Best LiPo charger buyers guide: Juice up that battery!

best lipo charger
Image courtesy davidd via Flickr. Used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

The best LiPo charger is as important as the lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries for your radio-controlled model vehicles (R/C cars).

Sony introduced the first prototype cylinder Li-on battery in 1991. After several years of testing, the LiPo battery with pouch technology was produced and marketed.

One of the first battery-user segments to recognize the advantage of the new battery was the radio controlled crowd. With a longer charge life and more power, the LiPo battery was a dream come true.

Best-selling LiPo chargers on Amazon

Bestseller No. 1
Tenergy TB6-B Balance Charger Discharger 1S-6S Digital Battery Pack Charger for NiMH/NiCD/Li-PO/Li-Fe Packs w/ LCD Display Hobby Battery Charger w/ Tamiya/JST/EC3/HiTec/Deans Connectors + Power Supply
  • BATTERY VARIETY CHARGING - Have the Tenergy TB6-B balance charger/discharger and power supply for all of your battery pack types. Use with NiMH, NiCd, LiPO, Li-ion, LiFePO4, and SLA battery packs.
  • BONUS ACCESSORIES - The AC balance charger comes with octopus multi-charging harness with tamiya, mini tamiya, JST, HiTec, EC3, Deans connectors to be compatible with many charging connectors. Package also comes with a power supply.
  • WIDE VOLTAGE COMPATIBILITY - Use the battery pack balance charger on NiMH/NiCd 1.2V-18V (1A-15S), with popular options of 6V, 7.2V, 9.6V, 12V. LiPO/Li-ion 3.7V-22.2V (1S-6S), with voltage capabilities such as 7.4V, 11.1V, 14.8V. LiFePO4 3.2V-19.2V (1S-6S), with popular options of 9.6V, 12.8V, 16V. SLA 2V-20V.
  • MULTIPLE FUNCTIONS - More than a regular digital balance charger, Tenergy TB6-B comes with features like Li-ion and LiPO balancing, fast charging, data storage, cyclic charging and discharging and much more for all of your battery packs.
  • EASY TO READ - View all charging statuses and settings on the Electronic Balance Charger LCD screen as you navigate the modes and selections.
Bestseller No. 2
HOBBYMATE Imax B6 Clone Lipo Battery Balance Charger, Rc Hobby Battery Balance Charger LED W/ AC Power Adapter
  • 1. Rapid charger/discharger for all kind of battery of RC hobby, with built in balancer for lipo battery, Li-ion/Polymer battery, Ni-MH/Cd battery, even Pb battery
  • 2. Individual cell balancing Li-ion, LiPo and LiFe capable Ni-Cd and NiMH capable
  • 3. Microprocessor controlled Delta-peak sensitivity
  • 4. Large range of charge currents Store function, allows safe storage current
  • 5. AC Adapter: Input: US plug, 100-240V, 50/60Hz. Output: 12V 5A; Important Remind: plug the power supply to the charger unit before attaching it to ac power
Bestseller No. 3
Tenergy TN267 1-4 Cells Li-Po/Li-Fe Balance Charger for Airsoft & RC Car Battery Packs with 1S to 4S XH Type Balance Connector
  • HOBBY BALANCE CHARGER - Power many your hobbies with one Tenergy TN267 RC balance charger. Automatically ensure 1S to 4S Li-Po/Li-Fe cells are fully balance charged for airsoft guns, RC cars, RC helicopters, and RC quadcopters.
  • COMPACT & USER FRIENDLY - The simple LED indicators on this airsoft battery charger quickly alerts you to the battery status. Use this lightweight and compact charger anywhere with the worldwide voltage 100V-240V external AC adapter.
  • WIDE VOLTAGE COMPATIBILITY - Choose between Li-Po and Li-Fe with a switch, and use this battery pack balance charger to recharge 1-4 cells on LiPo/Li-ion 3.7V-14.8V or LiFePO4 3.2V-12.8V batteries.
  • SAFETY PROTECTIONS -TN267 LiPo battery charger has built-in safety protections against reverse polarity, short circuit, over-charge, and over-current protection.
  • TENERGY WARRANTY - Buy with confidence, Tenergy 11.1V battery charger for Airsoft includes a 12-month warranty. This charger has been certified based on international CE safety standards and the adapter includes UL certification.
Bestseller No. 4
HTRC Lipo Charger 1-6S Touch Screen Dual Discharger AC150W DC240W 10A T240 Fast Balance Battery Charger for RC Li-ion Life NiCd NiMH LiHV PB Smart Battery
  • Features -- Our HTRC Dual Battery Charger can balance, fast charge, discharge, storage charge, it also have other features: high power, high precision, cycling, battery meter, adjustable, etc.
  • Easy to Operate -- With the touch screen function, (AC: 100V-240V DC: 11V-18V) input voltage, you can choose the batteries's modes, other function modes, adjust the voltage and current, etc, you can operate it easily. When you charge the battery, please don't use the AC power cable and the DC cable at the same time.
  • Multiple Options -- The HTRC T240 charger supports (1S-6S)Lithium (LiPo, LiHV, Li-Ion and Lithium Iron (LiFe)) batteries, (2V-20V)Lead Acid (Pb) batteries, (1S-15S)Nickel Cadmium (NiCD) batteries, (1S-15S)Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries, and (I,II,III)Smart batteries. When the battery is full charged, the battery charger will automatically stop charging.
  • Multi-Modes & Portable -- The dual battery charger has many modes for choice: Charge, Balance Charge, Discharge, Storage, etc. It can simultaneously charge two different batteries by two channels(please don't charge two different batteries on the same channel simultaneously). It also has small size, it is very portable, you can take it everywhere you want, such as model airplane competition , RC competition, etc.
  • What You Can Get -- One Battery Charger; One DC Cable; One AC Power Cable; Two XT60 Plugs 2 in 1; Two Balance Boards with Pin Cord; Two T-Banana Connectors; Two T-Crocodile Clips; Two T-Tamiya; and One User Manual.
Bestseller No. 5
Venom Pro Duo 80W X2 Dual AC/DC 7A LiPo/LiHV & NiMH RC Battery Balance Charger
  • Multi-chemistry battery charger for Lithium (LiPo, LiHV, Li-Ion and Lithium Iron (LiFe), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), Nickel Cadmium (NiCD), and Lead Acid (Pb) based chemistries.
  • 2 Independent and dedicated charging circuits at 80 Watts each, totaling 160 Watts of Power. Included Charge Lead Adaptors: Alligator, Deans, EC3, EC5, JST, Receiver (RX), Tamiya and XT60.
  • Input Voltage of 100V-240V AC or 11.0V - 18.0V DC for use on the go when you are out in the field at your next event. Light weight at under 2 pounds (.90 Kg) with integrated carry handle for easy transport.
  • Functions include Charge, Balance Charge, Fast Charge, Storage Charge, Discharge, Cycling, Battery Meter and you can save up to 5 battery profiles for rapid recall.
  • What's Included: Charger, Bundle of Charge Leads, 2 Balance Blocks, US AC Power Cable, DC Power Cable and Instruction Manual. 100% USA SUPPORT: All Venom Power products are backed by our Industry Leading Limited Lifetime Warranty.

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NiMH vs LiPo

Before LiPo technology, all of the R/C vehicles ran on dry cell batteries — nickel metal hydride (NiMH) and nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries.

The new polymer electrolyte batteries (LiPo) use a liquid electrolyte contained in a pouch. They generate a higher capacity and discharge rates than NiMH, allowing longer electrical output — i.e., more power and punch when the battery is charged..

LiPo batteries are also lighter, with the possibility to be made in different shapes and sizes.

This innovation revolutionized the R/C model vehicle market.

Selecting the best LiPo battery charger for the money

When selecting a good LiPo battery charger that best fits your needs, check the following criteria to analyze the pros and cons of each charger.

But first, you should ask yourself the following questions and be able to answer them before purchasing a good charger.

  • What is your budget?
  • What is the largest battery (mAh and cell count) you will charge (currently and in the future).
  • Will you at a rate greater than 1C?
  • Will you parallel charge multiple batteries?

Price: Prices range from models like the Duratrax Onyx 230 for around $80 to upwards to the Hyperion 615i Duo for nearly $250. It’s easy to spend a lot on a vehicle, but remember there are accessories such as a charger you will need, too. Budget accordingly. There are good LiPo battery chargers under $100 on the market.

Multi-chemistry charger: If you have LiPo, NiMH, NiCd, and LiFe batteries, you might be better off buying a charger that can charge the different battery types. Otherwise, you end up with four different chargers, which an be cumbersome.

Heat sensors: Heat sensors are a safety mechanism that monitors your battery pack while it’s being charged.

You can set the temperature point where you want the charger to off to prevent overheating and damage to the battery. This is a nice feature, so check the chargers you are looking at to see if it’s included.

Charging speed: The charging speed is important to a lot of R/C operators. Check the speed specifications to see how long it takes to charge your battery pack.

A ‘fast charge’ mode on LiPo chargers sometimes accentuate speed over accuracy and balancing, leaving the battery not fully charged. Many operators chose to ignore that setting because they want fully charged packed.

Multi-pack charging: It’s convenient to be able to charge more than one battery pack at a time.

It’s especially nice to have the multi-pack charge options when you are running vehicles with two 2S or 3S packs and not having to have multiple chargers to handle your battery recharges.

Model memory: This is one of those features that is nice to have but not high on the importance list.

Most LiPo charging have units 10 or more model memories built in. Any extra memory beyond that is a bonus, but if it increases the price, it’s not worth the extra money.

Discharge mode: Being able to discharge a battery pack before packing up and going home is a nice feature, especially since you’re doing it in a controlled setting. This mode is also good for testing packs, and cycling batteries. Check it off as “must have.”

Charge AMPS: Many battery companies claim their batteries have no problem charging them at 5C rates.

A lot of people worry about pushing that high a charge into their packs, but many experienced operators feel that 10 amps on a 5000mah pack is now the norm. If you are using 4S packs, or your high quality pack can charge at a high rate, the AMPS numbers are important.

Balancer and AC/DC: All chargers should be able to allow the balancing of the packs/cells. Some do this with an additional interface box you buy and add on while others have an interface cable built into the charger. In either case, it’s good practice to use a balancer after several runs to make sure everything is in check.

The AC/DC ability of your charger is important. Without the ability to run the charger off a AC interface wall plug, you’re stuck without a power supply.

Visual interface: As technology advances faster and further, operating R/C vehicles can get more complex.

An efficient and easy-use operator interface can make controlling the vehicles much easier. If the LiPo charger you are looking at promises the moon but is difficult and frustrating to use, lose some of the extras to make running your R/C vehicles more fun and easier.

One way to gauge this is to see if you can operate the charger without having to constantly refer to the instructional manual.

The interface use is a very important part of selecting a proper battery charger for your R/C needs. You want your R/C experiences to be fun and enjoyable, so look for a charger that is easy to use.

All charged up: Ready to choose a lithium polymer charger?

People who revel in the recreational use of model R/C/ vehicles are always looking for new gadgets to enhance the experience.

An efficient, easy-to-use charger that keeps batteries fully charged at full power should be high on that list of valued accessories.

Find the best LiPo charger in 2019 on Amazon — whether from Traxxas, Airsoft, or …