Water is a drone’s worst enemy. If water gets into the body of your drone or comes into contact with the metallic parts of your drone battery, it can be the kryptonite to ground your drone forever. Luckily, the batteries are a little bit better protected than the drone’s body. DJI batteries are typically fully encased in the plastic body, but the water can seep through the seams and corrode the metallic contacts.
If your DJI battery is water damaged, you should dry it out as fast as possible and use compressed air or isopropyl alcohol to clean off the metallic components and pads on the outside of the battery.
A quick dip in freshwater will probably not do too much harm to your battery as long as you remove it and dry it out as soon as you notice an issue. Should the battery get wet with the rest of the drone, you should act quickly to remove the power to stop the drone from becoming shorted.
What to do if your DJI battery gets water damaged
DJI smart batteries are typically very waterproof, but the water can get inside the battery through seems and around any buttons on the battery.
The type of water exposed to your battery will determine how bad the potential issues will be. For example, salt water is damaging due to its electrical conductivity and corrosive nature, and hot water from a thermos or cattle will also increase the chance of damage.
Here is what you should do if your DJI battery gets water damaged.
Remove the battery from the drone
If your drone battery happens to land in water, acting fast will be your primary weapon to save it from being damaged beyond all repair.
The first thing you need to do is completely remove all of the power to the electronic components as quickly as possible.
If the drone has been sitting in water, it’s probably safe to assume that the electronics have been exposed to water for a significant period. Some drones can detect a short-circuit and switch themselves off before any substantial damage is caused to the electronic components.
What type of water = Salt / fresh?
The type of water is very important in determining the likely damage to your drone battery.
Saltwater can conduct electricity because of the sodium chloride dissolved in the water.
Freshwater cannot conduct electricity as well as saltwater due to the smaller amount of salts dissolved.
If your drone battery becomes submerged in saltwater, you should rinse your drone battery in fresh water to remove the saltwater that can crystallise upon drying. You can also use about 5% contact cleaner in your water which can help you clean the saltwater out more efficiently.
Even if a small amount of salt is present, it can still corrode metallic contacts and short the battery.
Dry it out as fast as you can then wait
time is of the essence when your drone battery ends up in water.
Acting quickly will ensure that the water penetrates less deeply into the battery.
Any residual water needs to work its way out of the casing and from within parts of the drone that you cannot reach.
There is a myth going around that you should put wet things in rice. Unfortunately, this means that rice fragments can end up in your electronic components and cause all sorts of other issues.
If you want to make sure that you have gotten as much of the water out as possible, you can use a hairdryer but leaving the drone battery alone for at least five days before testing will be the best way to protect it.
Use compressed air to blow out contacts
If you have access to compressed air or a blower (the type used to blow the dust of a DSLR mirror), it would be a good idea to use the compressed air to blow the metallic contacts to ensure that no residual water, no matter how small, does not remain on the pads.
Use isopropyl alcohol
A common solvent used to ensure no water in electronic components is isopropyl alcohol. You can buy isopropyl alcohol in many places, and it is typically used to clean glasses and screens of smartphones.
The isopropyl alcohol can dissipate the water and remove any dirt and grease from metallic and glace surfaces.
It has a lower surface tension than water and evaporates much more readily. The lower evaporation temperature means it drives out the water and leaves no residue or salts behind.
If you want to know more about isopropyl alcohol and its use for cleaning electronics, check out this YouTube video below.
Why your battery may get wet
There is a wide range of reasons why your DJI drone battery may get wet. It’s not just flying your drone over water or in snow that poses a risk.
Flying over water
Flying over water poses a relatively high risk to your drone compared to terrestrial flying.
There are many tricks that you can employ to make sure that your drone flies safely over water, such as:
- flying out with the headwind to ensure that you have plenty of battery for your inward flight.
- Disabling the vision position system. Some drones come with a visual positioning system that helps position the drone in 3D space. Light reflecting off the services of the water can interfere with the analysis.
- Use intelligent flight lock features such as course lock. Course lock lets the user determine the drone’s flight path and locks the controls relative to your aircraft’s current path. This is an easy way to navigate the drone whilst also capturing some awesome footage.
- Ensure that your return to the home point is updated – should anything go wrong, your drone returned to the takeoff location.
- Stay away from nesting areas – cliffs are fantastic places for birds to live and a collision with your drone becomes much more likely.
If you want to know more about how to fly safely over water with your drone, check out my YouTube video below.
Leaky bottle in a bag
I often carry my spare batteries in my bag.
Along with my spare batteries, I also carry water, other drone accessories, and stuff I need for the day. The water in my bag has leaked in the past and caused the drone battery to get wet.
Typically the drone battery is only superficially wet, and the outsides of the drone battery casing require a wipe down to resolve the issue.
It is still good practice to fully dry the battery and wait before using it to give the water a chance to evaporate fully.
Flying your drone in rain or snow can also cause water to get into your DJI battery.
Rain is very damaging to a drone, and once it gets into the events and the electronics, it can quickly cause irreparable damage to your drone.
Snow can also be an issue as the warm components of the drone can melt the snow quickly, turning it into water.
A top tip is to pay attention to forecast two hours on either side of your planned drone flight to ensure that the weather will not change and leave you with a massive headache when your drone becomes damaged.
How to avoid water damage to your DJI battery
Avoiding water damage to your DJI battery is far better than trying to fix it once it happens.
Use a protector
There are many different battery protectors, depending on what you want to protect your battery from.
They are made of different materials, from silicon to 3D printed hard shells. Some DIY options are available to you if you do not want to buy a commercial product for protecting your drone.
They are fantastic because they protect from heat, storage issues, corrosion, crashes, and other impacts during transport.
If you want to know more about the best battery protectors for your drone, check out my other article.
Waterproof your drone
Waterproofing your drone comes down to physically coating the electronics in a water-repelling (hydrophobic) coating.
There are a couple of options for coating your electronics so that you can protect your drone from things like humidity, snow, or electrical shorts from exposed solder joints.
Coat electronics in silicone or acrylic
There are two methods for waterproofing drone electronics.
That is, using silicone and acrylic coatings.
In general, silicone is a better choice as it can withstand higher temperatures, but acrylic is easier to remove as you can use your soldering iron to remove the coating.
No matter what you are using to coat your electronics, you have to ensure that there is a thin, even coverage across the entire surface to be properly protected.
The first step is to clean any circuit boards using an old toothbrush and isopropyl alcohol.
After the isopropyl alcohol has dried, you should brush on the coating using the brush supplied with the product. It should only take about an hour to dry but leave it for as long as possible to ensure that it is not wet at all before reassembling or turning on your drone.
Ensure that you don’t put the coating on anything that needs an electronic connection, such as USB inputs. If you accidentally cover an area that requires a metallic connection, you can remove the coating with a small amount of isopropyl alcohol on a cotton bud.
This article has been through everything you need to know about what happens if your DJI battery becomes water damaged.
Luckily, the battery supplied with many drones already has a hard and semi-waterproof shell that will protect them should they encounter a small amount of water or rain.
Making sure that you dry out your battery completely before using it again will protect the battery and the drone you are flying.