NiMH Vs. LiPo RC Car Batteries

Most RC car enthusiasts want batteries that will improve performance and give them maximum run times. The two most popular types of RC Car batteries are LiPo and NiMH batteries, but which battery technology gives you the most benefits?

LiPo batteries are a newer technology than NiMH, offering higher power delivery and longer duration for RC car runs. LiPo batteries are lighter, more responsive than NiMH batteries, and do not have a recharge memory. This makes LiPo batteries the superior power source choice for RC enthusiasts.

The battery makes a massive difference to how your RC car performs, how long your runs can be, and even the responsiveness of your main motor. 

This article will compare LiPo and NiMH batteries to give you the details needed to make the right choice for your RC car.


LiPo And NiMH RC Batteries Compared

LiPo batteries are the relatively new kid on the block when powering RC cars. The older NiMH batteries significantly improved over their predecessors, but how does it compare to the newer LiPo batteries?

Driving RC cars is a hobby where operators want to have maximum drive time and power for their RC cars. Chasing these two goals is what drives RC operators to find better power sources to enhance their driving experience.

We will compare these two battery types and see which one should be your go-to power source to tick the most boxes for your RC car driving obsession!

NiMH Vs. LiPo RC Car Batteries: Technology

The NiMH or Nickel-Metal-Hydride battery was developed in 1967, almost 20 years before the LiPo battery, to replace the nickel-cadmium or NiCD battery. The NiCD battery was a reliable, stable power source for RC cars, and it was available in a rechargeable version.

However, the biggest problem with NiCD batteries was the “charging memory” the battery developed over time if it was not completely drained before charging.

NiMH batteries improved on this flaw and showed a 2 to 3 times increase in capacity over the NiCD technology. 

Consequently, NiMH batteries quickly became the standard power source for RC cars.

LiPo batteries were developed in 1983 but only really took off in 1991 after the Sony Corporation developed cylindrical cell lithium batteries. Some may say that NiMH had time to improve. 

Still, LiPo batteries were a giant leap forward in battery technology, using newer technology giving significant advantages over NiMH batteries.

Traxxas LiPo and NiMH batteries side by side

NiMH Vs. LiPo RC Car Batteries: Temperature Tolerance

LiPo and NiMH batteries are both sensitive to temperature extremes, but NiMH technology fares worse than LiPo technology for tolerance to heat.

High temperatures severely affect the performance of NiMH batteries, and their performance noticeably improves in cold weather.

LiPo batteries are negatively affected by high heat conditions, but the performance does not drop off as noticeably as with NiMH batteries.

NiMH Vs. LiPo RC Car Batteries: Responsiveness

When you hit the throttle on your RC car and pull off from the line, you want maximum power sent to the drive wheels as quickly as possible.

LiPo batteries would be your power source of choice for a quicker response to fast delivery of power from a standing start.

NiMH Vs. LiPo RC Car Batteries: Power Delivery

LiPo batteries have a higher power capacity than NiMH batteries and can deliver a consistently higher power amount over a more extended time.

This means that RC cars powered by LiPO batteries run faster and longer than RC cars powered by NiMH batteries.

NiMH Vs. LiPo RC Car Batteries: Size To Storage Capacity Ratio

The battery size and weight are critical parts of an RC car’s performance. NiMH batteries can only hold between 60% to 70% capacity compared to a LiPo battery of the same size.

This characteristic means that LiPo batteries can be lighter and smaller and produce more power than the NiMH equivalent.

NiMH Vs. LiPo RC Car Batteries: Recharge Capacity

NiMH batteries improved the charge memory of NiCD batteries. However, they still suffer from that drawback, albeit to a lesser degree.

On the other hand, LiPo batteries do not display a charge memory if they are recharged before they are completely depleted. As a result, LiPo batteries can be put through hundreds of recharge cycles before you will see a drop off in the battery’s performance. 

This gives LiPo batteries a longer lifespan than NiMH batteries, which saves costs in the hobby.

NiMH Vs. LiPo RC Car Batteries: Power Loss In Storage

NiMH batteries lose about 20% of their charge per month when they are in storage. In contrast, LiPo batteries only lose 5% of their charge per month when stored.

This characteristic gives LiPo batteries the advantage of longer charge retention for extended storage periods.

NiMH Vs. LiPo RC Car Batteries: Maintenance And Care

Here, NiMH batteries have a distinct advantage over LiPo technology. 

NiMH batteries are easy to care for and do not require special care other than charging the batteries with a charger designed for NiMH batteries.

LiPo batteries are harder to care for and store than NiMH batteries. 

LiPo cells must be stored with a charge of around 3.8 volts, which is 50% to 60% of the range between depleted (3.3 volts) and maximum charge per cell (4.2 volts).

LiPo batteries require storage where they will not pose a fire risk and often need specialized fire-resistant bags for charging and storage to limit the risk of fire. These batteries also require storage in a temperature-stable environment.

NiMH Vs. LiPo RC Car Batteries: Cost

LiPo or Lithium batteries have a more complicated manufacturing process, which significantly increases the cost of these batteries compared to NiMH batteries.

However, the longer life and greater power and duration of power delivery in LiPo batteries make them more cost-effective and efficient in the long run.


Summary

For easy reference, we have included the table below that compares the characteristics of each battery type.

NiMH Vs. LiPo RC Car Batteries
 NiMH BatteriesLiPo Batteries
Age Of The TechnologyOldNew
Temperature TolerancePerforms poorly in hot temperaturesLess affected by higher operating temperatures
Responsiveness******
Capacity and Power Delivery*****
WeightHeavyLight
Size To Storage Capacity Ratio******
Recharge Capacity******
Power Retention In Storage*****
Maintenance And CareLow maintenance requirementsHigh maintenance requirements
Safety******
Cost$$$$$$

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