RcTek : Information & Resources for the Model Car Racer

Radio Control Equipment Basics - Batteries

This article is part of a section of the RcTek site that provides information about the radio equipment used to control model cars.

In this article we have information about the different kinds of batteries that can be used.


All model car radio control systems are powered using batteries of one form or another. Most utilise rechargeable batteries but can use the normal dry cell (non-rechargeable) type batteries. Rechargeable batteries offer a cost effective solution, as well as offering better performance in the majority of cases.

Although there are many different battery packs on the market, each offering different output voltages and capacities, the appropriate one for your car depends on the design of the car and the class of the racing (if any) it was designed for. This multitude of different configurations can all be placed into three basic categories though.

Separate Cell Pack

Radio Control Battery Pack

This type of battery pack is supplied with many of the lower cost model cars available today and can be fitted with either ordinary dry cell (non-rechargeable) or rechargeable separate cell batteries. They can be replaced with purpose made sealed battery packs. It has to be noted that rechargeable batteries have a lower output voltage than the ordinary dry cell batteries which can cause problems.

Stick Pack

Radio Control Battery Stick Pack

This type of pack is by far the most popular in electric model car racing as it supplies power to both the motor (engine) and the radio control equipment. They normally are composed of six cells and give an output voltage of around 7.2 volts. Higher voltage packs are available but are not ordinarily used for competiton use.

Higher specification electrically powered model cars usually use two three cell packs so that the relatively high weight can be distributed better on the car.

Receiver Pack

Radio Control Battery Pack

This type of battery pack is used in IC - Internal Combustion (Gas) powered cars and can be fitted with two leads, one for powering the car and the larger one for charging at high currents.

Many different types are available for the different scales (sizes) of car, but usually they are composed of five cells to given an output voltage of around 6 volts.

Battery Connectors

Tamiya Battery Connector

Radio Control Servo Plugs

The most common connectors used in connecting the battery to the rest of the radio control system are the same ones that are used on the Servos and Receiver (right). The other type (left) is one used primarily on the electric powered vehicles and can safely handle the high currents involved.

There are other kinds of connectors available which may be covered in a future article.

Battery Wires

Battery Wires

The connecting wires used on the various different battery packs are almost always black and red, but there are exceptions. The lighter insulation colour ordinarily denotes the positive wire. The actual gauge (thickness) of the wires varies depending on the application.

For example, the wires that power the electric model cars need to be able to safely and effectively carry high currents whereas the battery that only supplies a low power servo doesn’t.


Much could be written about the subject of of batteries, but the basics covered here should have explained what you need to know if you have an interest in radio controlled cars. Please use the links to the other items that go together to form a radio control system.

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© 2001, 2009 by Darren Burnhill