Many of you reading this probably added a new vehicle this past Christmas through the gift process or just bought it yourself as an act of “self gifting.” Being RC enthusiasts, we always want the latest and greatest, especially when it comes to technology – and the RC industry has sure advanced the past 8 (or so) years through brushless electronics and lithium-based batteries. So what’s with the Lipo battery C ratings?
Quick disclaimer: I am not an electrical engineer. The claims below are from my years of experience in the RC industry both having owned over 100 RC’s and probably about 75+ Lipo based batteries.
Now, the Lithium Polymer industry has been booming and the packs seem to get smaller, better and more powerful over the years, or have they? We all know that the “MAH” or milli-amp hour number stamped on a battery determines the run time of your vehicle. A 5000mah battery will run longer (in the same vehicle) than 4000mah battery will. “C” ratings meant how fast the battery can discharge – “Constant/continual” meant all the time power and “Burst” meant an immediate “burst” or “Turbo” effect of the battery. Typically a Constant will be half as much as a Burst rating (ie, 40C constant, 80C burst).
We all know that there’s not really a way to tell what “C” rating a battery is; yet Lipo manufacturers have been creeping the number higher and higher every year. When I first started my Lipo experience, 20C or 30C were the extremes and honestly, the C rating didn’t mean much more than just a number on the case. There was more joy in just getting a Lipo battery and how light it was, no “nimh/nicd” drop in power after a couple of minutes and no battery memory (loss of battery capacity after every charge). Then there was that first 40C purchase – The GensAce Leopard print battery that Ultimate RC swore by. This was THE lipo battery of lipo batteries – so much so, I bought 4! Later that year (about 2011), I noticed that GensAce came out with a 50C battery…but the ratings (on Ultimate RC) on this battery were not as good as the old tried and proven 40C packs.
Then all hell broke loose. MaxAmps came out with “True 150C” packs. But wait a minute…we have been talking about 40/50C packs – now it’s 150C?? Well, to this point we have been talking about Constant/Continual C ratings. MaxAmps, according to their reps, feel that the “Burst” rating is more important. “It’s about that initial trigger pull that makes the difference” – so they went with only list the “Burst” rating on the packs, so in effect, the packs were 75C constant and 150C burst, or were they?
From 2011 till about 2015, we saw a steady increase from every year from other Lipo manufacturers. “Here’s out newest 75C pack.” Then the following year “Here’s our 90C pack”. Every year, it kept creeping higher and higher and honestly, there wasn’t much of a difference. In defense, of the Lipo manufactures, the packs did seem to stay the same size (or smaller in some cases) and the gain a bit in MAH/Run Time. This kept rising until we saw up to 110C packs (yeah, that’s about 220C Burst) in some packs from Team Orion – The Carbon Pro(and others) in 2015.
What do others have to say?
The other day, I came across this post from SMC Racing on Facebook and was impressed:
It sheds some light on the current state of the RC Lipo industry and some of the recent trends that we have seen like “Graphene” and LiHV packs that have been trickling out and if C ratings are just a marketing ploy.
Now, I am not affiliated with SMC Racing, nor am I trying to advertise for their company. They’re a US based company (Elkton, Virginia) that has fully disclosed that they get their packs from over seas under a watchful eye. They don’t have a middleman or costly race teams to support. They just try and give the best quality Lipo pack for an affordable price less the hype and marketing of fancy names and C ratings.
What Batteries I Use
So what do I use for batteries these days? I stick to batteries that are backed by good companies. For my race vehicles, I try and run around a 50-70C rated battery. Many of my RTR vehicles run 30-40C packs with pride! Your vehicle (2wd/4wd), vehicles weight, electronics system and how well maintained your vehicle is (think clean bearings) will determine how well your battery performs.
What’s your experience with C ratings? What batteries do you use?