Drone batteries are a very advanced technology. Drone batteries are made from a lithium polymer blend. And because of this, they need to have a much more rigorous maintenance and storage routine than other types of rechargeable batteries. The reason drones use these batteries is that it is the best combination of lightweight and power density – just what something that needs to fly up into the air needs.
Here we can answer the question why is my drone battery not charging? And go through all of the possible reasons that are common for lithium polymer batteries.
There are a number of reasons why you’re drone battery may not be charging. Drone batteries are made of a lithium polymer composite – this requires special storage and maintenance. If you have allowed your battery to drain to less than 5% it could be permanently damaged.
However, there are some others smart flight features in intelligent battery systems that could be stopping it from charging – like hibernation mode.
Every lithium polymer battery is made up of individual cells – a drone battery has between one and eight of them. Each of these cells is rated at 3.7 V and is fully charged if they reach 4.2 V.
You must never let your battery drop below 3.7 V as you will permanently damage the battery and it may never charge again. That is why you need to take extra special care of them!
One of the best ways that I have protected my drone batteries from all sorts of issues is using a really inexpensive drone LiPo case – like this one on Amazon. The more I’ve looked after my batteries the longer they have lasted!
So if you’re drone batteries not charging and you have let it run completely dry it’s probably a safe bet that you need to buy a new battery for your drone. Here, other common battery problems faced by owners of commercial level drones.
Why is my drone battery not charging? Common battery problems
Here, we are going to go over all of the common battery problems that owners of DJI and other types of drone have encountered. Hopefully, after going through all of these battery problems you will find a solution to why your battery is not charging.
While using the DJI GO 4 app you may get an “inconsistent firmware” notification. That means exactly what it told you which is the firmware on the battery needs to be updated.
The confusing aspect of this is that you cannot just update the firmware on the battery. You need to update the aircraft firmware while the battery is in the drone. So, head over to the aircraft firmware using your DJI GO 4 app and select your aircrafts firmware update.
After updating the aircraft’s firmware the notification should disappear.
Temperature of the battery is too hot to charge
Smart batteries have a lot of sensors embedded in them.
There are sensors to detect the temperature of the battery and if it gets too hot the battery may refuse to charge. There are a number of ways that the battery can become too hot to charge such as, leaving the battery out in the sun, leaving the battery in a hot car, or it has just been used and is warm from a previous flight.
Whatever way the battery gets too hot the outcome is the same – it will not charge.
The batteries of drones quite often will only charge between a specific temperature range (this is typically between five and 40° C). So, it is quite possible that your battery is also far too cold to charge as well.
If your battery is warm to the touch, leave it in room temperature for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Plug the battery in for charging and it should charge like normal.
High amperage detected
Not only will a battery not charge if the temperature is too warm or too cold but a battery will also stop charging if an access current is used to charge the batteries.
To rectify this unplugged the battery from the charger and then plug it back in after waiting about 30 seconds.
If this problem continues after replacing the battery in the charger, it could be that the charger or outlet is faulty. Purchase another charger (or use one from a fellow drone enthusiast) to see if the problem is resolved.
Short circuit detected
As with high amperage, a charger will also stop charging a battery if a short circuit is detected. A short circuit is when live parts of a wiring system touch each other. The short-circuits could be located within the charger body and also on the wires coming out from the charger. It’s very important that you inspect each part for fraying or exposed wires as this is the most common cause of short circuit warnings for a drone.
If this problem continues all you identify some fraying and damaged parts replace the charger immediately and stop using it.
Charging a battery relies on lining up a series of metallic contacts between the battery and the charger. Because of the frequency of the use of these metal pins they can easily become bent out of shape. Also, the pins can become corroded through contact with moisture or other corrosive material – like a leaky battery.
Take a look at the metallic contacts in the battery and also in the connector from the charger. They should look shiny and also be a regular spacing with no obvious curves or bumps on the surface.
You can clean off the corrosion with a little bit of isopropyl alcohol to see if you can restore the metallic finish to the contacts.
Do not jam any other metallic contacts or implements into the battery compartment to fix any bent pins. You could end up damaging the battery even further and causing a fire.
If the battery pins look particularly damaged the best thing you can do is buy a new battery. Make sure you buy a new battery or charger from a reputable reseller or directly from the manufacturer.
Bad battery cell
Lithium polymer batteries contain up to 8 cells. Typically for a DJI drone there are four cells. You can look at the health of these individual cells on the DJI GO 4 app.
Open the DJI Go 4 app > click the three dots in the top right-hand corner > and select the battery icon.
This will give you all of the information you need to know about each of the individual battery cells. The green bars for each individual cell should be close to the same height – which indicates healthy cells.
So, that is all the reason why drone batteries do not charge. Most of the reasons drone batteries don’t charge can be circumvented with good battery maintenance. Let’s take a look at all of the ways that you can make your drone batteries last longer and maintain their health.
If your battery is dying too fast check out my other article – A guide to longer flights – click here.
Here are the basics of keeping your batteries healthy so they can last as long as possible.
Keep them clean and dry
Store your batteries in a clean and dry area. Avoid contact with moisture and excess dust. If the battery comes into contact with moisture it can rust and corrode the contacts. If you want, you can clean the metals contacts with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) if you need to clean off some dirt that has accumulated,
Let your batteries cool off before charging
If you are like me – you will be eager to get back in the air as soon as you land your drone.
However, charging up your drone battery as soon as you land is not a great idea! During flying the batteries discharge at a fast rate and all this movement of electrons can cause a little bit of heating. The battery shouldn’t get really hot but it’ll heat up a little bit.
Wait 20 minutes before charging again – this will protect he battery from over heating as charging the batteries can also cause the battery to heat up.
Store at 50% charge
Never leave your drone batteries fully charged if storing for long periods of time – like over a month. It is best to leave your batteries at 3.9 volts per cell if you are not planning on using them within a week. 100 % charges LiPo batteries are much more unstable than when at 50 % – increasing the likelihood of a short.
Some of the smart batteries will also discharge themselves so that they reach about 3.9 V per cell. Here are some basic rules of thumb if you want to store your drone batteries for various lengths of time:
- Short-term Storage – Batteries should be discharged to between 60 and 80% if you’re not using them for between one and ten days.
- Long-term Storage – If storing for more than ten days, store the battery between 40 and 60%. Batteries should not be left for over three months without being charged as the battery life will be reduced.
Cycle the LiPo batteries for first use
If you have purchased a new battery you can cycle the battery a couple of times to help increase the longevity of the battery. after an initial couple of cycles, you can repeat this every few months. That is combat something referred to as “battery memory” where the battery remembers how far it was last discharged and causes it to artificially shrink its capacity.
Because DJI is one of the most prolific manufacturers and marketers of drones it is more common that people are looking for issues with DJI and batteries. In the next section we will look at some of the issues that certain DJI drones have with their batteries not charging.
DJI drone battery issues
DJI batteries can get quite expensive. That is because they contain a load of smart technology to keep the battery healthy and automatically safely stored. However, some of these smart technologies can get in the way of charging as they can put the battery into hibernation mode or another safe mode that can make it look dead. It may of course be dead but it could also just be a software issue. Let’s take a look at some of the DJI Phantom drone battery issues.
DJI Phantom drone battery not charging
It doesn’t matter what version of the DJI Phantom drone you have, their batteries can sometimes cause a little bit of a headache. If you are having difficulty charging your DJI Phantom batteries turned to a forum such as the DJI forum, or the DJI Phantom pilots forum to troubleshoot your issue.
One of the most common issues has already been addressed, above, in this article. And that is the batteries have been allowed to discharge to 0%. This can happen if the batteries have been left on charge for a year or so.
For the DJI Phantom batteries you should allow it to discharge to 8% or less after each 20 charges. You do not need to drain the battery below 8% each time most people allow them to drain to about 20 to 30% at the end of a flight. That is good enough to store them for a few weeks.
If in doubt with any issues of a DJI Phantom battery, run through the checks above. And your worst-case scenario is that you will have to completely replace the battery. That can be quite an expensive exercise and can lead some people to consider a non-genuine that DJI drone battery. Let’s take a look at that question right now.
Should I use a battery that isn’t from DJI?
You may have seen some questionable batteries on Amazon for about US$99. The main concern is that if you buy a DJI battery from some company other than DJI, how do you know it’s authentic? If you look at some of the reviews on Amazon you will see that some of them claim that the battery is a fake. Quite often that is asserted based on a sticker placement or text height printed on the battery but not often on the performance. So, is it a bad thing?
With each firmware update, DJI is capable of blocking knockoff batteries from working drones.
The DJI intelligent batteries have a processor inside and the aircraft can interrogate it. If it is a counterfeit battery, it does not return the correct data code and the aircraft will refuse to fly.
Using a non-DJI to will instantly void your warranty so if it hurts your drone you are out of luck. The knockoff battery could be seen in the logs and so saving $20 – 40 just isn’t worth the risk.
It’s almost certainly not worth the risk to your drone all the warranty.
Battery won’t charge or power on after storage?
If your DJI battery won’t charge or power on after storage the culprit is almost certainly the hibernation mode.
DJI battery hibernation
DJI batteries have something that they call hibernation mode. If your batteries have been in storage for more than a few weeks – or months – there is a good chance they have entered hibernation mode.
Drone batteries are lithium polymer batteries. It is really bad if lithium polymer batteries are discharged to 0%.
Therefore, DJI have introduced a hibernation mode to keep them from completely discharging and reducing their life.
When you attempt to charge a battery that has been sitting around for more than a few weeks and nothing happens here are the steps to force your DJI battery out of hibernation mode:
- Your first indication that a battery is an hibernation mode is a solid red light.
- Wait for the red light to go out (this should take about five minutes) and then plug in the battery. Let it sit plugged in for a few hours and the battery should come out of hibernation mode.
Generally, it is recommended that you store batteries at about 50% charge.
DJI battery maintenance
No matter what DJI do you have, whether it is the DJI spark or Mavic pro the lithium polymer batteries can be dangerous if stored or used incorrectly.
The intelligent flight batteries need a little bit of extra special care and so here is everything you need to do to keep your drone safe.
- Discharge your batteries to 40 to 65% – if you don’t plan on using your drone within the next couple of weeks it is recommended that you discharge your batteries to extend their lifetime. Because of the intelligent systems the batteries will automatically begin to discharge after 10 days. If you want to change the amount of time before it automatically discharge you can do so in the DJI app.
- Store the batteries in a fire retardant case – if you need to store your batteries for a long period of time the lithium polymer can become a little bit unstable so – store them in a special case.
- Never store the battery above 60° C – the lithium polymer material of a drone battery can be damaged if they are stored at high temperatures.
- Never store near a wet source – electricity and water do not mix so never store your battery in a place where they could get wet or are exposed to weather.
For DJI batteries stick to the simple maintenance and storage tips and you cannot go wrong.
So there are common issues that you can find with drone batteries. Remember, that drone batteries are made out of a material that requires special treatment and storage conditions.
Being particularly careful with chargers, storage volume, and storage location there is no reason your battery cancel last a very long time.
A drone battery should be able to last about 500 charging cycles before having any issues. If you find your drone battery is having issues well before that it could be because of your maintenance and storage.
A great battery means a great flight – happy flying my drone friends!