How to Choose RC Car Batteries

By: Anry Sergeev | 25.02.2021, 13:50
How to Choose RC Car Batteries

Why Choosing a Battery for RC Vehicle is So Important?

Whether you’re an RC car hobbyist or aspiring professional, you will need batteries for your on-road or off-road monster. Your vehicle needs power to maneuver around, and so does the equipment that comes with it, such as the remote control. Over the years, a lot of innovations have taken place where RC car batteries are concerned. Currently, there are many types of rechargeable batteries, which are the preference of many racing enthusiasts. Therefore, it can be confusing, especially as a beginner when choosing the correct type of battery for your vehicle.

But worry no more. In this article, we cover all the necessary details you need to know to equip yourself well for the next purchase. From the types of batteries, how to store and maintain them, to how to choose the best RC battery for your vehicle. Let’s dig in?

Types of Batteries

There are various types of batteries for RC vehicles, and the most common ones include the light bulb battery, the nickel-metal hydride battery, and the milliamp. Our focus is to guide you choose the best batteries according to your needs, and for the best racing experience. Remember a good battery should give you prolonged running time for best enjoyment. Below we take you through some basic information to help you understand the various types as already mentioned.

Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries

These are the most commonly used batteries in RC car trucks. They come in various packs, with a voltage rating. For instance, the 6-cell nickel-metal hydride battery is what basically comes with ready to run cars. In this case, six here means that there are six individual batteries combined to come-up with this battery pack.

When you examine such a battery, you’ll notice six dimple-like holes in the shrink-wrap. They are then wired together to increase the voltage. So if one battery is 1.2 volts, for example, the total package ends up with 7.2 volts. You calculate the same with a 4-cell battery, and others to come up with the total amount of voltage.

For best performance, charge the nickel-metal hydrate battery to peak voltage (full). The good thing is that the package can shut off charging once it’s full to avoid overcharging. 

LiPo or Lithium Polymer Batteries

Although there are various types of lithium-based batteries in the current marketplace, LiPo remains the most prevalent. That’s why we choose to focus on them, rather than any other type. Now, like nickel batteries, this battery-package contains cells. Yet, the major difference here is that in the LiPo batteries, each cell contains a higher voltage than those of the nickel. Most standard LiPo batteries contain 3.7 volts per cell. So, for instance, if you want to achieve the same voltage as the 6-cell nickel battery pack, you will need only two LiPo cell batteries. And they will actually give you 0.2 more volts.

Therefore, LiPo battery packages are more portable than their nickel counterparts due to their smaller sizes. They make great travel companions, or for outdoor fun lovers.

Charging LiPo Batteries

When it comes to charging, this battery pack charges faster than the nickel kind and hits peak voltage within 10 to 20 minutes of charging. Afterward, the battery will continue charging, but only this time it will be adding you some running time. The more capacity your battery can handle the better, and the wide apart its charging sessions will be. So, for this reason, it’s advisable not to mix or interchange the nickel and the LiPo battery chargers, in case you have both.

One of the notable benefits of the LiPo battery pack is its ability to hold power for long. Always check the battery label to know the amount of voltage it carries. For example, if yours is a 2-cell LiPo battery, with each cell carrying 4.2 volts, it means the entire package will offer you 8.4 volts. Knowing the number of volts will help you get the best battery pack for your electronics, given that they all have different needs. You shouldn’t for instance buy a 12.6V battery for an 8.4V RC car because when you do, and your car uses a brushed motor, you automatically decrease its lifespan. Yes, it might give you the desirable thrill for the moment, but the motor will wear out pretty fast. 

LiPO Batteries’ Capacity

Also, check out the capacity of your battery, which normally is in mAh to see how long it can run before recharging. For instance, if there’s 1,000mah on the battery pack, that loosely translates to 1 full amp. 6,000 will mean 6 full amp meaning higher capacity and longer running time. However, higher capacity batteries are heavier than their lower capacity counterparts. Something you would want to consider especially if you’re always on the move.

One more important thing about capacity is that you can increase or decrease it to suit your needs. Just ensure that before upgrading your machine can handle the extra voltage.

Another thing you should watch out for on your battery label is the C rating, which is common on LiPo batteries. It refers to the maximum amount of continuous current a battery can output or input. There are two types of C ratings, which include C rings to help you go higher on your rating, without going below the minimum recommendation. They work pretty much like on capacity, where you’ve to adhere to manufacturer recommendations. With C ratings, you can comfortably charge at a higher rate and reduce your time per charge. So, if you usually take one hour to charge at 1 C three times, you will now take 20-25 minutes. 

How to Store Batteries

When charging LiPo batteries, it’s advisable to store them in a safety sack. Remember, to always check on the battery whenever it’s charging to avoid unnecessary accidents. Also, if you’re keeping watch you can easily take necessary precautions to ensure nothing gets out of control. 

How to Maintain Batteries

Like any other product, if you want RC batteries to serve you for long, you’ve to maintain them well. And below we got a few essential tips to help you keep them in check:

  • Avoid overcharging batteries. Doing this shortens the batteries’ lifespan, as they’re under pressure. They could also explode causing a fire, and you don’t want to deal with that mess.
  • Before upgrading or downgrading your batteries, ensure they can hold the capacity according to manufacturer recommendations. Never go below the minimum recommendation as this can limit battery performance or overexpose it leading to explosion or faster wear and tear.
  • Avoid interchanging battery chargers. Rather, use manufacturer-recommended chargers on each battery type for optimum results. This is because some charges can handle more voltage, while others can’t. Besides, the needs of various batteries are different. Just like batteries work differently, they also charge differently.
  • Ensure you get the right battery for the correct device. The voltage should be in check for maximum runtime and fun. It also guarantees safety.
  • Store the batteries in a safety pack when charging or when not in use to protect them from various environmental conditions.

How to Choose the Right Charger for the Battery

The perfect charger for your battery should correspond with its C rating. For instance, if yours is a 4amps with a 3 C charge rate, it means you can safely charge it using a charger that can handle up to 12amps. It will fill up really fast, but that won’t change the performance. You simply get to start using it sooner, than when you could use a lesser power passing capacity charger.

So, you should choose a charger that will fill up your battery within a desirable time frame, and needs. But remember, the charging higher the rate you use, the faster the battery will wear out.

However, if you don’t know what your charge rate is, it’s advisable to stick to 1C. It's usually equal to a 4amps charging capacity. Yes, the battery might take longer to fill up, but it’s safe.

In Conclusion

Choosing the best batteries for your RC car depends on the type of device you’re using and your specific needs. Knowing what you want helps you make a suitable purchase, regarding power output and input. It also allows you to enjoy the optimum running time, which equals more fun.