LiPo Battery Packs for Racing Drones Explained | Drone Racing Report | Vol 7

Most racing drones and RC products use LiPo batteries, which stands for Lithium Polymer Also called a “pack” by pilots, this type of battery is favored due to its light weight combined with high output

Normally rectangular in shape, they vary in size depending on the number of cells and capacity There are one or two leads to connect to your drone and battery charger, depending on the size and type of battery LiPo batteries have three main ratings listed on the side: the cell count and voltage, the “C-rating”, and the battery capacity The LiPo batteries used in racing drones are normally characterized by the number of cells in the battery A 2s battery has two cells, a 3s three cells, and so on

The nominal voltage for each cell is a standard 37 volts, and the total voltage for the battery is the combined voltage of all the cells Therefore, a 1s battery has 37V, a 2s battery has 74v, and so on

When choosing a battery or deciding to add a cell to your custom racing quad, it is important to know the maximum voltage supported by your components, such as the motors and flight controller Exceeding the maximum recommended voltage for these parts can damage them permanently While 37v is the NOMINAL voltage of a cell, LiPo’s will operate between 3v and 42v depending on the charge

It goes without saying that overcharging a battery is a bad idea, not to mention unsafe But you also want to make sure you avoid discharging a cell below 3V, as this can harm performance and damage the battery permanently Most manufacturers as well as experienced pilots would recommend landing when your cell voltage gets to 35V Keep in mind that this voltage is for each cell, so a 2s battery reaches critical voltage at 7v, a 3s at 10

5v, and so forth Many Ready-To-Fly and Bind ‘N Fly racing drones incorporate some type of low-voltage warning or auto-land feature when reaching critical voltage If you are building and flying a custom racing drone, it is highly recommended to add a LiPo battery buzzer or alarm Many flight controllers and FPV cameras now incorporate a voltage sensor, known as “VBAT” This displays the actual voltage of the pack on the OSD or FPV goggles for easy monitoring

The C-Rating on LiPo batteries tells you the safe discharge rate of the battery If using a battery with a low C-Rating, you will have performance issues such as underpowered motors On the flip side, having a C-rating higher than what you need will add weight and lower your flight time Some batteries have a second C-Rating, also known as the “burst” rating This tells you the maximum current output of the battery in a short burst

While useful when choosing a battery, the C-rating can sometimes be misleading as it has been somewhat abused by manufacturers in order to sell more batteries This is especially true with the cheaper products We recommend checking online reviews to find out about real-world performance compared to the listed ratings Usually the largest and most conspicuous number on a LiPo battery, the capacity is denoted in milli-amp hours, or mAh In simple terms, it indicates how many amps can be drawn per hour from a battery until it is drained

For instance, a 2000mAh battery would be drained in one hour with a 2A load Larger capacities will give you longer flight times, and also a higher discharge current However, this comes at the price of size and weight While at first it might be tempting to use the highest capacity battery you can find, you will quickly discover that the performance and agility of your quadcopter will be negatively affected by the added weight Sometimes, we use different capacities depending on the type of flying we are doing

When doing freestyle flights, a larger battery might be helpful for staying airborne longer and getting more footage When racing however, we prefer to use the smallest battery necessary to finish the race, keeping weight at a minimum Experiment with different LiPo capacities to see what works best with your specific needs LiPo batteries typically have two connectors: the main lead, which supplies power to the drone, and the balance lead which is used for charging 1s batteries which are found in tiny drones only have a single lead

You will also want to make sure to get a battery that includes connectors that are compatible with your drone and components There are many different types of connectors out there, but the most popular one right now for the main lead is the XT60 Slightly larger than the XT30 commonly used on 2s and 3s applications, the XT60 is rated at 60A While this is more than sufficient for most pilots, the current push for performance in racing drones is requiring connectors that can carry even more current for the top-end racing drones What Battery For Your Drone? So what LiPo battery do you choose? If you have a Ready-To-Fly or Bind ‘n Fly racing drone, the choice will be simple as the battery has already been chosen for you and matched to your drone

You can still experiment with different capacities, as long as the battery will still fit in its place, but stick with the same number of cells recommended by the manufacturer If you have a custom racing quad or are building one, you will need to know the operating voltages and currents for all your components to determine the right battery for your build Look at online guides, or ask for help on online forums such as Drone Racing International FPV on Facebook There are many people out there ready to assist their fellow pilots While this is a basic overview of LiPo packs, hours can be spent on the subject talking about calculations, voltage sag, and much much more

Check back with Dronucopia and the Drone Racing Report for future updates and more in-depth articles on LiPo batteries, chargers, and other drone racing and hardware topics and products Join us next time as we continue to dive into the world of FPV and Drone Racing Have a question or an idea for a topic? Comment below or visit us on Facebook at Facebookcom/Dronucopia Don't forget to check out our video series "Top-5 FPV Videos of the Week" to view our favorite FPV videos submitted by our users Have a video you wish to share? Submit it to our Facebook group Drone Racing International FPV