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Proper Care of Your Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium batteries are the leading battery technology in radio-controlled aircraft due to their light weight, high energy density, and long life. 

As with any battery technology, proper care must be taken when charging Li-ion batteries.  All rechargeable batteries, from the lead-acid battery in your car to the familiar NiCads, are potentially dangerous if charged improperly.  All types of batteries present potential fume, heat, and bursting hazards, usually stated clearly on a label and/or on an accompanying printed sheet.  Be aware and use proper care.

Charging lithium batteries is a simple procedure, but requires the correct level of voltage, a specified charge rate, etc.  Make sure that you read, understand, and follow the safety information provided with any type of battery you purchase and use. 

Make certain to charge any battery only according to the manufacturer's instructions, always using the charger built for that battery.  Avoid "universal" chargers that may not be built for the correct charge rate or voltage.

Below are some tips for maintaining your new lithium battery packs.

Since lithium-ion is different than nickel and cadmium-based batteries, how should we take care of lithium batteries?

1. Charge often.  Don't try to fully discharge the battery packs frequently. This only adds strain.  Several partial discharges (regular use) with frequent recharges are better for lithium-ion than one total discharge.

Recharging a partially charged lithium-ion battery pack does not cause any harm because it has no "memory".

2. Avoid heat.  Short battery life in model airplanes is more likely to be caused by heat rather than charge/discharge patterns.  Keep the lithium-ion battery cool. Avoid a hot car, for example.

3. Don't charge up the battery pack just to store it away.  When storing for long periods of time, keep the battery at a 40% charge level.  Consider removing the battery from a laptop when running on fixed power. (Some laptop manufacturers are concerned about dust and moisture accumulating inside the battery casing.)

4. Use the right charger.  By now you probably know that each kind of battery has its own technology, its own rate of charge and so on.  Charging lithium packs correctly is one way to extend their life and to avoid damage.  The NMP lithium-ion charger is designed specifically for charging the NMP lithium-ion battery pack safely, on the bench, in the field, or in the car.

5. Don't use old batteries.  Avoid purchasing spare lithium-ion batteries for later use.  While it makes perfect sense to have 2 or 3 extra battery packs, so that you always have a fresh one charged up and ready to go, it isn't a great idea to just buy up batteries and keep them around for years before using them.



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