Sunday, April 6, 2014

LiPo Battery Charging and Storage

The Charming Mrs. EastBay RC puts up with a lot in the service of her husband's various hobbies, but one place where I'm pretty sure she would draw the line is burning down EastBay RC's international headquarters.  I've experienced first hand the rather unpleasant experience of having a LiPo battery short out and burst into flames, so I'm a stickler for careful battery charging, handling, and storage.
 Here's my main charging station.  That's a HobbyKing 4 port charger powered by an old PC power supply.  The charging bunker consists of a standard sized concrete block sandwiched between two flat blocks.  I painted everything white to look a little better and to keep dust, etc from coming off the concrete.  I've notched the block so that battery leads can fit in with the top closed.  There's a smoke detector on top, and a fire extinguisher next to my workbench.
 Here's my battery storage bunker.  It's a fireproof safe that I salvaged out of recycling.  It weighs a ton.  The unit was open with the door bolts set in the locked position.  I tried (unsuccessfully) to figure out how to set a new combination, but it works perfectly as a battery storage bunker.  The door is heavy, so I just need to be careful not to drop it on my fingers.
Here's a view showing some batteries.  One day when I have some time to kill I'll put some shelves in to make the storage a bit more tidy, but for now I'm really pleased with it.
Prior, I stored everything in an old ammo box, which was a bit more restrictive in space.  The Internet seems to think that it would be fine for containing the open flame of a burning LiPo.  Prior to that, I kept everything stored in a concrete block similar to my charging bunker.  I've also got some LiPo bags for use on the go.

Bottom line:

  • Take LiPo charging and storage safety issues seriously.  Watch some youtube videos on "lipo battery fire" to ensure that you do.
  • Get something to put your batteries in while charging.  I think a LiPo is actually a good solution, but it's a bit more convenient to have a larger bunker if you've got the space.
  • Always stick around while your batteries are charging.  I typically charge while I'm at my workbench so it's not a problem for me.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.  This applies to your workshop or hobby table as well.
  • Be careful, but not anxious.  I've never (thank God) been in a car accident, but I still wear a safety belt when I drive.  Same here... it's a bit overkill until the one time it isn't!
  • If this save you from burning down your place and getting in big trouble with the family, you owe me a verrrry nice dinner!
update: here's my bag of sand that I was using to cover the hole in the concrete block before I switched to the flat concrete block.  The reasons I switched were:
  • I wanted to move the charging station from the garage to my workshop so it would be a bit easier to attend to.
  • I was in deathly fear every time I handled the bag, afraid it would split open and I would be vacuuming sand for hours.
  • After watching a couple of youtube videos I think the concrete topper will contain any open flames.

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