Everyone with a drone knows that it takes forever to charge those batteries. In fact, it takes as much time to charge them as you want to keep them in the air. How long is that and why? Here are some answers.
Typically, it takes anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes to charge a drone battery to full capacity. But that can vary depending on the battery you are trying to charge. It also varies depending on the charger you use. You can play with the amps of the charger (meaning use a 6 amp charger instead of a 2 amp model) to reduce the charging time.
While there are a few things you can do to reduce the charging time of a drone battery, that is not always feasible or even recommended. A lot of manufacturers need you to use their own batteries and chargers. And if you ignore these instructions, you might be heading towards an unsafe charging environment that might even lead to an explosion… quite literally. So, here’s a few things you need to know before you start your experiments. Take a look.
Table of Contents
How long does a drone take to charge?
The endurance of a drone battery is something that is hotly debated among professionals and enthusiasts almost all the time. It is a fantastic device but it does not last too long and that is a matter of some concern among them all. And rightly so.
Typically, commercial drones are able to fly for about 90 minutes and unfortunately, it takes almost the same amount of time to charge them. Depending on the brand, it can vary from 60 to 90 minutes.
The problem with that is you will end up keeping them parked at the charging station for as long as you want them in the air. No matter what the device, this is never the ideal case scenario.
To duck this problem, most drone pilots and/or operators carry extra sets of batteries which, unfortunately, are not cheap and hence not an option for everyone. It also adds to the amount of gear one needs to lug around with their drone. Some companies, however, claim to have made tremendous progress in this area.
Back in the field, you can take the example of Mavic Mini to get an idea of how these things work. It takes 90 minutes to charge its battery to full capacity. And that is with the Quick Charge 2.0 18W USB charger. And if you are going with the 1,100 mAh battery, it takes 50 minutes.
Now, even if you use very little of the drone because you are tired of the charging process, you should charge it to its full capacity and store it safely at least once in three months so that it does not die on you. If not to full capacity, at least make sure that the battery is up to 60 percent of its capacity.
And there are more specifications on how to charge the battery too. If you are dealing with the Mavic Mini Intelligent Flight Battery, make sure you are charging it at a temperature range of 32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit which is also its operating temperature. Each battery comes with its own set of specifications and you must follow them diligently.
It comes with a remote control which also runs on a battery that has a capacity of 2,600 mAh. It takes about 120 minutes to reach its full capacity when you use a DJI 18W USB charger and must also be charged at a temperature range of 32 to 112 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are using an iOS device to charge it, it will take about 4.5 hours and if you are using an Android device, the same will happen in about 1.5 hours. Yes, there is a difference and if that impresses you, remember that you need a steady connection between the Android device and the remote control battery.
The device will also draw a small amount of power from the remote control and the battery life is reduced when you use an Android device to charge it. Not so impressed now, are you?
If you are using a Parrot Bebop 2 Power charger, things change slightly. These chargers get the battery to a full capacity in about 50 minutes. But there is a catch. The more you charge the battery using this charger, the fewer times you will have to charge it to full capacity after every flight.
Now, if you know what you are doing, you can experiment with electric current output which is measured in amps. If you don’t want your flight to be interrupted at a critical juncture or just when you are starting to have a good time, you might want to consider getting drone batteries that have longer battery life.
But that’s a tough call to make. Instead, what you can do is try a different charger so that the battery doesn’t have to spend so much time in the charging station. For instance, a 2-amp charger will get the drone battery to its full capacity in 60 to 90 minutes, right? Use a 6-amp charger and it will be done in about half that time.
But you need to make sure that the battery is compatible with the charger. That means you’ll need to check that with your drone manufacturer.
Why Do Drone Batteries Take So Long to Charge
You would think that your smartphone—that is acting as your music player, camera and navigation system, apart from a phone—has a lot of work to do. Compared to that, the job of a drone is Herculean.
There are too many factors that affect the fly time of a drone and through all these hurdles, it is the battery that has to power it. So, you can imagine the amount of power the battery needs to carry. Understanding the battery’s job is a great way to gain insight into why it takes so long to power it. Here’s a peek.
A drone is a flying object with very short blades that need to rotate quite swiftly per minute (measures in RPM) so that it can get the energy it needs to take off. That is the burden of the battery. This also generates heat in the batteries and that often kills its life. That’s the reason you need to wait till they cool down before you recharge them.
Weight is also an important factor. That is why getting bigger batteries for power and flight duration is not always the answer. The heavier the drone, the more energy it needs to fly and hence drains the battery. Adding cameras to it is also part of the same problem.
You also need to consider weather conditions. If you are using lithium batteries, you will find out that they are not great in cold weather.
All of these are the burden of the battery and that is why it needs extra power to keep going. Knowing that it should be clear why it takes so long to charge them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Overcharge a Drone Battery?
Yes, you can. That is why, if you are dealing with a LiPo battery, trickle charging is a bad idea. All you need to keep in mind is that the full charge of these batteries is 4.2 volts per cell and you should never let them go under 3.2 volts. If it goes under 3 volts, you are looking at permanent damage.
How Do I Know When My Drone Battery Is Charged?
You need to wait and see if the batteries are flashing. This means they are still charging. This also means that oftentimes, when the battery is between 75 to 100 percent there isn’t a way to tell. If you are dealing with intelligent flight batteries, there will be an LED which will blink slowly in green color. When it is fully charged, the light will be a solid green. Make sure you disconnect the power because overcharging is a real problem.