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FAQ about RC Batteries and Accessories

You need to have at least some basic knowledge of batteries if you are interested in Radio Controlled (RC) toys. At the heart of this fun and exciting hobby/sport, no matter the type of vehicle or the engine tech it uses, batteries are what give these toys their get-up-and-go.

Types of RC batteries

Your RC car or vehicle will typically use one of four types of batteries.

NiMH

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries are rechargeable, rugged and inexpensive. If you purchased a ready-to-run (RTR) model with an included battery, chances are it’s a NiMH. They tend to suffer a little from battery memory loss, which means they gradually lose their maximum energy capacity if they are repeatedly recharged after being only partially discharged.

LiPo

Lithium-ion polymer (LiPo) batteries offer higher energy density and lighter weights, but shorter lifespans than NiMH. LiPo batteries are generally sold as accessories, but there are RTR models that include them. A LiPo will also hold a steady voltage for most of its charge, unlike the NiMH, which loses power as it loses its charge. LiPos are also more expensive than NiMH.

Ni-Cd

Nickel Cadmium batteries are rechargeable cells, that can come in AA and AAA sizes, among others. They are well known to suffer from battery memory loss. They offer good cycle life and performance at low temperatures with a fair capacity, but their significant advantage is the ability to deliver practically their full-rated capacity at high discharge rates.

Alkaline

Alkaline batteries are your typical AA and AAA batteries you find around your house. They are not rechargeable.

Understanding RC battery capacity and voltage

For RC hobby models, you’ll find NiMH and LiPo batteries will be the main type. And the important thing to consider with both types is their capacity and voltage.

Capacity

Capacity refers to how long your RC vehicle will run per charge. On any battery, the larger number you’ll see is its capacity in milliamp hours, which you will see shortened as “mAh,” typically. The greater the number of mAh, the longer your RC car or truck will run per charge. Also, the larger that number is the longer it will take to recharge the battery.

Voltage

Voltage determines how much speed and power your model will deliver. The more volts, the better … sort of. Your RC model’s power system can only handle a certain amount of voltage. Going beyond that voltage is not good for your vehicle and will likely shut it all down or even damage the electronics of your expensive RC car.

Three charging tips for RC batteries

1) Make sure you get a NiMH charger if you have NiMH batteries, and a LiPo charger if you have LiPo batteries. Using the wrong charger and there is a risk of damage to your batteries or they could short circuit or even catch fire.

2) Use the right connectors for your RC chargers and batteries. If your charger and batteries don’t have the same type of connector, purchase an appropriate adapter, or install the correct connector (if you know how).

3) Don’t leave your batteries unattended while charging them, especially LiPo batteries, which are a bit more volatile than other batteries.