L&E Battery, better known for the Dinogy Battery brand, is one of the leading FPV and RC battery manufacturers at the moment. In this article we present you an exciting interview with L&E / Dinogy about upcoming products, lithium battery technology and we clarify some myths that have been present around LiPo batteries for some time.
We also will dive into the specification and characteristics that determine the quality and power output capabilities of a modern lithium battery like Dinogy packs. Be prepared for some serious information about LiPo batteries in general and to learn about Dinogy as a brand.
Let’s jump straight into our Dinogy interview. (A translated German version of the interview can be found here.)
Thank you for taking the time for an interview on Drone-Zone.de. Perhaps you could briefly describe your position at L&E Battery to give our readers some context?
My name is Harrison Ho, I’ve been working for L&E focusing on international sales since 2009.
For all our readers who don’t know L&E Battery, yet: What does L&E do and what has the company’s history been like so far? How are Dinogy batteries connected to your company?
With a history of over 10 years in R&D, manufacturing, and marketing of high-quality rechargeable batteries, L&E Battery Industrial Co., Ltd. is a major supplier with a strong reputation, based out of China. Today, we supply an extensive range of rechargeable battery products to electrical appliance companies, leading battery companies, and consumer retail markets under various OEM and internal brands, worldwide.
Given our core technologies and competency in rechargeable batteries, L&E believes that our products contribute to the success of our customers. We will keep making every effort in improving the reliability of our products through technology advances and advanced quality control testing. We strive to accurately identify new needs of global markets, so that we can develop more advanced and reliable technology and resulting products to satisfy those needs. Most importantly, it is our constant intention to offer our customers honest service.
Since 2008, we have steadily increased our production lines to supply an extensive range of rechargeable batteries for electrical appliances, portable electronic devices, medical and military products, emergency kits for commercial lighting, as well as high-power Li-Po batteries for R/C models and other hobby-based products.
After several years of effort in research and development, our high-power Li-Po batteries have been proven as a great success in real-world applications. Numerous championships were won and fastest records were achieved with the help of our products‘ high performance and superb, long-lasting quality.
For example, most NAMBA (biggest model boating association) titles were achieved with the help of our batteries. Guinness World Records recorded the fastest R/C car traveling at 202mph- powered by our Li-Po. We’ve also facilitated many awards for professional FPV Racing, 3DX, F3P, F3A and so on.
In regard to Dinogy, in 2010, my boss Henry thought it was time for us to create our own premium brand name to spread across the world. He requested me to incorporate a certain animal into the upcoming brand that could stand for power, and I eventually settled on Dinosaur + Energy = Dinogy.
L&E has been an established player in the drone battery market for several years now. Can you give as a brief overview about your current product portfolio?
L&E has a wide range of battery models for most R/C models, including soft packs for drones, aircrafts, airsoft guns, boats, and even hard case packs for cars, trucks, etc.
All of our Li-Pos are divided into 3 categories: Economic entry-level NANO-TECH series, intermediate GRAPHENE series, and premium GRAPHENE 2.0 series. With each of these tiers are sub-tiers with varying power and capacity specifications that provide our customers with a wider set of options to choose from.
Of course, unfair laws that seek to exercise impractical levels of restraint on drone operators should be avoided at all costs…Harrison Ho, L&E Battery International Sales
Looking into the future: Most of your brands seem to be focused on the RC hobbyist market. As demand for drones in the industrial sector rises, will L&E also shift its focus to batteries for industrial drone applications?
We actually have been producing industrial packs that have been professionally tested by third parties AND have been subjected to real-world experiences by UAV professionals for years now.
For example, Heliguy used our Industrial packs on the set of the famous documentary Planet Earth II. We offer 11000mAh, 16000mAh, and 22000mAh high-capacity packs for industrial drones and UAVs.
Customers who have tested and used our cells believe ours have higher under load voltage than other producers’ light-weight cells, since our cells were designed with more electrode plates than others. More electrode plates mean more weight, but also means the cells/pack can more effectively/safely achieve a higher discharge rate, which is very important for industrial drones, especially those that carry expensive equipment.
Higher discharge rate cells can withstand higher current demands from take-off and sudden quick movements. The resulting higher under load voltage effectively delivers more RPM to motors. Therefore, customers find that drones fly „lighter“ in the sky with our Li-Pos.
As a battery manufacturer you are somewhat dependent on the evolvement of the drone market. In many countries there currently are efforts to regulate the use of drones more strictly. What things should legislators pay attention to? What should be avoided at all costs?
As you know, L&E provides solutions to other markets that require quality rechargeable batteries. We don’t just depend on the drone market- we offer solutions for all other types of R/C models, wireless electronic devices, and products spread across various other markets.
We’re all aware that there are more and more restrictions on drones in many countries thanks to reckless hobbyists flying drones everywhere without consideration for safety. This is still an emerging, growing industry and it is understandable to see legislation be introduced and continue to mature over time.
Legislators should pay close attention to hobbyists as this is often where innovation begins. Of course, unfair laws that seek to exercise impractical levels of restraint on drone operators should be avoided at all costs, because this will only lead to clever circumvention and lawlessness that will in the end achieve the opposite of what the law makers seek.
FPV Racing (or drone racing) is becoming more and more popular as a sport. How important do you see the “FPV fraction” of the drone market for the future development of battery technology?
The booming FPV racing sport did promote high-powered battery development. You will find more and more higher C rate packs popping up on the market from different suppliers, and certainly, we will continue to innovate to meet the demands of the growing professional racing industry.
It is obviously an important sector of the overall drone market. In order to stand on the podium, serious racers need high performance packs. That said, many Li-Po manufacturers only care about superficial performance for the reason of cost and don’t take lifespan and safety seriously.
It’s equally as important to understand this. Our competitors want customers’ packs to wear out quickly and replace them frequently so as to have more sales, while on the other hand, we think it’s more important to make packs with high performance, excellent safety and excellent durability despite the costs.
Every racer should get utmost satisfaction and peace of mind without wasting money and creating more waste to the Earth. That has always been our philosophy. Quality and safety first. We hope the awareness of this combined with the needs of the FPV sector will create a competitive landscape that ultimately leads to a safer future for the entire market.
Some time ago the International Air Transport Association changed its terms on how batteries must be shipped. Could you explain to our readers what this means for the drone battery business and how you came around with a solution?
The new air shipping regulations for Lithium batteries did cause some trouble for us in 2016 when it was announced, but forwarders figured out a solution soon after that, so delivery is not a problem now.
At least the public opinion on battery technology seems to be that there has not be a whole lot improvement. Still, especially high power LiPo batteries for drone and RC application have seen several performance improvements over the last few years. Could you give us a brief walk through the last milestones of lithium polymer batterie technology?
Ever since Sony achieved the mass production of the lithium-ion battery 18650 cell in the early 90s, technology kept improving year after year. Energy density (capacity) kept getting higher and higher, but still no Li-Pos were suitable for R/C models since they required high power output capabilities.
As developments occurred, the high capacity cell for the consumer market had a much bigger demand than R/C, until early 2000. Kokam then released a 20C and 30C high discharge rate lithium polymer soft pack which was proven perfect for R/C models, especially aircrafts that needed light-weight packs
Then a few battery manufacturers in China that were good at making NiMh and NiCd batteries found out the potential market and tried to make high discharge rate Li-Pos based on this tech. Of course, it didn’t go so well initially. There was a high percentage of quality issues like premature puffing, dead cells, and low voltage problems.
Several years later, some of the managers and engineers resigned from their former factories and established their own businesses. Our chief engineer is one of the earliest pioneers in Li-Po production and now has overcome all difficulties that could result in failure and is leading the workers to make Li-Pos with improved technology and more advanced production facilities.
Li-Po productions nowadays are more similar than different, so you won’t find a huge leap in differences. What the producers are competing for are higher performance, better quality control, better safety, better price and better customer service. L&E is proven to excel at these key traits. We have a long-standing history proving this.
One questions often addressed to us by our readers is the choice between graphene and non-graphene enabled batteries. What’s the difference? And what should the performance enthusiast choose?
Not every Li-Po labeled with GRAPHENE will be good- many producers like to exaggerate the word „graphene“, and I want to clarify it accounts for a small part in most formulas.
It can help boost Li-Po performance and lifespan to some extent but not a lot. You won’t find a 200% performance difference between the GRAPHENE and NON-GRAPHENE packs. So, customers should choose according to their needs. For instance, if you’re a beginner and under a learning curve, user-error/damage is inevitable, and you may use lower C rate economic packs.
If you’re an experienced racer and your only purpose is to take down your competitors on the racing track where every gram and technology edge matters, then you should use the top-notch premium graphene packs. There is a need and place for both graphene and non-graphene based LiPo packs.
Every racer should get utmost satisfaction and peace of mind without wasting money and creating more waste to the Earth.Harrison Ho, L&E Battery International Sales
For many years LiPo batteries have been looked at with a rather skeptical view. Many horror stories about LiPos burning down houses have been told on the internet. How far are we with these safety issues on modern lithium batteries, today?
First you need to understand why lithium batteries might catch fire. In general, it can be attributed to thermal runaway. More specifically, the following factors responsible for it are:
1. Mechanical Abuse
Outer force from crashes, drops, punctures or squeezing pressure could deform the cell and displace the electrode plates inside. Once the separator is ripped, internal short-circuit could happen and fire might start with the leakage of the electrolyte, which is flammable.
2. Electric Abuse
- a. Over-discharge (under 3.0V/cell), which can make some chemicals between the separator bloated and might pierce it, thus increasing the possibility of internal short-circuit and subsequent processes similar to those mentioned above.
- b. Over-charge (over 4.20V/cell), the excess high charge voltage will accelerate the dissolution of electrolyte and generate a lot of gas, and then more and more lithium crystal will be formed on the surface of the negative electrode plate, which will lead to internal short-circuit and fire.
- c. Short-circuit by way of excessive high current demand will generate a huge amount of heat and burn the chemicals.
- d. Over-load: Similar to above, improper use of the battery for other devices that could draw higher current than its designed discharge capability, thus causing overheating.
3. Manufacturing defect, bad design and QC
Healthy, functional cells should be designed with enough space inside for the electrodes and separator, otherwise internal short circuit occurs when they get malformed from the minor expansion that occurs during charging.
Quality Li-Po’s electrode plates should be made evenly and nicely. Rough surface with particles could increase chance of puncture when the cell suffers stress from outer forces.
As a matter of fact, the safety of lithium batteries has increased a lot with recent technologies. One of the great achievements is Ceramic Composite Separator released in 2012. Compared with traditional PP Plastic Separator, it has the following characteristics:
- 1. Better mechanical character, won’t get torn or pierced easily.
- 2. Good chemical property, corrosion resistant to organic solvents like electrolyte.
- 3. Excellent thermostability, lower heat shrinkage, higher temperature resistance.
Lithium battery manufacturers could reduce the risk of fire by applying ceramic composite separator for production, but many still ignore it for the reason of cost. We don’t ignore safety and quality, and we pride ourselves in adopting any new advances, as quickly as possible.
Even though lithium battery tech has evolved a lot with over 20 years of improvements and developments, fire could still occur under some circumstances, because we can’t fix the basic nature that lithium is extremely reactive. However, at L&E we work tirelessly to minimize these risks, both through manufacturing practices and education of safety handling.
Heat is the enemy of the Li-Pos, among other things, it could increase the aging process of chemicalsHarrison Ho, L&E Battery International Sales
One very interesting issue when it comes to drone batteries is the myth of “batteries need to be broken-in” before you should demand peak power from a pack. Is that true? Do modern LiPos need some break-in cycle before you can use them? If, yes how does this procedure look like talking best-practice?
High power Li-Pos do need break-in process for full performance, due to chemicals that tend to get „lazy“ during long term storage periods (3 months+). The common way to wake up the cells is to charge at 1C and discharge within 3C for 3 to 5 cycles, but different producers have different formula of chemicals, which leads to varied recommended procedures.
Last and maybe most important: Let’s talk a little bit about quality of battery cells. How is a good high-power lithium pack characterized? And what can people do to spot bad / low-quality packs? Is the C-rating still a reliable indicator?
Good high-power Li-Pos should have low IR (internal resistance) which is one of the most critical indicators. The lower the IR value, the less heat the cell generates and the higher current it can deliver effectively/safely. Heat is the enemy of the Li-Pos, among other things, it could increase the aging process of chemicals. As for the overall pack’s quality, the above-mentioned assembly details greatly apply.
Bad high-power Li-Pos have the general features of lower or 0 voltage cell, which might be due to minor internal short circuit after production and didn’t get removed from assembly and quality testing.
Of course, this can be attributed to poor quality control procedures at competing factories. Another bad sign is premature puffing that happens even under normal usage. Also, bad cell matching during production- voltage will differ considerably between each cell with further charge/discharge cycles. We don’t allow these b-grade cells to make it into our final product.
When any of the above negative characteristics are present, the chemicals of the cell become deteriorated, and its capacity and discharge capability wane accordingly. The C-rating is not an accurate indicator of quality.
Is there a real difference between cheap and premium LiPos?
Given some unfortunate manufacturing processes that still occur in factories today, there is certainly a difference between lower-cost LiPos and the more expensive premium packs. To understand the difference, we need to go over conditions and techniques that result in “cheap” LiPos during the common manufacturing process. These are some of the common cost-saving techniques employed by unscrupulous companies.
1. Assembling battery packs with B grade cells is, unfortunately, still a practice in some factories. A cell is classified as “B grade” if the intended design specification is not produced/met, due to any number of manufacturing problems, either “natural” (unavoidable) or somehow erroneously induced: lower voltage, higher IR (internal resistance), or lower capacity than expected.
The presence of “micro” internal short-circuiting would of course also fall under this category. These are all considered defective cells, and again, it’s expected that any manufacturer will produce some small percentage of these flawed cells.
That said, some manufacturers will knowingly use these flawed cells in their final battery packs as a cost-savings tactic. We take safety very seriously and believe that using these flawed cells could compromise the safety of our customers’ equipment, and even their livelihood in some cases.
2. Assembling battery packs with recycled cells from Jump Starters or Power Banks. Jump starter cells were designed to have momentary output power only and thus cannot sustain continuous high-current draw.
As expected, overheating and puffing tend to happen under these operating conditions. Power bank cells, as you might expect, are specifically often designed for low-power discharge and of course should not be used in high-power applications.
3. Mixing a high percentage of low-cost materials. Specifically, using a higher amount of nickel, cobalt, and manganese (NCM), rather than pure lithium cobalt oxides. The more NCM in the cells, the less cost, less under-load voltage (lower C rate) capability, and shorter life cycle health.
4. Increasing the surface density of chemical materials on each positive and negative electrode- much less aluminum and copper foil will be used for the same capacity, which increases the internal resistance and temperature. This also lowers the voltage discharge platform.
5. Replacing high-end aluminum laminated film, positive and negative tabs, and separators that can only be produced in Japan, with cheaper domestically-produced alternatives.
6. Shortening or flat-out ignoring the important HTAP (high-temperature aging process) quality assurance phase of production. Of course, this means more time/days saved, and more output capacity for the factory. A practice LNE/Dinogy would never skimp on.
So with that information, we can logically deduce the differences between cheaper and premium LiPos.
1. A premium LiPo pack should have closely consistent voltage, IR, and capacity across all cells. Cheaper packs will instead have “bad matching” across these measurements.
2. Due to these quality manufacturing processes of cells, good cell matching in packs, and thorough quality control tests, premium LiPos will have long cycle lifespan, whereas cheaper LiPos will make it onto the market with dead 0 voltage cells or exhibit pack puffing after a few regular uses.
3. Premium LiPos can be stored for a long period of time without any problems. Cheap LiPos will have issues being stored for several months without maintenance of charging up the voltage. This is in part due to cells that have micro internal short-circuit issues and cheap domestically-produced materials mentioned above that may lead to higher discharge rates in the short-term, but ultimately also have the side-effect of poor energy storage/retention.
4. Premium LiPos have high-discharge ability without compromising longevity or energy retention. Cheap LiPos will tend to overheat due to higher IR and improper discharge rate than advertised, due to use of B-grade cells.
5. Excellent safety is the basic standard for premium packs. This is a paramount goal at LNE / Dinogy. Cheap LiPos expose the user to high-risk of fire because recycled or b-grade cells become inadvertently abused. This mismatch of advertised discharge rate and the actual quality of cells in the pack leads to a greater presence of micro internal short-circuit issues. Additionally, the domestically-produced cheaper separator layer is prone to break easier, which may result in this micro short-circuiting.
Most shockingly, there are many “factories” that specialize in collecting B-grade and recycled cells from various LiPo producers at an extremely low-cost, so that they can go on to assemble these cheaper battery packs with a nice new package and label and sell them to the unwitting markets.
Unfortunately, many producers operate in this manner, as well as use cheaper low-cost domestically-produced materials as mentioned above, to lower their costs and increase sales/profits. With these dishonest and unethical practices, it is clear that some producers do not care for the safety of their customers lives or equipment. Their primary goal in mind is to make as much money as possible.
Our promise is to never compromise or skimp on the necessary high-end materials during the mass production processes that we’ve worked hard on. We can’t afford to damage our reputation or let our customers down.
Competitors will often change brand names as customers become wiser to these tricks due to mass complaints and accidents. Because of their abnormally cheap prices, they have no problem re-establishing business under their new brands. This is attractive enough to the uneducated buyer, and sadly, this common trap will ensnare many innocent people.
However, we believe more and more customers are starting to recognize these unethical business practices. More professionals and even hobbyists are starting to realize the benefits of premium LiPos versus the dangers and ultimately greater cost of having to regularly waste money on cheaper packs as they “die” faster over-time. Many of our customers regularly report that our batteries last through many cycles even after several years.
This feedback regarding the longevity and quality of our packs is what we’ve worked hard to achieve since the beginning of our journey to supply the world with the best rechargeable batteries on the market. Long ago, we set internal policies and cultivated a company culture that ensures we operate honestly, safely, and at the highest standards that will lead to a better future for rechargeable LiPo technology for everyone. We are committed to upholding this standard for decades to come.
In that regard: What’s the competitive edge L&E / Dinogy batteries bring to the table compared to other battery brands? Why should somebody readings this buy your batteries when he/she goes out next time getting new packs?
Dinogy prides itself in setting the standard for high-quality batteries, and in enabling operators to win races and set records—all while keeping your valuable equipment safe. We do not skimp on manufacturing materials quality just so that we can be the cheapest on the market like some of the other brands.
Additionally, we have a stringent quality assurance process to filter out bad cells which other manufacturers neglect, including above-average HTAP (high temperature aging process) testing standards. This process allows us to filter out a high percentage (99%+) of bad cells before going on to the rest of our QA/QC process. We will not use low-grade cells unlike many others.
While we pride ourselves on our proven track record of producing high performance rechargeable batteries, we take much more pride on being honest producers that have safety, longevity, and overall quality in mind first and foremost. We understand the risks for everyone involved.
To conclude our highly interesting conversation – What can we expect to see from L&E and Dinogy in 2020? Is there anything you already can tell us?
We plan to update our website www.lnepower.com and hopefully set up warehouse in Europe in 2020 to take care of the shipping issue. Additionally, we’ll be launching www.dinogy.com and other technical initiatives to bring a greater brand awareness, and coordination to our various operations across the world.
Battery R&D always follows the market demands, when R/C model producers release something interesting and well accepted by customers, we would of course spare no effort to release our own upgraded battery models for them. Additionally, we do constantly research, develop, and innovate internally, and remain ready for emerging trends.
Expect an unmatched, greater internet and brand presence worldwide. We’re just getting started.
Thank you so much for taking the time and your interest in an interview on Drone-Zone.de.
Transparency note: The Dinogy interview was conducted text-based. The questions were made available to the interviewee in order to answer them in writing. The German translation can be found here.
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