Lithium batteries are dangerous, and should be treated as such at all times. Lithium batteries used in drone racing are perhaps the most dangerous of all, due to their chemistry, the speed at which they after often discharged, the rough handling they often receive, and their lack of built in protective electronics. All lithium batteries must be treated correctly, but none more so than drone racing batteries. Using and storing racing drone batteries at all involves an element of risk, so it is important that you understand and respect these batteries, and only purchase them if you accept the risks involved.
It is important that you understand the nature of a racing drone battery fire, so you can make intelligent and educated decisions regarding handing your batteries. There are various reactions that take place that can lead to a fire. All manifest as a strong jet of smoke or flame protruding from a point or points on the battery. These jets exit the battery at high pressure and speed, and can shoot as much as 4 feet from the battery when not contained. These reactions can happen at various speeds, from a slow fizzle, to an instant explosion. If the battery is in a fully sealed container, smoke can build pressure leading to an explosion. It is therefore highly important that batteries when not in use are kept in a ventilated metal case. Purpose made storage is highly recommended. Military style ammunition tins with drilled ventilation holes are a popular solution. Fireproof bags are specifically not recommended, as they provide only token protection. If you’d like to keep firefighting equipment to hand around your batteries, we suggest a bucket of sand, as water may not be effective. In the event of a fire please dial 999 immediately, and never attempt to fight the fire unless it is safe to do so.
The following advice should be strictly adhered to by owners of drone racing lithium batteries. For more information and advice please contact us or your retailer.
- Never use a pack that has not been charged and discharged correctly, as per the instructions of a suitable charging device.
- Never use a pack that shows an improper balance or voltage.
- Never use a pack that you cannot verify the history of, or that you have not possessed from new.
- Never use a pack that has any kind of visible or invisible damage whatsoever. This includes but is not limited to dents, scuffs, punctures, bruises, swelling, water or liquid damage, temperature damage, short circuit damage, damaged wiring, exposed cells or connectors. Such packs should be disposed of immediately as per the advice below.
- Never discharge a pack during use below 3v per cell. Flying your drone until it will no longer take off due to low battery can lead to battery damage, so land at or before 3v per cell.
- Never modify or later a battery in any way.
- Drone Lab recommends only the use of brand name packs and chargers from reputable sellers.
- Never leave a pack unattended while charging.
- Never charge a pack that is damaged or altered in any way. This includes packs which are dented, swollen, scuffed, punctured, discoloured, show to high or too low a voltage, have damaged wires or connectors, or any other form of visible or invisible damage.
- Charge only at the recommended charging speed. If unsure, seek advice from your manufacturer or retailer.
- Always charge your packs in a fully ventilated and fireproof place. A ventilated steel box is recommended. Fireproof bags are not recommended unless used with further safety measures.
- Only use chargers designed specifically for charging drone racing lithium batteries. We recommend authentic, high quality brand name chargers used on a “balance” setting.
- Never charge batteries in a location subject to wide temperature changes, or where they could get wet, short circuited, crushed or damaged in any way.
- If a lithium fire does occur, call 999 immediately.
- Always store your batteries in a fully ventilated fireproof location. A sealed container is not suitable, and could cause an explosion in the event of a fire. A vented steel container is recommended.
- Never store batteries at any voltage other than the recommended storage charge.
- Never store a battery that has been damaged in any way. Damaged batteries should be safely disposed of immediately.
- Where possible, always store drone batteries outside or away from your home.
- Never store batteries in a location subject to wide temperature changes, or where they could get wet, short circuited, crushed or damaged in any way.
- Never dispose of a lithium battery in your household bin.
- Where a lithium battery is damaged, it should never be stored or charged, but instead it should be disposed of as swiftly as safely possible.
- End of life batteries that are not damaged should be discharged, and then taken to your local Waste Recycling Center, or other managed local battery recycling center. Some local councils may have curbside battery recycling options, can can be used. Contact your local council for further advice.
- Damaged batteries should be made fully inert before disposal. This can be done by fulling a bucket or large container with at least 10 litres of water, mixed with at least 100g of salt (normal household salt, sodium chloride), and leaving the battery submerged in the bucket for around 48 hours. This may release small amounts of dangerous gas, so should always be done outside. At the end of this process the battery should show a voltage around 0v, and be safe to handle and dispose of as in step 3.