Top RC LiPo Charger Tips & What to Avoid
LiPo’s are amazing batteries offering a lot of power for their size and weight, making them perfect for R/C, but they need to be charged. We’re offering a few LiPo charger tips to help you keep those LiPo’s lasting longer and charge more safely. LiPo batteries are so common in the radio control hobby. You see them used as transmitter batteries, receiver batteries for nitro vehicles, and many other applications. Most of these tips apply to LiPo batteries, however, some of these tips apply to smaller batteries used in secondary applications. So, how do you charge a LiPo battery?
Tip 1 – Always Charge at 1C Charge Rate
The number one tip for you guys on LiPo battery charging is all about heat, and that is to charge your LiPo battery at a 1C charge rate for the very best health and long-term performance of that LiPo battery. If you’re unfamiliar with a 1C charge rate or what it all means. In summary, it has to deal with how many amps you’re charging the LiPo battery. So what amp should you charge a LiPo battery at?
The charging amps for a 4600mAh battery at a 1C charge rate would be 4.6. Some batteries have a 2C charge rate. So a 4600mAh battery at a 2C rate would be 9.2 amps.
A 2C charge rate would effectively charge the battery twice as fast as a 1C charge rate. Some LiPo batteries may have a really high maximum charge rate like 10C. So for a 4600mAh LiPo, that would have a charge rate of 46amps—which is ridiculous! High charge rates are usually reserved for high-quality race-grade or competition battery packs. This particular pack is capable of 10C. Be careful; because what nobody is telling you is that the higher the amperage you charge your battery at, the hotter the battery cells will get. So it’s essentially heating the battery from the inside out, and this intense heat from super high charge rates will effectively degrade the LiPo battery. Now, if you’re a racer who buys new LiPo batteries every season, then who cares. (This is why you never buy used LiPo.) On the other hand, if you’re a basher or you’re somebody who wants their LiPo batteries to last years into the future, then charging at a 1C charge rate will help you achieve this. As a side note, never charge your LiPo batteries beyond the maximum charge rate that that battery manufacturer recommends.
Note: Battery manufacturers will always provide the maximum charge rate rating for their LiPo's.
Tip 2 – Let the Battery Cool Down
Number two is a simple tip to follow, and that is to let your battery cool down after you’ve used it and before you charge it up again. LiPos get hot when you use them and charging a hot LiPo will only make it hotter. This can degrade the long-term performance of your battery, not to mention it can cause it to swell or puff up, so letting your LiPo cool down after you use it and before you charge it up again can help extend the long-term life and performance of that LiPo.
Tip 3 – Use the Memory Profiles
Number three is one of our favorites, and it’s to use the "save profile memory" on your LiPo charger—if it has that function. This allows you to save all the parameters like the cell count, mock capacity, and charge rate of your battery into the charger. A profile is beneficial for people who have a lot of different batteries or different battery types like us. We are using two cells, three cells, four cells, and six cells, so we’ve added profiles for both balanced charge and storage charge for our most commonly used LiPo batteries, and it saves a lot of time.
Tip 4 – Always Storage Charge
Are LiPo batteries safe to store? Yes, and our fourth tip is safe and straightforward—always storage charge your batteries when you’re done using them. So, why would you do this? Well, there are a few benefits. For one, it’s better for your battery’s long-term health and performance. The optimal cell voltage for LiPo batteries is about 3.7 and 3.8 volts. Still, when you use that battery in your vehicle, the vehicle drains the battery beyond that voltage.
So for example, the ESC in your vehicle cuts off the LiPo battery at 3.2 volts. That voltage is fine and dandy, but if you’re done using your LiPo, and you will not be using it for a while, 3.2 volts is not a great voltage to store your battery. Yet by charging the battery in storage mode, the charger will charge your battery up between 3.7 and 3.8 volts. The second benefit to storage charging a battery every time is reducing the time it takes to charge that battery. But, again, this is because you’ve already charged the battery up to an optimal storage range.
Tip 5 – Monitor Cell Voltages
Our next tip is to monitor your cell voltages when you charge on a traditional four button charger. One of those buttons will bring up an individual display to show each cell’s voltage. When we charge, we’ll leave it on this screen to check to see what those cell voltages are to ensure that everything is fine and that there are no issues. If there are any issues, they’ll present themselves on the display panel. For Traxxas LIVE chargers, you can use the EZ Peak app on a mobile device and pair that to your LiPo charger to see your cell voltages.
Tip 6 – Always Balance Charge
Number six is a great habit to develop, and it’s a great way to keep your batteries healthy. And this tip is to balance charge LiPo batteries every time. The most obvious benefit of balancing charging is that the cells stay balanced, the battery stays healthier, and you minimize any fire risk. The other benefit is that it cuts down on the charge time because it reduces the amount of time your charger has to spend rebalancing those cells. Some people only balance charge their batteries once in a while, leading to the cells become unbalanced.
This process creates an issue the next time they balance charge. It will take a long time because the charger has to rebalance those cells at a really slow charge rate. The more unbalanced those cells are, the longer it will take to rebalance them, so keeping your cells balanced all the time, is just smarter and safer, and it will minimize how long it takes to complete that balance charge process.
Tip 7 – Use a Bat-Safe Charge Box
This tip deals with battery charging safety, and it’s the most important thing you can do when charging your LiPos, and that’s to use a bat-safe charge box. It’s rare for LiPos to catch fire, but it can happen for various reasons. There are tons of LiPo charger bags available in different colors and sizes, and they are okay, but they’re nowhere near the best solution. So when charging a LiPo battery, the best thing is one of these bat-safe charge cases.
Using a bat-safe box is super simple. You just put your battery inside, run your charge leads through the little rubber slot, plug it into your battery with the charger outside the box, latch up the box, and charge. These boxes have vent holes to allow a compromised battery to ventilate, because during a fire there’s going to be a lot of pressure built up, and it needs to vent out for the box to stay shut. Some people use ammo boxes to keep their LiPos from exploding. This is alright, but if there is a fire inside that ammo box, and it’s not ventilated, that box will get red-hot, burning anything underneath it. So that’s why a bat-safe box is the ultimate method to charge your LiPo battery safely. Plus, you can safely store the LiPos inside the box when you’re not using it for charging.
Tip 8 – Use Bands to Stay Organized
Our last tip is to use bands to help stay organized. We like to use bands when we have a bunch of batteries to charge up. We just slide them over our charged batteries and set them aside. These particular bands are ten scale on-road tire glue bands. They’re inexpensive and easy to use and really do the job. The idea here is to have a visual cue to quickly and easily determine which batteries need to be charged.
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Top RC LiPo Charging Tips & What to Avoid
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