Godox has been getting an unfair, I think, hard time lately about its batteries. With reports of them spontaneously catching on fire or just dying completely. But as I’ve said before, this isn’t something that’s unique to Godox. The fact of the matter is that lithium-ion battery technology can be dangerous when not respected. Lack of proper care can also cause them to become useless fairly quickly, too.
In this video, photographer Wes Perry, who has a background in engineering and alternative energies, walks us through five simple tips to prevent our lithium-ion batteries from catching fire or exploding and to extend their life for as long as possible.
- Take the battery out when you’re done – When you leave batteries in a device, even if it’s turned off, current can still “leak” over time, causing your batteries to become too depleted (we’ll get back to that) if you don’t use that piece of gear often.
- Don’t store them fully charged – This is why many batteries, like those for DJI drones, offer a “storage” charge option. This option charges or drains the batteries to about half full for long term storage. Leaving them stored on a full charge for long periods of time can dramatically shorten their life.
- Don’t overheat them – If you’ve taken a battery out of a piece of gear because you’ve been working it hard and it’s dead, then it’s probably coming out warm. Don’t throw it straight into a charger, increasing the heat even further. Also, don’t leave them sitting in the hottest part of your vehicle on a sunny day.
- Don’t leave them charging – I know so many people who put batteries on a charger and then just leave them there 24/7, often for weeks, until they need to use them. If you’re not using them for a while, charge or drain them to around 50% and then just charge them up to full a day or two before your shoot. And make sure to remove them from the charger once fully charged.
- Don’t drain them to zero – Many batteries these days contain electronics to monitor the voltage and prevent you from draining them too much, but it’s still possible, especially if you let them get low, leave them in your gear, and they drain even further. A lithium-ion battery that’s drained too low can be almost impossible to safely charge up again for most people. And even if you have the gear and know-how to safely bring them back up to a normal voltage, they may no longer hold a charge.
Godox puts all of these tips in various bits of documentation for the batteries that come with their lights, but these tips don’t just apply to Godox lights. They apply to any kind of lithium-ion based battery, whether it’s your camera batteries, your laptop, or whatever.
I’ve got 10 lithium-ion battery-powered Godox lights here, and some of them are almost four years old now. I’ve followed the principles above since day one because I was already taking care of my lithium-ion drone and other batteries the same way. All of my Godox batteries still hold a good charge and none have swollen or exploded.
There is still more that manufacturers can do to extend the life of their batteries and protect them from the people who purchase them. DJI, for example, puts a pretty massive amount of technology into their batteries, for example, which is why they cost so much to buy spares. But until the manufacturers start to take mishandling and bad care into account, follow these tips. It’s safer and cheaper.