It is mind-boggling to see just how fast all things technical speed forward in this day and age. Certainly, UAVs (drones) are not the exception to this reality.
And as the technology for the drone itself matures, expands, occasionally shrinks in size, and adds undreamed-of functionality, so too do the power sources needed to propel them appropriately.
Since the early days of the Phantom 2, DJI has crafted, developed, and improved the lithium polymer-based batteries used to power these flying machines.
For some time now, referring to them as “batteries” is somewhat of a misnomer as they are really power devices with their own onboard computers and telemetry systems, often able to optimize, heal and manage their power envelope directly from the box.
» MORE: LiPo Batteries for Drones
Camera Drone with 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad Camera, 5.1K Video, Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing, 46-Min Flight, Apple ProRes 422 HQ, Max 15km Video Transmission.
The Mavic 3 Battery
The included factory Mavic 3 battery boasts 15.4 volts and a 5000 milliamp hour capacity that utilizes the DJI Smart Charging and Discharging functionally – more on that below.
One notable change is that the Mavic 3 battery now uses a USB-C cable for charging. You can plug the USB-C cable directly into the Mavic 3 onboard port.
It is also possible to charge via the USB-A charging port supplied, but it cannot take advantage of the full 65Ws of power during charging.
The USB-A charging port is purposely provided for charging the Mavic 3 Controller.
With the battery installed (or not installed in the drone), a quick single press of the power button will display the battery’s current power level via the 4 Green LEDs on the front face of the battery. After a short period, those lights will go out.
Note: Mavic 3 operators should spend time understanding the process and procedures for taking care of your LiPo drone batteries, how to store them, and understand the lighting signals they are sharing with us.
» MORE: Drone Battery Care
That short press followed by a second long press will also turn the battery OFF or ON. If installed in the drone, this will cycle the Mavic 3 bootup and will soon be ready to fly via the Mavic 3 controller.
Again, to turn the battery (and aircraft) OFF, a short press followed by a long press will power down both the battery and aircraft.
It’s worth repeating here that one should avoid flying on partially charged batteries as their readouts cannot always be counted on for accuracy.
Charging the Battery
DJI publishes that in neutral conditions, the battery is capable of a maximum of 45 minutes of flight time and 40 minutes in a sustained hover – fully charged, of course.
Depending on just how you are “accessorized” with your Mavic 3, there are a few options you can decide on when it comes time to charge the batteries.
Out of the box, a “vanilla” purchase will supply you with the 65W charging port, a hard-wired USB-C cable to USB-C, and an electrical plug with a USB-C and USB-A hub for charging the controller.
So your charging options are to:
- Charge using the power hub a single battery using the portable hub;
- Charge using the power hub with the battery installed in the drone;
- Charge using the multi-hub port with batteries in the port
Other retail bundles may include extra batteries and a 3 battery multi-port charger capable of charging 3 batters in sequence (individually charging).
Finally, you can use the hard-wired USB-C cable from the port connected directly to a battery installed in the drone.
Third-party 20volt battery charging systems are thought to be compatible as per DJI, but there is so little data accumulated at this point in the product life that there will undoubtedly be some questions regarding non-OEM charging solutions.
Time shall tell, of course.
The graphic below shows the meaning of the LED lighting states as they refer to the current capacity of the battery.
Note: Like most DJI batteries, the Mavic 3 batteries can communicate with us (to some extent) using the language of LEDs lighting. (See the LED Value List below.)
The muli-port charger, like the multi-port chargers prior to the Mavic 3, will only charge one battery at a time (excluding a battery still installed in the drone).
The battery requiring the most amount of charge will be last in the sequence to charge.
While it may seem inefficient for this singular charge in a port that holds multiple batteries, it is designed to charge a single battery as quickly and efficiently as possible and save the user the chore of having to disconnect and reconnect batteries as they get charged and/or are waiting for their turn in the charging sequence.
The Mavic 3 Fly More Combo includes 2 extra batteries and a multi-port charger that can accommodate 3 charges (in sequence).
The battery needing the least charging will be first to be fully charged, with the charging order descending from most to least needed charge.
The Mavic 3 ships with multiple cables that are used for charging and/or photo/file transfer between the Mavic 3 and another device like a laptop, e.g.
The best way to keep the battery charging to its fullest possible strength is the slow charging method using the out-of-box (hard-wired USB-C) charging port.
Though slower, it will use all of the 65W power supply available and be the healthiest method for your battery’s longevity and reliability.
Depending on the charge method listed above, a full charge will take about 1.3 hours, give or take for a specific battery.
You must use the USB C hard-wired cable (USB C to USB C) to realize the 65W power available. The USB A to USB C cable will charge, but much slower.
Smart Battery Discharge – 12-Day Cycle
Like previous DJI Smart Battery Discharge strategies in earlier models, the Mavic 3 batteries also make use of a systematic and sequenced loss of power capacity over idle time.
A fully charged Mavic 3 battery, if left idle for 3 days, will automatically drop to 96% of full power, to inhibit LiPo swelling, which is the death knell for these computerized power sources.
Left idle for 9 days, you will see that battery capacity fall to 60%.
Many consider leaving the battery at 60% to be a healthier option for the batteries when idle for longer periods.
Having good procedures for managing battery charging, discharging, and battery storage when not in use is great common sense, especially when one considers, at the time of this writing, that a new Mavic 3 OEM (DJI) replacement battery will lighten your wallet by nearly $210 USD.
- Offers a max flight time of 46 minutes (40 minutes when hovering).
- Compatibility: DJI Mavic 3 Pro, DJI Mavic 3 Pro Cine, DJI Mavic 3 Classic, DJI Mavic 3, DJI Mavic 3 Cine, DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise Series
- In the Box: Intelligent Flight Battery x1
These prices are known to vary wildly by region and availability, by the way.
Note: It is unconfirmed but believed that if you press the off/on switch of the battery, it resets the days left idle back to 0. Some report that this is a way to keep a battery at 96% for an undefined period.
- Battery Level Display: The LED indicators display the current battery level.
- Auto-Discharging Function: To prevent swelling, the battery automatically discharges to 96% of the battery level when it is idle for three days and automatically discharges to 60% of the battery level when it is idle for nine days. It is normal to feel moderate heat being emitted from the battery during the discharging process.
- Balanced Charging: During charging, the voltages of the battery cells are automatically balanced.
- Overcharge Protection: The battery stops charging automatically once fully charged.
- Temperature Detection: In order to protect itself, the battery only charges when the temperature is between 5° and 40° C (41° and 104° F).
- Overcurrent Protection: The battery stops charging if an excess current is detected.
- Over-Discharge Protection: Discharging stops automatically to prevent excess discharge when the battery is not in use. Over-discharge protection is not enabled when the battery is in use.
- Short Circuit Protection: The power supply is automatically cut if a short circuit is detected.
- Battery Cell Damage Protection: DJI Fly displays a warning prompt when a damaged battery cell is detected.
- Hibernation Mode: The battery switches off after 20 minutes of inactivity to save power. If the battery level is less than 5%, the battery enters Hibernation mode to prevent over-discharge after being idle for six hours. In Hibernation mode, the battery level indicators do not illuminate. Charge the battery to wake it from hibernation.
- Communication: Information about the battery’s voltage, capacity, and current is transmitted to the aircraft.
Wrapping Up …
These LiPo batteries are made for efficiency and longevity.
Do note, however, that the more they are used (one use is referred to as a “cycle”), the more they will lose some small storage capacity over time, providing less flight time as the battery cycles through its usable lifetime.
Just how many cycles a Mavic 3 battery has is just about anybody’s guess as we’re all still collecting data from this new entry into the DJI product line.