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Can You Put A Higher Voltage Battery In An RC Car?

Many people wonder whether they can use a battery of higher voltage than the specified range for their RC or ESC for higher speeds, longer racing time, or just more power in general. Your RC can handle multiple voltages, but it’s important to know that there are options for you outside of simply amping up the voltage – no pun intended.

Read on to learn more about why you should pay special attention to battery care for your RC.

Can you put a higher voltage battery in an RC car? This depends on what you mean by higher voltage. The ESC that accompanies your RC car can handle a range of voltages without damage or burning out. However, if you go outside of that specified range, you can irreparably damage your motor and/or ESC.

You are free to increase the voltage of the battery you use in your RC, but you need to make sure that that voltage is within the limits of the range specified by your user manual. If you neglect to check this, you may damage your RC vehicle beyond repair. Another option to increase the power of your RC is to swap the type of battery you’re using for a more powerful one and remaining attentive to the care of that battery and its use in your RC.

To see all the different battery sizes that are currently available and their prices simply click here.

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Why You Should Avoid Putting a Higher Voltage Battery in Your RC Car

You may be considering adding an additional battery or battery of higher voltage in an effort to increase the speed and overall performance of your RC vehicle. Before doing so, stop and consult your RC’s manual because this is a sure way to damage your RC by burning out the battery if not done properly.

RC cars are said to be able to handle a range of voltages, so you need to be aware of the voltage you are applying to your car, and that is within that set range. Installing a battery that is outside of the defined range of your RC car, particularly too high, can result in irreparable damage to the car and battery itself.

Most RC cars use electronic speed controllers (ESC), which is a device that allows the driver to control both the speed and power to the motor of the RC. They are made in brush and brushless forms, both of which have a circuit that regulates the voltage run the receiver, thereby removing the requirement to carry an additional battery pack in the RC car.

When you put a battery with too high of voltage into your RC car, you run the risk of overworking and therefore burning out your ESC or significantly damaging it, as it is directly responsible for controlling the amount of power being delivered to the RC’s motor. The best way to avoid this potentially irreversible mistake is by checking the manual of your RC and finding the specified range of voltages provided in the manual.

Basic RC Car Battery Care

One of the main things you need to pay attention to, no matter what battery you’re using, is the cycle of charging and discharging. If you are facing problems with your current battery, checking to make sure that the problem is simply a short discharge period can save you time and money.

When a battery isn’t allowed to fully discharge after being fully charged, it will go through something called the “memory effect,” which we will discuss more in the next section.

On the most basic level, ensuring that the accessories needed for proper care of your battery is another essential task to ensuring your RC performs at a high level. For example, using a charger meant for a LiPo battery on a NiMH battery can damage your battery (this is a serious combustion hazard). Additionally, check that the amperage of your charger is suitable for your battery so that it does burn out by charging too quickly.

Lastly, regularly inspect your batteries for faults such as bad connectors, damaged insulation, frayed wires, or other potentially negative aspects. These are all things that could be contributing to your RC’s lower performance and power, and do not require a higher voltage battery to repair. These simply require proper routine maintenance to fix the issues. 

How to Make Your RC Car Faster

If you are considering adding a battery of higher voltage to your RC car for the purpose of making it faster, there are other, safer ways to power it up. The performance of your RC car is indirectly dependent on the type of battery you install. There are three types of batteries you can install into your RC car, some of which are more powerful than others, the most powerful being:

Battery Type Pros Cons
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH)
Available in very high capacities

Safer than the other types of RC batteries when overcharged

No issues with memory effect

Do not pose as many environmental problems
They are not always the capacity advertised

Heavier than other types of batteries at an average of 400g

Do not hold their charge very well
Nickel Cadmium (NiCd)Great for beginners

Cheap to buy

Durable (can withstand higher temperatures and physical impacts)

Will soon be banned due to negative environmental effects

Very old technology, so they are no longer being developed

Low capacity

Nearly as heavy as NiMH batteries at an average of 350g

Suffer from memory effect
Lithium Polymer (LiPo)Relatively low cost

Lightweight at an average of 250g

Do not suffer from memory effect

Abundance of power

Very high capacity
Hazardous if overcharged or punctured, liable to burst into flames

This is not recommended for beginners

NiMH and LiPo do not normally suffer from “memory effect,” as is mentioned in the table. “Memory effect” is when a battery experiences voltage depression, which is when the capacity of the battery goes down gradually as a consequence of the battery not being fully discharged between charging cycles.

It is named such due to the concept of the battery “remembering” the shorter cycle and thereby being reduced to a lower capacity, causing the battery to run for less time when using your RC car. If you are concerned with the longevity of your RC car’s performance, you need to avoid NiCd batteries.

Experienced drivers who are looking for more power should look into purchasing LiPo batteries due to their tremendous power and capacity when compared to the other two alternatives. They hold their charge the best and for the longest amount of time – consistently – and are available for relatively cheap. Beginners or intermediate users are recommended to use NiMH batteries as they have the same advantages with fewer possible hazards.

Better Battery vs. Additional Battery or Higher Voltage

You may be wondering why we are suggesting the use of higher quality batteries over using a battery outside of the voltage capacity of your RC’s range. Because of the potential risks associated with venturing outside of your RC’s voltage range, you should begin to improve your RC’s performance by sticking with the same voltage but switching battery types. That will also ensure that you don’t damage your vehicles electronics or the battery itself. 

For example, if your current battery is around 7v and an NiMH and you wish for your RC to drive at higher speeds or simply last longer in races, first try switching to a LiPo battery to see if you can remain at the same voltage level and still achieve a better long term performance.

This is not to say that increasing voltage within the recommended range of your RC car is negative in any way, but to say that this is the safest way to proceed if you wish to improve your car’s speed and endurance.

Once you have explored the different options of improving your RC’s power without increasing the voltage of your battery, if you still decide that is the right move for you, just make sure to double back and read through your user manual to make sure the voltage falls within the limits of your ESC’s range.

The last thing you want to do is fry your RC vehicle because you weren’t careful when replacing the battery with a new one. If you no longer have your user manual that came with your RC car you can normally find them online by simply searching the make and model of your vehicle. 

If you are unable to find the user manual online you can take your car into your local hobby shop and they should be able to recommend the largest and best battery that will work with your specific model.