Readers like you help support Drone Sumo. When you make a purchase using links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read more.

LiPo Batteries Explained: Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

LiPo batteries explained – Discover the world of LiPo batteries for drones and RC vehicles, from their advantages to understanding voltage, capacity, and discharge rates.

Drones and remote-controlled vehicles have taken the world by storm, becoming a popular hobby and a valuable tool in various industries. One critical component that plays a significant role in the performance of these devices is the battery. Among the various types of batteries available, LiPo (Lithium Polymer) batteries stand out as the go-to choice for many enthusiasts and professionals alike. If you’re new to the world of drones or RC vehicles and want to understand more about LiPo batteries, you’re in the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of LiPo batteries, covering everything from their basic structure and advantages to understanding the various numbers and ratings associated with them. We’ll also touch on essential aspects like internal resistance and its effects on battery performance. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a thorough understanding of LiPo batteries and be well-equipped to make informed decisions when choosing the right battery for your needs. So, let’s get started!


What is a LiPo Battery?

LiPo batteries, short for Lithium Polymer batteries, are a type of rechargeable battery that utilizes lithium-ion chemistry. They are made up of individual cells, each containing a thin, flat pouch that houses the positive and negative electrodes, separator, and electrolyte. The polymer pouch, unlike the rigid metal casing found in other types of batteries, allows for a more flexible and lightweight design.

LiPo batteries have become increasingly popular in various applications, particularly in drones and RC vehicles, due to their unique characteristics, such as high energy density, light weight, and the ability to provide high discharge rates.

Advantages of LiPo Batteries

There are several advantages to using LiPo batteries, which make them the preferred choice for many high-performance applications, including drones and RC vehicles:

  1. High Energy Density: LiPo batteries have a higher energy density compared to other types of rechargeable batteries, such as NiMH or NiCd. This means that they can store more energy in a smaller and lighter package, making them ideal for applications where weight and size are critical factors.
  2. Light Weight: Due to their polymer construction and the absence of a rigid metal casing, LiPo batteries are significantly lighter than other types of rechargeable batteries. This makes them perfect for use in drones and RC vehicles, where every gram matters and can impact performance.
  3. High Discharge Rates: LiPo batteries can provide high levels of power when needed, thanks to their high discharge rates. This characteristic allows them to deliver the necessary power for frequent acceleration or bursts of power output required by drones and RC vehicles.
  4. Flexibility in Shape and Size: The polymer pouch design of LiPo batteries allows for greater flexibility in shape and size. This means that LiPo batteries can be tailored to fit specific applications or space constraints, making them a versatile choice for various devices and vehicles.
  5. Fast Charging: LiPo batteries can be charged relatively quickly compared to other types of rechargeable batteries. This is a significant advantage for hobbyists and professionals alike, as it allows for reduced downtime between uses.

By understanding the unique advantages that LiPo batteries offer, it’s easy to see why they have become the go-to choice for many high-performance applications. However, it’s essential to remember that proper care and handling are necessary to ensure their longevity and safe operation.

Understanding LiPo Battery Numbers

To choose the right LiPo battery for your drone or RC vehicle, it’s essential to understand the various numbers and ratings associated with them. These numbers provide valuable information about the battery’s voltage, cell count, capacity, and discharge rating (C Rating). Let’s take a closer look at each of these aspects.

LiPo Batteries Explained - The Ultimate Beginner's LiPo battery Guide

Here are some FAQ’s and answers about LiPo battery numbers:

What is LiPo Battery Voltage?

The voltage of a LiPo battery indicates the electrical potential difference between the positive and negative terminals. The nominal voltage of a single LiPo cell is 3.7V, but this value can range from 3.0V (minimum safe charge) to 4.2V (fully charged). It’s crucial to stay within these voltage limits to prevent damage to the battery or the connected device.

What is LiPo battery Cell Count

The cell count of a LiPo battery refers to the number of individual cells connected in series within the battery pack. You might come across terms like “2S,” “3S,” or “4S” when referring to LiPo batteries. These indicate the number of cells in series: a 2S battery has two cells, a 3S battery has three cells, and so on.

The total voltage of a LiPo battery is determined by multiplying the nominal voltage of a single cell (3.7V) by the cell count. For example, a 2S battery has a total voltage of 7.4V (3.7V x 2), and a 3S battery has a total voltage of 11.1V (3.7V x 3).

What is LiPo Battery Capacity?

Capacity is a measure of the amount of energy a battery can store and is usually expressed in milliamp-hours (mAh). A higher capacity means the battery can hold more energy, resulting in longer runtimes for your drone or RC vehicle. However, it’s important to note that higher capacity batteries are typically larger and heavier, which can impact overall performance.

For example, a 1500mAh battery can provide 1500 milliamps of current for one hour (or 1.5 amps for an hour). The capacity required for your specific application depends on factors such as flight time, vehicle size, and power demands.

What is Discharge Rating (C Rating)?

The discharge rating, or C Rating, indicates the maximum continuous current that can be safely drawn from a LiPo battery without causing damage or reducing its lifespan. The C Rating is expressed as a multiple of the battery’s capacity.
To calculate the maximum continuous current, simply multiply the battery’s capacity (in amp-hours) by the C Rating. For example, a 1000mAh (1Ah) battery with a 20C discharge rating can safely provide a continuous current of 20A (1Ah x 20).

A higher C Rating means the battery can deliver more power, which is crucial for applications requiring frequent bursts of power, such as drones and RC vehicles. However, batteries with higher C Ratings are often larger and heavier than those with lower C Ratings, even if their capacities are the same.

Understanding LiPo battery numbers and ratings is essential when selecting the right battery for your drone or RC vehicle. By considering factors such as voltage, cell count, capacity, and discharge rating, you can find a battery that meets your specific needs and helps you get the most out of your hobby.


Internal Resistance and Its Effects on LiPo Batteries

Another important aspect to understand about LiPo batteries is internal resistance. In simple terms, internal resistance is the opposition to the flow of current within a battery. All batteries have some level of internal resistance, and it plays a crucial role in determining the performance of a LiPo battery.

What is Internal Resistance?

Internal resistance (IR) is measured in milliohms (mΩ) and is affected by various factors, such as the battery’s age, quality, temperature, and state of charge. Lower internal resistance is desirable, as it means the battery can deliver more power with less voltage drop and heat generation. In contrast, higher internal resistance can result in poor performance, reduced flight times, and increased heat generation.

How Internal Resistance Affects LiPo Batteries

  1. Performance: Higher internal resistance can cause a significant voltage drop under load, resulting in a decrease in the battery’s ability to provide the required power to your drone or RC vehicle. This can lead to decreased performance, such as slower speeds and less agility.
  2. Heat Generation: As internal resistance increases, the battery generates more heat during use and charging. Excessive heat can damage the battery and even lead to thermal runaway, which can result in a fire.
  3. Battery Life: High internal resistance is a sign of battery degradation. As a battery ages, its internal resistance increases, reducing its performance and overall life. Consistently using a battery with high internal resistance can lead to premature failure.
  4. Efficiency: A battery with low internal resistance is more efficient, as less energy is wasted as heat during discharge. This means that a battery with lower internal resistance can provide more usable energy to your drone or RC vehicle, resulting in longer flight times and better performance.

How to Minimize Internal Resistance

To ensure that your LiPo battery operates efficiently and maintains a low internal resistance, follow these best practices:

  1. Proper Charging: Always use a quality LiPo battery charger and follow the manufacturer’s recommended charging procedures. Avoid overcharging or undercharging your batteries, as this can increase their internal resistance.
  2. Balancing Cells: Use a balance charger to ensure that all cells within a battery pack maintain equal voltage levels. Unbalanced cells can lead to increased internal resistance and reduced performance.
  3. Temperature Management: Avoid using, charging, or storing LiPo batteries in extreme temperatures. High temperatures can increase internal resistance, while low temperatures can reduce battery performance.
  4. Avoid Over-Discharging: Never discharge your LiPo batteries below their minimum safe voltage (usually 3.0v per cell). Over-discharging can cause irreversible damage and increase the battery’s internal resistance.
  5. Proper Storage: Store your LiPo batteries in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. If you’re not planning on using your batteries for an extended period, store them at a storage charge level (usually around 3.8v per cell) to maintain optimal internal resistance.

By understanding internal resistance and how it affects LiPo batteries, you can take the necessary steps to maintain your batteries’ health and prolong their lifespan. Proper care and handling of your LiPo batteries will ensure that they continue to provide consistent and reliable performance for your drone or RC vehicle.


FAQs About LiPo Batteries

LiPo batteries, like any other technology, come with their share of questions and concerns. In this section, we’ll address some of the most frequently asked questions about LiPo batteries to help you gain a better understanding and use them safely and effectively.

Are LiPo Batteries Safe?

Yes, LiPo batteries are generally safe when used, stored, and charged correctly. However, improper handling can lead to various issues, such as overheating, fires, or even explosions. To ensure safety, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and adhere to best practices when using LiPo batteries.

Here are some general safety guidelines for charging LiPo batteries:

The most important thing is to never leave a charging LiPo unattended. If you must leave the area for any reason, then stop charging. The majority of deadly LiPo fires occur during charging when people are not present. 

  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby while charging.
  • Never charge the LiPo inside the device it is powering–always remove it and place in a safe area.
  • Before starting the charger, always check the connections.
  • Always charge a LiPo on a non-flammable surface.
  • Charge in an outdoor or well-ventilated area.
  • Do not charge a damaged or a puffy LiPo.
  • At no time should you short circuit the output of a LiPo; this is especially important during charging.
  • Another safety measure is to keep children and pets away from the area where you are charging the battery. 
  • Try to avoid flammable liquids or objects whilst charging, and as aforementioned, never leave a charging battery unattended.

Where to store LiPo batteries?

Store your LiPo batteries in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, heat sources, or flammable materials. It’s best to use a fire-resistant LiPo storage bag or container to minimize the risk of fire spreading in case of a battery failure. Keep the batteries away from children and pets to prevent accidents.


Why Do LiPo Batteries Puff / Swell up?

LiPo batteries puff or swell due to a process called electrolyte decomposition. This occurs when the battery’s internal chemistry breaks down, producing gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO). These gases accumulate within the battery, causing it to expand. Puffing can be a sign of battery damage or aging, and it’s essential to handle puffed batteries with caution to avoid potential hazards.

Will LiPo Batteries Freeze?

LiPo batteries are not well-suited for extremely cold temperatures. When exposed to temperatures below 10°C (50°F), their discharge rate and performance decrease significantly. Using, storing, or charging LiPo batteries in cold conditions can reduce their life cycle, performance, and may cause damage to your drone’s electronic speed controller (ESC) capacitors. Always follow the manufacturer’s temperature guidelines to ensure optimal battery performance and longevity.

What does LiPo battery stand for?

LiPo stands for Lithium Polymer, which refers to the type of electrolyte used in these batteries. LiPo batteries are a subtype of lithium-ion batteries, utilizing a polymer electrolyte instead of a liquid one. This design allows for a lighter, more compact, and flexible form factor compared to traditional lithium-ion batteries, making them an ideal choice for drones and RC vehicles.

Why do drones use LiPo batteries?

Drones use LiPo batteries because they have a higher energy density compared to other types of batteries, which means they can provide more power for less weight. LiPo batteries also have a solid polymer electrolyte component rather than a liquid one, which makes them less likely to leak and more flexible in shape. These qualities are essential for longer flight times and better performance of drones.

Can I use a higher mAh battery in my drone?

You can use a higher mAh battery in your drone, but it may not increase your flight time significantly. The mAh (milliamp hours) of a battery indicates its capacity, or how much current it can provide per hour before it runs out. 

A higher mAh battery can theoretically power your drone for longer, but it also adds more weight to your drone, which reduces its performance and efficiency. Therefore, you need to balance the capacity and weight of your battery to optimize your flight time. 

You also need to consider the voltage and discharge rating of your battery, which affect the speed and power of your drone’s motor. Additionally, some drones may have manufacturer limitations on what types of batteries they can use safely and effectively.

Are LiPo batteries safe?

LiPo batteries are generally safer than other kinds of batteries, such as nickel cadmium or nickel metal hydride batteries. They have a solid polymer electrolyte component rather than a liquid one, which makes them less likely to leak. However, they can be dangerous if not used properly. They could potentially cause fire or explosion if handled incorrectly, such as by hitting, dropping, overcharging, or short-circuiting them. 

To use LiPo batteries safely, one should follow some rules, such as using a charger made for LiPo packs, checking the settings for the cell count and current, picking up the battery by its body, charging at fire-proof locations, and waiting until the battery has cooled down before charging.


LiPo batteries are an essential component for drones and other RC vehicles due to their high energy density, light weight, and ability to provide high discharge rates. Understanding the different aspects of LiPo batteries, such as voltage, cell count, capacity, discharge rating (C rating), and internal resistance, is crucial for getting the most out of your batteries and ensuring their longevity.

By following best practices for charging, discharging, storage, and handling of LiPo batteries, you can enjoy a safe and efficient experience with your drone or RC vehicle. As you become more familiar with LiPo batteries and their various characteristics, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about which batteries are best suited for your specific needs.

Remember to always prioritize safety when working with LiPo batteries and be mindful of the potential hazards associated with their misuse. With the right knowledge and precautions, LiPo batteries can provide you with countless hours of enjoyment in your favourite hobby.

Do you have any questions or suggestions on how to make this LiPo battery guide more comprehensive? Leave a comment below:



Avatar photo

Ben Evans

Ben is the founder and editor of Drone Sumo Magazine. He is from the UK but lives in Japan and has been interested in drones and tech for as long as he can remember. He writes reviews, features and guides when he's not flying. He occasionally does other things such as drinking coffee...