A Look At Different Lipo Battery Connector Types
Lithium Polymer batteries, also known as LiPo batteries, are rather new batteries that are commonly used in lots of consumer electronic products and devices. This type of battery has become quite popular in the radio control industry in recent years and is now one of the most popular options for people looking for batteries with high power and long run times.
While these batteries offer an array of benefits, it is up to each individual user to decide if some of them outweigh the drawbacks presented. Nonetheless, there's nothing to fear when it comes to LiPo batteries - as long as users use the batteries as they are intended to be used.
What are LiPo Battery Connectors?
A LiPo battery connector is, in simple terms, an electrical device used to connect 2 or more electrical elements to allow current to move between the elements. As such, a connector is a device used to connect the different electrical system components of an RC model for it to function properly.
However, there is more to these connectors than just linking components as this can be accomplished without them. Therefore, a connector must meet several needs including how easy it is to use and solder, how well it allows currents to flow through it, and how safe it is. As such, the purpose of different LiPo connectors, or any other connector for that matter, is not just connecting components, but also to improve how components work. LiPo connectors are things that can be found in all RC vehicles, for example. Just about anything related to RC vehicles like quadcopters or other drones will have battery packs and lipo connectors.
The most popular brands of LiPo connectors are Molex, JST and Hirose. The connectors made by these shoudl work with models from any battery manufacturer.
If you are planning on using a LiPo battery, chances are you want to get as much power to your components and motor as possible. However, this may be hampered if the connectors you've used to supply power from your LiPo battery are terrible.
Bad LiPo battery connector types increase resistance and prevent power from being supplied/used efficiently. You would want to choose the mating rc connector type with care.
As such, it is important that you understand the different types of connectors available if you want to make sure that you go for the right type of connector.
In addition, you would always want to use the recommended lipo battery charger - and have a monitor and tester as well. Lipo batteries can get unstable if they are not handled right and you can never be too careful while handling them.You would want to take the necessary precautions while charging your batteries and always place the batteries inside a lipo bag while charging.
Lithium-Polymer RC Battery Connector Types Explained
Of all LiPo battery connector types, Deans Connectors are, without a doubt, the industry standard. They have been around for like forever, and have been the number one choice for most discerning RC enthusiasts and those who are part of RC racing clubs.
The great thing about these connectors is that they slide together quite smoothly and feature a very nice design. However, they can prove quite difficult to solder, particular for newbies. Like most modern connectors, Deans connectors are polarity protected.
Traxxas connectors are high current connectors that have been gaining popularity over the last couple of years. While they are often seen on RC trucks and cars, there are a couple of airplane enthusiasts that have switched over to using them too.
One of the main reasons why is because they are easy to assemble. As their terminals are separate from the housing, this makes them easier to solder - even for first timers. At the same time, Traxxas' connectors do not require heat shrink since their plastic housing cloaks the terminals completely.
Just like Deans Connectors, Traxxas connectors are also polarity protected; as such, they cannot be plugged in backward. But of all the benefits they present, the most outstanding one is that they offer the most surface area any high current connector can offer, and are most likely the easiest RC connectors in the market to slide apart and together.
Bullet connectors are often times the main connectors attached to most LiPo batteries, especially the larger LiPo Battery types. The great thing about these connectors is that they are able to handle a buck load of current. However, they are known to pull apart when roughly handled or during hard landings. If you are thinking of dropping bullet connectors that came with your LiPo battery, then make sure that the ones you buy have the correct size match.
While a bit more expensive than most LiPo battery connector types on the market, XT-60 connectors are the most popular and most common connectors out there. While other connectors have been introduced into the market, their adoption rate has often been minimal.
The good thing about XT-60 connectors, which is why they probably are so prevalent, is that they are not only relatively small, but they are also quite compact and easy to solder; making them a good option for newbie RC enthusiasts.
JST-XH Plug Connector
The JST-XH Plug is the closest you will ever come to industry standard when it comes to balance plugs and connectors. The connector comes as a standard feature on almost all major brands from Venom and Traxxas to Duratrax and E-Flite. Most cheap battery makers use this plug as well.
And while it's not as nice as most plugs and connectors on the market, it is ubiquitous, and that makes it a logical for such brands. The truth is, only very few manufacturers out there do not use this plug for balance lead. When using this plug, make sure to unplug it while grasping the plastic housing as pulling on its wires is the quickest way pull to them out of their housing, most likely shorting your battery.
Servo connectors are another common yet easy to use and convenient type of connector. However, they only work best under low currents; meaning that they may not be the best option for some purposes. Sometimes, in crashes, these connectors may simply loosen or can become detached, causing an open circuit in the wiring. If not discovered and fixed, this may lead to problems in the future.
The great thing is that servo connector problems can easily be solved by dabbing some super glue or hot glue on the connector's connection. While not the most advisable option to use on LiPo battery connections, this connector is ideal for video and camera transmitter wiring.
The above are just but some of the main LiPo battery connector types available on the market. When looking for LiPo battery connectors, it is important that you consider the type of connector you are getting and if it will meet your specific connection needs.
If you are not too sure about your soldering skills, then consider buying custom made adapters that come with pre-soldered cable adapters. These will make easier for you to connect any type of connector your specific LiPo battery comes with to a model's wiring.
Why do LiPo batteries have 2 connectors?
If you have been using NiMH batteries and recently switched to LiPos, then you would have noticed that these batteries have two connectors as opposed to only one on NiMH batteries.
One of the connectors is for the main plug you charge or discharge through. It's usually a T-connector or a Dean's connector. This is for charging and discharging the battery.
The second plug is the balancing connector. This one is connected to each of the cells and to a balance charger. The balance charger charges each cell individually - and ensures that their voltages are equal.
Here's why your LiPo needs to have a balancing connector ...
You need to have LiPo cells that are perfectly balanced - which means their voltages need to match.
You need to have them discharge evenly. Neither should get discharged faster than the other.
If one of the cells gets discharged faster than the other, the voltage output by the battery drops very sharply. And soon afterward, the cell that got discharged faster can be permanently damaged.
An unbalanced pack of lipo batteries can still read safe on a low voltage protection system. That's because these low voltage protection systems only read the voltage of the entire pack and not of individual cells.
So you might have a 3 pack charging like a 2 pack as a cell is defunct. And you'll never know.
If the voltage of a cell falls below 3V, then there's nothing you can do anymore. Your only option would be to completely discharge the pack and dispose it safely as per local regulations.
To avoid something like this from happening, you would not want to push your LiPo batteries to the limits frequently. Recovering damaged lipo batteries is not an easy thing to do.
A quick note if you are using old 12 V Tamiya battery connectors, you would want to switch to Deans connectors at the earliest. Tamiya connectors are not the most reliable connectors. The pins may come off, and the contact is not very good.
Unlike Tamiya connectors, Deans connectors do not wobble, or slip out. The connection tends to be nice and steady - and these have a much lower resistance as well. So the overall efficiency increases.
Do LiPo batteries have male or female connectors?
LiPo batteries output power. And so these usually have female connectors. Devices that need power - like your ESC - these have male connectors.
This is a convention that's followed in the industry. Female connectors are not easy to shorten. The metal parts that conduct electric current are all within the housing.
Whereas with male connectors, the metal parts are sticking out. But that's still safe as these do not output power and shortening these connectors is alright.
So LiPo batteries have female connectors.
What is the best RC connector?
A rc connector should provide a reliable and stable connection so that peak current requirements of the model are met. You do not want voltage drops to occur. So the very first requirement is the amount of current a given connector can handle.
If the ESC draws more current than your connector is capable of handling, a lot of heat can be generated due to the resistance of the connector. And this can cause the connector to melt.
So, you want to choose a connector that's rated to work at the current you require. You want to minimize resistance and heat in the system so that you can have high efficiencies. You can find just about any kind of connector - and a mating connector - on amazon. And you can read reviews too.
Once you have made sure a connector can give your model the required amount of current, then you would need to decide on the style.
If you are just getting started with RC and have purchased your first RC model, then you would want to use the type that came with the model.
Soon after you have gotten your feet wet, however, you will need to choose a connector type. You would want to choose one type for all your models, ESCs, charging plugs and parallel charging boards.
You would want to choose connectors that are very easy to solder.
EC3 and EC5 connectors in particular are very easy to solder and can handle large amounts of current flow.
These are bullet style connectors. Since they have a relatively larger contact surface area, they are well suited for high current applications.
EC3 connectors can handle 60 amperes and EC5s up to 120 amps of continuous load.
EC3s and EC5s are also more expensive than most other connector types - but then these do have their advantages.
What are the different RC battery connectors?
There are several types of RC battery connectors.
Let's start with 3S systems - models that use 1s, 2s and 3s batteries. Dean's connectors, XT60, EC3 and IC3 are all rated for up to 60 A of continuous current.
By far the most popular ones are the T style or Dean's connectors. It's very easy to find batteries and chargers that come with T style connectors. These are easy to solder and work with.
XT 60 connectors are slightly less popular than T style connectors, but they seem to be getting more popular. These are also easy to work with and easy to solder.
EC3s are also widely used and are easy to work with.
IC3s are relatively new. EC3s and IC3s are compatible with each other and are interchangeable.
IC3s are easier to solder and unsolder than the EC3s - so they will likely replace EC3s on the market in time.
Very low power applications
There are these EC 2 and XT 30 connectors that are good for very low powered applications.
These are much smaller connectors made for much smaller current applications. These are found in small scale RC models. Like connecting an auxiliary battery to LED lights.
There are connector adapters on the market that will let you plug in two different connectors and make them compatible - but you would not want to use these unless you really, really need to for some reason.
Especially when you are talking about high powered applications as these adapters have a lot of resistance and so cause a lot of heat to be generated in the system.
These adapters are at best a temporary fix in models that are low powered.
High powered applications
Let's now look at connectors for models that use 4S, 6S or 8S batteries.
For these, the popular connectors are XT90, EC5 and the IC5. These are the best options for models that use high powered brushless motors.
The XT90 and IC5 connectors are rated for up to 90 A of continuous current. And the EC5 connectors are rated for up to 120 A.
EC5 and IC5 connectors are interchangeable.
And then there are the Traxxas ID connectors ...
Traxxas ID connectors
Anyone who's into short course drone racing either uses Traxxas batteries - or plans to use them sometime soon. These batteries are very reliable, can work well in demanding applications and can withstand a lot of rough use.
And Traxxas ID batteries use Traxxas ID connectors. You would not want to use any other connectors with these batteries. In these, the balance connectors are wired differently than normal connectors.
In the past, Traxxas batteries used to have two connectors. One for the charger and another for the balancer. But they have changed that now.
Their latest connector can connect the ESC with the battery; They also connect to the LiPo balance charger. So their batteries now have only one connector that connects both to the charger and the balancer.
Needless to say, you would need to use Traxxas chargers to charge their batteries.
TRX ID connectors come in reverse polarity protected housing. So you will never be able to connect your wires the wrong way and damage any of the onboard electronics.
Connector types for very high-powered applications
RCPROPLUS makes connectors that are specifically designed for really high power applications.
These connectors are rated for up to 300 A of continuous power.
If you are using 12 S batteries, then these are what you might want to consider using. Or if you have a high speed RC car and you need to the keep the throttle wide open for a while, this would possibly be ideal.
Types of balance connectors
Unlike the plethora of styles in which main power connectors are available in, balance connectors are only of four main types, the most common being JST-XH. The others are thunder power balance connector, polyquest balance connector and hyperion balance connector.
Traxxas ID connectors do not have a separate balance connector - just in case you are using a TRX ID battery and charger.