Get Better Battery Life from a Radio Controlled (RC) Car

Most radio controlled (RC) cars rely on a rechargeable battery for
power. Obviously, the longer a battery lasts during use, the more fun
it is to own and use.

It's important to know that there are two major battery types for RC cars - Nickel Cadmium and Nickel Metal-Hydride. Proper handling of these two battery types is essential for getting the best performance and playtime out of an RC car.

Nickel Cadmium (NiCd)

Nickel Cadmium is the most affordable battery type for an RC car. Considering their performance for the price, it's no wonder why NiCd is the most common rechargeable battery used in RC cars.

NiCd batteries can suffer from a memory effect over time. If the car is driven for a short time, not all of the charge is used in the battery. If the battery is recharged numerous times with a remaining charge, over time the overall capacity of the battery is reduced. Running the car until the battery is completely drained of all charge at least once a month helps give the battery the longest life when it's used.

When putting the car away at the end of the season, be sure to fully charge the battery prior to storing it. This will ensure the battery will remain in peak condition for the next season.

Nickel Metal-Hydride (Ni-MH)

Metal-Hydride batteries have been in use since the mid 1980's. Since their inception, they have become very popular in electronic devices from cordless phones to RC cars. However, Ni-MH batteries have a greater cost, both for the battery and the associated charger.

The main advantage to using a Metal-Hydride battery over the Nickel Cadmium variety is that Metal-Hydride batteries are not as susceptible to the memory effect. Therefore, it will not hurt a Ni-MH battery if it is recharged without completely draining the battery first. However, it is still recommended to completely drain the battery prior to recharge about every three months.

Also, to ensure the best battery life, be sure to use a charger that is designed specifically for Ni-MH batteries. Using a NiCd battery charger on a Ni-MH battery will significantly reduce its life in a short period of time. When storing Ni-MH batteries at the end of the season, be sure to store them in a cool dry place. Avoid places with temperature extremes, like attics or garages. Extreme cold or heat will damage the battery, significantly reducing the performance for next season.

For more information and tips about rechargeable batteries see the article Getting the Most Out of Rechargeable Batteries


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