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Batteries are a part of life in this electric R/C world, and knowing about them can greatly improve your hobby experience. Recently, Traxxas moved to limit the supply of their High-Current Connectors, reducing the number of battery manufacturers licensed to use the connector to just one: Traxxas. Now that purchasing a Traxxas vehicle also means using their batteries and chargers, understanding Traxxas' batteries, chargers, and accessories is important for all Traxxas owners. In this guide, we'll go over Traxxas' batteries — both Nickel-Metal Hydride and Lithium-Polymer — the Traxxas iD technology, and finally, Traxxas' chargers and how to use them. But first, let’s talk about the basics of batteries.

Battery Basics

When talking about batteries, we need to first define the terms by which we will discuss them. There are three main metrics with regards to batteries: voltage, capacity, and discharge rating. Nearly all batteries use voltage and capacity, while Lithium-Polymer (LiPo for short) batteries also usually include the discharge rate, but Nickel-Metal Hydride (or NiMH) batteries don’t. Let’s explain each metric.

Voltage

The voltage of a battery pack is essentially going to determine how fast your vehicle will be. The more voltage you have, the faster you're going to go.

A LiPo cell has a nominal — or median — voltage of 3.7V. For the 7.4V battery above, that means that there are two cells in series (which means the voltage gets added together). This is sometimes why you will hear people talk about a "2S" battery pack - it means that there are 2 cells in Series. So a two-cell (2S) pack is 7.4V, a three-cell (3S) pack is 11.1V, and a 4S pack would be 14.8V.

Capacity

Think of capacity as the size of your fuel tank. We measure capacity in milliAmp hours (mAh). Since we will also talk about another unit of measure, the Amp (Ah), it will be helpful to know that you can convert from mAh to Ah easily.

1Ah = 1,000mAh

The higher the capacity, the longer your vehicle will run, but there is a downside to large capacity batteries; the charge time increases proportionally to runtime, so if you get an extra 20% runtime (maybe 3-4 minutes), your battery will also take 20% longer to charge, which would be about 16 minutes for a 5000mAh battery!

Discharge Rating (aka C-Rating)

Voltage and Capacity had a direct impact on certain aspects of the vehicle which makes them easy to understand. The Discharge Rating (hereafter referred to as the C-Rating) is a bit harder to understand, and this lead to it being the most misunderstood aspects of LiPo batteries.

The C Rating is simply a measure of how fast the battery can be discharged safely and without harming the battery. One of the things that makes it complicated is that it's not a stand-alone number; it requires you to also know the capacity of the battery to figure out the safe amp draw (the "C" in C-Rating actually stands for Capacity). Once you know the capacity, it's pretty much a plug-and-play math problem. Using the above battery, here's the way you find out the maximum safe continuous amp draw.

25C = 25 x Capacity (in Amps)
Calculating the C-Rating of our example battery: 25 x 5 = 125Ah

The resulting number is the maximum sustained load you can safely put on the battery. Going higher than that will result in, at best, the degradation of the battery at a faster than normal pace. At worst, it could burst into flames. So our example battery can handle a maximum continuous load of 125A.

Traxxas’ LiPo batteries have two C-Ratings: a Continuous Rating (which we've been discussing), and a Burst Rating. The Burst rating works the same way, except it is only applicable in 10-second bursts, not continuously. For example, the Burst Rating would come into play when accelerating a vehicle, but not when at a steady speed on a straight-away. Batteries are usually compared using the Continuous Rating, not the Burst Rating.

Despite all of Traxxas’ LiPo batteries being rated at 25C, it’s worth noting for those running non-Traxxas batteries that going with a higher C-Rating isn’t necessarily better, as it won’t increase your speed or runtime. All you need is enough to ensure the battery is above the maximum current draw of the motor and speed control — going beyond that is simply a waste of money, as high C-Ratings usually come with a high price tag.



NiMHs Batteries vs. LiPo Batteries

Lifespan

NiMH batteries can run a thousand or more cycles before they aren’t capable of storing energy, making them a great choice if you’re on a budget and can’t afford to replace batteries often. LiPos, on the other hand, last, on average, between 100 and 200 cycles, so it’s likely you’re going to replace them more frequently, but the upside in efficiency and power are worth it to most people. Still, you should know when you buy a LiPo that it won’t last forever.

Efficiency

Think of NiMHs as incandescent light bulbs — much of their stored energy is wasted as heat when running your truck. LiPos are more like LED bulbs that rarely get hot, or even warm. LiPos are the clear winner here; their chemistry allows them to run around 33% longer than a NiMH with the same capacity, and they are largely available in higher standard capacities than NiMHs. LiPos are also lighter than their NiMH counterparts, and that adds to their efficiency factor as well.

Performance

NiMHs don’t report their Discharge Ratings on the package, so there’s no way to know exactly how much energy they can put out, but there is certainly less punch with a NiMH than a LiPo. Additionally, a NiMH battery’s discharge curve is like a gentle hill, and midway through a run, you’ll notice your truck isn’t as fast as it started. This isn’t the case with LiPos, because they maintain a pretty steady voltage throughout the run, right up until it’s depleted, This means more consistent and faster overall runs.

Care and Handling

With a few exceptions, NiMH batteries are pretty hard to kill. You can run them into the ground repeatedly and still have them work just fine, making them great for beginners and kids. LiPo batteries are a lot more sensitive, and require special care beyond just charging correctly to stay in good health. LiPos also pose more of a fire risk than NiMH batteries, though fires are very rare with the modern chargers, speed controls, and especially Traxxas’ iD technology (more on that later).

Using Your Batteries

One key difference between NiMHs and LiPos is how the electronic speed control (ESC) on your vehicle needs to be set up. LiPo batteries cannot be completely discharged, as this will permanently damage the battery, and so a low-voltage cutoff needs to be enabled on the ESC to prevent the vehicle from draining the battery too far. On Traxxas speed controls, they refer it as LiPo Mode when the low-voltage cutoff is enabled, and NiMH Mode when it is not. This is toggled back-and-forth using the method described in the video to the right.

When in LiPo Mode, the speed control has a two-stage cutoff. The first stage will reduce power to approximately 50% of normal — enough you should notice it. This is when you should stop using the vehicle. If you keep going, you will hit the second stage, which disables the motor altogether, and the LED on the speed control will slowly blink red. This is the indication you are dangerously close to harming your battery. Unplug the battery and get it on the charger.

If you use a NiMH battery when your ESC is in LiPo Mode, the speed control will very quickly enter the second stage; this is because the standard Traxxas NiMH is an 8.4V battery which, when fully charged, can look like a very low 3S LiPo to the ESC, which would then kick into low-voltage cutoff. Make sure to run in NiMH Mode with NiMHs and LiPo Mode with LiPos.

If you purchased a Traxxas vehicle that came with a NiMH battery and later choose to upgrade to LiPos, you may be tempted to go back and forth between the NiMH and LiPo batteries. We do not recommend this. Most people will fail to remember to change the mode of the speed control at some point, and if the ESC is left in NiMH Mode when running a LiPo battery, the best case scenario is permanently ruining the battery; the worst case is a fire. When making the switch from NiMHs to LiPos, commit to LiPos completely unless you’re 100% sure you can remember to change the setting every time.

Look for LiPo Damage

LiPo batteries can be fire hazards. Unlike NiMH batteries with their hard metal casing, LiPos have a thin foil wrapper around each cell. While this can make the cells easier to puncture (which isn’t good), it also allows you to monitor the health of the battery. Never run a LiPo that has been punctured, crushed, deformed, swollen, or appears damaged in anyway. Make sure to inspect your LiPo batteries carefully before charging; look for any loose leads or connectors, damaged wire insulation, impact damage, fluid leaks, swelling (a sign of internal damage), cell deformity, or any other irregularity. If you see anything like the conditions listed, don’t charge or use the battery. Bring it in to your local hobby shop and they should be able to dispose of it safely for you.

Always Unplug

When you’re done using your batteries, make sure to unplug them from the vehicle. Even if the truck is off, the completed circuit created when the battery is plugged in will drain the battery over time, which can damage your batteries and potentially cause a fire. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using NiMHs or LiPos, and this goes for the charger too; don’t just leave the battery connection to the charger when you’ve finished charging. Stay safe and always unplug!



Traxxas Charger Comparison

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Ez-Peak Plus

Batteries Charged at Once 1
NiMH Cell Count 4 - 8
LiPo Cell Count 2 - 3
Charge Rate Range 1Ah - 4Ah
Traxxas iD Compatible Yes
In-Depth Display No
Bluetooth Capable No
Price $49.99
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Ez-Peak Plus Dual

Batteries Charged at Once 2
NiMH Cell Count 5 - 8
LiPo Cell Count 2 - 3
Charge Rate Range 1Ah - 8Ah†
Traxxas iD Compatible Yes
In-Depth Display No
Bluetooth Capable No
Price $99.99
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Ez-Peak Live

Batteries Charged at Once 1
NiMH Cell Count 5 - 8
LiPo Cell Count 2 - 4
Charge Rate Range 1Ah - 12Ah
Traxxas iD Compatible Yes
In-Depth Display Yes*
Bluetooth Capable Yes*
Price $99.99
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Ez-Peak Live Dual

Batteries Charged at Once 2
NiMH Cell Count 5 - 8
LiPo Cell Count 2 - 4
Charge Rate Range 1Ah - 12Ah
Traxxas iD Compatible Yes
In-Depth Display Yes*
Bluetooth Capable Yes*
Price $179.99

*Requires compatible smartphone or tablet (not included) and Traxxas Ez-Peak Live app.
† 4A Max when charging two batteries at a time.

About Traxxas’ iD Technology

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A few years ago, Traxxas updated their proprietary high-current connectors to the vaguely football-shaped iD connectors. This update was a significant one, as it was the industry’s first look at the future of R/C battery charging technology, as for the first time in the hobby, wireless communications technology was built into the connectors and the balance wires of LiPo batteries were integrated into a single connection. The future Traxxas promised with their iD tech was once where LiPo batteries were no more difficult to use than NiMHs, as the charger would automatically identify the battery upon connection, and configure itself accordingly. No more complicated menus, no more guesswork — just smooth, automatic operation.

Here’s the kicker: it actually works.

I spent an afternoon reading the patent on this technology (so you didn’t have to), and as best I can understand it, the iD technology operates in two ways. First the charger looks for a battery connection, both in the main positive and negative terminals and in the balance terminals. If it sees a connection on the main terminals and not the balance terminals, it defaults to the NiMH setting (because NiMHs don’t have balance wires). From there, if it sees connection on the first balance terminal, it sets it up as a 2S LiPo. If there’s a connection on the first and second balance terminals, it configures itself as a 3S LiPo, and so on and so forth.

Additionally, Traxxas has inserted a unique RFID chip into each battery connector, which can house information like battery chemistry (NiMH or LiPo), cell count, capacity, proper charge rate, number of charges, the battery’s part number, and more. This information is communicated to the charger, which can set charge parameters with the data, in doing so, providing a backup for the simple detection of electrical connections on the terminals. All of which means you can just plug your battery into the charger and it magically just works without the confusing instructions and endless menus of other charging systems.

It’s worth noting that modern Traxxas LiPos with the iD technology aren’t usable on non-Traxxas iD chargers. Traxxas does not license their patented iD technology to anyone to make adapters, either. If you look online for adapters, you can certainly find them — the problem is that, without the actual Traxxas license, there’s no Traxxas-level quality control, and these adapters may not provide the quality connection your batteries need or could be shoddily-made. We do not recommend using these knock-off adapters and connectors, as they could very well cost you more money in the long run, as Traxxas doesn’t warranty batteries charged with other chargers or adapters.



False Peaking: A NiMH Problem

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Picture it: you’ve left your NiMH battery on the shelf all winter, but spring has finally arrived, and you’re ready to get your truck out and tear up the cul de sac. You start charging the battery, but it’s done much quicker than you thought it should be. Shrugging, you take your truck outside and drive it around, only to have the battery die within a few minutes. You go inside and charge it again, but the same thing keeps happening time and again. What gives?

NiMH batteries, while very robust in terms of taking abuse, can suffer from false peaking. NiMHs are like runners who sat on the couch all winter; they can’t just go run a marathon without reconditioning. In the same way, NiMH batteries left unused for a long time won’t operate like a battery in peak condition. NiMH chargers look for a specific difference between a voltage peak and valley while charging. If the difference is big enough, the charger thinks the battery to be fully charged. The problem is that dormant batteries can sometimes fool the charger into thinking the battery is full when it isn’t. Don’t despair, though — this can be fixed!

All you need to do is ensure a full charge on the battery. You can do this by charging your battery the normal way. Keep a close eye on it; check in every five minutes or so. When the charger says it’s full, feel the battery’s temperature. If it’s still room temp, unplug the battery, plug it back in, and start the charge over again. Repeat this until the battery is warm to the touch. You can also use time to determine how full it is; the standard 3000mAh 8.4V NiMH battery Traxxas ships with its trucks should take about 45 minutes to charge fully with Traxxas chargers — if the charge time is significantly less than that, it’s probably false peaked. Repeat the charge until the cumulative charge time is around 45 minutes.

The issue should go away within four to five cycles. You won’t live with false peaking forever!

LiPos Are A Tiny Bit More Complicated

When you plug your Traxxas LiPo into your Traxxas Ez-Peak charger it defaults to balance mode. Balancing is a fancy term for when the charger makes sure each cell within the battery is charged to the same voltage; to do this, the charger needs to see more than just the main positive and negative wires. You may have noticed an extra wire or two running up alongside the large main wires of your battery. These are the balance leads. When you plug the battery into the charger, the charger sees the incoming voltage from each cell and is able to modulate the energy going to each one and ensure each gets a full charge.

While the Ez-Peak Live and Live Dual chargers use Bluetooth to connect to your phone and display plenty of information about the battery including each cell’s voltage, the less expensive Ez-Peak Plus and Plus Dual don’t show much information at all. This is why we recommend Traxxas’ LiPo cell voltage checker (#2968X). It includes an adapter and device to allow you to read each cell’s voltage, serving as a way to see how much of your battery is left when you’re out driving around.

Finally, even though Traxxas’ iD technology is really good, there is always a chance of something bad happening with any LiPo battery. We recommend keeping your LiPos in a charging bag when charging or storing your batteries. A charging bag is a Kevlar-lined pouch, usually with a Velcro enclosure that will contain a fire should one occur. These bags can vary in price depending on the size and manufacturer; ours sell for about $10 and can hold a couple batteries at a time. Alternatively, charge your batteries on something non-flammable, like a ceramic tile or in a flower pot.

Storing Your Batteries

NiMH batteries, due to their hardy nature, don’t have any special storage requirements, but as with all batteries, extreme temperatures — hot or cold — so make sure to store them inside and in a temperature-controlled environment. We recommend using your NiMH batteries at least once a month to help prevent the false peaking problem.

Unlike NiMH batteries, LiPos have to be put into a storage mode. This entails having your charger get the voltage of each cell in the LiPo down to 3.85V. Once this is done, you should keep your batteries in a fireproof container at standard room temperature (60ºF to 80ºF). Leaving them in the cold, like out in the garage during winter, can harm the batteries, as can excessively warm environments. Make sure not to leave your LiPos in a hot car in the summer!

Each Traxxas charger offers a LiPo storage mode — so use it! Improper storage is the number one reason people have trouble with LiPo batteries nowadays, and if you’re not taking care of your batteries, you’re just throwing money away. Traxxas does offer a one year warranty on their LiPo batteries, but it doesn’t cover negligence — and make no mistake, not making an effort to store your batteries properly is negligent behavior. So take care of your batteries, even if it takes a little more time at the end of the day — it’s worth it!


Choosing the Right Equipment for Your Traxxas Vehicle

Ez-Peak Plus (2970) & 2S 7.4v 5000mAh Traxxas LiPo (2842X)

This is the most common pairing we sell. The standard Traxxas Ez-Peak Plus is a simple-to-use charger, and the bread-and-butter 2S 5000mAh LiPo is a great mid-range workhorse of a battery. Together, they get you running with the LiPo battery for the lowest possible price.

  • Perfect for Off-Road Use

  • Typical speeds of 40MPH - 45MPH*

  • Charge time around 1hr 20min

Or switch to the Ez-Peak Live charger for charge times as fast as 30min!

Works great with the follow vehicles:

  • Rustler
  • Rustler VXL
  • Rustler 4x4
  • Rustler 4x4 VXL
  • Stampede
  • Stampede VXL
  • Stampede 4x4
  • Stampede 4x4 VXL
  • Slash
  • Slash VXL
  • Slash 4x4
  • Slash 4x4 VXL
  • All TRX4 Models

*Typical speeds for vehicles running VXL-3S brushless motor systems. Brushed systems will be box-advertised speeds.

 

Ez-Peak Plus (2970) & 3S 11.1v 5000mAh Traxxas LiPo (2832X)

This is your typical high-speed combo. The higher voltage of the 3S LiPo increases maximum RPM resulting in highway speeds — but be careful! These three cell batteries aren’t meant for running in grass and will cause the motor and speed control to heat up dramatically — then poof! Your electronics go up in smoke.

This pack is shorter than normal to accommodate the shorter wheelbase of the Rustler and Stampede vehicles, but it will also work fine with the Slash models as well.

  • A long-distance speed-run battery - On-Road only!

  • Typical speeds of 50MPH - 65MPH

  • Charge time around 1hr 20min

Or switch to the Ez-Peak Live charger for charge times as fast as 30min!

Works great with the following vehicles:

  • Rustler VXL
  • Rustler 4x4 VXL*
  • Stampede VXL
  • Stampede 4x4 VXL
  • Slash VXL
  • Slash 4x4 VXL
  • Maxx
  • All TRX4 Models

*Rustler 4x4 VXL requires battery hold down #6725 (sold seperately)



Ez-Peak Plus (2970) & 3S 11.1v 5000mAh Traxxas LiPo (2872X)

This is your typical high-speed combo. The higher voltage of the 3S LiPo increases maximum RPM resulting in highway speeds — but be careful! These three cell batteries aren’t meant for running in grass and will cause the motor and speed control to heat up dramatically — then poof! Your electronics go up in smoke.

This pack is longer than normal, so it won’t work in trucks like the Rustler or Stampede, but it’s great for the Slash or TRX-4 trucks!

  • A long-distance speed-run battery - On-Road only!

  • Typical speeds of 50MPH - 65MPH

  • Charge time around 1hr 20min

Or switch to the Ez-Peak Live charger for charge times as fast as 30min!

Works great with the following vehicles:

  • Slash VXL
  • Slash 4x4 VXL
  • Maxx
  • All TRX4 Models
 

Ez-Peak Live (2971) & 4S 14.8v 5000mAh Traxxas LiPo (2889X)


The Traxxas Maxx is unique amongst its 1/10th scale kin: it can run a 4S LiPo! This is the battery you’re looking for if you want the Maxx to be speedy, as it can get the truck up to 55MPH with stock gearing! The Ez-Peak Live is necessary here, as neither the Ez-Peak Plus or the Ez-Peak Dual can charge the bigger 4S battery pack — but with the Ez-Peak Live, you get much faster charge times and Bluetooth connectivity to your phone or tablet, putting loads of important information at your fingertips.

  • A speed pack and charger for the Maxx 1/10th scale monster truck.

  • Typical speeds of 50MPH - 55MPH

  • Charge time around 40min

Works great with the following vehicles:

  • Maxx
 


Ez-Peak Dual (2972) & 2x 2S 7.4v 5000mAh Traxxas LiPos (2842X)

For those E-Revo and Summit users out there. This dual battery and charger setup is perfect for those bigger trucks, especially if off-road is your thing. This setup limits your top speed, but on the flip side, you get plenty of torque to ravage your backyard with. The Ez-Peak Dual allows you to charge both of your batteries at the same time, meaning you get to play more often!

  • The perfect off-road setup for an E-Revo VXL or Summit

  • E-Revo VXL: typical speeds of 40MPH - 45MPH

  • Summit: typical speeds of 25MPH - 35MPH

  • Charge time around 1hr 20min

Or switch to the Ez-Peak Live Dual charger for charge times as fast as 30min!

Works great with the following vehicles:

  • E-Revo VXL
  • Summit
 

Ez-Peak Dual (2972) & 2x 3S 11.1v 5000mAh Traxxas LiPos (2872X)

If you want to go fast — I mean really fast — with your E-Revo VXL, this is the setup you’re looking for. Dual 3S LiPos will give your E-Revo VXL highway speed, but don’t attempt those speeds off-road; the motor and speed control aren’t designed to take the kind of current that comes with these high-speed batteries combined with the strain of driving off-road. Keep it on pavement, and leave your buddies in the dust!

If you want low speed grunt power in your X-Maxx, however, this is the perfect combo for you!

  • For on-road top-speed runs in an E-Revo

    • Typical speeds of 55MPH to 65MPH

  • For any application in a X-Maxx

    • Typical speeds of 30MPH to 35MPH

  • Charge time around 1hr 20min

Or switch to the Ez-Peak Live Dual charger for charge times as fast as 30min!

Works great with the following vehicles:

  • E-Revo VXL
  • X-Maxx
 

Ez-Peak Live Dual (2973) & 2X 4S 14.8v 5000mAh Traxxas LiPos (2889X)

The ultimate X-Maxx setup. Push your truck to 55MPH and over with these dual 4S LiPos. The Ez-Peak Live Dual is critical here, because it’s the only charger than can charge two Traxxas 4S LiPo batteries at the same time. With the same Bluetooth connection as the single-port Ez-Peak Live, the Live Dual charger is the top-of-the-line charger for Traxxas’ top-of-the-line truck.

  • For any application in a X-Maxx

  • Typical speeds of 50MPH - 55MPH

  • Charge time around 40min

Works great with the following vehicles:

  • X-Maxx

That’s it!

You’ve learned the basic necessities to take care of your batteries and help them live longer lives — saving you money, time, and stress. Traxxas’ iD system has taken most of the frustration out of charging and using batteries in the radio-controlled hobby, but just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand the fundamentals. Having a foundation in the basics of batteries allows you to keep building your knowledge and increase the amount of fun you can have in the hobby. If you want a deeper dive into the ins and outs of LiPo batteries, check out our more-advanced Guide to Understanding LiPo Batteries.

As always, if you have questions, reach out to your local hobby shop or Traxxas. Whoever you contact, they should be ready and willing to assist you, because it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to enjoy the hobby!