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Phantom 3 series flight battery charger temperature
1378 11 2016-5-30
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Airspace Explor
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Has anyone measured the charger body temperature after charging a single Phantom 3 Intelligent Flight Battery (4480 mAh) for over 30 minutes?

I mention 30 minutes because I charge ASAP after a flight to about  60% (so called 'storage' charge) and then charge another 40 minutes or  so to 100% a few hours before a flight.

If you have measured the temperature, indicate which charger (57W or 100W) you used, room temperature if not nominally 70°F, if there was limited airflow around the charger or if a fan was used.

Subjectively, my charger runs quite warm, even with unrestricted airflow, and the battery remains only slightly above room temperature.


2016-5-30
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RangerOne
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I'm not sure about the temperature of my charger, but I'm surprised how hot the batteries themselves get during charging.  I'm an RC pilot and have hundreds of LiPo batteries, and routinely charge batteries at 3C and even 5C.  The Phantom 3 batteries get HOT with the 100 watt charger, though, which makes me really question the battery chemistry quality.

I have a battery with 36 charge cycles and it's down to about 85% health already.

You never want to either use or charge a hot LiPo battery.  It can greatly decrease cycle life and can be a fire risk.  I would definitely let them return to normal temperature (60-80 degrees fahrenheit) before charging.

EDIT:  I had commented that I was thinking of buying the Phantom 3 - Battery Charging Hub, thinking that the power would be distributed across the 4 batteries and thus any individual battery wouldn't get as hot during charging, but that is not the case -- it charges sequentially.  From the manual:
The Charging Hub is a product designed for use with the Phantom 3 Intelligent Flight Battery. When used with the Phantom 3 Battery Charger, it can charge up to four Intelligent Flight Batteries. The Intelligent Flight Batteries will be charged in sequence according to their power levels, from high to low.
2016-6-27
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DJI-Ken
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RangerOne Posted at 2016-6-28 04:50
I'm not sure about the temperature of my charger, but I'm surprised how hot the batteries themselves ...

I have P3 batteries that have about 60 charges and still show 97% life.
When I charge them, they only get warm (Pro so it's the 100w).
The DJI multi charger does not spread the charge over the batteries. it takes the fullest one and charges that to 100%, then goes to the next fullest battery and charges that and so on.
2016-6-27
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RangerOne
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DJI-Ken Posted at 2016-6-27 13:58
I have P3 batteries that have about 60 charges and still show 97% life.
When I charge them, they o ...

Thanks -- I already corrected that assumption in my earlier reply.

That's interesting about your battery health and temperatures.  I have to look into my batteries and charger then-- maybe there's a problem.  I rarely discharge my batteries below 30% (only for that "calibration charge" DJI recommends every 20 charges), or leave them charged more than 8 hours.  They're always down to ~72 degrees when I start to charge them, but they do get quite hot (I'll have to measure it, though I don't have anything that would work well).
2016-6-27
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DJI-Ken
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RangerOne Posted at 2016-6-28 05:04
Thanks -- I already corrected that assumption in my earlier reply.

That's interesting about your  ...

When mine were new for the first 10 charges I only flew them to 50% and calibrated regularly.
I'm not a speed flyer and just cruise around so that's why I think I still had great life percentage left.
2016-6-27
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AG0N-Gary
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With the 57W charger, my batteries don't seem to heat up at all when charging.  The charger itself does though, as I would expect.  The next time I cycle a battery, I'll use my IR thermometer on them to see what they do.
2016-6-27
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AG0N-Gary
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With the 57W charger, my batteries don't seem to heat up at all when charging.  The charger itself does though, as I would expect.  The next time I cycle a battery, I'll use my IR thermometer on them to see what they do.
2016-6-27
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Chris512
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DJI-Ken Posted at 2016-6-28 04:58
I have P3 batteries that have about 60 charges and still show 97% life.
When I charge them, they o ...

I have a P3S but the charger does get quite warm when charging.  I put it on a heat sink made of 1/4" aluminum plate at my charging station and that seems to help pull the heat away from the charger and keep it cooler.

I'm not exactly sure how DJI's firmware calculates the charges, or battery life.  The charges (one cycle) should be accumulated by amp-hours at the battery's rated capacity, not by every time you charge it up.  But it definitely doesn't do that.  I kept track on one of my newer batteries by tallying the mAh for each flight and the actual number of recharges.  One cycle should be calculated to be 3580 mAh removed and replaced.  Using the industry standards, by the time I had one complete cycle on the battery the firmware showed 4 charges on it.  And a good LiPo should run 300 cycles to 20%.

I also don't know how it calculates battery life, but it appears to be by something random. My oldest battery that came with the aircraft shows 174 charges on it and 79% battery life.  But it still shows 4430-4480 mAh initial capacity, and that battery will still fly the aircraft for 24 minutes on a constant altitude, constant speed flight shooting a photo every 7 seconds on an aerial survey.

I've got two 4S "dumb" flight batteries with XT60 connectors for my RC fixed wing, which I fly quite a bit more than the P3, as it will fly for 35 minutes with a 6A battery, with 10 minutes reserve.  Both of those are over 4 years old and have been charged so many times at 3C I've lost track.  I always come in with those at 3.3VPC.  And they still perform like new.

So I'm not sure how intelligent the so-called Intelligent Flight Battery really is.
2016-6-27
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endotherm
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Here you go.  I set up a battery and the supplied DJI 57W charger from a P3A.  The ambient temperature was 20C, sitting on a tile floor of about the same temperature with good airflow.  I started charging and got out my FLIR infrared camera.  After a couple of minutes I took the following pictures:
IR_0804.jpg    IR_0803.jpg    IR_0801.jpg


After 15 minutes I took another:
IR_0805.jpg


After 30 minutes I took these final pictures.
IR_0806.jpg    IR_0809.jpg    IR_0808.jpg


To read these thermographs, compare the colour in the image to the colour bar at the bottom of the picture.  Temperatures correspond from the lowest recorded on the left to highest on the right.  Temperatures are in degrees Celcius.

I'd interpret the 30 minute photos as follows:  
  • the battery was sitting around 24 degrees
  • the power lead supplying the battery was also warm, about 1 degree cooler
  • the charger was mostly around 40 degrees, with the end around 50 degrees (100-120F)
  • there is a hotspot representing a heatsink on part of the charging circuit (white)
  • maybe 2 degrees was lost to the surrounding area (purple)

  
2016-6-28
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Airspace Explor
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endotherm Posted at 2016-6-28 06:54
Here you go.  I set up a battery and the supplied DJI 57W charger from a P3A.  The ambient temperatu ...

Good study. Did this battery start at 10-20% charge or from about 60% charge for the 30 minute period? Would the temperature continue to rise until full charge or would it reach equilibrium with the environment, or decrease, at some point in the charge cycle?

DJI-Ken in #3 seems to indicate that, for the 100w charger, it's the battery that gets hot and the charger remains relatively cool.

I stand the battery on its smallest end to take full advantage of natural convection cooling.

I'm not looking for a problem, just what is typical and what to expect.
2016-6-28
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endotherm
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Airspace Explor Posted at 2016-6-29 01:28
Good study. Did this battery start at 10-20% charge or from about 60% charge for the 30 minute per ...

It was a low charge start, I think it had 1 bar left on the battery.  The temperature of the charger jumps up within minutes and gets hotter as it runs, but it seems to taper off with time.  I doubt it would get much hotter until it finished charging, I assume it is easier to finish off charging rather than starting from flat.  I won't alllow my electronics to cook, however I normally don't worry about electronics getting warm unless it is too hot to comfortably hold, around 60C.  I've charged 4 batteries one after each other with this, as well as parallel charging a battery and the R/C, even though it's not recommended.  The charger didn't feel much hotter.  The charger is always warmer than the batteries, although with a greater thermal mass they will tend to retain their heat for longer, whereas the charger will cool quickly.  I find that if if I leave a few inches clear around the items, that is enough to dissipate any excess heat.   The 100W charger supplies more current so the battery will charge faster and that may generate more heat.  I've also hooked up 3 batteries and a R/C on a 3-way power splitter so they were all charging at the same time.  The charger didn't seem to get much hotter (though it did take much longer), which leads me to suspect the charger will output it's rated power and the batteries will draw whatever is available and charge in their own time.  The problem with this approach is that the charger is outputting its rated output for many hours without a rest, which may exceed its expected duty cycle of about 1 hour.
2016-6-28
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Philbo
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I was looking for a forum thread to drop my spreadsheet into and this one fits the bill perfectly. As a newbie to
drone/uavs/quad/copters I was concerned about LiPo fires with all the scary talk around the net so with a fairly
new battery and a infrared temp gun (is it?) I noted some temps for both the battery and charger. I got some
interesting numbers for the time I measured. Now, how to display it here . . . Okay, got it.

Where   25c = 77f, 30c = 86f, 35c = 95f, 40c = 104f, 45c = 113f

Missing is the title and some descriptive text but basically ambient was 24c. The Phantom 3 battery never got over 28c.
Charged battery from 3V/cell to full charge in 97m using a 57w charger.
The results don't bear out comments about batteries getting hot but maybe they do on a 100W charger.
The results have calmed me as to potential fire hazards while charging but crap happens so I will continue to charge batteries
under my supervision and in an open (but roofed) location. Here's the raw numbers if you want to graph yourself.
I would like a graph of time versus charge so I can run a battery up to 50% after a flight. So using a graph I could see that if
battery is at 27% then xx minutes would bring it to 50%. It would serve as a guide as batteries would change over use/time.
I might do one post it as well. It means many swap in/outs to the Phantom and starting the app but I reckon it's good data to
have handy. Thanks guys.
P.S. Wow, graph is there in Edit mode - gone when posted. Weird!
  
Charge
  Time
Charger
Battery
Ambient
15
36.0
24.0
24
22
39.0
24.9
24
25
42.2
24.2
24
31
41.0
25.8
24
38
43.1
27.2
24
46
44.2
28.4
24
50
45.4
28.5
24
55
46.8
28.4
24
60
47.6
28.4
24
65
47.5
28.2
24
70
46.5
28.0
24
72
45.1
27.3
24
74
44.8
27.1
24
76
43.5
26.1
24
78
42.1
26.0
24
80
40.6
25.6
24
82
39.1
25.1
24
84
38.0
25.0
24
86
37.2
24.8
24
88
35.9
24.6
24
90
34.8
24.5
24
92
34.0
24.5
24
94
33.2
24.5
24
96
32.6
24.4
24
97
32.0
24.2
24

2016-12-25
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