If you’re new to the world of RC vehicles, the variety of batteries and battery charging choices might be overwhelming. Battery chargers have long been one of the most critical components of RC vehicle equipment. After you’ve made the purchase based on tips for choosing the best RC vehicle, the big question is what kind of battery charger you’ll need for the same.
How to Choose the Right Battery Charger for Your Car?
Batteries are packs of chemical energy storage that allows RC hobbyist to tear around parking lots or dirt tracks for a few blissful minutes at a time. RC cars are powered by two types of batteries: nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) and lithium polymer (LiPo). The titles of the chemical classes correspond to the basic components within the batteries and each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Most low-end models will often have a low-cost NiMH battery, and higher-end versions (particularly those that are LiPo ready) sometimes do not include batteries or chargers at all, enabling the consumer to re-use their current gear or purchase items tailored for their needs.
Now that you’ve got your batteries all set, let’s speak about chargers. First and foremost, if you have NiMH batteries, purchase a NiMH charger, if you have LiPo batteries, get a LiPo charger. It’s very important to get that right, as we’ll explain it later. There are chargers that can be adjusted to work with either type of battery if you use both. If you go that way, make sure the charger is set to the right battery type before pressing the “start” button. The most crucial charger characteristic to look for is amperage. The larger the amp output of the charger, the faster it can charge your pack. Whether you require Lipo, NiMh, or smart charging for your vehicle, always shop from a credible hobby store that has a wide assortment of chargers rc and batteries.
If you bought a ready-to-run model that came with a battery, chances are it’s a NiMH. Nickel-metal packs are tough, affordable, and don’t require a lot of maintenance. They are, however, heavier than LiPo batteries, and their voltage drops slowly as the pack is depleted. When you start driving, your automobile slows down with each minute that passes, not immediately, but gradually.
LiPo batteries are often available as add-ons, however, certain RTR models have them. A LiPo battery is lighter than a NiMH battery of the same voltage and capacity, making your model seem more powerful. The LiPo’s capacity to retain voltage longer as the pack depletes also contributes to the “feeling of power”. Instead of supplying less and less voltage during your run, a LiPo will maintain a constant voltage for the majority of your run, then rapidly drop down towards the end of the charge. The most significant drawback is the cost of LiPos and the high maintenance they require.
When opting for a LiPo charger, be sure it can balance the cells in the pack while it charges. When a pack is said to be “balanced,” it indicates that all of the cells have the same voltage. A 2-cell, 7.4-volt pack, for example, is balanced if both batteries have 3.7 volts. If the batteries are not balanced, their voltages may vary after a few charging cycles. What is the meaning of this? Because LiPo batteries do not tolerate being overcharged well. While your speed control’s low-voltage detection mechanism will prevent the pack’s overall voltage from falling below a particular threshold, the speed control only “sees” the entire voltage of the battery, not the voltage of each cell.
If the pack is imbalanced, the 6.6 volts may not signify 3.3 volts per cell, instead, you may have one cell at 3.6 volts and another at 3 volts, so that cell will be over-discharged, and sure enough your pack will be impaired or even completely damaged. Balancing guarantees that the voltage in the cells is constantly equal. Fortunately, balancing is quite simple and in most situations, all you need to do is put the pack’s balance plug into the charger.
Smart chargers rc often come with a variety of battery leads, balancing boards, and other accessories that allow them to be used with a wide range of battery types. They are a no-brainer if you intend to use LiPo batteries. Higher-end smart chargers will often be able to balance, discharge, and store charge batteries, which are critical tasks for both caring for and extending the life of your batteries.
Tips on How to Look After Your Batteries
In addition to investing in a high-quality rc charger for your vehicle, you must also properly care for your batteries to get the maximum performance and lifespan out of them. Starting with NiMH batteries, they’re fairly strong, but they can be damaged by overcharging, therefore investing in a good monitoring charger is a good idea. It is not necessary to discharge and recharge them, and they should be kept in a cool place, especially this concerns LiPo batteries as they are more sensitive and require delicate care.
Another pro tip is to never use NiMH charger with LiPo batteries. Yes, this might seem pretty rational to some, but there are times when you are distracted and might make a mistake. If you somehow do manage to do that, LiPo batteries will most certainly catch fire. When charging LiPo batteries, you must use a LiPo charger or charge them in a LiPo charge mode if you have a multi-mode smart charger.
It is advisable to use a high-quality charger that employs the balancing lead and lowers its current when the peak cell voltage is reached. While LiPo batteries may be charged at high rates, the safest rate is 1C, which is one time the battery’s capacity in amps. A 3000mAh battery, for example, should preferably be charged at 3Amps.
When you’re not using them, LiPo batteries should be stored at around 50% charge. If you charge the batteries and you somehow end up not using them, don’t keep them fully charged for more than 10 days. Any longer, and the pack’s capacity and voltage will begin to deteriorate irreversibly. If you deplete a pack and don’t recharge it, don’t worry too much, as long as it wasn’t overcharged when you run it, the pack can be securely kept for up to three weeks. However, if you leave the pack uncharged for an extended period, it will ultimately self-discharge to the point of being overcharged. If your charger has a “storage charge” option, enable the function and ensure that the pack is balanced and charged to 50% capacity. and if your charger does not have a storage mode, charge the pack completely before driving it for half the time it normally takes to trigger the low-voltage signal.