Let’s set the scene. You’ve just gotten a drone, or used to have a drone that you’re finally ready to blow the dust off and fly.
You turn on the drone… nothing. “It probably needs to be charged”, you say.
So you plug the drone’s batteries in… and you wait. Nothing happens.
You try another cable, and then another power source…
Well, luckily you’ve found this article before smashing your drone on the ground. A drone’s battery not charging is a pretty common occurrence after all, and it isn’t that hard to fix.
The most common reason for a drone’s battery not charging is the charger being ruined. Another reason may be because the battery is in hibernation mode, usually because it hasn’t been charged for a long while.
In this article we’ll look at several other reasons, and their fixes.
Like I said, while there are a million different reasons for why your battery isn’t charging, the actual common reasons aren’t that many. Their fixes are also not really complicated.
Sometimes the battery may be completely ruined and you’d need to buy yourself another, but in most situations that’s not the case. Below are some common battery problems, and their solutions:
You may be familiar with this already, but a drone’s firmware is the underlying software that manages all of its components. Motor, propellers, sensors, camera… and yes, even the batteries.
Usually, your drone’s manufacturer will issue regular updates to the firmware to bring out the best of your drone, or to simply fix some bugs and patch them.
Your drone’s battery isn’t just hardware like you may think. It’s also regulated by the firmware, and sometimes that may have a battery-related bug.
The solution for this is extremely simple, simply update your drone’s firmware if you haven’t already. You may have already received several warning popups in your flight app saying something along the lines of “inconsistent firmware”. That happens if you haven’t flown your drone in a while and the software is outdated.
Most drones nowadays use LiPo batteries. In short, LiPo stands for Lithium Polymer. they’re composed of a lithium-based cathode and anode separated by a polymer electrolyte.
LiPo batteries are a god-send for drones and drone fans alike, because unlike traditional and common Li-Ion batteries, Lipo batteries have the same energy density as their counterpart but also have less of a risk of leaking.
These batteries usually have a “failsafe” put in by the engineers to protect the battery from being ruined and degraded. It’s called battery hibernation.
Put simply, it keeps your battery safe and allows it to last longer. If you stored your battery for a long time without using it, it would discharge 50% and go into hibernation mode. Instead of going all the way to zero and becoming useless (once a battery loses ALL its energy, it cannot be recharged).
A good way to know whether the battery is in hibernation is to look at the LED lights when you plug it. If it’s red and it keeps flashing red, then yeah, it’s hibernating.
How to kick a battery out of hibernation mode?
The process is extremely simple. Really, it’s not any different from normal charging.
Simply plug your battery, wait for the flashing red light to disappear and leave it charging for a few more hours than usual. That should kick it off hibernation mode.
Like I said, most if not all drones use LiPo batteries. These batteries are known for being sensitive to extreme temperatures.
Huge fluctuations in temperature affect the chemical reactions within batteries and end up ruining them over time. The temperature range between 5 – 40° C is the optimum range for Lithium polymer battery reactions.
Most advanced batteries will have sensors put in place to prevent accidents like the battery exploding. For example, if you’re in a very hot/cold room, you might notice that the battery isn’t charging even though it’s plugged in.
A simple fix for this is to put it in a place where the temperature is moderate (neither too cold or too hot).
NOTE: Some people recommend you put your battery in a freezer if it’s too hot, but I’d advise against that. A battery’s temperature mustn’t drop below 4 degrees Celsius.
Probably the most common reason for a battery not charging. If you’ve plugged in your charger and it’s not working, try two things before deciding that the battery is the problem.
Try plugging the charger in another socket, to see if it’s a socket problem you can also try plugging in another electrical device to see whether it’ll work).
Or, try using a different charger, look for someone you know with a drone charger first before deciding to buy one, as that will save you money if it doesn’t end up being a charger problem.
You may have heard that term before. A bricked battery is usually a battery that has been physically damaged and may not be able to work anymore, at least not through convenient means.
There are many reasons for a battery getting bricked, but the most common one is a long storage period, way past the point of hibernation. If you let your battery drop to absolute zero voltage, it’s as good as dead.
In some cases you can use some equipment like a LiPo Balance Charger… but let’s be honest, that’s too much work for just a battery. Best thing you can do in this case is get yourself another one.
If however you don’t mind getting really technical with this and you already have the materials on hand, then what you want to do is:
Getting a multi-function battery charger. Start then by charging the battery at 0.1A using the NiMH charger. Once it’s recovered to around 2-3 volts per cell, you can switch to the LiPo setting and balance charge the battery until it’s fully recovered.
Be careful though! This is a dangerous process because there is a high chance for the battery catching fire, remember to:
This video explains it perfectly:
Preventing your battery from getting bricked:
To prevent a battery getting bricked in the first place, make sure to charge to 50% before storing it. And even when it’s stored, don’t leave it uncharged for a long time. Be sure to take it out once every few months and charge to 50%, that’s usually the sweet spot for battery storage.
Your drone’s battery may not start charging if the embedded sensors detect really high amperage, as that can result in the battery being damaged, or worse, imploding.
This is a problem usually caused by the socket (your home’s electrical circuit), or if you’re using an old or unofficial charger that may also be the problem’s source.
Either try a different charger, a different power outlet or switch to an entirely different power source (i.e another location).
Over time, inserting and taking out the charger in the batteries too many times can cause the charging post to degrade, and the small metallic pins to bend.
If the small pins are bent try putting them back in place with a needle, or if it’s simply a matter of corrosion or dirt within the part, try cleaning it with isopropyl alcohol, that should work in most cases.
A drone’s battery will usually have 8 cells. Battery cell health is key to maintaining your battery. Usually, the most common problem with batteries is swelling.
If you notice your battery swell, even if it works, take it out immediately and use another one if you have one. Otherwise buy another battery.
Batteries like that can explode at any time. While battery explosions aren’t huge, in proximity they can be dangerous (there are many cases of LiPo batteries exploding and putting houses on fire).
Here are a few tips to maintain your battery’s health:
If you’re using a DJI drone specifically, then the process of waking your battery up from hibernation is pretty much the same as in every other LiPo battery (even for DJI intelligent batteries).
You can wake up a DJI battery from hibernation by leaving it turned on for a few minutes and then plugging it in using a DJI charger. You then let the battery sit until it eventually wakes up, which can take anywhere from an hour to an entire day depending on the battery’s overall condition.
Just ignore the LED lights, whether it’s flashing red or whether it’s green or yellow, no matter what it shows, leave your battery plugged in for at least 6 hours.
And make sure you’re using an original and official DJI charger. You don’t want to leave your battery plugged for half a day to a knock-off charger…
DJI batteries are LiPo batteries, which means you can just rely on the list of common battery problems we discussed above. DJI batteries are a little more advanced though, especially the intelligent batteries, and are more prone to fall into hibernation for battery protection.
You may fix a DJI Mini 2 battery not charging by bringing the battery out of hibernation mode, which involves leaving it plugged in for a long duration. Once the red light goes out, the drone battery should be able to charge. In severe cases, the battery may require a complete replacement.
It's a deliberate feature of DJI’s Intelligent Flight Battery. Hibernation mode prevents the battery from discharging completely, which as we’ve discussed messes up with it (bricked battery case).
Both of these batteries are really similar to the batteries of the Mini 2 (they’re all DJI Intelligent Batteries, after all). Which means these drones also suffer from the same problem: having their batteries easily fall into hibernation mode. The fix is therefore the same:
You may fix a DJI Mavic 2 Pro or Mavic 3 battery not charging by bringing the battery out of hibernation mode, which involves leaving it plugged in for a long duration. Once the red light goes out, the drone battery should be able to charge. In severe cases, the battery may require a complete replacement.
If you need more technical info, this guy gets really into detail about the Mavic 2 / 3 batteries:
You can probably guess, but in most cases a battery won’t charge immediately because it’s in hibernation, which as we’ve discussed is a fail safe implemented by the manufacturer to protect the battery and increase its lifespan.
Charging for a half a day will usually fix the issue. There are only two things you need to always keep in mind, if you don’t want to be buying new batteries every year.