Lipo Battery C Ratings – Are they just ‘C’rap?

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.

Battery Specs

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).

C Ratings

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?

More C-Packs

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.

Lipo Battery C Ratings-7

What do others have to say?

The other day, I came across this post from SMC Racing on Facebook and was impressed:

www.facebook.com/smcracing/posts/1408746142491194

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?

 

 

17 Comments:

  1. Eric morsecode007

    Always remember, Black to black and Red to red! My buddy fried 200+ bucks worth of electronics when his castle system cought fire because the gensace battery he had had banana plugs on the battery so it was possible to plug it in backwards, and he did because he was so pumped to play with it, he forgot to double check everything and ended up having a little fire that day.

  2. Alfonso Ochando Tejela

    Hi Rich, I am Alfonso From Spain, and I read your article, I love u page and your Youtube channel aswell, I just grab a Tekno mt410, and I loved your videos about it.
    I dont know what lipo get to my monster in order to Cs… What do you think?
    Support for all of your job man.
    Peace.

    • Hi Alfonso,  Thanks for watching and the great comments!  I run the GensAce 5000mah 50C 4S pack in my MT410. Depending on your electronics, this battery should work out great. Check out www.hobbybatteryz.com for more information. As far as C rating, 50C is plenty for most applications.

      Thanks again,

      Rich

      • I run the same ones in my E-Revo. Just the right amount of power without making it go crazy fast. Perfect for bashing for me!

  3. I thank you for your site it helps me understand the hobby.
    I learned some good tricks and more.
    Don’t go away RC needs people like you.

  4. Hey rich, do you still use gens ace? What 2 brands are your go to, thank you for the time!

  5. I have used several top brand Lipo batteries in the past. I can say dollar for dollar no one comes close to SMC. The batteries are very high quality, the price is very competitive, and the customer service is without question the best in the industry. I can honestly say I only use SMC batteries and I do not even consider other batteries an option any longer. Currently every single member at my local track uses only SMC batteries. One guy even switched from Max AMPS to SMC and he could not be happier. Please note I am not sponsored by anyone this is just my opinion.

  6. Thanks for the article, some very great info and cleared up many questions I have had about all the numbers and what they mean. Thanks again

  7. I have 4 gensace batts and they are the best. But im not so good at keeping my batteries in shape. I have used them for about 10 months hard and still when they charge the cells are still perfect and now i have gone through 2 reaction dynamite packs and a traxxas pack completly puffed. I run an amazing charger. The gens ace have not deterieated or puffed at all. I would buy so much more of them but there just so much money.

  8. Been scratching my head re lipos , haven’t had much luck with any 2c Lipo in my 4wd SC trucks .
    Tried cheap , expensive , different mha and c rates .
    In North Queensland Australia it gets hot 40degrees Celsius + .
    I have found 100c rated packs to be short lived

    • Yep, I found the same issues a while back when running high powered, heavy 4wd SCT’s. I’ve since went to E Buggy and the 4s systems have plenty of power and no temp issues and puffed packs like the SCTs had

  9. Having been involved with batteries for model trade for 30+ years I totally agree with you. Lots of suppliers put on labels just about what they want. Notice I said suppliers. This all started with nmhi people badged sells under there own name as I did with my company. If you want a fast car,plane or boat you need the cells with the lowest I,R for any given volts on discharge we proved this in 2006 when we won the uk 19t nat championships we had 1st,2nd and 3rd . And the lad that won it the next year was told by me how to pick his cells.

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