Estimated reading time: 15 minutes
The quality and value of your drone are best defined by the quality of its battery. If the battery lasts only a few minutes before it goes flat, then even the cost of the drone will be low. Such drones only allow you to fly them for not more than 10 minutes. It’s not so with drones whose batteries last for about 30 minutes before they go flat.
Today, therefore, our main focus will be on drone batteries – we have a complete guide for you. Drone batteries vary based on quality, cost, and performance. There are four drone battery types; namely,
- Nickel Cadmium
- Lithium High Voltage
Based on whether you’re using a charging hub or a USB charging cable, it takes about 60 to 90 minutes to charge drones.
You can’t stop reading at this point as there is much more, for example, how batteries work. So, keep reading.
Table of contents
- What Kind of Batteries Do Drones Use?
- How to Select a Suitable Drone Battery?
- How Long Does a Drone Battery Last?
- What Affects Drone Battery Life?
- Can You Extend Your Drone’s Battery Life?
- How Long Can you Charge a Drone Battery?
- Factors Influencing Charging Times:
- Does a Drone Battery Discharge When Not Working?
- Tips for Storing Drone Batteries When Not In Use:
- Final Word:
What Kind of Batteries Do Drones Use?
Understanding the different types of batteries helps know how they affect flight time.
Below, we discuss the types of drone batteries. Read below each of the four types and how they function.
1. Lithium-Polymer (LiPo):
This is the most popular and the best drone battery in the current market.
The LiPo battery features linear discharge rates that enable the inbuilt computers to determine the drone’s flight time effortlessly.
Even though it’s compact and lightweight, it has a large energy capacity to operate any drone.
Moreover, it has a slower discharge rate which means it can prolong its charge even when not working. This is useful because you can stay for long without using them and not worry about damage.
However, the Lithium-Polymer doesn’t function properly in cold weather.
2. Nickel Cadmium (NiCad):
Nickel Cadmium came before the advanced LiPo batteries.
Typically, the reason for advancement is that the NiCad batteries don’t discharge energy quickly and effortlessly as the LiPo batteries.
Moreover, Nickel Cadmium batteries have a small energy capacity which makes them unable to hold a charge for long; hence shorter life expectancy. Still, their heavyweight causes faster energy loss.
3. Lithium High Voltage (LiHv):
Compared to the 4.2V power of LiPo batteries, LiHv drone batteries feature a more extensive energy capacity of 4.35V.
However, the high voltage drops when discharged. You will likely find the Lithium High Voltage batteries in Nano drones because they function well with high voltage.
You should know that some manufacturers like DJI create brand-specific drone batteries. So, it’s nearly impossible to find any drone battery that would work well with DJI drones and can display warning signs or even refuse to function.
How to Select a Suitable Drone Battery?
The truth is that without batteries, drones cannot function. But how can you know the best battery for your drone?
Let’s explore crucial factors you must pay attention to when buying drone batteries.
Usually, battery size determines its capacity. Large batteries have more capacity to store energy for a flight.
While this is good, you should know that large batteries are also weighty. Heavy batteries result in poor performance and reduce flight time.
So, in choosing the battery size, bear in mind the capacity in terms of the drone’s weight.
The cell count or battery voltage is equal to the motor’s power. A battery with high voltage causes the drone’s motor to produce more power but is also heavy.
If you wish to increase the voltage of your batteries, connect them in series.
Additionally, the motor thrust data helps you buy batteries with perfect voltage. Thus, it becomes easy to know how many batteries would suit the performance of your drone.
However, always consult the manufacturer on the correct number of batteries for your drone.
Replacing a drone battery is easy because of the connector. Plus, you can effortlessly DIY a drone thanks to the connector.
Nonetheless, ensure you decide compatible connectors to your drone type for efficient performance.
The drone’s battery C-rating lets you know the highest current for your battery to discharge safely.
When the discharge rate is high, it means your drone functions faster with more potent. This is because it hovers with less throttle energy while full throttle works on high current intensity.
Check, therefore, the motor specification to establish the maximum current received.
Though last on the list, this factor is very crucial.
A reliable brand of drone batteries ensures ongoing and efficient use. Even with several brands available in the market, the difference lies in performance and quality.
Undeniably, poor-quality drone batteries result in inefficient drone performance. If you’re new to drones, you can check reviews on different brands before purchasing.
Generally, ensure you buy reliable, safe, quality, and durable drone batteries.
How Long Does a Drone Battery Last?
Drone batteries last depending on the drone quality. Typically, the battery life of high-quality drones is around 20 minutes, mid-range is about 15 minutes, and lower quality is 10 minutes. Moreover, professional drones have a battery life ranging from 20-30 minutes.
When buying a drone, battery life is crucial since it determines the time you have to use your drone in photography, inspection, mapping, and rescue.
Still, numerous factors affect the battery life of a drone. Learn more from the section below.
What Affects Drone Battery Life?
As stated, a good and extended flight time has many benefits. Frequent charging of a drone’s battery is time-wasting and drains out the fun of using a drone.
Some people buy several batteries. However, it’s costly in terms of price and maintenance. You’ll have to ensure they all stay charged when you want to use them.
Let’s discuss the various factors of drone time or battery life;
Different drone models have distinct batteries in terms of size. However, drones using powerful batteries tend to fly longer.
However, the more you use your drone, the weaker the batteries become. Therefore, it’s essential to learn basic battery maintenance to ensure your drone batteries serve you longer.
LiPo drone batteries are more durable than other types of batteries. Because they store charge longer, it takes a long time before they start to degrade.
Though they are more expensive, you can’t compare longer flight times with a low price. It’s a matter of getting what you pay for!
To maintain a stable flight, it’s essential for heavy drones to use more power as this avoids cases of crashing. With more power, the drones can take off the ground effectively and easily.
Better put, flight time directly affects battery usage, resultantly affecting flight time. That’s why manufacturers make small and lightweight drones.
On the other hand, a light drone is stress-free to transport. The same applies to storage and flying time – this category flies longer.
The number of drone motors also determines the drone’s weight and overall battery life. If your drone features several motors, it needs more power to fly. This types of drone feature a larger surface, not to mention that it uses more battery, too.
For most manufacturers, the drone size determines what’s the right size for drones. In other words, they’ll manufacture bigger batteries for bigger drones but smaller batteries for smaller drones.
The more extras a drone battery features the heavier it is. Consequently, the drone flight time and battery life reduce.
Most drone owners add other features to their drones like a recorder, camera, and sensor. These extras make the drone heavier and use more battery energy to maintain a flight. In the end, you get reduced flight time.
Can You Extend Your Drone’s Battery Life?
Now that you know what affects the drone’s flight time, it would help to find ways of extending the battery life. Besides, short battery life is equal to reduced flight time.
So, here are several ways to prolong your drone’s battery life;
Upgrade to a Better Battery:
A better battery is one with a higher capacity than what you have. If your drone’s battery life is disappointing, you can always replace it with a better one from the aftermarket.
Above all, watch out for the battery’s weight in the upgrade. A heavy battery drains faster and reduces the flight time since it makes the drone heavier.
Remember that an upgrade may cost you more but saves power and a longer flight time.
Carry Extra Batteries:
Backup batteries are another way to give you longer and better drone flight times. With extra batteries, you’re sure not to run out of energy to continue working with your drone.
But, not just any backup is efficient. It would be best if you bought high-capacity batteries to prolong your flight time to a period that makes sense.
Moreover, it would be best to go for backup batteries that last as long as 20 minutes than the ordinary 5 minutes per battery.
Full Charge before Flight:
As a general rule, fly your drone with a fully charged battery. First, beginning your flight on a full charge is healthy for your battery and provides a longer flight time.
Some batteries like the LiPo start to discharge after you unplug from the charger. Hence, it’s ideal to use them immediately in flying your drone to keep it in the air longer.
Still, your backup batteries need to charge until they are ready to use fully. So, find a charger that can charge more batteries at once because it takes longer to charge than to use.
Maintain your Battery:
Caring for your drone battery provides extended and better flight times. But, how do you maintain your drone battery?
Have a look at the best drone battery maintenance tips below;
- Please don’t use your battery until it’s entirely down. Some drone batteries like LiPo deteriorate once you unplug from the charger. Others are more intelligent and don’t allow you to use them until they dry out. Better still, the intelligent batteries don’t risk causing drone accidents when they start running low.
- Don’t freeze your drone battery. Freezing your drone battery compromises the chemical content. When it freezes, dispose of and replace the battery immediately.
- Give your battery some time to cool before you recharge. Avoid uninstalling it from the drone and taking it straight to the charger.
- Avoid powering on your drone before you install the battery. When you want to install a drone battery, start by powering on the controller, then install the battery. Lastly, turn on the drone by powering the battery.
- Do not uninstall a battery from a powered drone. First, turn off the drone battery, remove it, and then power off the controller. If you would like to change the battery in the middle of a flight, turn off the battery before changing. Also, ensure you install the new one securely before you power it on.
- Before storing your drone battery, ensure it has about 65% of charge. Store it in a cool and dry place, preferably away from pets and children. It would help if you didn’t store your battery with full or deficient charge because the battery cells can ultimately damage it. Consequently, damaged battery cells make the whole battery unusable.
Fly In the Right Weather:
Even though flying a drone is fun, there are proper conditions to enjoy your flight time.
Preferably, fly your drone when the weather is calm and bright. Only waterproof drones can fly in the rain, snow, or fog.
Nonetheless, flying in the rain drains the drone’s battery faster and is likely to cause permanent damage if moisture gets in the drone motor.
A LiPo drone battery doesn’t function as desired in cold weather because it uses more energy to maintain a reasonable flight time.
Additionally, scorching weather is inappropriate to fly your drone as it causes the motors to strain in creating lift. The strain ends up using more battery energy quickly.
Conversely, windy weather is also not a good time to fly your drone. Strong wind over 20mph causes unstable drone flight and makes it work hard to stabilize. Besides, strong winds will likely blow away or crash your drone into buildings, water bodies, or trees.
Unnecessary weight should go! It would be the best only to add crucial features for a specific flight. For instance, if you have a drone with a removable camera, but you’re not going to take photos and videos, don’t add the camera.
The camera adds more weight which causes the battery to drain faster in trying to fly the drone.
Even though prop guards help a beginner protect the drone from a possible crash, they add unnecessary weight to the drone. After more experience, get rid of the prop guards to ensure you fly a lighter drone for longer.
Use Proper Flight Modes:
Most drone pilots for racing drones agree there’s nothing as exciting as high speed. However, the higher speed uses up the battery quickly.
If you are not racing, consider flying your drone in energy-saving mode. This way, you reduce battery usage and prolong the flight time.
A pro-tip for maintaining your battery in the best condition is to charge it fully after every three months. This works best for those who don’t use their drones regularly and have them stored away.
How Long Can you Charge a Drone Battery?
Averagely, it takes about 70 minutes to charge a drone battery. The charging period depends on the battery’s size, age, and condition.
Let’s expound further; for mid-level consumer drones, it takes longer to charge the big batteries. So, it can take approximately 2.5 hours to charge your drone battery fully.
Conversely, high-end consumer drones have more powerful batteries and charge somewhat faster. It takes 80 minutes to charge a high-end consumer drone fully.
Additionally, there’s more to charge in your drone besides the batteries. Most probably, your controller also requires recharging. For toy drones, the controllers use an AA battery size.
So, if your drone has a rechargeable controller, add it to the total charging time. Usually, controllers take longer to charge and don’t run out of charge quickly.
Factors Influencing Charging Times:
Different drones have varied charging times. Why is that?
Let’s look at the factors influencing different battery charging times.
Size of the Battery:
Commonly, large drones feature large batteries because the batteries have a high capacity to power them.
However, charging large batteries takes longer than small ones. Plus, you must wait for the battery to charge to be ready for use.
Similar to your smartphone, most drone batteries charge differently. The charging system is vital in determining the amount and speed of power getting into the drone battery.
For instance, a model like DJI Mavic Mini can charge in two ways- via USB cable and a dual charging hub.
The USB cable charges the drone battery up to 18 watts, whereas the dual charging hub gives the battery 29 watts of power. Subsequently, the dual charging hub is faster and has more power.
Drone batteries charge differently depending on the temperature conditions. The immediate environment can have harsh temperatures that negatively affect the charging time of the batteries.
If possible, it would help not to charge your drone’s batteries in extremely cold or hot temperatures since the charging time prolongs and may damage the battery.
Is It Okay To Overcharge Your Drone Battery?
No, It’s inappropriate to overcharge your drone battery. Overcharging your drone battery shortens the battery life, leading to reduced flight time. It also causes the battery to overheat and even catch fire.
Sometimes, people think overcharging their battery adds even a few more minutes to the usual flight time. But the truth couldn’t be any farther.
However, it’s common for people to forget their drone batteries in the charger, which leads to overcharging.
So if your drone doesn’t have the intelligent flight battery to cut the power when it’s fully charged, avoid charging the battery longer after it shows it’s complete. But how can you tell it’s full?
When it’s charging, the LED starts to blink green when the charge is filling up. Then a solid green appears after a short while, indicating the batteries are full. Unplug the batteries from the charging system when the charging is complete.
Does a Drone Battery Discharge When Not Working?
Drone batteries start to discharge if you don’t use them after a day or more. However, your battery is not faulty.
It’s normal for most drone batteries to discharge if you are not flying the drone, as this helps them protect the battery cells.
When the batteries fail to discharge, the battery cells begin to swell gradually. In the end, the battery might explode or be damaged, so you can’t use them again. This is too bad if they are the expensive LiPo type.
So, if you’re not planning to use your drone for some time, discharge the batteries to about 65% before storage.
In intelligent drone batteries, the auto-discharge feature ensures that there’s some reasonable level of charge left in the battery when not in use.
Tips for Storing Drone Batteries When Not In Use:
Here’s how to store your drone batteries when not in use. These tips help prolong the battery’s life:
- Store them in a cool and dry place at approximately 71-82 ̊F
- Keep off the batteries from a heat source and liquids.
- If you want the drone for more than ten days, discharge the batteries up to 65%.
- Don’t store drone batteries below 10% because the battery cells will damage when they discharge.
- If you’re not planning to use the drone for a long time, uninstall the batteries entirely from the drone and store them in the recommended conditions.
Without a doubt, drone batteries have remarkably evolved. Now, drone pilots can enjoy longer battery life and better flight times.
The LiPo kind is more robust, durable, and reliable from the profound guide on drone batteries. However, when used and stored, all drone batteries require utmost care and maintenance.
It’s also important to note that mistreating drone batteries can cause severe damage to the battery’s health and the drone as a whole.