Most RC aircraft are powered by electric batteries. They are safer, easier, and more portable than gas or nitro fuel. Among the batteries there are three different types; Lipo, Nicd, and Nimh. Lipo is most common, and I will probably never use the other two. You can easily google ‘rc battery types,’ and it will give you several different articles on the specifics for each battery type. Basically, Lipo batteries are most effective overall.

 

What you need to know

Batteries and ChargersEvery RC battery has a number of cells, typically 2-6 cells. Let’s take this 3 cell 11.1 volt 2200  mah battery to the right for example. This specific battery has three cells, for Lipo’s each cell can carry 3.7 volts when low and 4.2 volts when fully charged. It should never get below or above these two voltages. Overcharging or overusing will ruin the battery, shorten the life, and could potentially explode. Be careful when using batteries and never leave them charging unattended! So back to the example, these three cells have a minimum of 3.7 volts and added together makes 11.1 volts. When a three cell battery is fully charged, it should be at 12.6 volts (4.2 volts X 3 cells). The 2200 mah part of the battery tells you how much capacity the battery can hold. The more mah, the longer your aircraft will fly in the air. But the heavier the battery as well, so choose batteries that give you the longest flight, but won’t affect the flying because of the weight.
When you’re really starting to get into the hobby, you’ll want to get a computerized charger. They charge your batteries more accurately, quicker, and safer. It’s really convenient to have your own and I absolutely love mine. I’ve been able to charge batteries in a quarter amount of time that it takes with my other basic chargers.

 

What You’ll need

  • Charger
  • Power Supply
When you purchase a charger, generally you’ll have to purchase a separate power supply to go with it. Weird, right? Personally, I bought a good Turnigy B6 Pro (6 amp 50 watt) charger from Hobby King for $22. That is a sweet deal! Then I had to buy a power supply for $13, also from Hobby King, and I’m thrilled at my purchase. Normally, you can buy a nice charger for about $150 and a power supply for just over $100 as well. This sets you back $250, but hey, if you’ve got the money, why not?

 

Choosing your Charger

Batteries and ChargersWhen selecting your charger, you want to look for both amps and watts. Because even if you have a 6 amp charger and it can only put out 50 watts, you can’t charge an 11.1v battery past ~4.5 amps. The math is Volts X Amps = Watts. So 11.1v X 4.5a = ~50w. And as your battery increases in voltage while charging, your amps going in will slowly decrease. This might sound confusing, but once you try it for your first time it should make sense.
So decide how much money you want to spend, how many amps and watts you need, and what kind of brand to choose. Turnigy is a pretty good brand to stick with, although there a lots of other good ones out there. Just don’t buy anything that sounds like it promises more than it can give.

 

Choosing your Power Supply

Batteries and ChargersAll you have to know about here is to make sure your power supply is compatible with your charger and that it provides enough juice for the charger. Like I said before, my charger is 6 amps and 50 watts. My power supply is rated for 7 amps and 105 watts, so I have plenty of power to charge whatever I need to on my charger. So whatever charger you choose, ensure you have at least the same amount of power to supply the charger with.

 

 

Using the Charger

First off, never charge your batteries unattended, they can go bad and cause a fire. Also, never charge batteries when they are hot, let them cool down. I promise you that if you follow these guidelines, your battery packs will last much longer than if you don’t.
After you use a battery, don’t put it straight on the charger, let it sit for a while (at least one hour) before you charge it. This can be a bummer when you only have one aircraft and one battery, but once you build up your collection, it’s not hard at all. Once the battery has cooled down, you can put it on your new charger.
  1. Batteries and ChargersSelect your type of battery (Lipo, Nicd, or Nimh).
  2. Select how many cell/volts.
  3. Select how many amps you want to charge at.
  4. Select which type of charging.
  5. Charge

 

Your battery should tell you how many cells/volts it has.
  • 2s is 7.4 volts
  • 3s is 11.1 volts
  • 4s is 14.8 volts
  • 5s is 18.5 volts
  • 6s is 22.2 volts
To determine how many amps to charge your battery at, take how many mah’s it has and divide it by 1000. So a 2200 mah/1000 = 2.2 amps which would be a 1c charge rate. Some batteries have a 10c charge rate, which would mean for this battery that you could charge it at 22 amps! Personally, I choose to charge my batteries at a 2c charge rate because I know they can handle it, and it’s not going to damage them. The more often you charge your batteries at high charge rates, the less life the battery will have. That’s why I chose 2c, but if you don’t know the max charge rate for your battery, then I would simply charge it at 1c just to be on the safe side.
Lastly, you need to select what kind of charge.
  • Balance Charge
  • Fast Charge
  • Storage Charge
  • Discharge
Batteries and ChargersBalance charging simply balances all the cells to be the same voltage, this is the safest way to charge. Fast charge is really just a fast charge. Storage charge is if you want to store your batteries away for a long time and you’re not going to use them, this will charge/discharge your battery to the best determined voltage for storage. Discharging simply discharges the battery so it holds no power.
Ultimately, if you want to keep your batteries for a long time, then do the following.
  1. Don’t over charge.
  2. Don’t over use.
  3. Don’t charge super-fast.
  4. Don’t charge within one hour of use.
  5. Store your batteries in room temperature
  6. Never charge unattended.