By Joe Rich
Some of us are looking for a great hobby we can do year-round. It doesn’t matter if we can do it inside or outside.
It’s fun for you, and it’ll be fun for your kids too!
While the weather can hinder sports, there are other hobbies that you can do inside or outside, regardless of the weather!
Enter electric RC cars. It sounds strange to say a kid’s toy can be a hobby, but electric RC cars aren’t toys.
The most significant difference between the two is how the two types look. Toy RC cars are cheap.
When it breaks, you can’t replace any of the parts. You need to buy a whole new vehicle.
With a hobby RC car, you can put pieces together if it breaks. The components can be modified if a hobbyist wishes.
A hobby RC car is more expensive than a toy, too.
One of the essential parts of any electric RC car hobby is the battery.
With a toy RC car, you need to buy alkaline batteries. Unlike hobby RC cars, the batteries in a toy RC car aren’t rechargeable.
A hobby RC car has rechargeable batteries, and the battery makes or breaks the RC car.
When you find your perfect RC car, the next thing you need to do is find out how long your battery lasts without recharging it.
It’s not as easy as reading the box. You won’t need to be an expert on batteries to figure out how long your battery can go without a charge.
When you figure out the type of battery, the voltage, and the mAh, you can figure out how long your RC car will last before it needs a charge.
Table of Contents
Types of batteries
As I mentioned above, we’re not going to be talking about alkaline batteries here. The alkaline batteries don’t charge, and they work better with toy RC cars than the other types.
There are two main types of batteries RC hobbyists use.
- Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH)
- Lithium Polymer (LiPo)
NiMH batteries are one of the most common batteries in an RC car.
Of the two batteries, NiMH is the cheapest.
They also weigh less than a LiPo battery with the same amount of power.
If a battery comes with your hobby RC car, chances are it’s a NiMH battery pictured.
While using the NiMH battery, it speeds up in the beginning.
However, as you keep using the battery, you’ll notice it gets slower and slower until the power runs down.
A LiPo battery is lighter and more expensive.
Most of the time, they’re considered accessories, but some RC cars do include them when you buy the vehicles. LiPo batteries are higher maintenance than their NiMH counterparts.
They need a more detailed care routine than the other battery.
The main advantage a LiPo battery has over the NiMH battery is its ability to hold its voltage.
While NiMH batteries gradually slow down the RC car until it needs charging again, the LiPo batteries keep the same amount of power as it’s draining.
It doesn’t slow down until it’s about to die.
Then it slows down quickly.
Now that you know the difference between the two batteries, now you can figure out how to calculate how long your RC car can go before the battery needs a recharge.
The numbers on a battery
On every battery, there are two numbers: the volts and the capacity of the battery.
The volts on a battery affects the speed of the RC car, whereas the mAh can help you figure out how long an electric RC car will last.
For the best results with your RC car battery, you want to make sure it’s fully charged before you start using the car.
When you use it for the first time, keep going until it’s completely dead, then charge it to full.
Your battery will last longer than it would if you started using it and only half-charged the battery.
Voltage is useful to know when determining how much power a battery has. Voltage is determined by how many cells a battery has.
The higher the number, the more power the battery has. It also means that the battery has more cells in it than others.
If there’s too much voltage in a battery or an RC car, you could damage the battery or the RC car itself.
When you’re looking at an RC car battery, there are going to be the smaller numbers on the label.
You will see a V. For example; if you have a LiPo battery with 7.4V, then you have 7.4 volts in your battery. (see picture)
While it’s useful to know, the voltage doesn’t help determine how long a battery will last before you need to charge it again.
To figure out how long it’ll last, you’ll need the capacity of the battery.
How Long do Electric RC Cars Run before Needing Recharging
On every battery, regardless of the type, there’s a large number followed by mAh. The mAh stands for milliamps per hour.
The capacity number is usually in bigger print, sitting on top of the voltage number.
With capacity, hobbyists want to have the most significant number they can find.
The bigger the mAh, the longer the battery is going to last them.
The lowest a hobbyist will typically find is 1800 mAh, and the number keeps climbing up.
Then, you can figure out the amps to guestimate how long your battery is going to last.
For example, if the capacity of a battery is 5,000 mAh, then it could last an hour on a five amp charge.
If there are more amps than the capacity, the run time would be less than 1 hour. If there are fewer amps than the capacity, then it would last longer.
To simplify it, if you put a 5,000 mAh battery on a 4 amp load, the run time will be longer than an hour.
If you put it on a 6 amp load, it’s going to last for less than an hour.
If you can figure out the milliamps, then you can divide the mAh by the milliamps, and you can get the exact number of how long your battery will last before you need to recharge it.
How long can an electric RC car run before it needs to recharge?
Typically, most electric RC cars are going to last at least five minutes.
Five minutes is the bare minimum for RC cars, but that’s also the international standard for racing RC cars.
Other RC cars can get longer battery life. Some can go as high as thirty minutes.
The capacity of the battery is one of the most significant factors to how long the battery will last.
However, electric RC forums will tell you the capacity isn’t the most significant factor in battery life.
The way the RC car drives and the speeds of the car can also determine if the battery will last long or not.
Constantly switching from high and low speeds and bashing the car around play a big part in the battery life of your RC car.
No matter how long your battery lasts, it’s recommended you wait until the battery is completely dead before you recharge it again.
That way, your battery will last longer than what it would if you partially charged it after every use.
There is also less chance of damaging your battery or your charger if you wait until it’s dead before giving it a full charge.
If you have a battery with a high capacity, control your speeds, and don’t bash your RC car into too many places, your battery could last a long time before it needs to recharge again.
It all depends on your preferences when you’re driving around your electric RC car.
Every battery and every car are different.
When you figure out which battery works the best with your car, you can use these factors to figure out how long the batteries will last every time you take out your RC car to drive around.
Electric RC cars are a fun hobby for adults and kids.
Now that you’ve figured out how long they can go before they need a recharge, you can take them out and have fun with them.
The biggest RC enthusiasts will bring multiple batteries with them when they take out their electric RC cars so that when one battery dies, they don’t have to stop the fun and go home.
They can change out the batteries and still be able to have fun with their friends and family.
The serious RC geeks will also bring a portable charger so they can charge one battery as they’re changing another.
The life of your batteries is heavily dependant on how well you take care of your batteries.
If you charge them correctly from the beginning, your batteries will last a long time.
If not, you could end up shortening the life of your batteries, which could also mean less time driving around your RC car.
The last thing anyone wants is a dead battery when you have the most fun driving your RC cars.
Keep your batteries well taken care of, and they will have a long life ahead of them.