LiPo (or more commonly known as Lithium-Polymer) batteries have transformed the facets of RC with their great discharge rates, high energy density, and low weight. The constant improvement of these batteries has literally taken the performance of RC cars, airplanes, helicopters and boats to a whole other level, while also making way for new vehicles, like the multi-rotors. However, these batteries require extra care, otherwise they can easily get damaged and may even catch fire.
That being said, before you open up your wallet and invest in a LiPo battery RC hobbyists suggest that you should have at least some basic understanding of how they work and what you should look for when buying. When talking about LiPo batteries, the main two characteristics to understand are the battery’s capacity and voltage. Typically, you’ll see batteries labeled as something like 22.2V 4500mah 35C, which basically means that the voltage of the battery is 22.2V, the discharge C rating is 35, and it can provide an electric charge of 4500 milli-amp-hours (4.5 amps for an hour before it’s discharged).
Furthermore, you should ensure you get a decent quality charger and learn how to use it properly. There are many chargers that can charge LiPo as well as other batteries, and they have built-in checks which ensure they are properly configured. And even though these chargers can make things easier, it’s still up to you to ensure everything is set right. You’ll need to worry about things like having the charger set for the right amount of cells, having the charge rate within the battery’s limit, having the balance plug connected, etc.
Additionally, you should ensure your batteries discharge safely. What this means is that the battery should be able to withstand the amp draw of your RC vehicle. If you use a battery that cannot deliver the necessary amps, this will result in a poor performance of the RC vehicle and an early grave for the battery. As a general rule, the less you punish the batteries – the more cycles you’ll get out of them.
Lastly, most LiPo battery RC vehicles use can be disposed in a regular trash can, as long as they’re fully discharged. You want the final discharge process to be controlled and gradual. A good idea is to connect them to a DC light bulb and wait for it to drain down to 0V before disconnecting it. Then, let it cool down to room temperature and connect the positive and negative leads to create a short circuit. When that’s been done, you can throw it in the trash can.