How Long Does A Drone Battery Last

How Long Does A Drone Battery Last?

My friends would often mock my obsession with battery care. But in a few months, the ridicule turned to curiosity.

That’s because my drone battery outlasted theirs and consistently performed better!

Before delving into my tried and tested battery rituals, let’s answer the question- how long do drone batteries last?

Eighteen months to 2 years is the expected lifetime. But this is subject to battery type, usage, and maintenance.

A drone’s battery is its main source of power. It will impact the flight time as well as the overall performance of your drone. As such, battery health must never be taken lightly.

If you want to learn how to extend drone battery life, then I’m here to help. Read on as I explain drone batteries and reveal the secrets to their long life.

What Are The Factors Influencing Drone Battery Life?

What Are The Factors Influencing Drone Battery Life

The answer to the question how long do drone batteries typically last cannot be direct. That’s because drone battery lifespan hinges on various elements.

Let’s unravel these one by one to understand the factors affecting drone battery life. I will also be answering the question- What is the average lifespan of different types of drone batteries?

A. Battery Type and Chemistry

Currently, most drones use lithium-based rechargeable batteries. But for the sake of information, I will discuss the three main drone battery types below.

·      Lithium Polymer Battery (LiPo)

The most commonly used battery at present is the LiPo battery. All DJI drones use it, although they are custom-made by the manufacturer for use in DJI drones.

These batteries offer a high energy-to-weight ratio, which ranges between 260-270 wh/kg. They are lightweight, high-density, and rechargeable.

All these qualities make them ideal for drones.

The drawback is that these batteries are very high maintenance. They need proper care and handling to avoid damage.

·      Lithium Ion Battery (Li-ion)

Li-ion batteries are often used in professional or industrial-grade drone models. They have a long lifespan and offer high energy density.

Now you must be thinking – what are the differences between LiPo and Li-ion drone batteries?

In Li-ion batteries, the electrolyte between the cathode and anode is a liquid. Meanwhile, in LiPo batteries, this electrolyte is a graphene polymer.

You can gather more technical details on these two battery types here.

·      Nickel-Cadmium Battery (NiCd)

In NiCd batteries, nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium are used as electrodes. They were widely used in older drone models but are now almost obsolete.

They have a high discharge rate, and their capacity weakens over time if they are not fully discharged before recharging.

B. Drone Model and Usage

The type of drone and usage patterns also influence battery life. A professional-grade or industrial drone consumes more power than a regular drone.

The weight of the drone model will also determine power consumption. Drones with payloads like cameras, gimbals, etc., are heavier in weight.

More battery power will be needed to support the weight and keep the drone airborne.

Usage refers to the manner and condition in which drones are flown. If you are an adventurous pilot, you must wonder – can flying conditions affect the lifespan of drone batteries?

Yes, flying in extreme temperatures and inclement weather conditions negatively impacts the drone battery life.

This is because batteries are very sensitive to heat. They can lose efficiency and capacity sooner if you fly or store the drone in high temperatures.

Heavy rain, fog, and snow are also to be avoided as well if you care for your drone battery. The moisture can enter the battery compartment and corrode the nodes.

This will cause your battery to age prematurely. Read more on that in my previous blog. 

Additionally, sharp turns and flying at high altitudes also consumes more battery power. If you frequently fly your drone in these conditions, the battery will wear and tear fast. 

Understanding Drone Battery Capacity

In scientific terms, battery capacity refers to the total amount of electricity generated by the electrochemical reactions in the battery. It is measured in ampere-hours (Ahr), watt-hours (Wh), or kilowatt-hours (kWh). 

The higher the capacity rating, the longer a battery can power the device. Hence, the drone battery capacity and flight time are directly proportional.

However, batteries with large capacity also tend to weigh more. And if the overall weight of the drone increases, its range reduces.

So, besides capacity, the weight and energy density of batteries are also important considerations.

Average Lifespan of Drone Batteries

The expected battery lifetime varies depending on its type used in the drone. The life of batteries is measured in years or charge cycles.

Li-ion and LiPo Batteries last around 2-3 years or 300-500 charge cycles. It is highly advised to replace batteries as soon as there is a drop in performance.

How To Extend Drone Battery Life?

How To Extend Drone Battery Life

Now for the tips, I promise you can put these to use to increase your battery life. Most of them are quick and easy to follow.

Like they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. So, I’m sharing my treasured practices, but it all depends on how religiously you follow them!

1. Proper Charging Practices

If you are wondering – what are the best practices for charging drone batteries? Then these pointers will answer your query:

–   Never leave the battery charging once it is fully charged. Especially with LiPo batteries, as they are very sensitive to heat. Overcharging generates heat, which can cause permanent damage.

–   Do not charge batteries immediately after a flight. Allow them to cool down before plugging in.

–   Avoid third-party chargers. Incompatible chargers might not offer the appropriate amount of charge, thus damaging the cells. Battery terminal damage can also occur because of misalignment.

Follow these charging practices for drone batteries, and you are bound to get optimal output.

2. Storage Guidelines

–   If you store batteries in the 71.6°F and 86°F range, it helps prevent capacity loss. I understand it is not always possible to adhere to this temperature range.

But this should serve as a guideline so one can avoid extreme temperatures like leaving your batteries inside the car or in the sun for too long.

–   Now I answer the question a lot of us might have – how should I store my drone batteries during periods of inactivity? Remove the batteries from the drone when storing drone batteries during inactivity.

–   Keep them away from humid areas and store in a cool and dry place.

–   Avoid storing the battery at full charge; instead, discharge them for sometime and keep the charge at 50-60% when storing for long periods.

3. Firmware Updates For Drone Batteries

Most people are unsure about answering this query – Do firmware updates really impact drone battery performance? I’d clear this for you.

Yes, they do. Keeping your battery updated to the latest firmware version is an important step in battery care. 

Both software and battery updates are available on the drone app. You can set up an update notification or check manually in the app to ensure you are on the latest firmware.

How To Test And Monitor Battery Health?

How To Test And Monitor Battery Health

The drone app is where you can gather crucial information about battery health. Here, you will see details about performance and potential issues or irregularities.

Checking battery voltage is the simplest way of testing drone battery health. Using a multimeter or dedicated tester, check the voltage of a fully charged battery.

It should be close to 3.7 V per cell (for LiPo batteries).

Another way to test is to monitor the battery metrics while the drone is flying. You can use a telemetry system or an onboard display to check various factors like voltage, current, and capacity.

Lastly, carry out a visual inspection regularly. Now you might ask me – are there signs that indicate drone battery degradation? Of course, there are visible cues!

  • The battery should not have any bulges, cracks, or leaks.
  • A damaged battery is prone to explosion, so discard it immediately.
  • Other than the battery, keep an eye on the wires and connectors for any signs of impairment.

If you are flying DJI drones, find the manufacturer’s guidelines for the customized smart batteries in the Mavic Series and Phantom Series in the links.

When To Replace Drone Batteries?

When To Replace Drone Batteries

Sadly, even the best of care will not keep your batteries going forever. So, when is the right time to replace a drone battery?

If you notice the following, then it is time to get a new set:

–   Visual damage like leaking, bulging, dent, cracks, etc.

–   Disfigured terminals

–   A battery damage or over-discharge prompt on the app

–   Completion of 200 charging cycles

–   Battery errors, as shown by the app

–   After a drone crash or hard impact

Flying your drone with a damaged battery can have severe consequences. The drone might perform a forced landing or crash unexpectedly in such situations.

Conclusion

As long as your drone’s power source, i.e., the battery, is perfect, the drone will perform optimally. Therefore, I cannot stress enough on the importance of battery health.

Making battery maintenance a part of your daily drone care routine will ensure you get your money’s worth, too! So, save these tips and make the most of your drone batteries.

FAQ

1. How do usage patterns impact drone battery life?

If you fly your drone aggressively or in inclement weather, then it can consume excessive power. This affects battery health and could reduce its lifespan.

2. Why are LiPo batteries preferred for consumer drones?

LiPo batteries are lightweight, possess high energy density, and have high discharge rates. This makes them suitable for consumer drones.

3. Can I fly my drone with low battery strength?

If the battery strength of your drone is less than 20%, then it can lead to an emergency landing or crash. Since the battery experiences undue stress, its longevity is also affected.

4. I have many old drone batteries with me. How to dispose them of?

Don’t toss batteries in the bin; it harms the environment. It’s better to recycle them by sending them to a proper waste disposal facility.

Author
Diptesh Das

Diptesh Das is your friendly ‘content maniac’ and drone enthusiastic! Being passionate about content writing. He is a firm believer of the power of words and thereby ended up leveraging them to create an impact by sharing his drone knowledge and experiences.

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