You might be wondering: How do I pick the best LiPo battery connectors? How do I safely swap an existing connector with a new one like XT-60? What are the tools I can use to make the process easier? This post is a collection of informational tips, videos, and other suggestions. Read up!
Choosing the right connector: What are the most popular types of connectors?
A bullet connector that is probably the biggest RC hobby favourite, the XT-30, 60, 90s are probably easiest to solder relative to other types of connectors. They also come pretty cheap and are easy to connect and disconnect. It is also difficult to connect them the wrong way unless you force and jam them in.
Be cautious while soldering them though. These connectors are known to melt if they get too hot. There are two versions of the XT-60s, one being more heat resistant. Here is a video that discusses this matter:
One way to circumvent this to an extent is to mate the other connector before soldering, so the heat doesn’t warp and melt the connector.
Many batteries come with deans connector but many more recent ones have dropped them for something else. Designed in a way that it cannot be connected the wrong way, these come with flat ends making it difficult to solder. They are also pretty difficult to connect and disconnect in comparison to the XT-60 like connector. Ideal wire length to be used with the deans is about 12-13 awg. These are not built to handle high powered systems running on 4S or 6S LiPos.
In summary, not particularly our favorite so we generally switch the deans with the XT-60 or EC3 if a system comes with it.
EC2, EC3, EC5
Although not as popular, ECXs are great connectors, right up there with the XTXs. The plastic may even be more resilient to heat while soldering, relative to the newer XT-60 type connectors. Soldering is easy and the housings are properly shielded. They are a tad bit pricier than the XTX type connectors, but the main bonus is that they work well together! If you need a connector for a high current draw systems, we’d say that EC5s are the way to go.
Here is an example that shows EC3 being connected to the XT-60:
A deans like connector that comes with a flat surface, we found that these are just as difficult to solder. These connectors come with Traxxas RTR vehicles and are generally better than the deans in terms of quality. Buy them if you want them as a prefect replacement for your Traxxas ground vehicles. They are expensive connectors so you may also wish to swap them off for something else like the EC3s or XTXs.
HXT (most commonly come in 3.5 and 4mm)
The HXT connectors are essentially bullet connectors with a housing. Easy to solder and to work with but be careful because there is only type of housing that you can use with both the source (battery) and the device (your craft), unlike other bullet connectors like the EC3 and XTXs. Since this is possible, you may think you can connect two batteries in series but DO NOT DO THIS!
Wires and connector size for overall use
So how do you pick a wire and connector to connect to your battery wires and connector? Generally speaking, you want less wire and a smaller connector size to minimize the weight of your craft. You do not have to follow the wire thickness of your LiPo battery pack. The better you optimize this, the better the performance will be. It’ll also cost less. Remember: thicker wires and bigger connectors are pricier than their thinner/smaller counterparts. Optimize on the wire thickness when you can.
But that’s not enough to consider because on the other hand, the thinner the wire is, the smaller the connector you can attach to it, less current can pass through it. This is not ideal if you are using a large quadcopter for example, that handles a 4S to a 6S battery. You’ll need larger wires, and therefore bigger connectors to go with it.
A word of caution: If the amp draw is less than what the motors and ESCs require, then this can cause damage to them permanently. So, if you are unsure of the size of the wire you need, then you should go with the larger wire. A good rule of thumb is to follow the wire size of the ESCs because the wires attached to them are typically the size that allows for the correct amount of current draw.
- Never cut both wires together at the same time, unless you want to cause a spark and destroy your battery.
- Before soldering a wire to a connector, make sure you insert the heat shrinks/insulators and get it ready for post soldering
- Make sure you insulate the connections after connecting. Failing to do so increases the chances of an electrical short circuit 10x. Heat it up with a lighter so it stays firm.
- When soldering wire guages, especially thick ones, do not simply place the ends of the wires next to each other, solder them and expect the connection to be solid. Instead, push the ends to each other so that the strands of both of the ends are inside of each other (some of the strands may pop out). Use a thin wire strand and wrap it around the joint. Solder this joint after for a strong, connection!
The following products saved us a lot of headache and time so it may help to check if these can solve your particular problems before soldering and working on stuff on your own:
Intelligent Cell Meter
Universal 2.0 Plug (XT60/Deans/EC3)
Aluminium Universal Soldering Insulate Station for XT60, XT90 and Deans
XT60 Two Batteries with XT90 Connectors in Series
Converting to XT60 on a LiPo
Making XT60s easier to unplug
That’s all for now! Let us know if you have any questions or suggestions that you think we have overlooked either down in the comments below or via the contact form and we will be sure to respond!