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If you are having issues with your battery or having problems keeping your device powered for longer drives or flights then this article is for you!
When you take up piloting remote-controlled helicopters, airplanes or cars as a hobby, it is a ton of fun to enjoy a full day of flying or driving in the park with your friends. The last thing you want to do is worry about how long your battery will last or losing connection with your device because your battery didn’t last long enough. The best way to extend that fun time is to learn how to make your battery last longer!
How can you make your RC battery last longer? Taking proper care of your remote-controlled vehicle’s battery is crucial to increasing its lifespan. You can do this by not overcharging it, giving it time to rest between charging and discharging, and properly storing the battery, among other proper care techniques. To make a battery last longer before needing a charge, choosing the right battery is vitally important.
Take a look at some of our best tips to make your RC battery last longer, as well as some general information on powering your remote-controlled helicopter, car, or airplane.
How to Extend the Life of Your RC Vehicle’s Battery
Flying remote-controlled airplanes, helicopters, and cars can be a great hobby for people of all ages. Your RC helicopter, airplane, or car can provide hours of fun for you and your family or group of friends. However, all that fun can be quickly diminished if your device’s batteries die out too soon or cannot hold a charge for longer than an hour or two. Having to replace the battery of your remote-controlled plane or helicopter can be a pain as well.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could extend the life of your battery and not have to replace it so often? Well, you can. And when you learn these tips, you can truly save yourself a lot of money and time. And it is not as hard as you may think. It just requires you to learn how to care for and store the battery properly.
Unfortunately, if you are not careful and you overuse or abuse your batteries for your remote-controlled vehicle, you could end up spending too much money, replacing them every time one loses power or becomes damaged. It is a better idea to take the proper steps to care for your device and its batteries, so you can avoid dishing out too much of your hard-earned money.
Check out this video below that gives some great tips on how to make your battery last longer.
Take the right steps to care for your RC vehicle’s battery. Here are some easy tips you should keep in mind to take better care of your RC battery so it will last through many more uses and increase the lifespan of your remote-controlled vehicle’s battery:
Remember Basic Care for Your Device’s Battery
Before you get started trying to increase the lifespan of your battery, you must first understand and practice basic care for your RC battery. This regular care for your battery is the foundation of making it last a long time.
- Before and during use, keep your battery clean and dry. You can clean your battery simply by wiping its contacts down with alcohol-soaked cotton swabs every now and then. Also, try to keep it out of contact with other metal objects. These could potentially make your battery short-circuit.
- Rest the battery. Next, it is important to give your battery time to rest in between charging and discharging it.
- The best practice is to wait 15 to 20 minutes after you drain the battery before you start to charge it back up. This will give the battery time to cool down before its charging cycle. To make sure the battery is ready to charge, see if it is cool to the touch. If it is still warm, give it some more idle time.
- Similarly, you should also wait at least 15 minutes after charging before using it again. Just like the waiting period after draining the battery, you should also give the battery time after charging it up again, allowing your battery’s chemical processes to have a little break.
- Don’t work the battery too hard. Pay attention to how hard you are working your battery while it is in use controlling your remote-controlled helicopter, plane, or car. You never want to push it too far, or you could risk creating long-term negative effects. Consider trading altitude for airspeed or sharp turns for speed. If you are a pilot of remote-controlled airplanes and enjoy doing tricks in flight, this tip is for you. To put less work on your battery, try bringing your plane to a lower altitude before trying flip tricks. This can help you make up the speed of your plane.
Pay Attention to How Hot Your Battery Is after Use or Charging
RC enthusiasts should also learn and understand what is considered too hot for a battery. This is a crucial step to maintain the safety of your flying sessions. If the battery is too hot after using it, this may be an indicator of it getting old and needing a replacement.
If your battery is warmer than 140 degrees Fahrenheit, that could be dangerous to continue using. Avoid overusing a battery that is hotter than that, as it could warp, balloon, or even catch fire or explode. Some battery types, like lipo batteries, are more prone to explosion if they are not properly taken care of. Make sure to read your owner’s manual for your vehicle and the battery you are using for safety tips and precautions.
If your stock battery is getting old and needs a replacement, consider purchasing a higher quality mAh battery with the same voltage. Check out tips later on in this article for choosing the best replacement battery that lasts longer than the factory default batteries that came with your device.
When the time comes to replace your battery, make sure to properly discard old batteries that have ballooned up after use. This warping can be an indicator that a battery is too old to use. Continuing to use a battery in this condition can put you at risk of an explosion that will damage your device.
In the same vein as not using a battery that is too hot, you also do not want to expose your RC vehicle’s battery to extremely cold temperatures. You can do this by preheating your battery before operating it in cold weather. Try warming up your device’s battery inside before going out in freezing temperatures to operate your remote-controlled vehicle. You can also just keep your vehicle inside during the colder months to make sure your battery is always warm.
Charge (and Discharge) Your Battery Properly
One of the biggest tips for extending the lifespan of your remote-controlled helicopter, airplane or RC car’s battery is to not discharge it too low or recharge it too much.
Discharging Your Battery
Avoid discharging your battery lower than 15%. Using up your battery past a certain point can damage the battery and drastically reduce its lifespan. If you continue flying with your battery lower than 15% life, you not only run the risk of damaging the battery but you can also have your plane or helicopter drop out of the sky if your battery level drop all the way to zero.
Even if you are using an RC car you still need to keep an eye on your battery as you don’t want to damage it or the vehicle by running it too low.
You can also tell when your battery is too low because the electronic speed controller (ESC) will limit the voltage to the motor. Your plane or helicopter will fly lower even with the same throttle settings as when the battery was fully charged. Discharging the battery too low will also start to generate a lot of heat, which can be dangerous if you are not careful. If you notice these things happening with your RC vehicle, land your plane or helicopter or shut your RC vehicle off. Be sure to wait 15 minutes before charging your battery again.
As mentioned earlier, you want to avoid pushing your device too far. Flying for an extra 30 seconds after discharging the battery could cost you dozens of flights in the future because of the battery being damaged or because of the plane crashing.
Overcharging Your Battery
Similarly, you should also be careful not to overcharge your battery. When you charge your lipo battery too much, you can risk damaging it and potentially making it explode. Make sure to unplug your charger once your battery reaches a 100% charge. Many RC enthusiasts invest in a monitoring charger. These types of chargers will let you know the progress of your charge so you will know when your battery is fully charged and ready to be unplugged. Chargers like the iMAX B6AC from Sky RC are available to help you avoid the issue of overcharging.
Break In Your Batteries
When you purchase a new battery, it is always a good idea to break it in. This can help you get your battery as close to their maximum capacity as possible. Start by fully charging, then discharging your new battery a few times before using them for operating your RC vehicle. This is also a good practice when using batteries that have been lying dormant for a long time. If they sit for too long, they can lose their capacity, so it is a great idea to “exercise” them in this sense.
This battery cycling can help prevent “memory effect,” which refers to the battery “remembering” how far it was last discharged and shrinking its capacity to match it. Fully discharging your battery will help wipe its memory and save the battery’s capacity. Try to do this every one to two weeks. Not only does this battery cycling help increase the lifespan of your battery, but it can also help maintain your run times.
Your Battery’s Charge Rate
Next, determine your battery’s charge rate. To figure out the safest rate to charge your battery, you can take the mAH rating and divide it by 1000 to get the basic amp charge. With less than 20C, charge at the basic amp charge or less. If the number is over 25, it is okay to charge at twice the basic rate.
Another great method to consider when caring for your RC vehicle’s batteries is to balance charge your batteries. This means you will make sure each cell is charged to the same voltage. This method will often take longer to complete the charging cycle, but it will result in a longer running time for each charge. More time to enjoy flying your helicopter or plane in the park!
Properly Store Your Batteries In Between Sessions
After using your remote-controlled vehicle and charging your battery, you should also take the time to learn how to properly store it in between your sessions. Storing your battery for more than a few weeks at a full charge can significantly reduce the battery life and power—sometimes by 50%. After storing a battery improperly for a long time, you will find when you use it again that it tends to have less power and reduced usage time on a single charge.
- Do not put your battery in storage with a full charge. Before storing your battery, charge it to about 80-85% to reduce the rate of aging.
- Never store an empty battery or one that has been fully discharged and not recharged for more than a few hours. This will reduce its life and power. When you do not use a battery for an extended period of time, sometimes even a few days, its internal resistance will increase, which can result in a loss of battery capacity. This becomes most prevalent after storing for a week or more.
- Charge your battery to a safe storage voltage. If you plan on taking a break from flying or driving your vehicle—even a couple of days—make sure to store them at a proper storage voltage. Avoid charging your battery to 100% if you plan on storing it for a long period of time.
- Also, storing your battery in the refrigerator can help reduce the effects of storing it for a long time. Just be mindful of your refrigerator settings. For instance, avoid storing your battery in the fridge if it is cold enough to freeze your milk.
Understanding the Terms Related to RC Batteries
In addition to the helpful tips we have mentioned above, understanding how a remote-controlled vehicle’s battery works can help you improve its longevity. To take the best care of your battery and to know what to look for when replacing one, it is ideal to learn and understand your battery and the terms associated with it.
Make note of these terms so you can properly maintain your battery and increase its longevity:
- MilliAmpere Hour (mAh): the electric charge transferred by a current of one milliampere per hour; a higher mAh means a battery will last longer each charge
- Voltage: the electric pressure; this will determine how much power can flow from the battery to the motor
- Cell: a 3.7-volt battery
- Lithium-Ion: a battery with a rigid cell structure and shape; often safer than a lipo battery, but not as powerful or long-lasting
- Lithium-Polymer (lipo): a battery with flexible cell structure and shape; more efficient than other battery types, but they can be prone to catch fire or explode if they are not properly taken care of or dropped on a hard surface
- Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH): easily rechargeable batteries that are easy to maintain
- Alkaline: non-rechargeable batteries, usually found in AA batteries; it is ideal to replace these with a lipo battery if your RC device already has these installed
Which Should I Choose? Lipo vs. NiMH Batteries
One of the many reasons why remote-controlled vehicles are great is because you have room to make adjustments and customizations as you see fit. And one of the components you have many choices with is the battery you choose.
Many RC vehicles come equipped with an inexpensive Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery. Many RC enthusiasts decide to replace this factory battery because they do not perform as well or last as long as other batteries, like lipo batteries.
NiMH batteries can be pretty large. This can be a problem because, in order to run your RC vehicle for a long time, you must use (and fit) many cells into your battery packs. This results in a bulky and heavy setup, which can affect the quality of your flying sessions. They also can lose voltage pretty quickly while being used, which means the power for your vehicle will decline as you use it. NiMH batteries are robust, but they can be damaged easily if you overcharge them. If you decide to use this type of battery, consider investing in a high-quality monitoring charger to avoid overcharging it.
Lithium-polymer, or lipo batteries, on the other hand, can maintain their voltage until the battery is almost all the way discharged. This gives you a lot more room for longer flying sessions in between charging your battery. However, lipo batteries are more sensitive than other battery types, so you must take special precautions while using and charging them.
Make sure to use a high-quality charger that comes with balance lead and reduces the current when the battery’s peak voltage is reached. Lipo batteries can be charged at a fast rate, but it is safest to charge at a rate of 1C.
What to Look for in an RC Battery Replacement
Your remote-controlled airplane, car, or helicopter will often come with its own factory battery. The manufacturer will have chosen this battery based on its weight, performance, and production cost. However, after you own your vehicle for a while, you may decide to replace and upgrade this battery with a new one that has better specs.
Choosing the best battery for your remote-controlled device requires you to take a look at cost, compatibility, and specifications of the battery:
- Choose from smaller capacity batteries that are actually cheaper in cost, but still offer the same runtime of a larger capacity battery. That way, you can avoid the cost and the heavier weight of the battery. This lightweight aspect is great if you are looking for more speed, altitude, or better handling while operating your remote-controlled vehicle.
- When you are purchasing a new battery, make sure you know which connector type your device will require. You want to purchase a battery that is compatible with your device’s components.
- You also want to check that your ESC is compatible with your new battery. Understanding these specifications will help you decide on which chemistry of battery (lipo or lithium-ion) to choose, as well as how many cells. Make sure to keep your owner’s manual for your vehicle. Referring to this document can help you learn specific features like these for your device.
- You also must pay attention to the dimensions of the battery tray. When you are purchasing a new battery, look for one that will properly fit in the slot, or one with velcro straps that you can install on your vehicle. You probably want to avoid a bulky battery setup, so make sure you know how many cells and what sized cells can fit in your specific model.
Purchase the Longest Lasting Batteries
It is, of course, crucial to take good care of your device and its battery to get the most life out of it, and to achieve quality time of flying or driving your vehicle. However, outside of taking proper care of your battery, you can also take steps to purchase a higher-quality, longer-lasting battery when you need a replacement.
There are many options out there on the market, but just for you, we have put together some recommendations for the RC batteries that last the longest. Keep your owner’s manual handy to make sure you can find a battery that is compatible with your RC vehicle.
Floureon Lipo RC Batteries
The Floureon Lipo Battery is a lithium-polymer battery that comes with 11.1 voltage and a capacity of 2 X 3000mAh. It has a discharge rate of 30C, and it has a Dean-Style T connector. The battery pack includes a velcro strap so you can mount the battery in older compartments without needing fasteners. This model is a nice starter battery set for many middle-class RC models, and it comes with a one-year warranty.
Gens Ace Lipo RC Battery
The Gens Ace Lipo Battery has a 7.4 voltage and a capacity of 1 X 5000mAh. It has a discharge rate of 50C and a Dean-style T connector. Because of its high discharge current, you can use this battery for more powerful vehicles. Its high capacity can help increase your operating time. The Gens Ace lets you get the most out of your powerful RC engine, making it a great option for people who want more speed and power for tricks.
Tenergy High Power Battery Pack
The Tenergy High Power Battery Pack comes with NiMH batteries with 7.2 voltage. Its capacity is 2 X 3000mAh, and it has a discharge rate of 38 amps. This battery pack uses a Tamiya connector, and it comes with a 6-month warranty. It is simple to operate and shock-proof, which is ideal if you have had some crashes in the past. Purchase this battery pack if you are interested in operating extreme RC vehicles.
Venom RC Lipo Battery
The Venom RC Lipo Battery has an 11.1 voltage and a 1 X 2200mAh capacity. This battery’s discharge rate is 20C. What makes this pack great is that it comes with a universal plug and many adapters to choose from that are compatible with Traxxas, Tamiya, Deans, and EC3 plugs. This means you can use this battery on a variety of different RC models. This battery is one of the lightest batteries compared to others with the same specs.
The Tattu 4s battery has a 14.8 voltage and 1300mAh capacity. This battery has a discharge rate of 75C, and it uses an XT60 plug connector. This lipo battery is ideal for remote-controlled helicopters and airplanes. It recharges quickly, and it has a long life cycle. Its automatic stacking technology provides you with great performance. This battery is a great choice for upgrading your RC vehicle with a more powerful battery.
Turnigy HobbyKing RC Battery
The Turnigy HobbyKing RC Battery has a capacity of 1000mAh and a discharge rate of 20C. It comes with a JST connector. This battery is portable and small enough to carry in your pocket. They come at a fair price and offer you long-lasting batteries to extend your RC flying or driving sessions. It requires a 7.4 voltage, and it comes with two cells in the battery pack to perform optimally.
Get the Most Out of Your RC Devices with Proper Care
Getting involved in RC vehicles as a hobby can be loads of fun for people of all ages. However, there are many technical aspects you must learn in order to get the most out of your remote-controlled helicopter, car, or airplane. To avoid crashes and damaging your device, and to make your plane, copter, car, truck, or dune buggy last a long time, make sure to take proper care of all of its components—including the battery. The tips we have gone over in this article can help you extend the life of your device and fly for a long time.
Continue reading helpful guides like this one to learn more about this engaging hobby. We are here to make sure you have the proper tools, skills, and knowledge to increase the lifespan of your devices and enjoy yourself while flying.