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How to Tell If a LiPo Battery Is Bad?

How to Tell If a LiPo Battery Is Bad?

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Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries are used in most consumer electronics such as radio due to their high power and long run times. They have lightweight, available in any shape and size, have higher capacities and discharge rates.

On the other hand, LiPo batteries require special care during storage and charging for they react to chemicals and can cause fire easily if they get mechanical damages.

The LiPo battery has a discharge cycle of 400-500 cycles.

How Do You Know If Lipo Battery Is Damaged?

LiPo battery or cells are damaged when they show any unusual features. They include;

  • Damaged plastic cell envelope or visible deformities on the package of the cell.
  • The smell of leaking electrolyte. A physically compromised LiPo battery may have a leaking electrolyte solution. The liquid is acidic in nature, and it may destroy your electronics, while the leaking gases can ignite because they are flammable.
  • Unusually high internal resistance (IR). There are several factors that affect IR; they include the quality of the cells, capacity, chemical properties, temperature, age, voltage, and discharge rating. Therefore, the IR of a larger battery is low, but when you measure it and find out that it is abnormally high, then the cell is damaged.
  • Dented corners.
  • Puffing or swelling shows that the battery is damaged, and therefore you should discontinue discharging or charging immediately. Further, swollen cells have a higher IR; thus, you should stop using the entire pack immediately.
  • Damaged LiPo batteries get puffy, and releases smoke when charging. These signs show that they can ignite at any time.

A healthy LiPo battery should not have any of the above signs. Therefore, you should stop using these cells and dispose of them properly. Don’t store these batteries either. They can explode and cause serious injuries or damages to your personal property.

Users should avoid purchasing used batteries since they could be severely damaged.

How Do You Know If Lipo Battery Is Puffed?

LiPo puffing is the swelling that you notice on the battery or cell. Puffing occurs when the electrolyte forms gas through the process of electrolyte decomposition. It happens when the electrolyte breakdowns into lithium and oxygen or lithium oxide. The compound then settles on the cell cathodes and anodes based on whether you discharged or overcharged them.

 

Therefore, puffing takes place when a considerable amount of oxygen is released during the chemical breakdown. Electrolyte decomposition may produce other compounds and elements like CO2. The puffing is accelerated by how you discharge the battery, the frequency of charging it, storage, quality of the packs, age, and the amount of heat they release when in use.

Therefore, a LiPo cell or battery will begin puffing due to an abusive use or slowly over the years. These batteries can even start puffing when they are not in use and are in charged state or fully discharged.

On the other hand, you can continue using these batteries if the LiPo puffing is minor and goes off when the pack cools down. However, you need to keep the swelling in check and discontinue using the battery if the swelling continues.

The following are tips for delaying puffing.

  • Always use the official charger that was bought with the battery because less expensive chargers have no voltage requirements rating, and this can contribute to over-charging.
  • Avoid over-charging or discharging a battery. Discharge LiPo batteries when fully charged for they start overheating quickly, and this contributes to electrolytic decomposition. On the other hand, don't completely drain the LiPo batteries.
  • Always use the LiPo batteries polymer laminated case. However, these cases may not prevent mechanical damages caused by dropping.
  • Avoid LiPo batteries with small punctures because they are easily flammable.
  • Keep your batteries in a cool place to delay electrolytic decomposition.

How Do You Know If You Need To Buy A New Lipo Battery?

You should replace old LiPo battery or cell when they begin swelling, which doesn't go away even when the battery is not in use. Although the battery may last a few more months, the swelling is an indication that you need a new battery.

Replace old batteries with reduced capacity. Most manufacturers recommend that you should replace a battery when it begins to hold only 80% of its initial capacity. A new battery will eliminate risks such as explosion and will give you a better performance.

You should dispose of a swollen battery properly to avoid causing injuries and damages to your property. However, you need to discharge the battery completely before disposing of. Hook a puffed battery to an electrical load such as a resistor or a 20W halogen bulb to discharge it. You can also hasten the discharging process by hooking up several bulbs. The battery is fully discharged when no bulb is lighting. Drop the discharge battery to a battery recycling facility.

The following tips will improve the lifespan of your LiPo batteries.

  • Use a quality charge on your new battery. It's essential to charge the battery when it's in the LiPo bag.
  • Never use or charge batteries when they are warm because heat kills them. Therefore, allow the battery to cool off before charging and give it time to cool after charging before using it.
  • Stop using your battery when it reaches the minimum-cut-off voltage.
  • Avoid storing your battery in a hot place, such as on the trunk of your car in warm months. You should also store them at the right storage voltage since swelling begins 4 hours when the battery has more than 80% charge.

Final Thoughts

LiPo batteries are prone to catching fire, mechanical damage, or puffing prematurely. It takes more effort to care for these batteries because you need to store them when partially charged, in a cool place, and protect them from any physical damages.

You should stop using a LiPo battery when it begins to swell, for it can't hold the required about the charge. Discard these cells using the proper battery disposal practices after fully discharging them.

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