Whether you are storing your drone for a short while or an entire season, there are a few aspects that you need to take care of. They’re essential to making the gearing up process for the next flying session smooth and stress-free.
But here’s the thing: proper storage of drones doesn't just involve putting away the whole drone.
Its important components, including the batteries, mobile parts, and even the firmware, need some special attention as well.
And if you fail to give that extra attention, you’re basically leaving your drone to rack and ruin.
In this post, I will be walking you through what the fundamentals of storing your drone are. I’ve also done my research to ensure that my tips are effective yet efficient at the same time!
Before you move ahead to literally put your drone away, there are a few steps that I would suggest you take.
As a rule of thumb, never store your drone without performing a visual inspection, as it clarifies your drone's physical condition and helps you take any replacement measures. Also consider immobilizing its otherwise moveable parts and always store your drone in safeguarded surroundings.
There’s nothing more frustrating than finding a damaged component as you prepare for your next flight - especially if it’s something you could have fixed right after your last one!
If you notice even the slightest thing that’s out of place, it is always recommended to fix it right away before storing it away for good.
As obvious as it sounds, this is one of the most neglected things that many drone users are guilty of. Whether you are storing your drone away for a night or an entire season, you always need to visually inspect your drone to check for wear and tear.
If you find some built up dust and grime at any exterior or interior part of your drone, clean it up right away. Pay attention to every inch of your drone, look for signs of cracks or damage on the outer body as well as the camera lens, and make sure that the propellers are at the right alignment.
Once you keep the mobile parts of your drone from moving, you’re preventing them from damaging, breaking, or even getting torqued.
For instance, the gimbal of your drone comes with a clamp that can secure it while the drone is packed away. Similarly, you should also consider taking the propellers off the rotors beforehand as they are more protected when kept separately.
You can go an extra mile by investing in some storage essentials. These will not cost you much but are still a valuable investment. Given all the damage they can prevent and the excessive money they can save, I say it's a rather good alternative.
These essentials include a protective case especially customized for your drone model. This will not only be helpful in storage but will also come in handy when you are traveling with your drone. You can also buy LiPo-friendly battery storage bags as they are fire retardant, insulative, and environmentally friendly.
This will ensure proper organization and help you stay free of worries while your drone and its components rest safely in storage.
If you haven’t seen a drone case before, consider checking out the YouTube video below. It’ll also tell you what to look for when browsing through the market.
Let’s now take a look at a rather popular query regarding drone battery storage.
It is highly unadvised to leave the batteries in the drone, especially when you don’t intend to use it for a couple of days. When left inside the drone for longer periods, the drone battery fails to automatically discharge the way it is supposed to - making it prone to damages in the long run.
Most drone batteries come with an auto-discharge feature. It ensures that the battery automatically loses its charge upto 40-65%, as that is the perfect charge level for battery storage. You can think of it as a feature that prevents battery damage and keeps the cells healthier for the long term.
However, a battery that’s left in the drone does not discharge efficiently. If this is repeated on a regular basis, the cells can permanently damage and the entire battery pack might even swell up.
Leaving a battery in your drone for a long haul eventually renders no good!
LiPo batteries are the most popular type of drone batteries these days. Let’s take a look at how you can store them between flight periods.
To store LiPo batteries between flight periods, make sure that the battery level is not at full charge. Instead, you need to bring it down to a voltage of 3.6-3.8 volts. By storing the battery at optimal storage level, the LiPo battery remains healthy and functional.
If the LiPo battery has a charge less than 3.6 volts, you can charge it up to the storage level. Nowadays, chargers come with a storage function that allows you to charge your battery up to the optimal storage voltage before you put it away.
Similarly, if the LiPo battery has a charge above 3.8 volts, you need to discharge it to the storage level. Like I stated earlier, a lot of batteries come with an auto-discharge feature that allows them to lose their charge down to the storage level - if not used for 10 days.
You can also simply speed up the process to discharge a full battery by flying your drone till the battery reaches a level of 40-65%. As soon as the voltage is at the storage level, your LiPo battery will be within the healthy parameters of storage.
Regardless of the time frame you are storing your battery for, the storage fundamentals more or less remain the same. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to storing batteries specifically for the long haul.
To store drone batteries long term, the battery level needs to be within 40-65% range. A battery stored at both full or critically low charge will undergo abnormal discharging which is potentially damaging. Hence, it's best to cycle the batteries every two to three months during long term storage.
If you don’t know what I mean by cycling the batteries, you’re missing out.
Basically, cycling is a maintenance practice that keeps the drone batteries in their best condition. You need to take out your batteries after every few months, charge them up to 100%, discharge them back to 20%, then once again charge them up to the storage level before putting them away.
This charging-discharging cycle ensures that the battery remains running even if it hasn’t been used in a while.
It’s my observation that battery cycling is often neglected, even though it is extremely crucial if you are taking a break that’s longer than two months. Failing to do this can lead to your battery getting over-discharged. And trust me, that’s the last thing you need for your battery cells.
The worst case scenario is that you will end up with a brick-dead battery. If you do get lucky and manage to revive the battery, most of its cells will still be irreversibly damaged. This weakens the overall power capacity and the excessive load will bring your battery closer to its expiration date.
Carelessly leaving LiPo batteries in the cold is not a good idea. Here’s the reason why.
Leaving LiPo batteries in the cold will negatively impact their ability to store and release energy. They rely on chemical reactions for their functioning. However, low temperatures result in electrolyte freezing and increased internal resistance. This strains the battery and reduces performance.
That’s exactly why it's comparatively less fun flying a drone during the winters as compared to other warmer seasons. One minute the battery will be on a full charge, and the next minute it will start getting zapped out of power. This will lead to more frequent recharges.
Speaking of recharging, don't go for it as long as the LiPo batteries are cold. Within a cold battery, the ions won’t be able to move as freely as they normally would, putting extra stress on the battery in turn. The easiest way out of this is warming the battery before recharging it or taking it out for a run. You can use rice heaters or hand warmers to bring your batteries at a fine temperature before use.
However, there is also a bright side when it comes to keeping LiPo batteries in the cold. Read on to see what I’m talking about.
If I specifically talk about storing LiPo batteries, the low temperature is actually beneficial for storage purposes.
Storing LiPo batteries in a cold environment can be beneficial as long as the temperature is above freezing point. However, if the temperature is expected to drop lower than freezing point, you need to settle for a more temperature-controlled environment to store the LiPo battery without any damage.
As the low temperatures limit the chemical reactions occurring inside the LiPo battery, it helps in preserving its life expectancy. The important thing to note here is that the cold environment is good for the battery only if that temperature is above the freezing point.
But I still recommend you to take caution when you are removing a cold battery from a low temperature environment or vice versa. That’s because the abrupt change in environment can cause rapid condensation or freezing - both of which are harmful for the LiPo cells.
Here’s what you need to know about LiPo battery storage in a garage.
LiPo batteries can be stored in any indoor space that is temperature-controlled, even if it is a garage. However, you need to make sure that the batteries are away from direct sunlight and within a suitable temperature range. Also make sure that they are in a place where you can spot potential fire.
As long as your garage has an environment that’s recommended for safe and efficient LiPo battery storage, there’s nothing wrong in storing your batteries there.
I have already alluded to this in previous sections, but let’s get a bit specific with the numbers.
In an ideal situation, the best temperature to store DJI batteries is between 71° and 86°F (22 and 30°C) - within room temperature. Going lower than this wouldn’t harm them given that the temperature isn’t below 32°F (0°C). However, going higher than 30°C will certainly damage the battery.
When a DJI battery is stored at an extremely hot situation, it causes the battery to deteriorate at an alarmingly higher rate. It leads to the swelling of the battery pack, and if the battery is not removed from such an environment - it can even result in a battery explosion.
As for storing batteries in the cold conditions, like I said before as well, anywhere above the freezing point isn’t harmful to the battery.
DJI, or any other LiPo-based batteries are temperature-sensitive so you need to pay heed to the environmental conditions before storing them.
Let’s now talk about whether you can take DJI batteries on a plane ride. And if yes, what are the things you need to take care of?
Taking DJI batteries on a plane is possible. However, you need to make sure that the battery power is 100 watt-hour or less and that it is placed inside the drone. The charge of the battery should be at storage level, preferably 40-65%. In any other case, you need to take airline approval.
For instance, if the battery in transit has a power that is higher than 100 watt-hour, you need to get a special approval from the airline before you can board it on the plane.
Most airlines allow carrying spare batteries but only if they are carried in a carry-on rather than the checked baggage. This ensures that the batteries are always kept within the right temperature ranges.
At the same time. you need to not only place your batteries in a LiPo-friendly bag but also put the entire package in a travel-friendly storage box.
And of course, it goes without saying that it’s your responsibility to ensure that the battery remains safe from all potential hazards - including collisions, squeezing, puncturing etc.
As a side note, I’ve also done a separate post on whether you can take a drone on a plane or not.
While all drones should be stored in a more or less similar way, in this section I will talk about one of the most popular DJI models - Mini 2!
To store DJI Mini 2, start by investing in a protective case where all the components can fit right in. This includes the drone itself as well as its batteries, charging hubs, controllers etc. Also ensure that the batteries are not inside the drone or charging hub and are kept at a storage voltage.
Investing in such a protective case will provide added security to your drone. It prevents any kind of movement of the drone components inside the case.
It will also help in eliminating damage that results from drops and bumps - especially if you tend to travel a lot with your DJI Mini 2.
This video below will help you visualize exactly what I’m talking about.
Allow me to conclude this post with an emphasis on proper storage of your drone batteries.
To store your drone batteries, make sure their charge is at optimum storage level. This is determined with the battery percentage (40-65%) or checking if the third LED light of the battery is blinking. Also make sure that batteries are kept inside a LiPo-friendly bag and stored at room temperature.
While each and every component of your DJI Mini 2 is essentially important, the overall performance of your drone eventually narrows down to the health of the batteries. I cannot stress enough on how a well-maintained battery is the groundwork of a smooth flying experience.
For a quick recap, check out this video that will augment all the battery storage tips I have talked about in this post.