There is nothing so demoralizing as a battery failure in the midst of an airsoft battle.
Suddenly the weapon that you’re relying upon becomes a dud – a useless prop in your hands. Within seconds, your game is over – and your body peppered with BBs!
This goes to underscore just how vital your battery is to your whole airsoft experience.
Getting your head around the types of batteries available and how to ensure that you’re getting the best out of them will make you a much better airsofter.
The Battery Connector
The battery connector is the most important component of the whole battery story.
Unless the type of connector is compatible with the battery, you will not be able to connect the battery and your gun will be useless.
The most common type of battery connector that you will come across is called the ‘mini Tamiya’ connector. It is the standard connector that is fitted to most airsoft rifles.
Standard Tamiya batteries are larger than the mini Tamiya. Because space within the battery compartment is limited, standard Tamiyas are less common.
The Dean, or T-Connector, is often found in stock airsoft guns. This connector provides a more secure, reliable connection than Tamiya connectors.
As a result, experienced airsofters will often upgrade their rifles from a Tamiya to a Dean connector.
Airsoft Battery Voltage
The voltage of a battery refers to how fast the battery is able to make the motor spin.
The higher the voltage of the battery, the greater the revolutions per minute (RPM). Airsoft battery voltages range from 7.2v to 12.8v.
The most commonly found range, however, is between 7.2 and 9.6v.
The higher the voltage of your battery, the greater the rate of fire your AEG will produce.
It will also give you a better trigger response, though it will not affect the fps (feet per second) that the BB will be able to fly.
There is a sweet spot when it comes to airsoft battery voltage.
You want a voltage that is high enough to produce maximum performance but not too high to cause arcing across the trigger contacts.
In addition, if you have a voltage that is too high for the rifle, it will put too much strain on the internal workings of the gun.
The capacity of an airsoft battery is measured in MilliAmp Hours (MaH).
The MaH rating of a battery indicates how many hours your battery will power the gun. Your airsoft rifle will not come with a MaH rating from the manufacturer.
This is something you will have to discover for yourself.
If your gun is fitted with a 1500 MaH battery and the battery lasts for three hours, then your AEG gun has a MaH of 500 MaH.
This seems to be the standard for most AEG guns.
If you are planning on playing airsoft for a full day (6+ hours), you will want to have one or two spare batteries in your vest.
What Kind of Batteries Does Airsoft Guns Use?
All Airsoft Automatic Electric Guns (AEGs) require a rechargeable battery for it to become operational.
There are five types of batteries that you will come across:
Alkaline batteries are a high capacity type of battery that is available in chargeable and nonchargeable options.
These batteries, however, are limited in their recharging ability. Alkaline batteries may also create problems for your rifle if they go dead.
You will want to keep your alkaline batteries constantly charged.
Alkaline batteries are old school when it comes to battery technology. They are not as able to handle the stress associated with an airsoft weapon and so are not that popular.
NiMH, or nickel-metal hydride, batteries deliver a longer and more powerful charge than alkaline batteries will provide.
However, they do not emit as much voltage as alkaline batteries. However, if you allow the battery to sit idle for a long period of time, it will lose charge quite quickly.
You will want to completely run the charge out of a NiMH battery before recharging it. You also should avoid overcharging the battery.
NiMH batteries are recognized among the safest. They can be effectively charged with a simple, cheap charger. These are the best batteries for people who are just getting into airsoft.
NiCad, or nickel-cadmium, batteries are popular because they are long-lasting.
This type of battery is best for guns with low capacity. Like NiMH batteries, NiCads emit less voltage than alkaline batteries.
Again you will want to make sure not to overcharge the battery, so it’s a good idea to get a charger with an auto shut off when it reaches full charge.
Lithium-Ion batteries are best for high capacity airsoft rifles.
These are the most expensive batteries but have the advantage of charging within the device that they are powering.
Li-Po batteries are lightweight and come in a number of shapes.
They contain Lithium Polymer and are the most unstable of all airsoft battery types. They have been known to burst into flames if punctured or shorted.
You will also need a special charger to charge a LiPo battery. Despite these drawbacks, LiPo batteries remain popular because they offer the greatest power output for compact weapons.
LiPo Vs NiMH Batteries
When it comes to such gadgets as radio-controlled cars, planes and airsoft guns, nickel-metal hydroxy batteries (NiMH) have been the go-to type for many decades.
In recent times, however, many people have switched over to Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries in the belief that they will produce more bang for the buck.
So, which one should you go for?
A NiMH battery is a round cell that comes in a number of different configurations.
The AA size battery that you are no doubt familiar with is a single cell NiMH battery. Nickel Cadmium (NiCD) batteries look just like NiMH batteries.
However, they have very different internal features. NiCD batteries are considered to be outdated technology. Be sure to read the packaging so that you know the difference.
A NiMH battery uses hydrogen to stock energy, and nickel to keep a cap on the hydrogen ions.
The battery cells use an alkaline electrolyte to create a positive electrode of the battery. The negative electrode consists of hydrogen ions.
LiPo batteries have two or more cells in a series. It will also have a balance lead. It is flat and rectangular, though it may vary in their width, height, and weight.
They contain carbon and lithium, which is highly reactive. They are able to restore a huge amount of energy along with a lowered internal resistance.
Rather than the hard metal outer shell that you find with NiMH batteries, LiPo batteries have a more malleable polymer lamination case.
To help you decide which battery type to put in your airsoft rifle, we will see which performs better under a number of important battery-related criteria.
LiPo batteries are able to hold 350 percent more charge than a NiMH battery.
That means that they will produce more power and last longer. Amazingly, they do this while being much lighter than a NiMH battery.
The lower the internal resistance within the battery, the less amount of heat is produced, making the battery safer and more efficient.
LiPo batteries produce a significantly lower amount of internal resistance than NiMH batteries.
Charging a LiPo Battery
It is far trickier to charge a LiPo battery than any other type.
The battery pack will have cells connected in series. You will need a special charger that can monitor the charge on each individual cell.
It is critical that no one cell ends up with a greater charge than any of the other cells. If one cell is overcharged, some serious problems can result.
The cells of the battery will expand and delamination will occur. These things will detrimentally affect the life of the battery and result in potential safety issues.
The discharge curve of a LiPo battery is much lower than that of a NiMH battery. The slower the discharge curve, the less the performance quality will be affected as the battery charge runs out.
Are NiMH batteries safer than LiPo?
Yes, NiMH batteries are safer than LiPo batteries.
Battery storage is very important and when it comes to LiPo batteries, you are more likely to run into problems.
LiPo batteries that are stored either flat or fully charged for more than a couple of weeks can cause damage to the battery, with cases having occurred where fully charged batteries have caught on fire.
LiPo batteries should be about 50 percent charged when stored. But if you are going to dispose of a LiPo battery, you should make sure that there is no charge left in it.
LiPo batteries are, by their very nature, less stable than NiMH batteries. This means that LiPo batteries require much greater care and maintenance than do NiMH batteries.
NiMH vs LiPo Performance
LiPo batteries have a higher capacity and voltage than NiMH batteries.
This is primarily because they discharge energy at a flatter rate. They will deliver a significantly higher greater rate of fire for your airsoft gun.
LiPo batteries will also charge faster than NiMH batteries. The best way to charge a NiMH battery is with a trickle charge.
Which battery is best for airsoft?
When it comes to airsoft, LiPo batteries have a lot going for them. They are lighter and more compact, reducing the weight of your airsoft weapon.
You do not have to cycle a new LiPo battery and it will not lose its memory cell. LiPo will last longer and give you a greater rate of fire.
On the other hand, LiPo batteries are more fragile. If you drop them when out in the field, you may not be able to use them.
They are more tricky when it comes to charging and maintenance and more likely to catch on fire. They are also more expensive than NiMH batteries.
When it comes to transporting your LiPo battery, you should always put it in a fireproof LiPo sack.
When it comes to charging a LiPo battery, you need to get a charger that is specifically designed for that purpose.
If you try to charge a LiPo battery on a standard battery charger, you will be in for an explosion!
There are two options when it comes to LiPo chargers:
- 4 Button Smart Charger
- Balanced Charger
A Smart charger will allow you to charge the battery to a set voltage, which is important with a LiPo because you do not want it to be fully charged.
A balanced charger will ensure that each of the cells is charged equally. However, there is no facility to charge to a pre-set level. There is also no facility to discharge the battery.
To make it easier to charge your LiPo battery, you should invest in a multimeter. This will allow you to measure the level of charge in each cell and in the battery overall.
Without a multimeter, you will constantly be on the backfoot when it comes to your LiPo battery.
When charging your battery, make sure that you plug the charger directly into the wall. If you use a power strip or an extension cord, you will not get a good result.
It will take much longer to charge and unless your power strip has a surge protector, you will destroy the battery if a surge does occur.
The length of time that you charge the battery depends upon how many mA the battery has. Lower mA batteries will charge faster than higher ones.
Your charger will actually indicate how many mA will charge per hour. Look for numbers like this:
OUTPUT: DC 8.4v 300mA
This tells you that the charger will provide 300 milliamps per hour. You can work out from this how many hours it will take to charge the battery.
If, for example, the battery contains 1500 mA, then it will take five hours (1500 divided by 300) to fully charge the battery.
If you want to know if the battery is charged and do not have a smart charger or a multimeter, you can get a reasonable gauge of the level of charge by using the touch test.
Place a finger on the battery. You want the battery to be warm, but not hot enough for it to be fully charged. If it is hot, you will have overcharged the battery, which will cause damage to it.
You should never leave a battery that is being charged unattended.
What specifications should I know about when it comes to airsoft batteries?
To choose the right battery for your airsoft needs, you need to be able to understand the specs on the battery packaging.
Here’s a quick rundown:
Voltage – this refers to the power of the battery to turn the motor. Airsoft rifle batteries generally have a voltage between 7.2 and 9.6v. Clearly you want it to be high to produce a greater rate of fire and trigger responsiveness, but you don’t want it to be so high that it overstresses the internal workings of your rifle. Anything over 10v is probably going to do that.
Amperage – this is a measure of the flow of electrons from the battery to the motor of your airsoft gun. The greater the amperage, the more torque your airsoft weapon will have.
Wattage – this is the total amount of power required to turn the motor pinion in the gearbox. Wattage is found by multiplying the voltage by the amperage.
Milliamp Hours – this is a measure of the life of the battery. As a general guide, each time you squeeze the trigger, you are using up 1-2 milliamps.
C-Rating – this is the discharge rate of the battery.
Chemistry – this is the chemical compound of the electrolyte that travels from the anode to the cathode.
How do I know if my LiPo airsoft battery charge is getting low?
When it comes to other battery types, it doesn’t really matter if your battery runs dead.
So long as you’ve got a spare battery to replace it with, you’re good to go. When it comes to LiPo, however, you DO NOT want to let the battery run dry.
If you do, the battery will be permanently damaged to the point of being unusable. Instead, you need to keep a minimum of about 30 percent charge in the battery.
Knowing when your LiPo battery is low is a skill that you will develop over time. Here are some pointers to help you:
- The rate of fire of your airsoft gun will slow down. As soon as you notice this, you should pause to replace the battery. Ignoring this sign because you are caught up in the heat of the battle could be a costly mistake!
- Purchase a battery tester and plug it in to let you know what level of charge you have left on the battery.
- Invest in a low battery alarm. This is a small device that plugs into the balancing socket of your battery. It will emit an alarm when the battery gets down to 3 volts.
- Use a low voltage cut-off device. It will cut the power to the trigger when the battery level hits a critical level.
How can I best maintain my LiPo battery?
The most critical thing to know, which we have already noted in this article, is that you must not store your LiPo battery in either an empty or a fully charged state.
The ideal storage voltage appears to be 3.8 volts. You should never allow the voltage of your LiPo battery to drop below 3.0 volts.
LiPo batteries should be stored inside of a LiPo sack.
This is a small bag that is fireproof and seals completely. This affords protection if the chemicals leak from the battery and if the battery catches on fire.
Even though there is a possibility that LiPo batteries may catch on fire, the reality is that the chances of this happening are very low.
Still, you need to do everything to prevent a disaster from occurring. This includes putting the battery in a fireproof sack and situating it in an area that is away from other flammable materials.
How should I dispose of a LiPo battery?
When it comes time to dispose of your LiPo battery, you must NEVER put it out with the garbage or throw it in the trash. You should only take your used LiPo batteries to a recycling center.
Do airsoft batteries lose charge?
Yes, as with all batteries, airsoft batteries will lose charge. The rate at which it will do so will depend on the type of battery.
The most important number to look at on the battery is the mAH. One BB usually equates to one mAH. So, a battery that has 1000 mAH will allow you to fire 1000 BBs.
From the above, we can see that it is impossible to give a timeframe as to losing charge. It all depends on your rate of fire.
If you let off a thousand rounds in an hour, then your battery will be exhausted within that time frame.
But, if you go all day and only shoot 250 rounds, then you’ll have plenty of charges left on the way home.
Your battery is at the heart of your entire airsoft adventure.
Be sure to follow the advice we’ve provided in this article to ensure that you purchase the best batteries for your airsoft weapon, charge them for best performance and maintain them in order to achieve maximum usage.
Do those things and you will experience a less frustrating, more rewarding airsoft experience.