Best Lipo Charger - Lithium Polymer Battery Charger Buying Guide

Lithium Polymer batteries are used in nearly all electronic devices nowadays. Flying drones or other radio controlled toys can be a lot fun and most of these gadgets run on batteries. All this fun wears out if your quadcopter’s batteries run out. You can have extra batteries, but if the batteries take too long to charge and can’t retain the charge for at least a while, it will not make for a pleasant experience. So you really need to have the best lipo charger if you are to enjoy the hobby. 

Luckily, today you can buy specialized battery chargers that can charge your drones’ batteries fast and have the capability to charge more than one battery. You can even get chargers that will charge different types of batteries.

If you fly a quadcopter, you should have a USB multi charger with you so that you can charge multiple battery packs at a time. You can connect multiple battery packs to this multi charger (a little box) first. Then the USB cable with this box is connected to a wall charger. It may take up to an hour to get the batteries fully charged but you get more flight time too because all the batteries are all charged together.

If you looking for a protection bag to save your batteries from overcharging or overvoltage LiPo safe is the answer. The material used in these lipo battery bags is burn proof and can hold fire.

You would want to pack the batteries in LiPo safe before you connect the charger.

Gone are days of NiCD (nickel cadmium) or NiMH (nickel metal hydride). But if you are still using these batteries, you need not despair. All types of batteries (NiCD, NiMH, LiPo, LiFe) can be charged by the chargers on the market.

Before going ahead with selecting the best lipo charger, I will list out the specifications you have to look for in a charger. We will see them in detail even though some of them do not need much explanation.

These Are The Best Lipo Chargers ...

ISDT T8 Smart Charger

The quad pilot who would want the ISDT T8 Smart Charger is somebody who likes to parallel charge many batteries at a time. That’s because it has an output of 30 amps, maxing out at 1000 watts.

The fact that it’s small appeals to a wide range of hobbyists who prefer a charger with just one output that will push loads of amps in their battery packs, big or small. It’s also lightweight, which makes it a delight for the backpack adventurer. This is possibly what you would want to buy if you are keen about buying the very best lipo charger. 

  • compatibility with popular battery types such as Pb (1-14S), NiMH/Cd (1-21S), LiFe/Lilon/LiPo/LiHv (1-8S)
  • dual outputs that allow parallel charging
  • support for BATTGO technology that provide information on battery cycle performance
  • USB port that enables charging of phones and USB-enabled devices at 5V output
  • push button intuitive interface for easy menu navigation
  • built-in XT60 connectors which are specific to either input side or output side

This charger has a plastic case that looks sleek, but the acrylic screen is not scratch-proof. It is advisable to get one of those screen protectors, much like the ones you have with your mobile phone.

There is also a dedicated port for any firmware updates that will require an adapter, which is not yet included in the package. If you buy one, it’ll cost $8 on top of the charger’s $99 price tag.

Tenergy TB6-B Balance Charger Discharger

If you put a premium on versatility, this charger and discharger should catch your attention. It is capable of charging various battery packs and supports many charging connectors, making it one nifty device. 

It allows the user not only to charge, but also to balance different packs that will prolong the cycle and lifespan of your batteries.

  • LCD charging display, which shows individual cell charge and battery status
  • AUTO function for battery cell count, which prevents overcharging when left unmonitored
  • internal voltage balancer intended for Lithium Ion and LiPo batteries
  • discharge balance monitor that will abort discharging when there is an irregularity in the battery voltage cells
  • compatibility with three battery types, namely, LiPo, LiFe and LiLo
  • fast charge, including storage mode capability
  • data storage for 5 different batteries which can easily be retrieved without requiring program settings

The user can set the charger’s program which communicates any error encountered ensuring fail-safe operation.
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With the built-in balancer, you have eliminated the need for having a separate device for balancing different batteries. Moreover, the storage mode charging sets the battery’s final voltage that is appropriate when it will be stored.

Keenstone Lipo Battery Charger/Discharger

This smart LiPo charger and discharger has professional features that might intimidate a quad newbie. On the contrary, this device offers easy operation with its innovative yet user-friendly interface with smart touch. The Keenstone is able to charge and discharge a multiple number of NiCd/ NiMH battery cells, as well as different lithium battery types.

  • USB port for upgrades
  • support for 1S to 6S batteries, including Lithium Ion, LiPo, LiFe, NiMH, NiCd, and lead batteries
  • built-in voltage balancer for a full recharge
  • voltage meter for Lithium batteries
  • Smartpen
  • AC adapter
  • data storage of 10 battery type settings

This Keenstone device can deliver a charging current of up to 10 amps, with maximum power output of 100 watts. The same efficiency also applies to its discharge function.

Monitoring and balancing of individual lithium battery cells are possible given the presence of its individual balancer. An error message will be displayed when a problem is encountered during either charging or discharging.

This unit also comes with additional accessories such as charging cable for mini Tamiya, connector for standard Tamiya, XT60 connector, alligator clips, and Deans connector.

SKYRC iMAX B6AC V2 AC/DC Dual Power Professional LiPo Battery Balance Charger/Discharger

The SkyRC pro LiPo charger and discharger is for the FPV enthusiast who looks for more bells and whistles to his gadgets and unwilling to settle for anything less.

This is the pimped and latest version of its predecessor with its modular built and added useful features. It is lightweight and fast charging- qualities that anyone will appreciate to quickly go back into action.

  • AC input of up to 240 volts
  • DC input of up to 18 volts
  • charge current of 6 amps
  • discharge current of 2 amps
  • adjustable terminal voltage for PC connectivity
  • meter for lithium batteries with internal resistance monitor
  • set limits on charging current, capacity and time of processing for safety
  • temperature threshold sensors
  • compatibility with all known battery types
  • integral equalizer specific to LiPo, Lithium Ion, LiFe batteries
  • maximum charge power of 50 watts
  • optional socket for temperature probe which will terminate process once you’ve reached temperature limit
  • various charging modes dependent on battery types

The WIFI module availability is a great addition to this charger which allows remote access to your battery information. It is also best for charging heavy duty batteries because you can adjust terminal voltage accordingly.

HTRC C240LiPo Battery Charger Duo Discharger

The HTRC C240 is quite a neat device which possesses all the desirable qualities in a battery charger and discharger. It is fast charging with the presence of two balance chargers that can perform charging on 2 different batteries in one go. The unit’s plastic shell exterior is compact and has a navigation system that’s easy to use.

  • support for 1S to 6S batteries, including Lithium Ion, LiPo, LiFe, NiMH, NiCd, and lead batteries
  • maximum power of 120 watts for a single port
  • variable DC power
  • smart fan to dissipate heat during operation
  • AC adapter with power switch
  • charging modes for different battery types
  • battery meter which shows cell counts, voltage, and capacity percentage
  • TVC to control terminal voltage
  • independent voltage balancer
  • data storage for multiple batteries
  • set limits on charging current, capacity, delta peak, temperature and processing time for safety

The multitude of features from this product makes it an excellent buy considering it is also affordable. It is capable of AC power distribution of 150 watts and DC distribution of twice 120 watts.

Choosing The Best Lipo Charger - What to look for

best lipo charger
  • Number of cells the charger can support
  • Charger power in Watt
  • Output charge rate in Amps
  • Types of cells the charger can support
  • External vs. Internal power supply
  • Other features

Number of Cells

best lipo charger

There will be a limit on the number of cells the charger can work with. Some chargers may support 6 or even 8 cells at a time. However, they may not be able to charge only one cell. So before buying a charger you would want to check the number of batteries supported by the charger.

If you look at computerized RC chargers, most of them can charge up to 6 LiPo batteries and 15 NIMH or NiCD cell packs.

Have you heard about “2S’ battery pack? This means 2 batteries connected in series. Usually, a LiPo battery’s nominal voltage is 3.7V. For a “2S’ pack the voltage will be 7.4 V (3.7V * 2 = 7.4V) and for a three-cell pack, the voltage will be 11.1 V (3.7V * 3 = 11.1V).

What is nominal voltage? It’s the default voltage of a cell when it is resting. A LiPo battery can reach up to 4.2 V when it is fully charged. But the safe minimum voltage of the battery is 3.0V. Hence, 3.7v is considered as the nominal charge because that is the average voltage value.

Charger power in Watt

The power mentioned in Watt represents the maximum output value and hence that is the most important value you should check before buying a charger.

The power is calculated in watt and the formula is voltage (Volts) x current (Amps). If the power requirement is not met by your charger your battery will get recharged in a low current.

Which means if you want to recharge three 2000mAh batteries at 12.6 V and 2A (1C), the power of the charger should be 25.2 watts. Likewise to charge these three batteries in 4A (2C) the power should be doubled that is 50.4 Watt.

As the cell count varies, the maximum current also varies. So you have to be careful that it does not exceed the charge rate of the charger.

Let me explain. The 50W charger that you bought has a maximum charge rate of 5A. If you charge a 3S LiPo the real charge rate can become only 4A (4A=50W / 12.6V). But you should not charge a 2S LiPo battery because the maximum rate of charge current will become 6A (6A=50W / 7.4V) and your charger cannot support that. Consider the capacity of your battery also before buying a charger for your battery.

Above given situation does not consider the efficiency loss of the charger while charging. Here I am assuming the loss will be between 10% and 20%. In that case, you will need a 60W charger.

If you are planning for parallel charging even 60W may not be enough. You can calculate this and you will understand that higher the charge power better the efficiency of the charger. Finding out the ideal charger power for your cells is not rocket science you just need to do some simple math. Look at the example given below.

Battery Capacity = 2200mAh  ; Number of batteries = 6 3S batteries   ;  Charge rate needed per battery =1C

Maximum current rate =1C x 2200mAh x 6= 13.2 A​

Hence the power needed for your charger = 13.2A x 12.6V x 120%= 199.6W​

Here, the ideal charge rate of the charger will be more than 200W and the maximum charge current is 14A+.

A charger with lower power also will work but it will take a long time for your batteries to be fully charged.

Charge Rate

‘C’ rate is used to represent a LiPo battery’s charging rate (‘C’ denotes capacity). But mAh is widely used to express the battery capacity. Actually, mAh is the unit used to represent electric charge that is calculated using the formula – current (mA) x time (Hours).

Four factors that control your charger’s current rate are:

  • Power of the charger
  • Count of LiPo cells
  • Charger’s maximum charge current rate
  • Battery’s maximum current charge

The recommended current rate of LiPo batteries is 1C however; there are some LiPo batteries that are capable of fast charging (2C or higher). These batteries are expensive.

Having said this, it is always safe to charge your LiPo batteries at a lower rate. This will increase the battery life and will prevent the battery from becoming too hot. We will discuss about disposing broken and old LiPo batteries later.

The charge current needed to charge a 3S 2000 mAh battery is 2A (1x2000mA). If you want to charge the same battery at 2C the current needed is 4A (2x2000mA). So if the capacity of the battery is 5000mAh you will need 5A charger current.

You can check the manual of the charger to find out the maximum charging current and rate. Consider this when you buy a charger for your LiPo battery because a charger with a lower rate will take more time.

In some instances your charger and your battery both may support 6A charging rate;  However it is not necessary that the battery will get charged at that rate. Other factors that will influence the charging rate are number of cells and power of the charger. 

Battery Type

This is very simple. For your LiPo batteries, you have to buy a charger that can handle LiPo batteries. The charger should know the way to interact with your LiPo batteries or else the charger may cause a fire.

You will also get chargers that support multiple types like NIMH and NiCd other than LiPo.

The main advantages of LiPo battery over the NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) or NiCD (Nickel Cadmium) batteries are:

  • They are lightweight and are easy to manufacture in any shape or size
  • They can be made in higher capacities because they can contain more power than other two types
  • LiPo batteries are capable of high discharge rate

Now let us see what are the disadvantages of LiPo batteries:

  • These batteries have a shorter lifespan when compared to other types
  • The average number of cycles is 300 to 400
  • The chemicals used to make LiPo batteries are very sensitive;  the battery could catch fire if they are physically damaged. You would never, ever want to use a lipo battery that you suspect has been physically damaged.
  • When you charge, store, and discharge LiPo batteries you have to be very careful
  • The accessories used for the maintenance of LiPo batteries are expensive

External vs Internal Power Supply

Here we are going to discuss about the power source to the charger. This is something you most certainly would want to know if you are intent on getting the best lipo charger for the money.  There are chargers that come with an internal power source and you can see chargers with external power source too in the market.

If the charger has an inbuilt power supply you may have to settle for a 50-watt charger because they cannot integrate more powerful supply within the charger box. If you need more power you will have to buy a more powerful supply (350+ Watt). But the benefit of having the USB charger is that you can modify any supply that can provide you 250 watt can and use it as the external power source.

But you do not have to worry as all computerized battery chargers are manufactured to accept the charge (12-14 VDC input) from a flight box battery or automobile battery.

You can even see chargers for RC battery that can work on 30+V DC charge. This is useful if you want to recharge battery packs with higher voltage and watt ratings. These high powered battery chargers can also be used for lower voltage charging.

Another category of chargers come with both inbuilt power supply and external power supply support. These can work with an input of 12 V DC and also support a 120 AC household power supply (built-in). But the main issue with this built-in power supply is that this will work with only 50-60 watt chargers.

Here the size is a factor to be accounted for - the charger will become much bigger if you wish to integrate a more powerful supply.

For example, if you want to keep on supplying 100 watts at a rate of 14 V DC you will need much bigger supply. In fact, it will be much bigger than the charger itself. Another fact that you have to consider is the heat that is emitted from these bigger power supplies. To compensate this you will have to add heat sinks and cooling fans making it even bigger.

Add-on Features

Additional features are always good to have but are not mandatory for the performance of your charger. Keep in mind that the more features your charger has, higher the cost will be. There are three types of additional features that can be availed by you. They are basic features, safety features, and advanced charger features. It's always a good idea to use a lipo battery tester, monitor and use only appropriate connectors to connect cells in the battery. 

Basic features you would want to have in a LiPo charger

  • LCD backlit display
  • The option to see each cell’s voltage while charging
  • Accurate voltage reading
  • The addition of charging functions for LiPo battery like balance charge, discharging, and storage

Safety features

  • Before starting the charging if you can confirm the cell count you can prevent an accident that may be caused due to the use of the wrong charger type
  • Protection for overvoltage and under voltage scenarios
  • Option to detect temperature and limit the maximum temperature 
  • Facility to set a timer for charging
  • Safety alarm or buzzer

Advanced features

  • Support for multiple types of batteries
  • Monitoring internal resistance of the battery and cells 
  • Advanced programming so that you can pre-set the values (like charger rate) for each LiPo battery
  • Capability to connect to a computer so that you can monitor the voltage level, the charging current (of each cell and battery), time and more.