If you are anything like me when you first got into RC you realized there were a lot of choices. Big decisions like what kind of vehicle to get and smaller ones like what kind of tires to use. For me no decision came easily and one I made a few mistakes with was what type of battery to get. Certainly you have to decide on some of the larger decisions like whether to get a Lipo, NiMh, or Nicad. Then you have to decide what brand you want to get, certainly that is something we will touch on in a different post. What we are aiming to help you figure out is what exactly is the difference between batteries.
The number of cells in the battery will determine the voltage. In the Lipo battery world, easily the most common among RC hobbyists the 2cell pushes out just over 7volts, that is going to determine the power getting to your wheels. If you want to go faster, you go from 1S to 2S or from 2S to 3S. There are restrictions however so make sure your motor and ESC can handle it. When I got my first vehicle I ran out and bought a bunch of the most powerful battery it would support.
Learn From My Mistake:
At the time it was 3 or 4 3S Lipo batteries. I learned a valuable lesson however the first day I went to the track and found out they only raced with 2S Lipo batteries and I just wasted about $230! Sure having the extra speed to tool around my yard was cool but I really wanted to race so the 3S batteries were useless. So lesson one! Know what you want to do. If you want to race in leagues, make sure you check the specs. If you just want to have fun and go fast, thats a totally different type of research.
After you pick out what type of battery you want to run (were sure you are rockin a Lipo because they are lighter and you typically get longer run time with them) and how many cells you want to run in series you will want to look at runtime.
If you are talking about a 2S Lipo battery that is a 2 Cell in series Lithium Polymer battery and get 7.4 Volts (power)
If you are talking about a 3S Lipo that means you are now running 3 cells in series and get 11.1 Volts (more power)
What Does Mah Mean:
The last decision you have to make is in regards to Mah. If you have shopped for batteries you will notice there are a lot of different options. Simply put Mah relates to how long you can run, the more Mah you have the longer you can draw on the battery. There is however a cost for that and it isn’t always one to one. What I mean is a battery with 5000Mah is usually more than double the cost of one with 2500Mah. (Mah stands for milliampere-hour)
The bottom line is this, if you want to really burn rubber get the max amount of cells in series your motor can support. If you want longer runtime maybe settle for the 2S instead of the 3S but get the beefy Mah. You will notice the trend on this site is always to say it depends what you want to use it for and it holds true here. If you want to race it’s easy get a 2S Lipo with a decent amount of Mah.
Cooling Matters Too:
Keep in mind though, the longer you run your RC the hotter it will get so if you are going for long run time consider investing in a little additional cooling, if the motor or ESC overheats it doesn’t really matter if you have 10,000 Mah. You’re going to have to wait for it to cool down to keep racing.
Remember if you are going to use Lipo Batteries make sure you are always charging your RC batteries in a protective Lipo sack. (my wife makes me charge them outside!) I really questioned posting the video below because its a little over the top but check it out. Also as a disclaimer I have NEVER had this happen.
In summary, just get the battery that best fits your needs, I realize I took a long time to say something pretty obvious but a little thought on what you want to do with your new RC Car or Truck can save you a good bit of money down the road.