The DJI Mini 3 is one of the most beloved drones from the brand, but any drone is only as good as its battery.
Why do we need drone batteries? Where do they come from? Can Elon Musk fly me to space? Two of these three questions will be answered ahead.
I’ll give you all the information you need to maintain your Mini 3 battery and maximize its lifespan to improve flight times safely and cost-effectively.
Keep reading as I discuss some basic battery terminology and dive into specifics on the DJI Mini 3 / Mini 3 Pro, such as options, tips and tricks, safety, and charging/accessory options.
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
Before I get into all that, here is a handy glossary of battery terms to know.
Lithium Polymer, a specific type of lithium Ion battery.
I call them Lions….I don’t know if that’s shared vernacular, but if not, may I suggest “Lion” for the new drone lexicon? Most, if not all, drones you will encounter on a hobby/recreational basis will use lithium batteries.
The same type of battery is usually in your laptop, smartphone, portable speaker, tablet, electric shavers/toothbrushes/hairdryers, cordless tools, etc.
They are relatively lightweight compared to other battery materials and contain the highest energy density within reasonable cost constraints.
(mAh) Milliamp hour
This is the standard unit labeled to describe the electrical capacity in terms of the storage limitation of a given battery.
Regarding flight time, the higher the mAh of a battery, the more flight time will be allowed.
It should be noted that the mAh also increases proportionally to the weight of the battery, particularly the lithium cells’ mass, even if they have the same physical size.
Nickel-cadmium is a common type of consumer rechargeable battery.
Nickel-metal hydride is a variant of the NiCad consumer rechargeable battery. Although they are similar to NiCadd batteries, they are not interchangeable.
Value-regulated lead-acid is a heavy-duty, heavyweight type of battery.
Sealed-lead acid is an alternate lead acid battery type.
UAV batteries come in increments of 3.7 volts per cell. Toys requiring larger voltage draws (mostly larger toys) require multiple cells wired in series.
When used to describe drone batteries, the letter S describes how many cells are included in each battery pack. Small nano drones are usually a single cell.
Most beginner-level drones use a 2S battery. This does include most DJI drones (the Mavic series, all the Nini series, the Air series, and the Spark).
Some larger UAVs, RC trucks, etc., use 3S, such as the Yuneec Q500+, and I have seen RC planes and larger helicopters that use a 4S battery pack.
I have heard soft whispers amid the elders in hushed tones of stoicism and lore, which spoke of a 5S and even a 6S battery and the great powers enabled by such.
It seems self-explanatory, but weight is often a factor of note and is included when discussing UAV batteries.
It’s of particular interest to this conversation and relevance to owners of the DJI Mini 3 and 3 Pro because DJI offers two options at the launch of the Mini 3, but the larger one pushes the drone beyond the 250-gram threshold on recreational UAVs that many governments have placed on drones.
This method of charging is necessary for any battery containing more than two cells. Balance charging will charge each cell simultaneously, balancing each cell as the voltage increases.
In lithium cells, if one cell has a larger voltage than the neighboring cell, it could lead to swelling and unsafe pressure/temperature irregularities.
Such irregularities during charging or storage could ultimately lead to the battery/device receiving damage and potentially resulting in harm or even fire.
Problems like these are something you won’t need to concern yourself with if you’re using the chargers and batteries included by DJI because they take care of these considerations with their intelligent features.
They have little computer chips in everything, making it almost impossible to charge/misuse them.
However, you must know about battery cells and balanced charging if you want to build or fly your own home-build UAVs.
This DJI Term can be used inclusively for any battery containing some firmware, memory, intelligent self-control, and visual indicators.
DJI is not the only manufacturer that makes batteries that have these features, but since this is an article about DJI Mini 3 batteries, I can talk about it as a DJI feature.
Intelligent batteries can tell you their charge level with a press of a button. They also have embedded protection against misuse and safety to increase life longevity.
Intelligent Batteries. More brilliant than smart water?
Intelligent batteries have many valuable features. For example, they will turn off before discharging entirely so you don’t ruin your battery by completely depleting it.
Believe it or not, your cell phone does the same, or else we will all brick our phones the first time we forget to charge them at night.
A good tip for cordless tools, even rechargeable AAs, etc, is to keep them from getting down to zero percent.
Think of it like your car gas tank or a water pump system. It’s a lot less of a big deal to keep going if you don’t empty it all the way to the bottom.
Similarly, implementing smart charging and varying the input current at different voltages at certain times in charging to fill the battery safely, efficiently, and to the fullest won’t damage it.
In the onset, it will be supplying the highest current until the battery has a level of around 85 percent.
Then the battery provides a lower current until it is approximately 95 percent charged, then a trickle charge until 98 percent or so.
On the other side, after a few days of holding a charge over 50 percent, the battery will start to discharge at around five percent per day to help reduce battery strain and maximize battery life or cycles until it has a charge below 50 percent.
It’s stressful on a battery to be at its fullest limit or near it, so it is best to only charge your batteries to the max as immediately before a flight as possible.
If you charge a LiPo battery with too much voltage or too quickly, it can lead to cells overheating and a fire.
Note: LiPos can be dangerous if not charged, used, or even appropriately stored.
The chemicals in keeping an electrical charge can also quickly generate heat. As we know (or definitely should), heat can lead to a fire if unsupervised or just unprepared.
Mini 3 / Mini 3 Pro Battery Options
For the first time, DJI offers two battery options for the Mini 3 and Mini 3 Pro.
The major difference is that the lighter option is the only one that keeps you within the 250-gram threshold of not needing to register your drone in many countries (the US and Canada in particular).
The two batteries are the same physical size, but the increased mAh (which equates to flight minutes) is given from an increase in mass to the physical components of the lithium cells.
Original Battery Specs
- Approximately 80.5 grams
- 2453 mAh
- 34-minute max flight time
- 60-minute approximate charging time (w/ DJI Charger)
Battery Plus Specs
- Approximately 136 grams
- 3850 mAh
- 47-minute max flight time
- 100-minute approximate charging time (w/ DJI Charger)
Drone battery safety – transportation, storage, warnings, and dangers
To wrap up, I want to present some safety tips for keeping and using drone batteries for the Mini 3 or any other UAV.
Use fireproof battery bags
Fireproof battery bags are an excellent and cost-effective way to be as safe as possible. It may be a little overkill to insist on them at all times when your batteries aren’t being used, but I believe the bags are a must-have if you travel or the batteries will be out of your sight.
I don’t believe they’re necessary if you’d be aware of a chemical accident or if heat is suddenly created from your battery pack, such as charging batteries in your living room or putting them in your drone bag going to the park.
I personally keep any batteries that I am storing for longer than a week or so in my battery bag.
I believe the name pretty much says it all, but in case not, a fireproof bag offers a safe place to keep Li-Po battery packs that will not allow an accidental fire to spread. The fire will be contained in the bag and will starve the fire of the oxygen it needs to keep burning.
The fire risk from these batteries is a very real possibility.
However, you’ll usually have lots of signs first, such as more heat than usual when you are done using the battery and very noticeable swelling of the cells.
Often a burnt electrical type of odor accompanies a dying Li-Po before the point of it causing catastrophic failure.
Large Space Highly Sturdy Double Zipper Lipo Battery Guard for Lipo Battery Storage and Charging (10.63 x 6.69 x 6.69 inch).
Monitor your batteries
It’s a very good practice to be aware of the physical and digital state of your batteries at all times. They are the most dangerous compounds in this hobby and should not be treated lightly.
You don’t need to be scared of the technology but should respect it and learn about the dangers batteries could present and how to mitigate those dangers while getting the most out of your battery packs.
Always feel your batteries after use and after charging. Get used to how warm they get after normal use and be ready to question any flight or charge that generates much more heat.
Look and feel for swelling. Often, you’ll feel the cell bulging out before you can visually notice it.
Even catching a battery irregularity one charge cycle earlier can save you a fire or a destroyed craft!