Put a Tiger in Your Tank

We received this from a customer who did his research on batteries and we wanted to share it. Well written and informative. Titled “Put a Tiger in Your Tank”

The title, of course, is borrowed from an Exxon (then Esso) advertising campaign for gasoline in the 1960’s……not that I am old enough to remember, but anyway……….while the Tiger referred to quality gasoline for your automobile, we will use the same analogy today to discuss lipo batteries, and how they should be the “TIGER IN YOUR TANK” for your RC airplane, car, or boat.

Everyone knows, of course, that not all lipos are created equal. The difficulty comes for most of us (sport and everyday fliers) in choosing the best value for our money. With internet shopping today, the choices seem endless, with many batteries being offered at seemingly ridiculous prices!

Here are some simple rules that have worked very well to help me make the best lipo choice for my models.

1. Purchase lipos that have a “real” warranty. Quality battery manufacturers will have no problem providing a real warranty for your battery purchase. So, make sure you look for a lipo battery series that offers super pricing and at least a 6 month warranty on every battery! Take time to read the lipo warranty section on each website before making a purchase. Many of the offered “warranties” are totally worthless; if you take the time to read the details. Do you really want to spend your hard earned hobby dollars on lipos that come with a 30 day warranty……a “warranty” that is only good for 30 days “if you did not charge or use the battery”…??? Some “warranties” even require that you can only make a claim on the same day the battery is delivered to you! Bottom line……read the fine print…..it’s entertaining and enlightening. Know what you are buying!

2. “UN testing and approval” is required for safe shipping and transportation of all lipo batteries. Reputable manufacturers’ MUST submit their batteries for UN testing approval in order to safely ship their batteries and legally lipo batteries are NOT supposed to be shipped by air. Most reputable manufacturers have also received “CE” and “RoHS” certifications for their packs. In case you haven’t heard there was a freight airplane crash that has been attributed to defective batteries, so there is no substitute for safety when it comes to lithium polymer batteries! Look for these certifications before you buy!

3. Look for lipo packs with matched cells – Simply put, this adds expense for a manufacturer, but results in a battery pack that will provide much longer life for RC hobbyists. A good quality lipo pack, treated correctly, can last 300-400 charge/discharge cycles, or more. If your “bargain pack”, that initially cost you 30% less, fails at 100 cycles, you could wind up spending a whopping 300% more for the same battery life as the “more expensive pack”. Do the math……and then decide if you still think you got a real bargain????? Talk about the price of gas….wow…. bargain batteries get real expensive, real fast, if they don’t last!

4. Check out the manufacturers’ source of materials – Yes, Virginia; not all lipo raw materials are created equal. Cell phones ushered in the era of lipo batteries, but raw materials used in their batteries are not necessarily the best choice for RC applications. Materials that come from Japan or Korea typically have more expensive additives designed to deal with temperatures, discharge rates, and stability that are so important to our hobby. Reputable battery manufacturers use only the finest raw materials from Japan, Korea, or Taiwan, so it might be a good idea to ask about where the materials come from before you make you next lipo battery purchase.

5. Get a battery balancer today! – Cheap batteries, sport batteries, or competition batteries all love to be balanced. I balance every lipo, every time, after every flight. Some of my lipos are over 5 years old and are still going strong. You can get a good quality power analyzer/balancer for less than $40 and these small devices not only balance any lipo battery, but some also serve as a watt meter and voltage checker. This is the cheapest insurance policy you can buy to maintain the health of your packs!

6. OK, What’s the real price difference? – Well, it comes down to simple math…..how much did you pay, and how long did the battery last? A cheap 3S 1300 lipo that sells for $ 7.00, but only lasts for 50 cycles; costs you 14 cents per flight. A better quality, 3S 1300, with 6 month warranty (I’ve found them for as low as $12.99) costs you only 6.5 cents per flight if you use it for even 200 cycles……that’s less than half the cost of the “cheaper” lipo!. Ask yourself the question….”which lipo is really the better deal?”

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One Response to Put a Tiger in Your Tank

  1. Dave Baron says:

    Excellent advice, thanks-
    I have learned to be more and more sensitive to the C ratings. Usually, the higher C rating batteries have lower internal resistance, and this translates into performance in the air.
    The down side of this is that you should match your C rating to your usage.
    If you have a 3 cell 2200ma pack that has a 20C rating, and replace it with an identical pack with a 45C rating, then you will probably see an increase in perfomance.
    If your model only draws 20 amps average, both packs are really safe, and well within thier limits. The problem that some batterys have is that their chemistry is designed to be used close to these C ratings, and the 45C battery my not perform consistantly if you only use it at a 10C rate. This is just like a Corvette with a 427 being used for 20mph trips, the motors never gets the workout it needs, and then won’t perform when needed because it is full of carbon-
    Batteries are the same way, I have seen 45C packs only last 50 cylcles, (or one year) when flying a plane around that only draws 10 amps.

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