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Lipo Safety: A Safety Guide for Using Lithium Polymer Battery Chargers

Lipo Safety: A Safety Guide for Using Lithium Polymer Battery Chargers

When it comes to lithium cell technology, the lithium polymer (LiPo or Li-poly) and the lithium ion (Li-ion) are significantly different from the commonly-used NiMH and NiCd batteries. There are various aspects to consider before you use lithium cells.

One of the most being safety. While every type of cell should be treated with caution due to energy contained in the batteries, once they are fully charged it is important to know that lithium cells contain the maximum in energy density. These batteries have unique qualities and require extremely specialized safety considerations.

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Charging Lithium Polymer Batteries

The lithium cells have to be charged in a very different way than the NiMh and NiCad batteries. These batteries require specialized chargers that are designed in a specific way in order to charge lithium polymer cells. One of the recommended chargers would be the TAHMAZO T26 charger; this is the type of charger that can be used on all cell types and is able to charge up to 10 LiPo cells. This charger features 10 battery memories, which makes it far easier to utilize.

Typically any type of charger that is able to charge the lithium ion will be able to charge the lithium polymer, making sure that the batteries in question have the correct cell count. It is extremely important to note that a NiMh or NiCad-only battery charger is never used to charge the lithium cells because charging the cells is dangerous when using the lithium batteries.

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Manufacturers and experts all recommend extreme caution when charging these cell types.[1] One of the first steps in preparing the charger for lithium cells is to make sure the charger has been set to the right cell count or voltage. If this step is missed the battery could potentially burst into violent flames. To date there have been numerous fires that have been caused directly from lithium batteries. For this reason it is now a standard practice that anyone wishing to use lithium polymer batteries should be aware of how to charge the cells and the safety precautions involved.

Below are the guidelines for charging and using lithium polymer batteries:[2]

  • Only use the chargers that have been approved for use with lithium batteries. These chargers should be designed for use on Li-Ion and Li-Poly.
  • The correct cell-count must be set on the charger. If the user is not informed on how to perform this operation it is advisable to rather use a charger that you do know how to operate or not charge the batteries at all.
  • Make sure to balance charge your new lithium battery for the next couple of cycles. After that you can do it every 10th cycle. This is vital due to the risk of a pack that has become unbalanced, thus having the potential to explode. If each of the cells is showing a reading that they are not within at least 0.1 volt to one another, the user needs to charge each of the cells separately up to 4.2 volts, which means they will all be equal. If after the period of each discharge the lithium pack shows up unbalanced, one of the cells are more than likely faulty and the entire pack will need to be replaced. (Of course, some lithium packs are different and will require a different amount of volts for recharging.)
  • The batteries and the charger need to be placed onto surfaces that are safe before charging the batteries, which means that if they do catch on fire damages can be contained. Some of the suggestions include fireplaces, Pyrex dishes that are filled with sand or a vented fire safe.
  • The batteries should never be charged for more than an hour at a time. Exceeding this time significantly increases the chances of a fire.
  • If one of the cells happens to balloon while on charge, the cell should not be punctured while still hot. This will cause a short circuit resulting in overheating. After you have let the cell sit in a fire safe place for at least 2 hours. Discharge the cell/pack slowly by wiring a flashlight bulb of appropriate voltage (higher voltage is ok, lower voltage is no) up to your batteries connector type and attaching the bulb to the battery. Wait until the light is completely off, then throw the battery away. This is an important step to do so the cell is safe enough to throw away.
  • The batteries should only be charged in ventilated and open areas. (In the case of a battery rupturing or exploding they will emit dangerous material and fumes.)
  • When charging lithium batteries, keep a bucket of sand nearby. This is a cost effective way to extinguish fires. It is very cheap and absolutely necessary.

(Also make sure to check out this battery disposal guide for information regarding instructions and regulations about battery disposal.)

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Final Thoughts

When it comes to handling lithium polymer batteries with care it is important for any user to realize that these batteries can be extremely dangerous. It is very important to follow these safety tips and ensure that the right charger is used.

Featured photo credit: Hexcam via dronetraining.co.uk

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Reference

[1] Battery University: Lithium-ion Safety Concerns
[2] Sydney Radio Control Society: October 2006 Newsletter

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Elise Bauer

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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