the spark) do you think this will help me avoid the breeze complications or have you heard (or experienced) similar issues with the DJI drones as well?
 
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Hi. If you are going through many batteries, this is not normal. I would guess you are discharging too low - flying too long. While excessive heat is an indicator something is wrong, by the time you feel this heat it’s often too late. You can try some of the ideas to charge 1 cell - the lowest cell, less than 2v or so, but you need to monitor progress along the way. You want to get the battery back to around 3.7v then use the charger to charge the whole pack (battery).

If you have the above ability you have a voltmeter so check all cells and write down the voltages. Then when you finish a flight, wait 10 minutes or so and check all voltages (3) to see if they are very close to the same. This will tell you if you restoring the battery MIGHT of worked. It may be ok for a few flights then have the cell go bad again.

Getting a better drone might help but much more expense. I’m concerned that you seem to have many batteries that are bad, meaning something else is wrong - like over discharge. Just a guess.

If you recover a better and fully charged each cell is about 4.2v, only fly it for 4-5 minutes then land and recharge. Do this several times to see if the battery continues to work well. If so, you can then increase flight time a minute at a time up to 8 minutes. I’d stop there. Don’t discharge more that that.

Good luck
 
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DoomMeister

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I see the same type of problems across the board looking at posts on forums for all brands.

The first question I’ll ask is, Do you fly your Breeze batteries to the low battery warnings in Breeze Cam? When I first got my Breeze I did that, and found that the batteries seemed to drain too fast. I would only get 7 to 8 minutes before getting a low battery warning. I then read information on the forum from guys that have been flying RC and using LiPo’s for a long time, about how flying in that condition stresses the battery and lessens its lifespan. So I started flying until I get to about 30% and then landing the Breeze. I’m averaging around 9 to 10 minutes of flight time now starting at 100% and flying to 30% and I’m not seeing a sudden drop in battery level at the beginning of the flight like I used to. I still use the Yuneec charger that came with the Breeze and it is doing a good job. The only drawback with it is not being able to do internal resistance measurements like some third party chargers can do.

As for reviving your batteries, it will depend on what condition they are presently in. You really need to have a multimeter so you can measure the voltage of each cell in the battery. This is a diagram to show how to measure each cell.
View media item 694
Take measurements of your batteries and post the results here. Measure them in depleted condition and also in charged condition if you can get them to charge. With that we can give you a better answer on how to proceed.
 
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Thanks guys,
I ran the first battery too low and then learned my lesson, I bring it down and shut completely by 20% (never gone below 10%) then I usually charge to full and download the pics/videos. I charge again to full beofre storage but I lost two batteries to that.
I'll stop by home depot today for a voltmeter and I will get the reading and reply here.
Thanks
 
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Hello again, here are the test results,
Remember that now I have two batteries. I treat both the same way, did not run down below 20% and charged both normally 3 weeks or so ago, and now I end up with one that is no longer charging and one that is still good.

Battery 1 (normal charging, currently fully charged)
cell 1- 4.23v
cell 2- 4.21v
cell 3- 4.22v

Battery 2 (Defective, blue blinking on charger)
Cell 1- 1.6v
cell 2- 0.32v
cell 3- 0.24v

Waiting for your thoughts on what might have gone wrong with battery 2 and possible safe solutions.
Thanks
 
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Here’s what I think you told us. You SUCCESSFULLY charged both batteries 3 weeks ago. There was no Blue light blinking at that time.

Did you put one battery (the bad one now) back in the Breeze after charging? Or did both batteries sit outside the Breeze after charge? Was one battery left in the charger after charge and you just unplugged the charger with the battery in it?

The issue is; your bad battery discharged somehow and if it was left unattached to anything after charging it’s basically impossible for all 3 cells to discharge. If the battery was not put back in the Breeze and it was taken out of the charger after it was fully charged (green light on the Breese charger) just take the battery and put it in salt water (you just add a good amount of salt to water from your faucet) for 24 hours and then throw it away after this. The salt water will safely discharge the battery.

I’ve been using and studying lipo batters for 15 years and have never seen a battery just go dead sitting in a shelf with no load attached. But there is a first time for everything.

Don’t try to bring each cell back up to 4v. For all 3 cells in the pack to go bad is very strange IF the battery was just sitting out not attached to anything. The only thing that could cause this is a very high internal resistance on all 3 cells - this would drain each cell - but you state the battery charged fine which would not happen if the IR was high. Puzzling to me!

Hope this helps.
 
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Hi Scott
You are correct on your recap.
The battery that went bad was sitting in the charger. The other battery was inside the drone. (If I hear you right then next time for storage I should fully charge the batteries then take them off any contact and just store them like this, right?)
Now with this info do you still advise against trying to charge the dead battery?
 
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Ah, that makes sense now. Yes, do not leave a battery attached to anything once charged. That battery discharged back through the charger. As I don’t have a schmetic of the charger I can only guess at the circuit design.

As all cell voltages are close there is a good chance you might recover each cell and the battery. Proceed with caution watching close how much current you use and for how long. Just get each cell up to about 3.7 volts and then let the Yuneec charger finish charging and balance the battery. If you get this far fly ghat battery (discharging it) for maybe 3 minutes, then charge again. Then for 5 minutes, and charge again. Then for 7-8 min, and charge again. If all that works, you should be good but watch discharging to below 20%.

Good luck.
 

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Back to the storage statement... isn’t it a bad idea to fully charge LiPos and then leave them for a few weeks?

All the advice here has been similar to “do not leave LiPo batteries fully charged, without any use, for more than a week to ten days.”

If putting batteries on the shelf for a few weeks, discharge to storage level (50% capacity) before doing so.

That also means, if not already doing so, start tracking charge/discharge cycles. If a battery has not been used for awhile, either fly it, run it, by all means discharge to safe levels.

One’s battery budget will thank you.

Jeff
 
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I think most would agree that storing batteries fully charged is not the best way. In my case, having used LiPo batteries for many years I always charge mine (any from 3 cell to 6 cell) fully so I’m always ready to go fly when the mood hits. I’ve never had a problem but that’s not to say it’s ‘best’. I think do what makes you comfortable.

The potential issue is that one cell is damaged and charging a battery pack fully will overcharge the other cells (current good chargers do not allow this to happen). If the battery balances and all cells are the same voltage (4.2v) I have not had any issue for 15 years, but I watch the batteries closely and never underestimate the danger.

Storing a battery in a somewhat discharged state means if a cell is damaged the other cells would never be overcharged. This is a very safe way to store batteries. If you ‘truly know’ all cells are at 4.2v they will hold that charge for months with no issue.

Again, do what makes you comfortable and never underestimate the LiPo batteries.
 
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For follow up purposes:

Made the USB a charger and followed DoomMeister diagram and instructions (can’t thank him and Scott enough!

Took almost 5 min for each cell to bring each to 3.5v. Now charging fine in the Yuneec charger.

Post charge each cell is at 4.2v

Will try to fly it out today and see how long it for it to get to 20%

Will keep both batteries stored OFF the charger and see if that helps and may it be a good advice for people with the same issue!
 
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Flew both batteries down to 30%. Got around 8-9 min on each.
Tests the cells on both and they are all 3.7v
 

DoomMeister

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Flew both batteries down to 30%. Got around 8-9 min on each.
Tests the cells on both and they are all 3.7v
That sounds about right. Hope they continue to work with no problems.
 
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When putting my batteries, on the Breeze charger, the process always start with the chargers blue light blinking for a while (batteries showing no swelling or getting hot). sometimes it blinks blue for several minutes, then turns red and proceeds to charge battery. All cells show the same voltage, about 3.7. One battery I still use came with the bird when I bought it, in Oct of the first year the Breeze became available (2016?). I let it blink blue, checking that the battery is not getting hot or swelling. have several 8/18/2017 batteries they charge the same way, first blinking blue for a while, then red and charges. Don't use anything but the breeze charger, get the same results every time. I fly until battery shows 10% then land. Wondering if I should buy another Breeze charger, but since this one charges my batteries, I think a new one would give the same results. Any comments?
 

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That is some interesting information.
Do you charge your batteries right after flying, or shortly before you plan to fly?
I think if you only fly to 30% or 20% at the lowest, you may avoid the blue light. It is supposedly better for the battery, but if your original from 2016 is still working fine, that is good news.
If the present charger is giving you a full charge (4.2 VDC on each cell) then a new OEM charger will not be an improvement. A third party charger that is a ballance charger and can do Internal Resistance measurements would be nice, but I've found it difficult to find an adapter for the Breeze battery.
 
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That is some interesting information.
Do you charge your batteries right after flying, or shortly before you plan to fly?
I think if you only fly to 30% or 20% at the lowest, you may avoid the blue light. It is supposedly better for the battery, but if your original from 2016 is still working fine, that is good news.
If the present charger is giving you a full charge (4.2 VDC on each cell) then a new OEM charger will not be an improvement. A third party charger that is a ballance charger and can do Internal Resistance measurements would be nice, but I've found it difficult to find an adapter for the Breeze battery.
Two days later after flying, batteries measured 52%, with breeze connected, but static. Upon takeoff (flying to hoover), battery measured 14%. Seems a good battery recovers some voltage even when discharged to 14%. Now upon placing in charger, red light flashes and it charges. My earlier comment seems to be related to the fact I had left the batteries without charging for the winter months. One cycle of flying the bird to somewhat under 20%, the batteries assumed a normal charge cycle without the blue light.
Not related to subject, but very pleased to see I can fly it off a second story deck. First calibrated it well away from the house, then on the deck, GPS locked in. When flying it to 'hoover', flew it off the deck and it did not lose any altitude. Was worried that it would fly down to ground level to the hoover position down there. Didn't happen, flew away from the deck and did not lose any altitude. Flew it home manually and a foot above the 2 story pad, brought it down manually, then shut it off and it settled onto the take off point. Great news for an 83 yr old pilot with limited mobility!
 

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Two days later after flying, batteries measured 52%, with breeze connected, but static. Upon takeoff (flying to hoover), battery measured 14%. Seems a good battery recovers some voltage even when discharged to 14%. Now upon placing in charger, red light flashes and it charges. My earlier comment seems to be related to the fact I had left the batteries without charging for the winter months. One cycle of flying the bird to somewhat under 20%, the batteries assumed a normal charge cycle without the blue light.
Not related to subject, but very pleased to see I can fly it off a second story deck. First calibrated it well away from the house, then on the deck, GPS locked in. When flying it to 'hoover', flew it off the deck and it did not lose any altitude. Was worried that it would fly down to ground level to the hoover position down there. Didn't happen, flew away from the deck and did not lose any altitude. Flew it home manually and a foot above the 2 story pad, brought it down manually, then shut it off and it settled onto the take off point. Great news for an 83 yr old pilot with limited mobility!
Cappy,

Your last line says it all! Gives at least one of us hope of a flying future when the old bones are creaking a bit more than they already are.

Glad to read you are still enjoying your flying, and looks like you will continue to do so!

Jeff
 

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