Using LiPo Batteries for FPV Drones: Beginner’s Guide with Top Product Recommendations

by Oscar

LiPo batteries are an incredible power source for FPV drones, providing a substantial amount of energy storage and delivery capabilities. However, if not handled correctly, they can pose safety risks. This guide will cover the basics of LiPo batteries for FPV drones, including safe charging practices and proper storage techniques when not in use.

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Disclaimer: The information on this page is intended as general advice. Ensuring battery safety is your responsibility, and you should use the information provided at your own risk.

Battery Recommendations

When choosing LiPo batteries, always opt for reputable brands to ensure performance and quality. Choose the smaller packs if you want a lighter, more agile drone; choose the larger packs if you prioritize flight time over handling. Note that a larger pack can deliver more current at the cost of slightly greater weight, so there’s a trade off to be made.

5″ Freestyle and Racing Drones

The most common LiPo batteries used on 5″ FPV drones for freestyle and racing are 4S and 6S voltage. To understand the differences between 4S and 6S, visit: https://oscarliang.com/6s-mini-quad-racing-drone/. Go with 6S if you are on the fence, it’s pretty much the industry standard in 2024. Typical battery capacity for 4S is around 1300mAh  to 1600mAh, and for 6S that’s around 1000mah to 1300mah.

GNB – Budget Option #1

For beginners, investing in top-tier batteries may not be necessary since you won’t need all that power, and crashes are more likely to damage them. Choosing a cost-effective option is a smarter choice during the learning phase.

GNB has been a reliable budget option in the FPV drone world for quite some time. Many batteries available in the market are actually rebranded from GNB, demonstrating the industry’s confidence in their products.

Product Page

4S 1500mAh: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_DDR5SFB
6S 1100mAh: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_DB0ypHX
Other voltage/capacity: https://oscarliang.com/product-mzqb

Dogcom – Budget Option #2

Dogcom 6s 4s Lipo Battery Fpv Drone

Alongside GNB, Dogcom is another great budget battery. However the trade off for having excellent performing cells is that they are ever so slightly larger and heavier than other brands in its class, it’s worth it if you need that extra punch.

Product Page

RDQ: https://oscarliang.com/product-rbp5
AliExpress: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_DlbzRMD

RDQ Series – Great Performer for US Pilots

One of the best performing batteries for the price. Sold exclusively by RDQ, so this is a great option for North American pilots.

Product Page

4S 1300mAh: https://oscarliang.com/product-h2dh
4S 1500mAh: https://oscarliang.com/product-dk0h
6S 1000mAh: https://oscarliang.com/product-trm1
Other voltage/capacity: https://oscarliang.com/product-gjgw

Tattu R-Line – Top of the Line

Formatfactorytattu R Line Version 5.0 1200mah 22.2v 150c 6s1p Lipo Battery Pack With Xt60 Plug

The Tattu R-Line is favored by many top FPV racers, which speaks to the battery’s quality and performance. The R-Line may be the most expensive option on the list, but if you’re seeking top-notch performance and are willing to pay a premium, the Tattu R-Line is worth considering.

6S: 
RDQ: https://oscarliang.com/product-f80m
GetFPV: https://oscarliang.com/product-38v6
AliExpress: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_DmJXvoD

4S:

AliExpress: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_DnS3Yi1
GetFPV: https://oscarliang.com/product-iev3
RDQ: https://oscarliang.com/product-e216

For 3″ FPV Drones

For micro drone batteries recommendations (Tiny whoops, 2″, 3″, 3.5″), check out this post: https://oscarliang.com/whoop-toothpick-lipo-battery/.

Tattu R-Line 4S 850mAh / 6S 550mAh:

Are LiPo Batteries Safe?

When handled correctly, LiPo batteries are perfectly safe. However, LiPo batteries may catch fire due to improper handling or physical damage. Ensuring safety involves careful treatment and vigilance in handling your batteries.

Understanding LiPo Battery Basics

Lithium polymer batteries, or LiPo batteries, boast an exceptional power-to-weight ratio, making them an ideal choice for FPV drones.

To select the appropriate LiPo battery, it’s crucial to learn how to interpret its specifications and become familiar with essential terminology, which will be explained in the following sections.

LiPo battery label explained: voltage, capacity, cell count (s)

LiPo Battery Voltage

LiPo batteries consist of individual cells, each with a nominal voltage of 3.7V, which is indicated on the battery label.

A LiPo battery is designed to operate safely within a specific voltage range, typically between 3.0V and 4.2V. Overcharging a LiPo battery above 4.2V is dangerous and may lead to a fire. Discharging below 3V may result in irreversible performance degradation or battery damage. This minimum voltage is also referred to as the cut-off voltage. It is generally recommended to stop discharging when the battery reaches 3.5V per cell to extend its lifespan.

Cell Count

LiPo batteries may have multiple cells. The ‘S’ rating on a battery refers to t±±he number of cells it has. So, a 6S battery has six cells, a 4S battery has four, and so on. Because each cell has a nominal voltage of 3.7V, a 4S battery has a nominal voltage of 4 x 3.7V = 14.8V, while a 6S battery has a nominal voltage of 6 x 3.7V = 22.2V.

Battery voltage directly affects motor speed, so using a higher cell-count battery can increase your drone’s power (assuming the drone supports the higher voltage). However, adding more cells also makes the battery heavier and more expensive.

In the hobby, we typically refer to batteries by their cell count or “S” designation:

  • 1S = 1 cell = 3.7V
  • 2S = 2 cells = 7.4V
  • 3S = 3 cells = 11.1V
  • 4S = 4 cells = 14.8V
  • 5S = 5 cells = 18.5V
  • 6S = 6 cells = 22.2V

For example, we call a 14.8V battery a “4-cell” or just “4S” battery.

Interesting facts:

  • Connecting two identical batteries in series doubles the voltage but doesn’t change capacity (e.g., two 2S 1000mAh batteries in series become a 4S 1000mAh battery). Connecting them in parallel doubles capacity while maintaining the same voltage (e.g., a 2S 2000mAh pack).
  • LiPos may also use a “P” designation for voltage, with “P” indicating the number of cells in parallel. 2S1P means “2 cells in series and 1 cell in parallel.” If a battery doesn’t have a “P,” it’s assumed to be “1P,” so 2S1P and 2S are the same.
  • 3S2P means “3 cells in series and 2 cells in parallel.” This battery has a total of 6 cells, with 2 parallel groups of cells, each containing 3 cells in series.

Capacity

The capacity of a LiPo battery, measured in mAh (milliampere-hour), indicates how much current you can draw from the battery continuously for an hour until it’s empty. Note that 1000mAh equals 1Ah.

For example, with a 1300mAh LiPo (or 1.3Ah), it would take an hour to be completely discharged if you draw a constant 1.3A current from it. If the current draw doubles to 2.6A, the duration would be halved (1.3/2.6=0.5). If you draw 39A of current non-stop, the pack would last only 2 minutes (1.3/39=1/30 of an hour).

Increasing your battery capacity might offer longer flight time, but the tradeoff is a heavier, larger battery. Weight significantly impacts an aircraft’s flight time, so it’s essential to choose a battery with an optimal balance between capacity and weight for maximum efficiency.

Higher capacity batteries could also provide higher discharge currents, as explained in the next section.

C Rating

C Rating is an indicator of the maximum current you can safely draw from a LiPo battery without causing damage. In theory, this can be calculated by:

Maximum Current Draw = Capacity x C-Rating

Drawing more current than specified by the C-rating is not recommended, as the battery can overheat, increase internal resistance over time, shorten battery lifespan, or even cause thermal runaway (catching fire) in extreme cases.

Batteries with higher C-ratings tend to be heavier and larger even at the same capacity. For example, these two 4S 650mAh batteries shown in the image have different weight and sizes due to differing C-ratings.

 A higher C-rating battery offers better performance, especially for power-hungry drones, but it’s not always the best choice. On a low-power cruiser, extra power from a higher C-rating battery might be unnecessary, while the added weight could be counterproductive and result in less flight time. It’s all about using the right tool for the job.

Although C-rating could be a useful tool, it has become mostly a marketing tool in recent years, so take it with a grain of salt. Brands might inflate C-rating numbers, making it meaningless for comparison between brands. However, it can still be helpful for choosing a battery from the same brand, assuming they follow the same standard. As long as you select batteries from our recommendations, C-rating shouldn’t be a major concern.

Internal Resistance

All electrical components have resistance, including batteries. The resistance within a battery is called internal resistance (IR), which indicates how much the battery resists current flow. Internal resistance can be used to measure LiPo battery performance. Lower IR means the battery can deliver power to your FPV drone more effectively.

Monitoring IR over time is also useful for determining when to retire a LiPo battery. LiPo cells’ IR increases slowly with time and usage, an inevitable and irreversible process. The following bad practices can accelerate battery aging:

  • Over-discharging and over-charging
  • Pushing the battery too hard by discharging at a higher current than it’s rated for, for an extended period
  • Overheating

The biggest factor affecting a battery’s maximum discharge rate is its internal resistance. High IR leads to more noticeable voltage drop as you increase throttle, a phenomenon known as “voltage sag”. As voltage decreases, motors lose RPM, and the drone feels less powerful and responsive.

Some batteries are designed for low-current applications (e.g., 8C or 10C rating for powering a radio), which inherently have higher IR. 18650 Li-ion batteries also have higher IR than typical LiPo batteries, which is normal.

For more information on when to retire a battery and how to measure internal resistance, check out our dedicated article on the topic: https://oscarliang.com/when-retire-lipo-battery/

Discharge Connector

All LiPo batteries come with two sets of wires/connectors: the discharge connector (main lead) and balance connector (balance lead). However, 1S batteries only have a discharge connector since balancing is not required for 1 cell.

The discharge lead typically consists of two thicker red and black wires used to power the FPV drone.

Another set of smaller wires connects to a white connector; this is the balance lead. The number of wires depends on the battery’s cell count.

LiPo battery label explained: voltage, capacity, cell count (s)

The most common discharge connector is the XT60, mainly used in 5″ FPV drones or larger. For smaller drones, the XT30, a smaller version of the XT60, is often used. They have similar shapes but differ in sizes and current ratings.

Other battery connectors commonly used in FPV drones and equipment include:

Name Image Voltage Wire Gauge
PH2.0 1S 22-28AWG
BT2.0 1S 22-28AWG
A30 Gnb A30 1s Lipo Battery Connector Shape Size Dimensions 1S 22-28AWG
XT30 2S – 6S 20-26AWG
XT60  3S – 8S 12-18AWG

For more information on electrical wires and connectors, refer to our in-depth article on the topic: https://oscarliang.com/wires-connectors/

Lipo Battery Connector Testing Size Compare Bt2 Ph2 A30 Xt30 Gnb27 1s Micro Fpv Drone Tiny Whoop Performance

Balance Connector

LiPo batteries with more than one cell will always have a balance lead, which is for monitoring and balancing cell voltages. The official name of the balance connector is JST-XH.

LiPo battery balance leads

You will need to connect the balance lead to the charger when charging. This allows the charger to check and balance the voltage of each cell during charging. Importantly, always plug in the balance lead before charging!

The number of wires in a balance lead starts at 3 for a 2S LiPo, and that number increases by 1 for every increment in cell count:

  • 2S – 3 wires
  • 3S – 4 wires
  • 4S – 5 wires
  • 5S – 6 wires
  • 6S – 7 wires

It’s not uncommon for your balance lead to be damaged by spinning propellers during flight. To learn how to repair a broken balance lead, refer to our detailed tutorial: https://oscarliang.com/fix-balance-plug-lipo-replace/

If the balance lead is long, consider using a rubber band to strap it down, it can also reduces the vibrations caused by the dangling cable.

Flyfish Volador Vd5 Frames Builid Lipo Battery

Keeping Battery Balanced

Toolkitrc Mc8 Lipo Voltage Checker Menu Screen Interface Cells

It’s important to make sure the cells in a battery are within similar range before using it, otherwise you can risk over-discharging the cells with lower voltage. Also if a battery pack consistently become unbalanced, the cells probably have different internal resistance and should be inspected more closely.

Just plug in the balance lead into a voltage checker and it will display the voltage of all cells. Get a voltage checker here: https://oscarliang.com/fpv-tools/#LiPo-Voltage-Checker

Battery Types

LiPo

LiPo stands for lithium polymer, it’s the standard battery chemistry used for racing and freestyle FPV drones. LiPo has a fully charged voltage of 4.2 V and storage charge voltage of around 3.85V.

LiHV

LiHV is a special type of LiPo battery, with HV standing for “high voltage.” They are more energy-dense than traditional LiPo batteries and can be charged up to 4.35V per cell (as opposed to the standard 4.20V). However, there are mixed reviews regarding the longevity of LiHV batteries, as they might experience a decrease in performance sooner than regular LiPos. In our post, we compared a LiHV battery with a LiPo in terms of performance. Despite these concerns, LiHV batteries have become a popular choice for 1S Tiny Whoops because the impact of the higher voltage is significant.

Li-Ion

Li-Ion stands for Lithium ion, typically have a much higher capacity compared to LiPo of the same weight. Because of its higher capacity per weight, Li-Ion batteries are great for long range flying. However it has much lower discharging performance, making it not suitable for aggressive flying. Learn more about Li-Ion batteries and recommendations here: https://oscarliang.com/li-ion-battery-long-range/

Choosing the Right LiPo Battery

If you follow my LiPo battery recommendations, you can avoid worrying about calculations I am going to show you below. Also make sure to steer clear of “no-name” batteries, and stick to reputable brands such as:

  • GNB (Gaoneng)
  • CNHL (China Hobby Line)
  • Lumenier (GetFPV)
  • RDQ
  • Tattu R-Line
  • Dogcom

Here’s I will show you how to choose an ideal battery for your drone.

How Many Packs Should Beginners Buy?

You can certainly buy as many battery packs as you want, but I think 4 packs is a good amount if you are just starting to fly FPV. Assuming each flight lasts around 5 to 10 minutes (taking into account the time you walk to pick up your crashed quad, preflight preparation, and short breaks between flights), you’ll have up to 40 minutes of flying time with just 4 packs. If you have a way to charge your batteries in the field, you can extend your flying time significantly. Learn more about field charging here: https://oscarliang.com/field-charging/

Weight

As a rule of thumb, the battery should weigh roughly half the weight of the freestyle or racing drone (excluding the GoPro). If you follow my battery recommendations, the performance should be good enough, and you won’t need to consider anything else. For long range and cinematic FPV drones, a larger battery may be used to maximize flight time, where responsiveness and power isn’t the priorities, the battery can be as heavy as the drone itself or more.

If your drone has a different size or weight class, you can follow the additional rules below.

Determining Drone Current Draw

After deciding on motor and propeller sizes, you should be able to find thrust data for your motor, as well as the current draw for supported propeller sizes. For example, with this motor and 5040×3 props, it draws up to 36.74A at 100% throttle.

The total maximum current draw for a quadcopter with four motors would be 36.74 x 4 = 146.96A at 100% throttle. If you want to play it safe, you can use this number to find a battery with a high enough C-rating. However, I usually reduce it by 30-40% for two reasons: firstly, we rarely fly at 100% throttle for more than a few seconds (I personally mostly fly at around 40-60% throttle); and secondly, motors draw significantly fewer amps in real life than in static thrust tests due to moving air.

Although other components also draw current, their impact is insignificant compared to the motors, so you can usually disregard them.

Choosing optimal battery capacity

I have a table here to help you decide what battery size you need for particular setup: https://oscarliang.com/table-prop-motor-lipo-weight/

Now you need to work out the suitable battery capacity, which depends on the size of your quadcopter, and C rating required. Here is the general guideline I personally follow for a freestyle/racing drone:

For 4S LiPo:

7 inch: 1500mah - 2200mah 5 inch: 1300mah - 1800mah 4 inch: 850mah - 1300mmah 3 inch: 650mah -1000mah

For 6S LiPo:

7 inch: 1200mah - 1500mah 5 inch: 900mah - 1300mah 4 inch: 550mah - 900mmah 3 inch: 400mah - 650mah

From there, we can calculate the C rating requirement using this formula:

C Rating = Current Draw / Capacity

How to Charge LiPo

Selecting A LiPo Charger

To charge LiPo batteries, you’ll need a charger specifically designed for them due to their strict charging requirements. You can learn how to choose a high-quality LiPo charger in this buyer’s guide: https://oscarliang.com/choose-lipo-battery-charger-power-supply/

The following information applies if you choose a charger from my recommendations.

Connecting a LiPo to a Charger

Charging LiPo batteries with most modern chargers is quite simple. Typically, you just need to plug in the XT60 and balance connectors, set a few parameters, and you’re good to go.

Charger Modes

  • Balance Charge: While charging the battery, the charger monitors the voltage of each cell and keeps them balanced. This is the safest and most recommended method of charging your LiPo battery.
  • Storage Charge: The charger brings each cell to storage voltage (which is between 3.80V and 3.85V, depending on the charger).
  • Discharge: The charger attempts to drain the LiPo battery (this process can be extremely slow, depending on the discharging power of the charger).

The Importance of Balance Charging

Always plug in the balance lead before charging.

Each cell in a battery has slight variations, and after a flight, you might find that the cell voltages differ. Charging a battery with imbalanced cell voltages without using the balance lead could lead to some cells ending up below 4.2V and others exceeding 4.2V, which is dangerous.

Most modern LiPo chargers have balance charging as the only charging mode. If you have a cheap or old charger that allows charging without the balance lead, discard it immediately and invest in a proper charger. Charging without the balance lead is unsafe!

Charging Speed: How Fast Should You Charge?

Charging LiPo batteries at 1C or lower is recommended, as it puts the least strain on the battery. This means setting the charge current to 1 times the battery’s capacity. For example, for a 1500mAh LiPo, charging at 1C means setting the charge current to 1.5A (1C x 1500mA), and for a 900mAh battery, that is 0.9A, and so on.

Fun Fact: Charging at 1C will take approximately one hour to fully charge the battery from empty.

Many batteries now support faster charging, such as at 3C or even 5C. Ensure you understand your LiPo’s specifications before charging at higher rates. If in doubt, just charge at 1C, as charging your battery at higher C rates increases the risk of LiPo overheating or causing a fire.

Choose a Safe Charging Location

It is crucial to charge your batteries in an area free of flammable items and materials. If you are charging indoors, try to do it near a window or door so that you can quickly throw the battery out in case of a fire.

I personally store and charge my batteries in an ammo box (available on Amazon). Do not rely solely on “LiPo Bags”; they may slow down a LiPo fire, but they won’t completely contain it. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby when charging batteries.

Never Leave Charging LiPo Batteries Unattended

Do not leave the room while charging your batteries. Many LiPo-related fires occur because people leave the charging process unattended. You should always supervise LiPo batteries during charging. Regularly check their temperature; they should remain cool. If a battery becomes warm or starts to swell, stop charging and investigate. It could be a faulty LiPo that needs to be retired, an overcharging issue, or simply charging too quickly.

Other Safety Rules

Incorrect handling of LiPo batteries can potentially cause fires. Please familiarize yourself with these safety rules before handling or charging batteries:

  • Pick up LiPo batteries by the body, not the wires, which can be pulled off from fragile solder joints.
  • Allow batteries to cool down completely after a flight before charging them.
  • Never use or charge a damaged or swollen battery.
  • Verify the number of cells and battery type are set correctly on your charger before charging.
  • Avoid overcharging. While smart chargers can normally take care of this for you, it’s wise to check cell voltages regularly.
  • Keep batteries out of direct sunlight.
  • Always remove the battery from the device it’s powering and place it in a safe area before charging.
  • Never short the outputs of a battery at any time.

Parallel charging

Parallel charging may not be the safest method for charging LiPo batteries, but it offers a quick way to charge multiple batteries simultaneously. I have a comprehensive tutorial that explains how to safely perform parallel charging: https://oscarliang.com/parallel-charging-multiple-lipo/

Hota S6 400w Dual Channel Smart Lipo Charger Parallel Charging Operation

Charging 1S LiPo batteries

Charging small 1S batteries can be a bit different than charging larger packs. One option is to charge multiple 1S batteries using a parallel board, which essentially combines them as one large 1S battery. However, the most effective method for charging 1S batteries is to use a dedicated 1S battery charger or serial charge board. Check out my recommendations for 1S battery chargers here: https://oscarliang.com/best-tiny-whoop/#Best-Tiny-Whoop-Chargers

Vifly Whoop 1s Series Charging Board Lipo Batteries Bt2.0

How to Use LiPo Batteries Safely

How long you can leave LiPo batteries fully charged?

It’s ok to charge your batteries the day before your flights. However, personally, if I don’t fly the next couple of days, I always return my batteries to storage voltage (e.g. 3.8V per cell).

Avoid leaving them fully charged or empty for extended periods. Batteries not at their storage voltage will degrade faster over time. Generally, most people find it acceptable to leave batteries fully charged or discharged for a few days. However, if you don’t plan to fly for more than a couple of weeks, it’s best to put your batteries at storage charge. Most modern chargers can do this easily, but discharging can be slow. You might want to consider getting a dedicated discharger if you do this frequently: https://oscarliang.com/discharge-lipo-batteries/

Operating Temperature

FPV drone LiPo batteries perform optimally between 30°C and 60°C. Cold weather negatively affects LiPo battery performance, resulting in worse voltage sag and reduced flight time. Keep your batteries warm before a flight (e.g., by placing them in your pocket). Here are some additional tips on how to fly FPV in cold weather: https://oscarliang.com/fly-fpv-winter/

LiPo batteries also suffer in excessive heat, as they can swell or even catch fire. Make sure not to leave them under direct sunlight in the summer!

When to Land

You should land your drone when your battery voltage reaches 3.5V to 3.6V.

Although you can continue flying with lower voltages, doing so puts extra strain on the battery and may shorten its lifespan. All cells in a battery are different, and during a burst of throttle, the battery will sag with some cells sagging more than others. This can result in cells going below the safe limit and causing damage. Landing at around 3.5V reduces the risk of this happening.

Another reason to land early is that voltage drops significantly faster below 3.5V. Continuing to fly could result in over-discharging your battery before you can land safely. Over-discharging can cause permanent damage and shorten battery life.

LiPo battery discharge diagram: voltage vs capacity

How to Store LiPo Batteries

As mentioned earlier, if you don’t plan to use a LiPo battery for an extended period (longer than a few weeks, for example), you should:

  1. Storage charge it to 3.8-3.85V
  2. Store it in a fireproof place (in LiPo bags, ammo box, etc.)
  3. Store it at room temperature – excessively cold or hot conditions can impact battery lifespan and safety

When a LiPo cell is around 3.8V-3.85V, it has approximately 40% to 50% charge remaining. This is the most stable state for a LiPo battery, which is why new batteries from shops typically arrive half charged.

LiPo Safe Bags

Creator: Gd Jpeg V1.0 (using Ijg Jpeg V62), Quality = 70

LiPo bags are made of cloth, often with a metallic compound woven into them, and generally have either a zipper or Velcro fastener. They provide lightweight, inexpensive storage for battery transportation. While LiPo bags may slow down a battery fire, they are not effective at stopping or containing one. For long-term storage, a metal ammo box is recommended. However, LiPo bags are relatively affordable and still better than nothing.

Get your LiPo bags from:

Ammo Box

Creator: Gd Jpeg V1.0 (using Ijg Jpeg V62), Quality = 80

Before using an ammo box to store your LiPo batteries, remove the rubber seal on the lid (just pry it off with a screwdriver). If possible, drill a couple of small holes to allow air to escape in the event of a fire (or ensure the box is not tightly shut) to prevent pressure buildup inside an airtight metal container.

Get your Ammo Box from:

Bat-Safe LiPo Box

Bat Safe Lipo Battery Charging Box

The Bat-Safe box safely contains battery fires, vents hot gases, filters flame and soot, while ensuring easy battery charging and transportation. It’s like the upgraded version of the Ammo box. See my full review here: https://oscarliang.com/bat-safe-lipo-battery-charging-box/

You can find the Bat-Safe Box here:

What to do with over-discharged LiPo

Completely discharging a LiPo battery can result in oxidation of the cells over time, causing a permanent reduction in performance. However, if detected quickly enough, you can usually save the battery without significant damage to its performance.

Chargers may not recognize an over-discharged battery due to low cell voltage. In such cases, it’s advisable to discard the battery. There are ways to rescue an over-discharged LiPo, but proceed at your own risk.

Traveling with LiPo Batteries

Many airlines and airports allow LiPo batteries in passengers’ carry-on luggage. Keep the following points in mind:

  1. Always check with your airline about traveling with LiPo batteries
  2. Do not carry LiPo batteries in your checked baggage
  3. Place your batteries in storage charge
  4. Tape or cover the connectors and store them in a LiPo safe bag
  5. Never travel with damaged batteries

For more information, see my guide on “How to travel with mini quad and LiPo batteries”: https://oscarliang.com/travel-fpv-drone-lipo-plane/

What to Do if a LiPo Battery Catches Fire

  1. Don’t panic; if possible, unplug all connections first
  2. Use a fire extinguisher
  3. If that’s not an option, sand can effectively put out a LiPo fire; cover the burning LiPo with sand
  4. Avoid breathing in smoke and wait for the fire to go out and the battery to cool
  5. Do NOT use water

LiPo Disposal

When to Retire a LiPo Battery

LiPo batteries have a limited cycle life, with each charge and discharge counting as one cycle. A well-maintained LiPo battery for RC models could potentially last over 300 cycles. However, for many users, damaging the battery physically before reaching that point is a common occurrence.

There isn’t a specific rule for when to dispose of a battery, but LiPo batteries can lose their “punch” and capacity as internal resistance builds up over time. Internal resistance is a good indication of battery health. You should definitely dispose of a battery if it becomes dented from a crash or if it’s swollen like a balloon.

Learn more about when to retire or dispose of a LiPo battery in this article: https://oscarliang.com/when-retire-lipo-battery/

How to Dispose of LiPo Batteries

Old and damaged LiPo batteries should be disposed of properly. Learn about the different ways of disposing LiPo batteries in this article: https://oscarliang.com/dispose-lipo-battery-safely/. Never to puncture LiPo batteries, as doing so can cause a fire.

FAQ

Here are some common questions from hobbyists.

Q: Are swollen (puffed) LiPo batteries dangerous? A: Yes, swollen LiPo batteries are not safe to use or store.

Q: What causes LiPo batteries to become swollen? A: LiPo batteries swell when gas gets trapped inside the cells. This can occur naturally, but physical abuse (such as damage, overheating, or over-discharging) can cause the battery to generate more gas.

Q: Can I fix a puffed LiPo battery? A: No, you can’t. Once a LiPo battery becomes swollen, it’s irreversible. Dispose of it properly as soon as possible.

Q: How can I avoid swollen batteries? A: To avoid swollen batteries:

  • Do not over-discharge – use a voltage alarm or monitoring system
  • Don’t overheat – avoid leaving batteries under the sun or close to heat sources, and don’t overload the battery
  • Never overcharge – set up your charger properly and monitor it while charging
  • Store your LiPo batteries properly, as mentioned earlier in this article

Q: Do new batteries need to be broken in? A: Break-in procedures for new batteries are a controversial topic in the FPV community. Some believe that new batteries should go through a series of slow charge and discharge cycles before being fully utilized. Others, like myself, have tried this method and found no noticeable difference. For more discussion on the topic, see this forum thread.

Technical Terms

  • Cut-off voltage – the voltage at which a battery is considered discharged completely; For LiPo it’s 3.0V
  • Cycle life – 1 cycle is when you charge and discharge a battery. The cycle life is the total number of cycles the battery will last
  • State of charge – the energy level of a battery from 0% to 100%.
  • Burst C-Rating – the maximum discharge rate over a short period of time (normally within 10 seconds)

Conclusion

Congratulations, you made it!

Hopefully, you’ve learned something about LiPo batteries and how to use them safely. However, this guide doesn’t cover everything you need to know. If you’re uncertain about anything, continue researching to ensure you’re handling your LiPo batteries as safely as possible. Happy flying.

Edit History

  • 2017 – Article created.
  • 2018 – Added product recommendations.
  • 2019 – Updated Explanation of Cell Count and IR, added info on “how to charge”.
  • 2023 – Updated guide.
  • May 2024 – Updated guide and product recommendations.

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40 comments

David 26th April 2024 - 3:06 pm

Hi guys

Can I use Tattu R Line LiPo 1050 mAh 22.2 V 130C R-Line, V4.0 for GEPRC Cinebot 30 instead of the original GEPRC 1100mAh 60C/110C 4.35V LiHV Battery 4S/6S ?

Thank you

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Oscar 26th April 2024 - 3:27 pm

Of course, Tattu makes great batteries.

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Ivan 2nd December 2023 - 11:27 am

Can you please tell me if it is necessary to perform charging and discharging activation every 3 months to keep the battery stable?

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Oscar 2nd December 2023 - 2:58 pm

Personally I don’t do that. I have never heard anyone do that in the 10+ years in the hobby.

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Sachin Chavan 19th September 2023 - 6:38 pm

Nice Information which I was expecting.

Thanks for the sharing

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Hide 12th February 2023 - 12:30 am

You noted in “When to land. You should land when your battery voltage reaches 3.5V to 3.6V.” Are you referring to the remaining voltage per cell or the total voltage? Thanks in advance for your help.

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Oscar 12th February 2023 - 12:46 am

3.5V per cell.

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Alex 28th January 2023 - 11:08 pm

Oscar, talking more about lipo batteries and less about the use case with quadcopter. Theoretically, if you were to connect two identical batteries in series and then limit the power draw by half wouldn’t that be increasing the capacity of the total supply? I’m not sure if this is how it works; but I’m guessing in this use case, the capacity “seems” to be the same because quadcopters use more energy when more energy is provided. Perhaps I’m not understanding this correctly but by adding more batteries in series wouldn’t that increase the total amount of chemical energy stored so more is possible to be used?

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Batool 20th October 2023 - 6:03 pm

Yeah I am confused too. The capacity represents the charge stored… So from my understanding, whether u connect two batteries in series or parallel, the capacity will be the addition of the two capacities, because adding a battery means adding energy to the system. The only difference would be whether the current or the voltage changes. If u add a battery in series, the voltage will double, if u add batteries in parallel and u still have the same load (the same current draw), the voltage will stay the same, but now half of that current will come from BATT1 and the other half from BATT2. So instead of BATT1 discharging in 1h for example, It will discharge at half that rate because the other battery is helping.
When he said the capacity remained the same, I was confused….

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Rakesh 27th December 2022 - 4:36 am

Brilliant Read.

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Kai Pepin 26th August 2022 - 12:16 am

Hi Oscar,

Thanks for sharing all your info, just curious, everyone always says never store a fully charged lipo for long periods of time, but what about the opposite, like storing a lipo that was discharged to 3.5v/cell. Let’s say I go flying in the evening, and I drain all my batteries, and I don’t have time before bed to storage charge them, is it okay to leave a battery at 3.5v/cell overnight, or even longer?

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Oscar 26th August 2022 - 8:55 am

I think for a few days or a week that’s completely ok.
The other concern is lipo can self-discharge slowly over time, to avoid voltage dropping too low it’s best to put them on storage charge if you don’t use them for a few weeks or longer.

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Andrei 4th November 2021 - 12:16 am

Great site, thanks for what you a doing for community.
May be you can answer for small question, i have a GEPRC Tiny Go, it’s powered by parallel 1102 10000 kv, 2 x1S 530mAh, FC can handle 2S-4S. So if i plug 3 x 1S 530mAh and cut voltage for motors to 2S, by Betaflight, is it give me extra flight time, or just heating atmosphere?

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Darik Boutsaboualoy 14th May 2021 - 7:18 pm

Hi Oscar, your work is awesome. I have a question related to this article. In the section of “Find Out How Much Current Your Drone Can Draw”, there is a photo of a table that shows the Amperage or Current draw of the motor. How can this be calculated? I look everywhere and an answer is hard to find. You didn’t mention exactly how it’s determined either. I am looking to build a drone that can lift a payload and this calculation is very important to me in choosing a motor.

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Oscar 14th May 2021 - 8:43 pm

The table is usually provided by the motor manufacturer. You can probably also find this info from 3rd party testing by googling the motor.
The values are not calculated, they are real measurements.

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Emre 6th April 2021 - 10:26 pm

Hi Oscar, I have an imax b6ac charger and a 4s lipo. After few successfull charging, my charger stops reading the balance head correctly. I measured with a multimeter that between each pins of balance head there is around 3.71 V. However, the chargers shows 1:3.71 2:4.2 3:0.0 4:0.0
Do you have an idea why this could be so? Is my charger or battery defect?

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Oscar 7th April 2021 - 1:19 am

Assuming your multimeter is accurate, it sounds like your charger might be faulty. imax b6 is quite an old charger, time for a new smart charger like the isdt Q8 :)

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George 22nd December 2020 - 11:17 pm

Nice article.
Note that while saying Cell Count is S is kind of correct the S stands for Serial. Of course there is also a P (parallel) so Cell count and connection system is important in order to calculate voltage.

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Jack 15th July 2019 - 1:37 pm

@Arnold, I don’t think the author said they weren’t being used, he just said they were controversial on their longevity, and they still are. I have several I use on my tiny whoops, and I definitely notice a tiny bit of extra power, and about 45sec-1min. extra flight time. But I have had one or two konk out earlier than a regular 3.7 1s would. But now compared to when above article was written, the LiHV battery has come down in price and are not too expensive, so that’s all I buy for my whoops now.

As far as a charger, I have a nice 1s charger, with a multi board that I can charge 6 batteries at a time. It’s an ISDT Smart Charger, you have 3 charging options…..Charge, Discharge and Storage. You can also hook a regular xt60 xmas tree board to it and charge 2s-6s, but it’s kind of a small charger and it’s powered by a lipo, I usually use one of my old 5s 3000mah batteries that I don’t use for flying anymore. I have a Viper Dual charger set up with a battery bunker that I charge all my 2s-6s batteries with. So the ISDT is strictly for my 1s batteries. Looks like they quit making mine, here is the model they replaced it with, it’s almost Identical, and they have a bunch of other models too. Here’s a link to it…..

amazon.com/ISDT-Battery-Charger-Discharger-Balance/dp/B078RF1SD5

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Parthiban 14th June 2019 - 11:52 am

Hai,

I need to know about Lipo battery having mentioned HW651723P 20C 3.7V 150mAh.

Regards,

KPN

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Arnold 25th January 2019 - 5:51 am

2019: Always good info here but needs an update.
Today more LiHV single cell batteries are used in tiny quads like the (now populair) Tiny Hawk which uses 1s cel LiHV. btw they use brushless motors and i’m guessing those dreadful brushed motor powered things are a thing of the past :) . But there is yet to be found a good charger that also discharges these single cells into storage so what about that? Charging voltage goes up to 4.35V and storage Voltage should be between 3.5-3.8V. and 0.2A seems to be the sensible charging current.
You could use a “led driver/charger” but that would only work on used batteries and 1 cell at a time and since most of us carry at least 10 to 30 batteries to a “match” this would take forever! Some of us charge the batteries and then hoover the quad for half a minute (again for each cell!!) I hope the industry takes up on this soon or we need to make a board where you fake a 6S setup by putting 6 single cells in serie. perhaps I should have patented that…

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Edmond J Dufresne 6th January 2019 - 5:25 pm

Thanks great info

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Sjaak 7th August 2018 - 2:33 am

Great article!
Very useful and informative!

A slight question remaining tho, on the landing at 3.5V ~ 3.6V per cell.
Would this be the voltage read while flying (i.e. under load), or the voltage level once landed (i.e. “cooled down”)?
And if it’s read whilst flying, how much would this be when measured on the ground / accounted for voltage sag?

Greetings from a newby,
~Sjaak

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Oscar 11th August 2018 - 4:15 pm

This would be in the air. The voltage sag really depends on how powerful your quad is.
If you land when it drops to 3.5V in the air, it will recover higher than 3.5V and you can ensure it won’t damage the battery.

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David C Lockwood 22nd June 2018 - 10:04 am

Obviously just trying to get into this hobby. Sorry for dumb questions but these are thorough how tos. First, you mention checking the draw of the motors. How is that done? Second, on the chart you used to come up with amps it says 16v. For what reason is that selected over 14 or 15? Lastly, until this article I’ve only heard of the frames expressed in mm. Did you just use inches because that’s what we use or is it common to know both. Is one used more than the other?

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Oscar 30th June 2018 - 2:12 pm

Data for motor amp draw is normally provided by manufacturers, check product pages.
Motor Amp draw is higher when voltage is higher, so we tend to use a higher voltage to test motors. For 4S lipo, 16V-16.8V are commonly used to test motors.
frames expressed in mm are the size of wheelbase. When it’s in inches, it’s normally refereed to the maximum prop the frame can swing. Check out my tutorial about mini quad frames. Both units are commonly used.

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matt 5th June 2018 - 5:42 pm

I have a small drone, HS200. I have batteries from a previous drone that fit, however they are much higher capacity. the HS200 drone uses a 3.7v 650mah battery and I have 5, 3.7v 1200Mah batteries. Can I use those batteries in the drone without an issue? I

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Oscar 5th June 2018 - 8:46 pm

You can use it, the voltage is the same. Only concern would be weight, the 1200mAh might be a bit heavy :) but give it a try :)

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Edu 17th May 2018 - 2:16 pm

Hi I got the hobbywing xrotor 2405 2850kv I have already seen how kill the battery in few minutes. I’m thinking to build KISS FC with MATEK PDB 184A, hobbywing 40A blheli 32 with these motors in a lighter freestyle frame. What battery do you recommend me? The weight of the quad will be probably 500g aprox. I would like the most possible time flying.
1500mah 4s 95C to up ? or better 1800mah?? I have tested 4S 1300mah 75C and 1500mah and killed all the batteries…

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joe fpv 13th May 2018 - 1:17 pm

Can i combine my 2s 1300mah with 2s 1500mah = it will be 4s in series mod but how about the may is it getting higher or dangerous??

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Oscar 14th May 2018 - 5:08 pm

If you are using batteries in series, they should be of the same model (same brand and same capacity) for maximum safety and performance.

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Danny 26th October 2017 - 10:14 am

Thanks for posting. I’ve spent the last hour trying to work out what the connectors on my set of 1s LiPos are. I am never disappointed when I visit your website, there’s always something new to learn or something of interest.

Thanks again.

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Bob Smith 20th October 2017 - 9:48 pm

Nice explanation and very thorough. It doesn’t actually solve my problem of what battery to buy. I know I want a 10000mAh x 6S battery and 20C is fine.
Now, what do I buy? Why are some batteries with the same superficial specifications $89 and others $300?
I know we can use hand waving terms like “quality” but ifs there a quantitative difference? Do the expensive ones last longer? Do they store charge when not used any differently?
What am I missing? This is a $200 per battery question.
cheers, Bob

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Oscar 24th October 2017 - 2:32 pm

Just like anything else, “more expensive” doesn’t equal to “better”.

But quality is actually one major factor when it comes to the price of the battery, how much they invest in the material, quality control, marketing etc…

It’s hard to know how good a battery is without actually use it. Too many manufacturers simply provide too little information or even false information on the box. The good thing is there are many battery testing and review online you can go and check out.

The general rule of thumb is, always buy from well known brands in the industry, you normally wouldn’t go wrong with it. At least if something goes wrong you still have a responsive and reliable customer support to go to. If you are not sure if a brand is legit, just ask on our forum (intofpv.com) !

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Andy 4th April 2023 - 3:33 pm

Thanks for a great article! When to land with 1s HV LIPo?

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Oscar 4th April 2023 - 3:54 pm

Same as LiPo really.

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Tom 7th October 2017 - 1:24 pm

Hi
I really like your website :)
I cant find one answer on my question anywhere.
as all my quad components can supports 2S-4S
I have 218mm frame with 2205 2300KV motors sometimes I want to put my gopro on it and make long fly
Let say I have 6 batteries (I just all made that up, they probably dont exist)

2s 2000mAh (150grams)
2s 3500mAh (200 grams)

3s 1500mAh (150grams)
3s 3000mAh (200 grams)

4s 1200mAh (150 grams)
4s 2300mAh (200 grams)

which one will give me longer fly time ?
I think that will help me understand :)

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Oscar 9th October 2017 - 2:25 pm Reply
Arun 6th April 2024 - 2:31 am

Thanks for giving very clear information

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Daniel 16th July 2017 - 12:17 am

Great article. One thing I’ve been wandering about is the optimal storage temperature for Lipos. You wrote “Store it at room temperature” but I’ve read posts that some people prefer to store their lipos in a fridge which supposedly prolongs lipo life. Chemically speaking this makes sense since colder temps slow down chemical reactions but I’m not sure if that’s also true for lipos.

Have you heard of such a thing and do you think there is any benefit storing your lipos in a fridge long-term?

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