My thoughts on the Lipo dilemma.
With the release of the DNA200, as well as several other Mods, that utilize Lipo batteries, a lot of fear and apprehension has surfaced in the community.
Why do we even consider Lipos?
Lets face it, we have pushed our Mods and the current 18650 technology to its max! Our ever escalating hunger for more power, a better vape, bigger clouds, etc.. has pushed our need for a portable energy source beyond what 18650 IMR/ICR cells are designed to deliver. We are running these cells at their maximum discharge ratings, and pushing them even further if we can. No battery is happy being run continually at its upper rating. Batteries perform better, last longer, and are safer, when run at a about 75% of the rated capacity. This means that for high power Mods - 18650s just aren't cutting it anymore.
Lipo was selected by Mod engineers because it has the highest energy density of any commonly available energy source. It also has a much better voltage curve as it depletes. These are the exact same reasons that industries supplying Robotics, Electric Bikes, Cellphones, Tablets, Kindles, R/C Hobby, and many other Consumer Electronics products, adopted Lipo batteries.
Why are so many people so scared of Lipos?
Early generation Lipos were adopted by the R/C hobby enthusiasts long ago because of their energy density. Just like us vapers push our 18650s, their pushed these Lipos to the max! They did all sorts of things to push the performance to higher levels. Things like over charging, heating the batteries, charging them super fast, and a variety of other tricks. Their application is also a lot more physically demanding than ours. They are flying planes and driving cars, often pushing the vehicles limits and sometimes crashing them causing physical damage to the cells. Between the performance enhancement tricks and the physical damage, many incidents occurred where the batteries failed spectacularly. These failures were captured on YouTube and hit the newspapers, and the spectacular nature of how a Lipo can fail became well known, albeit not very well understood by the uninitiated. Suffice it to say that failure rate experienced by R/C hobbyist probably dwarfs anything we will see in our application.
Are Lipos really more dangerous?
They "can" be, YES! The more energy you store, the more densely you store it, the more dangerous it can be in an uncontrolled release. This applies to electricity, compressed gas, springs, or any other energy source you can imagine. However they "can" be used quite safely. Think about that Smartphone that you might be reading this on. Safe use is a function of proper engineering, and operating the battery within its designed parameters. We use Lipo tech in all sorts of things everyday. Dont attempt to push a cell beyond its design limits and you will not be likely to encounter any issues. Overcharging, excessive heat, excessive drain, short circuiting, physical trauma, are all things that can cause the magic smoke and even fire.
Can we use them safely?
Yes we can! I have been using Lipos in my Mods for a few years now, and I have not had a single incident with them. Today's generation of Lipo is very safe IF used within their design parameters. The key is EDUCATION. Not casually reading one of my, or someone Else's, posts, but really studying the technology and understanding it if you are going to utilize them in your build. It is beyond my intended scope to "teach" this technology, I do not feel qualified, but I will include several good links at the end of this.
IMHO the fear that many feel towards this technology results from inadequate education.
There is no lazy way out, if you want to be safe you must educate yourself!
Here are a few resources to get you started, Google is your friend!
Lithium Polymer Etiquette: A Comprehensive Guide to Working with LiPo
http://www.rcaces.org/RC Aces News Letter/A_Guide_to_LiPo_Batteries.pdf
Lithium Polymer Charging/Discharging & Safety Information
RC Battery Guide: The Basics of Lithium-Polymer Batteries - Tested
All about lipo balance connectors - TJinTech
The Ultimate LiPo Drone Battery Care Guide - Dronethusiast
Understanding RC LiPo Batteries
Complete Guide to Lithium Polymer Batteries and LiPo Failure Reports - RC Groups
BU-206a: Finding the Optimal Runtime and Power Ratio of Li-ion – Battery University
Basic understanding of LiPo, Li-Ion and LiFePo4 battery, its use and care
©2015 Mike Petro. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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