By Joe Rich
When it comes to the different kinds of hobbies that one can take on, there is nothing quite as exhilarating and enjoyable as piloting a remote-control model, commonly called an RC racer.
From cars to drones, there are plenty of applications for an RC model, and because of this, there are plenty of ways that one can find enjoyment.
Another prospect of RC models is that there is a considerable amount of customization that can be done, as long as you know what you are doing. Out of all the different parts of your RC device that you can customize, the most important thing that you will need to think about is the batteries.
After all, those are what keep the device powered and ready to go.
You might not realize it at first, but there is a lot to learn when it comes to the batteries for your RC model.
To anyone who might not be familiar with different types of batteries, it can quickly become overwhelming to try and think about what you need to do and choose to get your RC car powered and running.
However, when you have a basic understanding of what you need to work with, you will slowly be able to make sense of things.
Before you know it, you will be able to get the full enjoyment out of your RC device, and maybe a little bit more than that if you choose to customize which batteries you put into it.
First things first though, you should first understand a little bit more about the batteries, such as the different types and what makes the batteries different from each other.
From there, you should learn about how you need to care for your batteries so that you can get the most life out of them.
Once you have the basics down, it can even help you to learn a few tips and tricks about working with your batteries.
Table of Contents
What Are the Different Types of Batteries?
There are three main types of batteries that you are going to come across when you are searching for RC batteries.
There is a fourth type of battery, but it is becoming increasingly rare as more countries are outlawing its use and it is falling out of the popular market.
However, because it is still used in plenty of areas, you should at least know what it is so that you can handle it properly.
The first type of battery to know about is the alkaline battery.
Chances are that you have heard of this type of battery before, as they are incredibly common.
Alkaline batteries are commonly used as AA batteries, which are used in many different appliances around the house, transmitters, and TV remotes.
They are inexpensive and common, although they can begin to get more expensive as you replace them.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of alkaline batteries, you will not be able to recharge them, meaning that when they eventually run out, you will have to purchase brand-new ones.
The next type of battery you should know about is the NiMH.
This battery gets its name from its materials: Nickel and Metal Hydride.
These batteries can actually be topped off, or overcharged, making them something that is not only a little bit dangerous, but something that you can easily keep on you without having to worry about the power within the battery dropping.
Compared to other batteries, they are generally easy to maintain.
You will often be able to find them in lower-end RC cars that come with a battery installed in them.
Because of how easy they are to use and maintain, they are pretty common in devices that you can customize the batteries on as well.
The next type of battery you should know about is the Lithium-ion polymer battery, which is also known as a LiPo battery.
These batteries can be considered top of the line, having a much higher energy density than other batteries and being lighter, consistently more powerful, and rechargeable.
However, in return for being a stronger, more powerful battery, LiPo batteries have a much shorter life span on them.
They are also much more volatile than most other batteries, which means that they require special care, especially during the charging of the battery.
Despite this, they are one of the strongest batteries on the market, making them a perfect choice for your RC car.
The last type of battery is one that is becoming much, much rarer, but because it is still used in some areas, it is one that you should know about.
These batteries are known as Ni-Cd batteries, which stands for Nickel Cadmium.
While these batteries are rechargeable, they are considered to be toxic to the environment due to the cadmium in the battery.
They also have an issue known as “memory effect.”
The memory effect is something that happens over time as the working voltage of the battery drops during the charging and discharging cycles.
Because the voltage is dropping, there will eventually come a time when the voltage becomes too low to move the RC device in question, even if the battery still has plenty of charge left.
This essentially deems the battery useless, meaning that you will have to find a replacement.
Ni-Cd batteries are not allowed in most places within the EU and are becoming rarer in other places around the world, so you should not count on them if you want to get one for your RC car.
Now that you know a little bit more about the batteries you will be working with, you should also have a good idea on how to care for the batteries, and if any special care is even needed.
Caring for the batteries properly will ensure that you get a nice, long life span out of the batteries, allowing you to get your money’s worth from them.
It will also minimize the risk of damage to you, your RC car, and your charging area when you use them properly and store the batteries as they should be stored.
Caring for the Batteries Properly
The type of care that your batteries need depends ultimately on the battery itself.
Different batteries are going to require different types of care, different materials to care for them, and ultimately, different degrees of attention.
Some batteries you can leave on your shelf, no matter the condition as long as they don’t get wet.
Some batteries need to be stored in a specific case.
These are the kinds of things you will want to pay attention to when you are searching for the best type of battery to power your RC car with.
Since Ni-Cd batteries are not used, and also shouldn’t be used due to their memory effect issue, they will not be covered in this category.
For alkaline batteries, you won’t need to worry all that much.
One of the reasons why these batteries are so popular in remotes, transmitters, and many other devices is that they are durable, can withstand a small amount of mishandling, and are typically very easy to replace.
In many ways, they are one of the most durable batteries out there, even if they do not last as long as other batteries.
Generally, all you will need to be wary of is making sure that you do not put these batteries in water or mishandle them severely, and they will last you a fair bit of time.
As with any battery, you should make sure that you remove them from the RC controller when you are not using it.
This helps to preserve as much battery life as possible, and when you are working with non-rechargeable batteries, this is something that you will definitely want to do.
For NiMH batteries, you will ultimately need to make sure that you never, ever overcharge them.
Overcharging a battery is dangerous and it can cause a lot of trouble for you.
Because these batteries have the unique feature of being able to be topped off, this means that they can be overcharged.
As the name might suggest, overcharging a battery simply implies that you are giving it more power than it is capable of storing.
This can lead to fires, damage to the battery, damage to the charging equipment, and even potentially the outlet you were charging from.
Thankfully, there is a fairly easy way to work around this situation.
What you are going to want to do is invest in a high-quality “smart” monitoring charger.
These will allow you far more control over the battery that you are charging, reducing the possibility that you will dangerously overcharge the battery.
Additionally, you should also make sure that you store these batteries in a cool, dry location.
This helps to preserve their power and life span so that you can get the most use out of them for as long as possible.
Where the real trouble comes from is LiPo batteries.
Because these batteries have a tendency to be a fair bit volatile, you have to take special care to ensure that you are treating them right.
This means you are going to have to invest in some materials that you won’t have to buy for other batteries, and this should be a factor in the cost of the overall investment for the LiPo battery.
Simply put, you need to handle them very carefully.
You should purchase specialized LiPo-safe cases for the batteries when they are not in use.
If you are investing in LiPo batteries, getting an “intelligent” battery charger is a must.
This will help to utilize the balance lead of the battery, which essentially allows the battery to reduce the current when it reaches its peak cell voltage while it is charging.
One thing that you should keep in mind is that the safest rate you are charging the battery at should only be 1C, or one times the capacity of the battery, but in amps.
You should never, ever leave a charging LiPo battery unattended, so when you plan on charging the battery, make sure that you set aside the time to monitor it.
Making the Most out of Your Batteries
In the end, it can usually go without saying that you are going to want to make as much use as possible out of your batteries.
One of the best ways that you can do this is to put your priorities on a good charger, unless you are dead set on getting alkaline batteries for your RC car.
If you can, the charger should be your first priority after the batteries have been purchased.
A good, well-made charger will ensure that the battery remains in its best condition while it is charging, allowing you to get as much use out of the battery as you possibly can.
While you are considering this, you will also want to make sure that you are looking at the smart and intelligent chargers, especially if you are planning to invest in LiPo batteries for your RC device.
These chargers are going to keep your battery safer for a longer period of time, and this will pay off the extra cost of it being a “smart” charger.
You might not realize this or think about this at first, but you are always going to want to be conscious of the weight of the batteries that you are choosing.
You should always abide by the instruction manual and specifications of the RC device you are using, unless you have built your own and know what you are doing.
If you end up investing in a battery that is either larger or heavier than what is recommended by the manufacturer, it is going to end up altering the performance and handling of the device because it shifts the center of gravity.
This can lead to unexpected movements, which can cause damage to your device depending on the timing and the situation.
Nobody wants this to happen to their RC car.
This should always be something on your mind when you are looking at the batteries.
Finally, if you are having trouble with the cost of the batteries, a last-resort option that you might want to consider is the idea of purchasing several smaller-capacity batteries and making sure that they are all attached and connected together.
This can provide the same combined runtime for slightly less money, and sometimes even less weight than a more powerful and more expensive battery.
Keep in mind that this depends entirely on your RC and how much space it offers for your batteries, so it might not be applicable to everyone.
These are just some of the things that can help you out when you are searching for the best RC batteries for your RC car.
Before you know it, you will be ready to join the world of RC racers with your very own running car.