This guide contains everything you need to know about charging LiPo batteries. The process is very simple and not much different from charging any other battery type. Keep in mind that brand does not matter when it comes to LiPo chargers. A Common Sense RC LiPo charger will charge a Thunder Power RC LiPo and a Thunder Power RC charger will charge other brands of LiPo batteries (see the note on balance plug types below.)
How to Choose a Charging Setup
- Decide what Batteries you Want to Charge – Cell count and pack capacity are the most important factors when choosing a charger for your LiPo batteries. Find the number of cells in series that your LiPo packs have; this will determine the voltage. Also find out what the capacity of the pack is in mAh. If you’re new to lithium polymer batteries and want a guide, we have an FAQ written.
- Decide how Many Amps you want to Charge at – Generation 6 Thunder Power batteries support charging at a rate of up to 5 times their capacity (5C). As a rule of thumb, this is faster than most people can and should use, as charging at rates of over 1C has been shown to shorten battery life. A safe charging rate is generally accepted to be 2C with a balancer. Multiply the capacity of your pack in amp hours by 2 to get a good estimate of the number of amps you will need your charger to provide.
- Choose a Li-Po Charger with an Appropriate Number of Watts – The number of watts is the only really important variable here. Watts equals volts times amps, so take the number of amps that you want to charge your packs at (as determined by the last step) and multiply by their voltage. The result is the minimum number of watts that your charger should have. Keep in mind that cost tends to increase with the number of watts a charger can provide.
- Choose a Balancer Compatible with Your Battery Leads – All LiPo batteries over 1 cell should include a set of balance leads, which are used to keep the voltage of each cell the same. It’s critically important that you use a balancer when charging at rates of over 1C, otherwise imbalances can build up and result in over or under-charging different cells in a pack. Note that many computerized chargers include a built in balancer. You may have to purchase an adapter cable to use internal balancers with your particular brand of LiPo battery. There are basically 3 common leads that LiPo batteries use. They are, according to brand:
- JST-XH - This type of lead is the most common. It is supported out of the box by the TP610C, TP610C-ACDC, and TP820CD balance chargers.
- Thunder Power RC – Thunder Power balance leads are used by all Thunder Power RC LiPo batteries. They will work with all Thunder Power chargers, although if you want to use them with another brand of charger you will have to purchase a Thunder Power to JST-XH adapter cable.
- Hyperion – Hyperion uses their own proprietary balance plug. We do not carry an adapter cable at the time of writing.
- Choose your Charging Leads – You will need a set of leads that go from the charger to your battery pack. All of the chargers that we carry include a set of leads that will either work out of the box or that you can solder plugs of your choice onto. Consult the individual charger’s product page for more details. As a rule of thumb, the leads that plug into the chargers output jack are usually 4mm bullet connectors.
- Choose a Power Supply – Some LiPo chargers have their own built in power supplies and do not need to be plugged in to an external 12 volt source (such as the TP610C-ACDC and CS-ACDC-6.) If you require a power supply, the RipMax Pro Peak is a good choice. Make sure that the power supply you choose can provide an appropriate number of watts. A good rule of thumb to determine how many watts you need a power supply to provide is to take the number of watts that your charger can output and add 10%. The extra 10% accounts for power lost due to resistance and heat.
How to Use Your Charging Setup
- Read your Chargers Manual – There’s no substitute for this, read the manual cover to cover before you try to charge LiPo batteries.
- Plug the Charger into your Power Supply
- Connect the LiPo to the main Charging Leads and Balancer Port – If you’re using a Thunder Power to JST-XH adapter cable you will need to use this now.
- Verify Settings and Begin Charging – In particular, you must make sure that the voltage and number of amps to charge at are correct. Charging up to 2C is generally regarded as safe, but there is no margin of error when it comes to pack voltage. Charging at an incorrect voltage / cell count will result in a fire.
- Do not Leave the Battery Charging Unsupervised – LiPo batteries must not be left to charge unsupervised. Although the technology is safe, accidents do happen and it is important that you are there to react to any situation that may arise.
© Draganfly Innovations Inc.
Phone: 1-800-979-9794 / 306-955-9907
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