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
Venom Pro Duo LiPo Battery Charger | 80W X2 AC DC 7A NiMH LiHV LiPo Balance Charger Discharger with Charger Adapter | LiPo 1S to 6S Airsoft, Drone, RC Battery Charger
  • NOT YOUR AVERAGE BATTERY CHARGER | This isn’t your ordinary charger, it is a Venom Pro Duo Charger. It's easy to operate and comes fully loaded with features that balance charges individual cells of several types of battery fast and safe. Now, charging and balancing your RC batteries is no longer a worry. This battery charger comes complete with Charger, Bundle of Charge Leads (1 per type), 2 Balance Blocks, AC Power Cable, DC Power Cable, and Instruction Manual.
  • BALANCE CHARGES ALL TYPES OF BATTERIES | The Venom Pro is a 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 chemistry batteries. This LiPo charger includes one of each of the following charge lead adapter types: Alligator, Deans, EC3, EC5, JST, Receiver (RX), Tamiya, and XT60.
  • EASY TO USE, QUICK AND SAFE BALANCE CHARGING / DISCHARGING | Charging your 1S, 2S, 3S, 4S, 5S, or 6S LiPo batteries and other battery types has never been safer and easier. Two independent and dedicated charging circuits at 80 Watts each, totaling 160 Watts of power, reach a safe voltage to balance charge batteries again and again. Use it to charge your LiPo batteries fast and get back to racing.
  • LOADED WITH ADVANCED FEATURES AND FUNCTIONS | Functions include Charge, Balance Charge, Fast Charge, Storage Charge, Discharge, Cycling, and Battery Meter. You can also save up to 5 battery profiles for rapid recall. It has an Input Voltage of 100V-240V AC, or 11.0V - 18.0V DC for use on the go or in the field. The Pro Duo's lightweight frame comes in at under 2 lbs. (.90 Kg) and its integrated carry handle makes it easy to transport.
SaleBestseller No. 2
HTRC LiPo Charger RC Battery Balance Discharger 150W 10A 1-6S AC/DC C150 for NiCd Li-ion Life NiMH LiHV PB Smart Battery (Black)
  • 👌Fast Charging: AC DC dual input, AC: 100-240V; DC: 11-18V. High power and high performance circuit - maximum output power 150W. Charge current: 0.1-10A; Discharge current: 0.1-2A; Max discharge power: 10W. Built-in cooling fan, it also has power switch and a 5V 2.1A USB output ports. When you charge the battery, please don't use the AC power cable and DC cord at the same time.
  • 👌Supports for Many Different Batteries: 1-6s LiPo LiFe LiHV Li-ion, 1-15s NiCd/NiMH, 2-20V PB and Smart Battery I/II/III. Automatic identification of lithium batteries cells counts. Multiple charging modes: Charge, Balance Charge, Discharge, etc. When the battery is full charged, the battery charger will automatically stop charging. Tips: Please choose the right type of battery when charge.
  • 👌Multi-extra Function: 1.Battery meter- display lithium battery cell counts, total voltage, battery capacity percentage, and each cell's voltage; 2. Lithium battery internal resistance checking; 3.Battery balancer; 4.Digital DC power; 5.Supports for smart battery.
  • 👌Terminal Voltage Control: This Charger allows user to set the charge/discharge end voltage of the battery. For an example: lipo battery end voltage is 4.2V /cell when charing, while on this charger, the end voltage is adjustable, rangs from 3.85V to 4.3V. Warning: this feature for expert only!
  • 👌Max Safety: Low input voltage limit, automatic charge current limit, Delta-peak sensitivity, capacity limit, processing time limit, temperature threshold. Data storage and loading: 20 memory data. Allow firmware to update.
SaleBestseller No. 3
HTRC LiPo Charger 2S-3S Balance Battery Charger 7.4-11.1V RC B3AC Pro Compact Charger(White)
  • ★ Parameter: 2S & 3S charger, AC100-240V input, max charge current: 3*1000mA.
  • ★ Each cell is charged by independent line, which make sure each battery's cell is always fully charged, extending battery life. Note: This balance compact charger is suitable for LiPo Battery ONLY.
  • ★ LED to indicate: Double colour LED can display the process of charging (RED: charging; GREEN: full).
  • ★ This charger is compact and light, especially there is separated corresponding balance port for each battery pack.
  • ★ What You can Get: Thank you for choosing HTRC balance charger, you can get a balance charger, an AC cable, a manual, and a color box.
Bestseller No. 4
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.
SaleBestseller No. 5
LiPo Charger,Battery Balance Charger Discharger 150W 10A AC/DC for Li-ion/Life/NiCd/NiMH/LiHV/PB/Smart Battery(Battery Charger Adapter)
  • [Universal Voltage Compatibility]- the battery balance charger support 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. LiHV 3.8V-22.8V(1S-6S). NiMH/NiCd 1.2V-18V (1S-15S), with popular options of 6V, 7.2V, 9.6V, 12V. PB 2-20V (1-10 Cells) and smart battery.Note: Do not choose the wrong type of battery when charging.
  • [Multiple Functions]: Compare to a regular digital balance charger,C150 Battery Charger comes with features like Li-ion and LiPO balance charging, fast charging, data storage, battery meter, NiMH cyclic charging and discharging and much more for all of your battery packs
  • [Terminal Voltage Control]- This Charger allows user to set the charge/discharge end voltage of the battery. For example:lipo battery end voltage is 4.2V /cell when charing, while on this charger, the end voltage is adjustable, rangs from 3.85v to 4.3v. Warning: this features for expert only!
  • [Smart Protection]:Low input voltage limit, automatic charge current limit, Delta-peak sensitivity, capacity limit, processing time limit,temperature threshold. Data storage and loading: 20 memory data. Firmware update
  • [What You Get] - The AC/DC balance charger comes with AC Power Cord,DC Cable,Balance Board,Explosion Proof Bag .Package also comes with octopus multi-charging harness with TAMIYA, TAMIYA mini, JST, T Plug, EC3,TRX,Deans connectors to be compatible with many charging connectors

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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 2021 on Amazon — whether from Traxxas, Airsoft, or …