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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 May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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