DEANS® Tech Bench - Enhancing Battery Usage


Understanding how to use and care for RC (Radio Controlled) and autonomous vehicle batteries, particularly LiPo (Lithium Polymer) batteries, is crucial for both performance and longevity. This guide delves into the technical aspects, including the impact of temperature, depth of discharge, and resistance on battery life and performance. We also explore best practices for storage and usage to maximize battery lifespan and efficiency.

Temperature and Battery Performance

Batteries perform better at higher temperatures because of increased electrochemical activity. However, this improvement in performance comes at the cost of reduced lifespan. Higher temperatures accelerate the rate of chemical reactions inside the battery, leading to faster degradation of battery components. While higher temperatures can enhance performance in the short term, they also speed up wear and tear, ultimately reducing the battery’s overall life.

Depth of Discharge (DoD) and Cycles

The depth of discharge significantly affects battery longevity. Deeper discharges place more stress on the battery, shortening its lifespan. Reducing the depth of discharge can substantially increase the number of charge cycles a battery can handle. For example, discharging a battery to 50% of its capacity can yield more than twice the number of cycles compared to discharging it fully.

Resistance and Heat

The resistance within the battery and its connections (solder, wire, and connectors) also impacts performance. As the battery discharges and temperature rises, resistance increases, leading to greater voltage drops and heat generation. Excessive heat can cause solder joints to weaken and wires to degrade, further increasing resistance and compounding the problem.

Storage and Charging Practices

Storing batteries at a lower state of charge (SoC) and in cool environments can extend their life. The recommended storage charge level is typically around 50-60%. Cooler temperatures slow down the chemical reactions within the battery, reducing the rate of degradation.

Charging practices are also crucial for battery longevity. Charging to 100% of the battery's capacity can stress the battery, while charging to 90% can significantly extend its life.

Practical Implications for Users

For competitive racing, using new batteries for each run ensures peak performance but is not practical for occasional users. Instead, following these guidelines can help:

1. Charge to Optimal Levels: Aim for 90% charge for regular use and 60% for extended storage.
2. Manage Discharge Depth: Avoid deep discharges by switching batteries more frequently. For instance, use only 10% of the battery's capacity between runs if possible.

By understanding and applying these principles, both designers and users can optimize battery performance and lifespan effectively.
Back to blog