Drones are likely packed away for winter, but now is the time to take them out to perform battery maintenance.
The chemistry inside lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries used to power most drones breaks down when kept at full or low charge levels for extended periods of time, reducing battery life and capacity.
A battery that is stored at a low charge for too long can become “bricked” — about as useful as brick for flying, explains Matthew Johnson of M3 Aerial, a UAV service company based in Winnipeg.
“The best way to manage your battery life is to charge your batteries to full every 1.5 to 2 months and then drain them back down…to about 45-50 percent, and that’s where you want to leave it. That’s a safe storage amount, and then you can store them away for another 1.5 to 2 months,” he advises.
That means if the last time a drone was flown was in October, the batteries are likely due to be re-charged and partially drained. Another maintenance cycle may be needed again in March, says Johnson.
Some brands, including DJI, have an automatic discharge feature if a drone isn’t flown for a certain number of days, but Johnson suggests not relying on this for long-term storage.
Charge the batteries until they’re full, and unless you have space to fly the drone indoors, let the drone rotors spin without throttling up, draining the batteries to the safe storage zone of 30 to 50 percent charged.
Listen to Johnson’s drone battery maintenance advice below (recorded at the Saskatoon airport this week while waiting for flights home from Crop Production Show and CropSphere):