What are LiPo batteries?
One of the most popular types of batteries on the market today is Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries. These batteries are used for RC cars, robots, drones, and a variety of other high-tech applications that require a lightweight alternative to conventional lead-acid or nickel-metal hydride models.
LiPo vs NiMH batteries
One other type of rechargeable battery is NiMH battery. The NiMH stands for Nickel-Metal Hydride, which is a battery that uses nickel-metal molecules and hydrogen power.
NiMH batteries work differently than the other battery types. Instead of using acid, these rechargeable batteries use metal-hydride chemistry for both primary and secondary cells. Check out this article to learn more about what NiMH batteries are and how to take care of them!
They’re different in a lot of ways, but both LiPo and NiMH batteries are designed to power electric RC cars. LiPos are generally thought of as being better because they have a much higher power density, which means you can get away with a smaller battery for the same driving time – or you can add features like higher voltage for more speed without adding any weight to the car.
NiMHs work well for cars that demand a lot from their battery, so if power is your primary concern, your best choice may be a LiPo. One thing that’s not often talked about when it comes to these two types, though, is how much you’ll have to spend on a good battery. It’s no secret that LiPo batteries are more expensive than NiMH, but if you want to get the most out of your car, it might be worth the extra cost.
LiPo vs Lithium batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries derived from the electrochemical reaction of Lithium and Carbon. They are used in many devices such as cell phones, laptops, and RC cars. Although lithium-ion batteries were first commercially available in 1991, they became an important commercial product as mobiles phones and laptops proliferated.
Lithium-ion batteries are the type of battery most commonly used in today’s consumer electronics. They have a lot going for them, including high power density and low cost compared to lithium polymer. But there are some cons too – like how quickly these types go flat if not charged properly or often used enough!
What kind of LiPo Batteries are there?
There are many types of LiPo batteries for RC cars. The most common ones are 2S, 3S, 4S, 6S, and 8S.
But what does a higher number mean? Well, the 2S, 3S, 4S etc. denote the number of cells in the battery pack connected in Series. Simply put, your RC car will run much faster with a 3S battery compared to a 2S one.
If you’re used to a 2S battery and have a motor that can use more power, using a 3S battery is like installing a turbo in your car!
|Battery Type||Arrangement||Total Voltage|
|1S||1 cell in series x3.7||3.7 V|
|2S||2 cells in series x3.7||7.4 V|
|3S||3 cells in series x3.7||11.1 V|
|4S||4 cells in series x3.7||14.8 V|
|6S||6 cells in series x3.7||22.2 V|
|8S||8 cells in series x3.7||29.6 V|
More cells mean more weight of the battery pack. However, you can install lower-capacity battery packs with more cells to significantly increase your RC car’s speed. Make sure the motors installed can leverage the better battery.
2S LiPo Battery
The 2s battery is easy to use since you need only one single cell. They are very lightweight compared to other types of LiPo batteries. This makes them useful for buggies and smaller cars.
3S LiPo Battery
The 3s or three-cell battery offers higher voltage compared to the dual-celled ones (2S), which is very useful when you want more speed for your car. They are not as small as the single-cell types, but their output power allows easy driving in most tracks with low grip surfaces like carpet, mud or dry leaves etc.
4S LiPo Battery
These are also known as 4 cell batteries because they have four cells inside them (4S). These kinds of LiPo batteries provide excellent performance since they give out high current, making them great for most cars with large brushless motors in them.
6S LiPo Battery
The 6S LiPo batteries are most commonly used in 1/10 scale on-road applications since they provide plenty of power and run time, which produces fast lap times. They also have a better discharge rate compared to most other types of batteries, so their reliability is very good too. This means that they can be charged at higher amp rates without causing damage or overheating.
8S LiPo Battery
The 8S type of LiPo battery is the most powerful type for RC cars. It outputs very high amps, which is perfect for high-speed racing. If you are looking for maximum power, then this is the one you need.
How to charge a LiPo battery for the first time
LiPo batteries work the same way that most batteries do; they intercalate and de-intercalate between their electrodes. The electrolyte acts as a conductive medium for ions to travel through, which allows current flow in all different directions!
You will need to use a LiPo compatible charger in order for your batteries to charge quickly and safely. As these types of batteries require specialized care, the Constant Current/Constant Voltage (CC/CV) system ensures that their charging rate remains constant until they reach peak voltage.
After that, the battery charges with a reduced current but the same voltage.
Balanced Charging: Why is it Crucial?
Balanced charging is the process by which every cell in a battery receives the same voltage. But why is balanced charging important for LiPo batteries? If the voltage fluctuates a lot, the cells in your LiPo battery may get damaged.
Moreover, a LiPo battery with unbalanced cells is prone to catching fire. Always use a charger that suits the battery pack you’re using.
What to look for in a LiPo charger
So now you have a cool looking RC car, and you can’t wait to use it to race with others. You plug the battery pack in but even after hours, it’s still charging. Is your battery defective? The answer can vary, but it is likely that the charger you’re using is not compatible with the battery you picked.
There are many chargers you can choose from. However, the big selection can confuse you. Let’s look at a few things you need to know before you pick a charger!
- What kind of battery are you using?
- How much are you willing to spend on a charger?
You need to answer a few questions before choosing a charger.
Type of Battery
What kind of batteries do you have? With most modern chargers, this should not be an issue in most cases. However, there are some basic ones that are only suited to charging specific batteries. You don’t want to charge your shiny new LiPo battery pack with a charger for NiMH batteries. Choose a LiPo charger.
Secondly, what’s the capacity (in milliamp hours or mAh) of your battery? If you’re using a higher-capacity battery, you’ll need a charger that is powerful enough to fill it in a reasonable time period. Check battery capacity.
Lastly, what is the cell count of your battery pack? Before, we discussed the benefits of using different batteries (1S, 2S, 8S, etc.). An 8S battery will give your car the oomph it needs to drive fast. But you cannot charge your 8S battery with a charger that is made for a 2S battery. Not only will it supply less voltage, but it will also take a long time to fill the battery! Higher cell count = Get a powerful charger.
I know that a lot of people would say “as little as possible” when they’re asked this. But I would like you to think about it for just one second: would you be willing to pay less for an off-brand charger that may damage your RC car, and its battery packs? These knock-off chargers don’t even come with a warranty, so if it gives out on day 3, you’re out of luck!
If you’re using a small battery like 1S or 2S, basic charges will likely do the trick. However, if RC cars are a hobby for you, which it probably is (high five!), investing in a good charger will go a long way.
It all boils down to your use case. More battery cells mean a faster car. But more cells also mean you need a powerful charger that can supply the voltage and channels needed for those batteries. More power = Get a better charger = Spend more.
If you plan on upgrading your RC cars in the future, then it’s best to choose a charger with higher charging amperage so that you won’t have to buy another one later on just because of its limitations.
What is the discharge rate for LiPo batteries
The discharge rate is a measure of how quickly a battery discharges its rated capacity. It is usually indicated by C in tables or charts.
A C-rating is the maximum discharge rate of a LiPo battery. Anything between 30C to 65C can be found with these ratings, but they also exist outside this range as well. LiPos typically have their rating marked right on them, so you know what kind of power it will provide for your device before buying!
The discharge rate for LiPo batteries is important because it determines how much power you can get from them before they start to fade and lose their charge. A higher discharge rate means that you can use more power at once before having to recharge.
But keep in mind that the higher the discharge rate, the faster your battery will lose its charge. The LiPo batteries for RC cars allow a high discharge rate, so you can have a greater range of motion and power. However, this also means that they don’t last as long or recharge as fast as lower discharge batteries do.
What are the best connectors for a LiPo battery
When it comes to RC cars, there are a variety of connectors that are used to power the LiPo battery. They vary in size, material, and purpose. We’ll take a closer look at some of these connections below.
Some common connector types include JST-XH, XT-90, Molex, Anderson Powerpole, and Deans Ultra Plugs. Each has its own advantages when it comes to RC car racing. For example, the JST-XH is specially suited for events with high currents when long distances are involved. On the other hand, the Molex connector is designed for applications with high-currents or when making frequent connections.
The right connector can provide you with many benefits such as reduced weight and size or enhanced conductivity.
Now let’s look at some of the most common types of connectors used in RC racing:
Anderson Powerpole connections are widely used on batteries because they don’t require a special crimping tool to make a secure connection. These connectors resist vibrations well, offer several contact point options, and have a compact form factor.
However, they don’t handle high currents as well as some other comparable options such as Deans plugs. For that reason, you should use them for smaller applications where speed is not a huge consideration.
A lot of people prefer this connector for smaller transistors including 12-weight motor controllers due to its low profile and tightly packed round pins which help prevent short circuits from carbon dusting on the motor windings.
Deans Ultra Plug
The Deans Ultra Plug is a solid 3.5-millimeter connection that’s suited for high-current applications. Its durable construction and ease of use has made it one of the most popular options around.
The Deans connector provides a secure connection using a spring-loaded metal contact that runs along its full length, which makes it more resistant to vibration than other designs such as XT90s or Powerpoles. This helps prevent short circuits from carbon dusting on the motor windings, while providing crisp throttle response with little strain on battery connectors due to wire movement inside them.
While this makes them pretty maintenance free, they do require some rework before you solder wires into them since their pins are relatively close together.
JST-XH is a popular choice in systems for very heavy vehicles thanks to its 5 mm wide contact area, which offers superior power handling capabilities compared to other types of connectors in the same class. As a result, this makes it suitable for regions with high altitudes where air pressure is low, since resistance will be lowered and leads to lower voltages due to more current.
JST-XH connectors are typically used in airplanes or ground vehicles that run on 6V or higher batteries because they offer multiple ways of connecting wires including solder posts, screw terminals, and crimp housings.
A downside of these plugs though is they don’t handle currents as high as some other options like XT90s or Deans plugs. Even so, most users consider them to be the best RC battery connector currently available.
Molex plugs are designed for applications with very high currents or when making frequent connections. They can handle much higher current than other connectors like XT90s, Deans Plugs, JST-XH, and Powerpole connectors.
This makes them suited for electric vehicles that run on higher voltages (12+V) or in series, since they provide less resistance and heat build-up than other options.
That being said these plugs are not as popular as XT90s, Deans Plugs, JST-XH, or Powerpole connectors because the required crimping tool is more expensive
How to care for your LiPo battery
LiPo batteries have become popular because of their light weight, high discharge rates, and wide operating temperature range. They also do not require any form of maintenance if they are charged properly with a specific LiPo charger designed for RC use.
Making sure to charge your LiPo battery with an appropriate RC charger is the most important part of caring for it. If you improperly charge your LiPo battery with a generic battery charger, it will lead to the battery catching on fire and becoming useless.
When charging your LiPo RC car batteries, you want to make sure that you let them cool off after use before recharging.
Each type of battery has a different discharge rate and by not discharging correctly, you risk damaging the internal components of the LiPo RC car batteries, which will make them unusable or lose their ability to hold a charge (more about this later).
If you are using your RC cars on dirt roads or run through water frequently, it’s important to clean the outside of the battery every time after use, so it does not get damaged due to corrosion from these elements.
How to store your LiPo battery
When storing your Lithium Polymer RC Car batteries, make sure they are fully charged and stored somewhere where they cannot be easily punctured, such as in a durable container or bag.
This is because any damage to the exterior of your LiPo RC car batteries, such as puncturing them with a screwdriver or dropping them, will most likely cause internal damage that will ruin the battery.
Make sure that you store your LiPo batteries in a cool (room temperature), dry place that is not exposed to extreme temperatures or moisture.
How to dispose your LiPo battery
When disposing a LiPo battery, you should discharge them until there is little to no charge left. This will help to prevent an explosion when punctured. Bring the drained batteries in for recycling at your local facility!
There are a few methods you can use to discharge your LiPo battery. Some chargers let you discharge LiPo batteries at a steady rate. However, most of these chargers will stop discharging after every cell in the battery reaches 3.0V.
In that case, you can use other methods to discharge your battery. One popular method is using light bulbs to drain the batteries over time. You can learn how to make a bulb discharger here!
Salt water can also help you discharge batteries over time. However, this method takes a long time and usually batteries get corroded first before being completely discharged. This process can take about two weeks.
Once the batteries are discharged, don’t just throw them away! Most bins go to recycling plants, and batteries are not recycled in those places. There are dedicated battery recycling facilities. Drop off your old batteries there!
Peter has been building model trains for longer than he can remember. An avid fan of HO and O scale this blog is a creative outlet to allow him to dive further into other scales and aspects of the model train community and hobby.