Choosing what battery to buy for your new racing drone can be a bit difficult. There are a lot of choices when it comes to miniquad batteries, so this guide should help you get what you need.
In my last blog about buying your first parts, I briefly told you what battery to get, but in this blog I'd like to go a little more in depth about batteries so that you are able to make the choice yourself.
This guide will mainly be geared towards 5 inch miniquad setups.First of all, we use Lithium Polymer batteries (LiPo for short). LiPo's are made of individual cells that charge to 4.2 volts, and discharge to 3.7 volts. When you buy batteries for your racing drone, you will usually get batteries made from 3 or 4 individual cells. These are called 3S and 4S batteries. You can also get more and less cell LiPos for different applications. You would buy a small 1S or 2S for a micro drone for example.
(Example of a LiPo cell)
Since they're made of individual cells, the battery you buy ends up having the voltage of all the cells combined. So if you get 3S batteries, they will be 12.6v charged, and 11.1v discharged. 4S will be 16.8v charged and 14.8v discharged. If it's not clearly labelled, you will be looking for the label "11.1v" or "14.8v" on a battery to determine if it's a 3S or 4S. You never ever ever never want to fly a battery down to 0v. This is why you use certain gear to monitor battery voltage while flying (see my last "shopping list" blog).
Your motors RPM is affected by battery voltage because of its "KV", so having the higher voltage of a 4S battery will give you more RPM and power than a 3S battery. A 3S battery will be less powerful for starting out, and more forgiving, but you will quickly grow out of 3S and want more power, so I would suggest not buying too many 3S batteries.
Another choice you have when choosing your "packs" is capacity. Capacity is measured in mAh which stands for Milliamp Hours. If you divide the milliamp hours by 1000, you also get the AMP hours (Ah) which is how you judge charging and discharging rate, but I'll get to that later.
Commonly for 5 inch miniquads, 1300mAh to 1800mAh are the most popular batteries, although the sweet spot is usually 1300mAh or 1500mAh. Smaller capacity batteries work fairly well for lightweight builds because they weigh less, so the drone needs less power when flying, but they do reduce flight time. Higher capacity batteries increase flight time, but make the quad heavier, meaning it needs more juice to stay in the air anyway. This is why 1300 or 1500 mAh is the sweet spot. They have enough capacity to have good flight times, and are also light enough to not put the capacity to waste on heavy lifting.
So now you have the choices of 3S or 4S, and a capacity of 1300mAh to 1800mAh. You'll be choosing different voltage for either less power, making learning more forgiving, or more power once you're comfortable. You can also go straight for 4S and lower the throttle values in your radio. You'll be choosing different capacity based on weight, and flight time. Less capacity is lighter, but has slightly less flight time, and more capacity is heavier, but you get a little more time in the air.
There's another value on the battery that you can take into consideration, and that is called C rating.
When you're flying, your motors are drawing amps from the battery. Your motors will draw less amps while cruising, and more amps on higher throttle. The C rating of a battery is a way for you to judge how many amps a LiPo can push out comfortably, without being damaged.
Do beware though, a high C rating is just a rough guide, not an accurate representation of performance. Basically, use the C rating as a guide on how much abuse (full throttle amp draw) the battery may be able to take.
So there you have it, a quick rundown of what to consider when buying your racing drone batteries. Voltage, Capacity, and C rating.
If you're a beginner, you may look at a 3S, 1500mAh, 45C or 75C battery.
3S for forgiving power;
1500mAh for longer time in the air;
Lower C rating because you don't need to draw so many amps;
Those 3 features of a battery also mean each battery is cheaper.
(1500mAh 3S "11.1v" 75C battery)
As you get better you may look at a different type of battery. Look at a 4S, 1300mAh, 95C battery.
4S for the extra power and punch;
1300mAh (or 1500mAh) to keep it light, and it will still last long enough for a race;
95C or possibly more because you'll be going harder on the throttle, and demanding more amps.
I hope this guide has helped with your battery choices! Go to our Facebook page and send us a message if you have any questions!
(1300mAh 4S "14.8v" 95C)
Here are some recommended batteries for beginners:
As well as batteries to look at when you need more power: