Traxxas Guide to Batteries and Chargers
At Traxxas our goal is to make the RC hobby fun and exciting for people of all skill levels. If you are new to RC, you may have some questions about batteries and how to charge them. Traxxas vehicles use high-power rechargeable batteries to achieve their extreme performance. These batteries are much more powerful than the alkaline batteries you typically buy in a store and require some additional care. This article explains the differences between batteries, how to choose the right ones, and how to charge your batteries.
Understanding Capacity and Voltage
The primary specs you’ll consider when choosing a battery are voltage (determined by how many cells are in the pack) and capacity (how much energy is stored in the battery). Voltage determines how much speed and power your model will have, while capacity determines how long it will run on a charge. Capacity is indicated in milliamp hours, or “mAh.” This number refers to the amount of current in milliamps the battery can supply for one hour. All you need to remember is that the higher the capacity number, the longer your model will run on each charge.
Note that batteries are not universal; a battery may not be the right size to fit in your model or it may have more voltage than the power system is rated to handle. Traxxas makes finding compatible batteries easy: just look up your model at Traxxas.com, and then click Batteries on the menu to view all of the NiMH and LiPo packs that can be used in your model.
Understanding Battery Chemistry
Traxxas offers a wide assortment of battery sizes, voltages, and capacities, but when it comes to the chemistry inside the batteries, they all fall into two categories: LiPo (Lithium Polymer) and NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride). Each type has different advantages to consider when choosing a battery or batteries for your model.
NiMH battery packs are composed of cylindrical 1.2-volt cells, similar to the AA, C, and D batteries that we’re all used to installing in flashlights, TV remotes, and other devices. The rolled-metal construction of the individual cells, and the double-welded tabs Traxxas uses to connect the cells, makes them extra rugged. NiMH batteries can be discharged completely without harming the battery, and they do not need to be charged before storage. Traxxas NiMH batteries are offered with 6 cells (7.2 volts), 7 cells (8.4 volts) or 8 cells (9.6 volts).
LiPo battery packs are composed of flat 3.7-volt cells. The cells are stacked and enclosed in a tough, semi-rigid wrap. Traxxas LiPo batteries are offered in 2-cell (7.4 volts), 3-cell (11.1v), and 4-cell (14.8v) configurations. LiPo batteries have greater “energy density” than NiMH batteries, meaning they have more voltage and capacity than a NiMH battery would of the same volume. LiPo batteries also sustain a higher voltage for a greater duration of each run, so your model will have more “punch,” go faster, and run longer with a LiPo than it would with a comparable NiMH pack.
NEVER charge a LiPo battery using a NiMH charger (or NiMH charging mode on a combination NiMH/LiPo battery charger). LiPo batteries can be damaged by over-discharging, which is why the electronic speed control on all Traxxas models has built-in Low-Voltage Detection to alert you when LiPo batteries have reached their minimum voltage (discharge) threshold. LiPo batteries should be stored partially charged, and require a LiPo-specific charger.
Battery Charging Do’s & Don’ts
- NEVER: leave a battery unattended while charging, regardless of type
- NEVER: charge a LiPo battery using a NiMH charger (or a NiMH charging mode on a combination NiMH/LiPo charger).
- NEVER: charge a battery that has swollen, melted, or otherwise appears to be damaged.
- ALWAYS: turn Low-Voltage Detection ON when using a LiPo battery in your Traxxas model.
- ALWAYS: charge LiPo batteries in a fire-retardant/fireproof container. Place the container on a non-flammable surface such as concrete.
- ALWAYS: disconnect (unplug) the battery from the electronic speed control after you finish running your model.
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