Many people have a common misconception that all batteries work and function the same, but that’s not true.
Each battery model may seem similar in size, mass, and looks, but they function differently. When it comes to RC cars, two of the most commonly used batteries, LiPo and NiMH, works exceptionally. However, they differ in performance, capacity, charging rate, and many more.
Why Is LiPo Better Than NiMH
NiMH batteries can last more than 300 cycles; however, they are bulky and have low energy density. For the LiPo battery, the main attraction is its speed, punch to the RC motor, and efficient power mode during a run.
For this reason, LiPo batteries are considerably better than NiMH batteries.
Various factors make LiPo batteries better than NiMH. Some of them include:
- Voltage(V) and Capacity(mAH)
The voltage of your battery will determine the performance and speed of your RC cars, while the capacity governs the runtime.
A LiPo battery has an average voltage of 3.7V while the NiMH’s is 1.2V. In essence, RC models that operate with a LiPo battery enjoy higher performance in power and speed levels.
Likewise, when charged, LiPos are more energy-saving than NiMH. This added energy-dense feature improves the weight-to-power ratio and longer runtime. And, unlike NiMH batteries, LiPo cells possess a low internal drive, enabling them to save and draw power efficiently.
- Shape, size, and weight
NiMH batteries have a sturdy build due to their heavily wrapped cells enclosed in metal. While this sturdy build of your NiMH battery may be a durable choice for running on rough terrains, the protective metal layers add to their weight, hindering speed levels.
On the other hand, LiPos are relatively lighter than NiMH batteries as they are composed of flat cells enclosed in semi-rigid plastic. Moreover, they don’t have a defined shape or size, making them incredibly versatile.
- C-Rating (Discharge Rate)
C-rating means how fast the battery energy depletes when run. For NiMH batteries, as the battery life decreases, so performs your RC model.
LiPo batteries won’t lose power immediately. Instead, the performance will only decline when most (if not all) of the battery energy is consumed. So, if two similar RC models use one LiPo battery and one NiMH battery, that of the LiPo battery will last longer than that of the NiMH.
Is LiPo Faster Than NiMH?
Lipo batteries have more speed and punch than their nickel counterparts. Plus, they charge pretty much faster at 20 minutes than nickel batteries which have an average charging time of 1.5 hours. They also have a low internal resistance that makes them safe energy and promises increased speed on the track.
Will a LiPo Battery Make My RC Car Faster?
LiPos have more power than NiMH batteries, and due to their high voltage levels, they can make an RC car faster when run.
However, if your RC model uses a NiMH battery and you choose to upgrade it using LiPos, you may also have to upgrade the RC motor to a brushless one to make sure your RC car can handle the extra power efficiently.
In addition, LiPo batteries are much lighter. This means less weight, more speed on the track, and more speed for your RC car.
Do LiPo Batteries Last Longer Than NiMH (Life Expectancy)
With the many advantages of using LiPo batteries, you wouldn’t imagine that one of its major drawbacks is its short lifespan.
Technically, Nickel-metal Hybride batteries can easily last between 300 to 500 charge cycles, around 3 to 5 years. However, LiPo batteries can only last for 150 to 300 cycles depending on your charging frequency and how well the batteries are cared for.
For instance, a battery of 1500mAH could typically lose performance power up to 75% if used frequently; that’s about 1000mAH power loss. The good news, extending their life span is possible with proper charging and storage.
LiPo vs. NiMH Runtime
As stated earlier, Lipos are typically more energy-dense than nickel metal hybride batteries, so they can hold more energy no matter their size and even have a longer runtime than NiMH batteries.
A 1000 mAH LiPo battery used to run a 500 mAH unit will last for 2 hours. Multiply the capacity, and if your load is 2000 mAH, it will last for 30 minutes. That’s a lot to ask from a smaller capacity bearing a considerable load. However, how long the battery lasts depends on the driving speed, the racing area, and your driving habits.
On the other hand, NiMH batteries won’t last as long as LiPo batteries. NiMH batteries under heavy load can heat up more than a similar capacity LiPo making them less efficient. In essence, when used for rock climbing, NiMH batteries might last long, but for racing, LiPo batteries are better.
Will LiPo Cost Less Than NiMH?
LiPo batteries won’t cost less than NiMH batteries because they are often used for larger and more powerful RC cars, especially ones used in racing. On the other hand, NiMH batteries are cheaper than LiPo batteries because they are often the standard go-to choice for entry-level RC cars or those RTR cars delivered in a box.
LiPo batteries are known for their high power and speed capacity. LiPo batteries have a 3.7V capacity.
This means that LiPo batteries will showcase more power and speed on the track no matter your choice driving area, notwithstanding your RC model.
Fast Charging – Is There a Difference Between LiPo and NiMH When Charging?
LiPo and NiMH fast charging rates differ.
LiPos don’t generally have a nominal fast charging rate. Most LiPos can charge at 1C (1 hour), 2C (30 minutes), 15C (4 minutes), and more.
On the other hand, NiMH batteries cannot even be tricked even up to 0.1C as this is too high for them. NiMH batteries generally have a 1 to 10% fast charging capacity per hour. So, you can charge a 10mAH NiMH battery for fifteen hours.
Which Is Safer, NiMH or LiPo?
Overall, NiMH is safer to use than LiPos. Unlike LiPos, which are flammable when its cells get punctured and may occasionally have short circuit issues, nickel batteries won’t spot this problem often.
Instead, when nickel batteries get hot, they may melt away and set nearby items ablaze. But, if you store them in cool temps while charging, the damage would be minimal.
On the other hand, LiPo batteries explode when punctured due to constant bashing, dropping, or overcharging, which can be dangerous for people nearby.
C Charging Rate of Each Battery
The C-rate of your battery determines your batteries’ safe charge and discharge rates.
For most LiPo batteries, the C-rate is 1C. Hence, if you have a 1000mAH battery, the C-rate would be 1A, while for a 5000mAH or 3000mAH battery, the c-charge rate would be 5A and 3A, respectively.
However, NiMH batteries have a faster c-charging rate than LiPos. A 3000mAH NIMH battery would instead require fast charging between four to five amps, but LiPo batteries of the same capacity can’t be charged more than 3Amps.
Is There Better Battery Than a LiPo Battery for RC
While there are various types of batteries used in RC cars, including NiMH, Nicki, and LiPo, Lithium-polymer batteries are in higher demand due to their flexible and versatile nature. This alone makes LiPo the best RC battery pack in the market.
They are safer than other battery types and deliver stable performance with low self-discharge levels.
Can I Use LiPo Batteries Instead of NiMH
LiPo and NiMH batteries can be used for various RC car models. But, ultimately, how you use your LiPo battery will depend on the type of motor you use for your RC model.
An RC car that runs formerly on a 7cell NiMH pack and an SC10 brushed motor can only withstand a 2S LiPo battery. However, when upgrading your brushed motor to a brushless one, 90% of your RC model will efficiently handle the battery’s capacity.
Is Lithium-Ion the Same as LiPo
Various batteries exist for different use. Lithium-ion and LiPo batteries differ, as the former is traditionally used in smartphones and smaller electronic gadgets. In contrast, the latter is used on the most modern devices like RC car models. However, the significant difference is in their pricing, versatility, energy-saving capacity, weight, C-rating, and average lifespan.
Are LiPo Batteries Worth It
The perks of using LiPo and NiMH batteries for your RC models are undeniable. However, LiPos are a better investment than nickel batteries.
LiPo batteries are safer and more environmentally friendly. Plus, LiPo batteries have a high performance and speed capacity than NiMH batteries, and they are also energy-dense.
Therefore, RC hobbyists can achieve longer and faster drive time with a LiPo battery than when using their nickel counterparts.
4 LiPo Batteries for RC Car to Consider When Moving From NiMH to LiPo
If you’re considering upgrading your NiMH battery pack to a LiPo battery, here are four models you want to consider:
- Traxxas 3S 25C LiPo (11.1V/1400mAh)
- Traxxas 3S (11.1V/5000mAh)
- Gens Ace 3S LiPo 25C 11.1V/2200mAh
- EcoPower 3S LiPo 30C Battery (11.1V/2200mAh)
There are various batteries in the market today, but RC hobbyists often use LiPo and NiMH.
Regardless of each popularity, LiPo batteries offer better perks to RC hobbyists. They are incredibly strong, fast, can run long on track, are energy-saving, and give users extreme speed performance than NiMH batteries.
If you’re considering changing your NiMH battery from your RC car, you may also want to consider upgrading to a brushless motor as most brushed motors can’t handle the high voltage and speed of LiPo batteries.