Batteries for your quadcopter have a few more areas of consideration than simply how long it will keep your craft in the air. This guide is to help inform you of what those considerations are, and to help you decide which is the right battery for your individual style of flying, and your drone. Voltage and capacity are the most important things to consider, but weight and discharge rate (also called ‘C’ rating) are almost as important.
LiPo Battery Basics
As we know from Christmas mornings as kids, not all batteries are the same. After unwrapping the biggest gift under the tree, and fitting the “no-name” batteries that came free with your toy, the buzzing and beeping, that drives parents to distraction, gets quieter and more distorted, until the batteries no longer work at all. We learn pretty early on that it is worth spending a few extra $$ on good quality batteries so our play time doesn’t get cut short.
Lipo Battery Size Chart
Number of Cells
30-75mm micro brushless
Battery Voltage (Cell count)
The nominal voltage of a LiPo cell is 3.7v, cells are put together in series to increase the voltage, the number of cells used in a LiPo pack is shown by a number followed by the letter ‘S’. So a 2S battery has 2 cells wired together in series to create a 7.4v battery, and a 3S has 3 cells to increase the voltage to 11.1v. The most common voltage for quads at the moment is a 4S 14.8v battery.
The capacity of a LiPo has the greatest effect on flight times, the higher the capacity, the longer the flight time you will get from your craft, but the higher the capacity, the heavier the battery will be. As the LiPo is the single heaviest component on your quad, you will reach a stage where you get diminishing returns, and the battery is too heavy for your craft to carry efficiently. The most common capacity for racing drones with 5 inch propellers is 1300mAh, which seems to find the best balance between performance, flight time and weight, but there are, of course, exceptions to this.
Discharge Rate (C Rating)
The discharge rate is shown by a number followed by the letter ‘C’, the higher the discharge rate, the better. The discharge rating shows how quickly you can safely discharge your battery. A higher C rating means that you will use less throttle input to get your craft to hover, and it will provide more amperage to the motors at full throttle, making your craft faster and more punchy.
There is a phenomenon known as ‘Voltage Sag’ - The higher your throttle input, the faster you deplete your battery, but this depletion is not linear. At very high throttle the voltage drops even faster, but as you decrease throttle, the voltage will recover, the lower the C rating of your battery the more pronounced the voltage sag will be, and the longer it will take for the voltage to increase again.
With a high C rating, the voltage drop at very high throttle will be reduced. I recommend 45C as the very minimum to fly slowly, a 75C pack will be better for freestyle, but to get the best out of your quad, and particularly for racing you should be looking at C ratings of 80-100C and higher.
Note - Batteries with a higher C rating will usually be slightly heavier, than others with the same voltage and capacity.
Buyers tip - Some manufacturers inflate the numbers of the C rating of their batteries, which is why it is recommended to purchase your batteries from a reputable source.
Important Buyers Note - Unscrupulous manufacturers often inflate the advertised C ratings of their batteries, as such it is highly recommended to purchase batteries of a well known brand from a reputable retailer.
Batteries store electrical energy by using a reaction between different chemicals, such as Lead and Acid - which is what is used for car batteries. Li-Po or Lithium - Polymer have a good power density, they can be made in various shapes and also inherently have good discharge rates, which make them ideal for our hobby/sport.
There are 2 other common chemistry types used for drones, these are LiHv (Lithium High Voltage) and Graphene. LiHV cells have a higher nominal voltage of 3.8v per cell, which provides a little more punch at full charge. Graphene batteries are said to have a slightly longer lifespan as they build internal resistance slower than a standard LiPo or LiHv.
Batteries don’t last forever
Like propellers, LiPo batteries are a consumable in the hobby, however they should last longer than your props, as long as you treat them well! I mentioned internal resistance earlier, this is what kills your batteries over time. The more you use a LiPo, the more the internal resistance increases. Internal resistance can be thought of as a component within your battery that uses electrical energy, leaving less power for your motors.
Over charging, and over discharging your batteries will cause internal resistance to increase more quickly, also leaving your batteries fully charged or discharged (past 3.2v per cell) for extended time periods will also cause internal resistance to build faster. Unless you are going to fly tomorrow, I would recommend that you re-charge/discharge your batteries to storage voltage, which for standard LiPo, LiHv and Graphene batteries is between 3.7 and 3.95v per cell, most say 3.8v for LiPo and Graphene and 3.85v for LiHv.
Best Lipo Drone Battery
Gaoneng Lipo Batteries
Best Budget Pick
Best Budget Pick
Gaoneng Lipo Batteries
GNB Batteries are one of the most popular battery choices amongst pilots, thanks in part, to their dirt-cheap price and acceptable performance. They come in various shapes and sizes, all the way from 1 - 8S voltages with varying capacities.
These batteries are sometimes, during sale days, priced at half the price when compared to the premium offering on our list. The cheap price makes these batteries expendable and the loss of one doesn’t hurt the wallet as much. The downside is, that the GNB packs do not perform as per their advertised capacities, ie., To further add to the wound, GNB is based out of China and shipping takes a loooong time. Generally, GNB batteries are slightly larger and heavier than other brands in their class. But since these batteries are mostly preferred by beginners and intermediate pilots, the slightly lower performance offered by these packs wouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
Top of the line
Top of the line
Experienced FPV pilots prefer using the Tattu LiPo batteries, which cost almost twice as much when compared to a GNB or CNHL battery pack. The reason being - The performance offered by these packs is top level.
Tattu batteries have been in the market for quite a while, and are on their 5th iteration, refining the design and build quality over the years. Tattu claims to use an exclusive technology called Al Boehmite, which will offer a significant improvement in overall performance and continuous power output. The new technology claims to provide the power consistently and continuously and offer a very minimal decrease in performance after a charge–discharge cycle. These batteries are lauded because they can handle the voltage sags better than the other competing battery packs. They usually are true to their battery capacity, meaning the mAh rating is not bloated for marketing purposes. If you want the ultimate performance a LiPo can offer, then just add 10 of these batteries to your cart and buy them. You won’t regret it. But the question you ask yourself is, Do I need that much power? Most pilots are casual flyers and do just fine by using the cheaper Chinese packs. Tattu is suited more for hardcore flyers.
CNHL Lipo Drone Batteries
Best Budget Pick
Best Budget Pick
CNHL Lipo Drone Batteries
China Hobbyline (CNHL) is another Chinese Lipo manufacturing brand. Like the GNB batteries, the CNHL batteries also suffer from reduced power output and are slightly larger and heavier in comparison to other brands of similar capacities.
In terms of performance the CNHL batteries are good budget option. Cells are generally balanced and are matched with lower IR. At times, I really put Lipos through some torture and the CHL packs seemed to take it in stride! What makes them "racing" spec is that they weigh less and general rule is if you have two lipos with same cell count, mAh and C rating the heavier one will be better in terms of performance life. I rate them as budget mid ranger mainly as you can almost buy 2 for the price of a 1 Tattu and have yet to have one go bad. Also you can get the same flight times as with Rebel batteries ie. which are almost triple the price. They can put up a lot of damage and still work. Cells all measure the same and charges/discharges perfectly. Had about 30 charges since it got splatted against a tree and went flying. Can't fault it.
RDQ LiPo Batteries
Best Value for Money
Best Value for Money
RDQ LiPo Batteries
RaceDayQuads LiPo batteries are exclusively sold by RaceDayQuads. RDQ is based in the United States, and what this means is that they will not take 2 months to reach you 🙂
All RDQ batteries command a slight premium (usually a few dollars, and RDQ has offers running during certain times of the year) over their comparable Chinese counterparts. In hindsight, the RDQ packs are of higher quality and last longer. The RDQ LiPos perform exceptionally well in real-world tests, with Joshua Bardwell claiming in his tests that these batteries performed close to some premium batteries. If Joshua says the battery packs are good, it is safe to assume that these packs have what it takes to get the job done. These packs come in voltages from1- 6S and various capacities to fulfil the needs of every pilot.
4S Battery Overview (14.8V)
A 4 cell/4S (14.8v) pack is the most common voltage for flying almost any size drone (apart from micro >120mm frames) at the moment. This voltage is very versatile and provides great performance for racing and freestyle on almost any quad using 2.5” props and over.
There are now components hitting the market that will support 5S and even 6S voltages, but at the current time these are quite specialized. A few years ago 3S (11.1v) was the most common and as such there are some who are slightly behind the times and suggest that this voltage is better for the beginner pilot.
However the throttle curve can be adjusted on your transmitter and / or flight controller (FC) so that at full stick input, your model is not actually running at its full thrust capacity.
If you do feel that your 4S model is a bit too fast for your current skill level, rather than buying 3S packs, you can adjust the settings to slow it down to a more manageable pace, and then revert or re-adjust these settings over time, to increase the thrust of your model as you feel
Our Pick of the Bunch
Picking just one of these is a really difficult call to make, with such a wide price range and great quality across the board. I think that if you are an all out, top class racer, then the Max Amps 175C pack is probably the best pack available for you, but the price is almost double that of the Tattu R-Line.
It is simply price that has put the Max Amps pack at the bottom of the list, however the R-Line 2.0 is widely recognised as one of the best racing packs available, and it is fully deserving of its place at the top of the class, due to its amazing performance.
For the freestyle pilot, the Infinity from Antech gives brilliant performance combined with a great low price. If you are flying on a budget, the CNHL 100C has an incredible price and gets some really good reviews of its performance too, in fact some are left almost in disbelief that CNHL can create such a good battery at such a low price.
3S Battery Overview (11.1V)
As I mentioned above, up until a few years ago 3S was the most common voltage used in the sport, but as the skill of pilots improved and technology advanced, we saw the introduction of 4S compatible parts, until subsequently the higher voltage became commonplace.
As you may have learned, much of the hobby is a balancing act, the most important factors to balance are the thrust generated by your motors and props, and the All Up Weight/AUW, (basically, the weight of your model, including the battery).
These days generally 3S packs are used for smaller, lighter models and motors. Models designed for 3S voltages usually have a specific reason for using a 3S pack over a 4S, namely the additional thrust from the higher voltage battery will not show as much improvement as the decrease in weight of the battery.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule, the exceptions here are that some larger craft with 8 inch or larger props, will use a high capacity 3S battery.
Remember that as capacity increases, so does the weight of the individual cells that make up your pack. Some long range craft, designed to optimise efficiency, will sacrifice the additional thrust from higher voltage, for an increase in mAh capacity.
Spending extra on long range components for a craft that only has a flight time of 5-6 mins is a needless expense because you won’t be able to fly to the limits of your range in 2.5-3 minutes, remember you always have to save enough battery power for your return journey!
These 3S packs have been chosen to reflect the current popularity of micro models, you will notice that the capacities of the packs in this list are lower than the 4S list above due to the limited thrust of smaller props.
2S Battery Overview (7.4V)
2S packs are commonly used for quads with a wheelbase of between 100-120mm, but nowadays there are quite a few craft in this size category that will happily run on 3S and even 4S voltages.
Finding information on craft that work best with 2S packs is not actually that easy as smaller capacity 3S and 4S packs become more common. Some ultra micro craft such as brushless tiny whoop’s, which often run single cell (1S) packs, are now using components to support upgrades to 2S voltages.
These packs will generally have a very low capacity between 200-400mAh, which is not really enough to handle the current draw of 2” or larger props. Another thing to consider with 2S batteries is the connecter that is used, I think 2S voltage has the widest range of different connecter types as you can find Walkera/LOSI, JST PH, JST RCY, XT 30 and XT 60 are all available, so make sure you order the correct type for your model.
1S Battery Overview (3.7V)
1S packs are where many of us start, powering a toy grade model such as the Eachine H8 mini, blade inductrix or one of its many clones. There are many different non branded types of 1S battery which is what taught me (the hard way) that not all Li-Po’s are equal.
Some of the no name brand 1S packs I bought worked fine, others, from their very first use, failed to provide enough power to sustain a hover! Due to the popularity of Tiny Whoop’s there are now many well known companies providing high quality 1S packs and relatively cheap too.
Most of the packs listed here are available in standard Li-Po and Li-Hv chemistries, so ensure that your charger and model is compatible for your selection.
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