LiPo Battery Packs — Understanding the Numbers

LiPo Battery Packs — Understanding the Numbers

Often while flying giant scale electric aircraft at the RC flying field, a common question is asked by someone: “How many milliamps is that battery?” The first time I heard that, I didn’t know how to respond because the question didn’t make sense to me. So my “What do you mean?” response resulted in another question about how big the battery was or how much capacity it had. That I could answer.

The lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries that we use today in our electric RC aircraft are typically described using several standard electrical terms: “voltage” or “cell count”; “storage capacity”; and “current” or “discharge rate limits.” Take a look at any LiPo label and you’ll see at least these three items. These terms aren’t unique to the batteries we use in RC; they’re terms that are used in all electrical fields, so it’s important to know what they mean and to use them properly.


A battery is composed of cells, which are connected in series and/or parallel to make up the battery. The voltage of any battery is determined by the chemical composition of the material within the battery’s cells. Nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries have a reference, or nominal…

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