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Old Yesterday, 10:02 PM   #1
garyp1029
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Default Battery Swelling

An E-Flite 3200 Mah battery used in my Apprentice swelled this AM after a short flight. The plane and battery are about 5 months old. It is puffy to the touch. Since this is my first experience with this condition, I have some questions. (1) Is it safe to charge and use this battery? (I did successfully re-charge it at home after the flight). (2) If so, at what point do I discard it? (3) Is there any possibility that this is a temporary thing which will disappear? (4) Besides being expensive, are E-Flite batteries generally considered below average in life-span? Thanks. Gary
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Old Yesterday, 10:31 PM   #2
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As soon as it puffs its capacity and ability to deliver current are reduced.

Sometimes you can get away with using a slightly puffed pack but its a potential fire hazard and you have to carefully monitor it.

A pack that is badly puffed should be rendered inert and disposed of.
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Old Yesterday, 10:34 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by garyp1029 View Post
It is puffy to the touch. Since this is my first experience with this condition, I have some questions.
Puffing = Damage

Originally Posted by garyp1029 View Post
(1) Is it safe to charge and use this battery? (I did successfully re-charge it at home after the flight).
The answer is - maybe. It is a damaged pack. Will they accept a charge - usually, but that does not "fix" them.

Originally Posted by garyp1029 View Post
(2) If so, at what point do I discard it?
In my book now. Likely not worth the few more cycles they have now that they have been damaged.

I have used a few slightly puffy packs for a while, frankly, mostly as a test. If they are not ruptured (sweet smell) they will likely charge OK but the cell or cells that are puffed are damage and likely won't put out as well as the other cells. So it now causes them to be overworked. Now the other cells are stressed and go bad fairly quickly. You are luckly to get more than about 5 cycles before they just don't work all that well. I have a few exceptions to that but NONE have lasted more than about 30 cycles, with one cell puffed. They never perform up to spec in those flights either.

Originally Posted by garyp1029 View Post
(3) Is there any possibility that this is a temporary thing which will disappear?
Nope - they don't self heal.

Originally Posted by garyp1029 View Post
(4) Besides being expensive, are E-Flite batteries generally considered below average in life-span? Thanks. Gary
Hard to say - but they are not among my favorites.

But a cold, hard fact for you. There are not many places that make LiPoly cells our packs are assembled from. Eflite, ThunderPower, Zippy, Hyperion, Glacier, etc, etc, etc are not made by those vendors. They simply buy cells from the few factories that exist, and then they are made into packs.

Of note, they do have different qualities of cells in these places however. So it is really hard to determine who's are best as they likely all come from about 5-6 cell factories.

Note - I am not saying some packs don't perform better than others. That is very much the case but more often that not it depends on the actual cell, not the name stamped on the completed pack.

Mike
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Old Today, 01:26 AM   #4
flydiver
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All the above info is great.
IMO major PLANE manufacturers like Horizone & eflite tend to sell overpriced and underperforming lipos.

That said, as a new pilot you possibly contributed to it's 'early' demise.
There are lots and lots and lots of threads on battery care. There are also lots of contradictions as there SOME people that know what they are about and LOTS of men who think they do....but don't, who still are not shy about offering up their opinions. It's a problem to sort that out.
The 2 above...do know what they are talking about.

fly
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Old Today, 01:36 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by flydiver View Post
All the above info is great.
IMO major PLANE manufacturers like Horizone & eflite tend to sell overpriced and underperforming lipos.

That said, as a new pilot you possibly contributed to it's 'early' demise.
There are lots and lots and lots of threads on battery care. There are also lots of contradictions as there SOME people that know what they are about and LOTS of men who think they do....but don't, who still are not shy about offering up their opinions. It's a problem to sort that out.
The 2 above...do know what they are talking about.
One thing that seems to come up is flying those LiPo batteries until the ESC LVC (Low Voltage Cutoff) kicks in. Hopefully, those LVC's kick in before the voltage on the individual LiPo cells drops below the critical 3.0 Volts DC.

As for me, I never fly out more than about 70% of the battery during any flight. That leaves a cushion of power left, in case you need to do a go around, some one is on the field, someone is also landing, and so on. That is easily handled by using the flight timer on my DX8 transmitter.

On those A123's I use, the motor RPM only drops about 5 or 10% from full charge to 80% discharged.

DennyV
Retired and the days are just too short, busier than ever!
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Old Today, 02:04 AM   #6
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Sounds like stock E-Flite battery. Do not buy any more of them. Short story your battery is TOAST and in need of replacement. I have an Apprentice and I use three different batteries in them. These are some of the best money can buy and very affordable.

Glacier 2200 MAH
Glacier 2600 MAH
Glacier 3300 MAH

Even the 2200 will give you a good 10 minute flight time at 1/2 to 3/4 throttle. These batteries are under rated, cost far less then eflite, and will last at least 200 flights.

They will also make the plane fly a little faster because their rating are tru and will deliver more current.
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Old Today, 02:25 AM   #7
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I have been getting very good results from SkyLiPo batteries sold at Nitroplanes.com.

Certainly there are other good choices. also... but price to performance these have been the best I have tried so far.
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Old Today, 02:39 AM   #8
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As with many RTF planes the ESC setting in this one isn't very good especially if set at 74%.
At 74% and a full battery LVC is 9.3v. If you start with a lower voltage > bad news.

[Programmable low voltage cutoff with settings for 3-cell Li-Po (9.2V), 4-cell Li-Po (12V) or 74% of battery starting voltage]



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Old Today, 05:53 AM   #9
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Opinions always vary depending on how risk averse the individual. Personally if the swelling is very slight and the battery is performing well IMHO it's generally ok to use with caution, but make no mistake it is damaged. If the swelling is getting severe and/or the performance starts to drop off noticeably then dispose of it.

Usually premature swelling is caused by some or all of the following:
  • Over discharging regularly (Use a timer and aim for minimum 'resting' voltage of about 3.7v per cell after landing, do not fly to 'LVC')
  • Storing the battery fully charged (always store battery between 3.7 and 3.9v, never fully charged)
  • Keeping battery in very warm conditions (always keep in cool place out of direct sunlight)

Avoid all these things and battery life will be greatly increased.
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Old Today, 09:20 AM   #10
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Impact also can cause a battery to puff, such as a crash if the battery sits in the front, or a tumble that tosses a battery as a result. There is good reason why many who are into rc cars use hard case lipos, especially if the design of vehicles to do encase the lipos. A plane isn't exposed to these conditions, and if it is...well then you know what happens to that plane. Hard cases are clearly a bad option for planes, due to weight.

Charging above the max amps can likely cause puffing. Not balancing packs can easily cause issues too, as a charger charges to a certain voltage. Say if it is a 3s at 12.6V, well 4.0V, 4.4V and 4.2V adds up to 12.6V, but that 4.4V cell is damaged. I balance charge 99 times out of 100.

I would also suggest avoiding LVC, and using a timer on your radio if possible. I have never used a timer with planes, as I fly for a rough time of say 6 minutes, not flying to aggressively, but not just floating around, and if that pack is still over 8V (2s) I know I am safe for 6 minutes for higher throttle flights, and I can probably go a bit longer next time if I fly in a similar manner. For helis however, especially because I am learning a llot still, and you can't simply deadstick (autorotation seems a lot more difficult to me than deadsticking :P), I need to have a timer set actually under the manufacturers recommended settings to play it safe. If you do have times where you go into LVC, it should limit your throttle, not cut it, as long as you don't keep trying to force higher throttle, and you shouldn't have an issue bringing it down. Don't aim to do this, but it happens. It happened to me yesterday when a trucker decides to carelessly pulls into the area I am flying just before I want to land, ignorant to the fact that I clearly looking up to sky, and remains just as ignorant when I dive the plane not far from his window to give him the hint. He then asks questions about a place I don't know at all, then pulls away only to make a u-turn and again slowly block my "runway" before leaving. A good example of why to always land before LVC, because there are odd people out there, who would rather bug someone who is clearly busy, instead of pulling into my work, of which I was on break from at the time (hence why I was flying) and ask other truckers who probably know the place he is looking for. Sorry for the story, just some people.

Also. look at Hyperion batteries, they are good: http://www.hyperion-world.com/products/type/19
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