Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Airsoft FAQ’s: Airsoft Batteries

All airsoft electric guns (AEG’s) are battery operated. The performance of an AEG is heavily dependent on the quality of its battery, and the type of battery used. Before we dive into what type of battery is best for your particular AEG, it is important to understand the terminology used when talking about batteries.

Battery: This is a container which holds chemicals carrying an electrical charge and is used as a power source.

Battery Pack: This is a collection of batteries wired together to increase the overall energy output/ voltage.

Voltage: Voltage is the potential energy output per unit. There are two types of voltage used to describe airsoft batteries. The first is the voltage of the individual battery cell. The second is the total voltage of the entire battery pack. (Generally the higher the Voltage number, the higher the rate of fire (speed) will be for your airsoft gun. However, higher voltage batteries can reduce the life of the airsoft gun by causing excessive wear on the gears, though many higher end airsoft guns are built to withstand this wear.)

MilliAmp Hours (Mah): MilliAmp Hours determine how long your battery will be able to power your airsoft electric gun before needing a charge. The higher this number, the longer you can use the battery without needing a charge.

Discharge: Discharging is the process of expending all energy within a battery or battery pack. This is done to maintain certain types of batteries.

Charger: A charger is used to transfer electricity into a battery.

Balancer: A balancer is a device that evenly distributes energy to all battery cells and draws energy from stronger cells into weaker cells to keep all cells balanced. These are required if charging Lithium Polymer batteries.

There are three main types of airsoft batteries: Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-Mh), Nickel Metal Cadmium (Ni-Cad), and Lithium Polymer (Li-Po).

Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-Mh) Batteries: These are the most common batteries in airsoft. They are easy to maintain and charge, and generally have a higher MilliAmp Hour rating than other batteries. They can be charged without a balancer, but a smart charger (a charger which determines if the battery has reached its energy capacity) is highly recommended. These batteries come in a variety of configurations and can be used to power any airsoft gun. It is important to note that not all Ni-Mh battery cells are the equal, it is always beneficial to purchase top grade Ni-Mh batteries to increase the life and output of your battery.

Nickel Metal Cadmium (Ni-Cad) Batteries: These batteries are generally considered obsolete because they contain very toxic chemicals and do not hold their charge for quite as long as Ni-Mh batteries. The Ni-Cad batteries also require much more maintenance because they can become useless if not fully discharged between use.

Lithium Polymer (Li-Po) Batteries: These batteries are taking the airsoft world by storm, partly because they provide very low resistance power to the airsoft gun, which increases performance, and also because they can last much longer between charges than standard Ni-Mh batteries. However, Lithium batteries do require care and safety when charging. Li-Po batteries must be charged using a balancer, because if a single cell overcharges it can quickly overheat and cause the battery to catch fire. Li-Po batteries do increase the rate of fire of most airsoft guns, however the increased speed can lead to faster wear on the airsoft gun. It is important to make sure that your airsoft gun can handle a Li-Po battery before use.

Charging: The standard wall chargers that come with airsoft guns are never an optimal way to charge your airsoft battery, and if left unsupervised, can cause harm to your battery rendering it useless. To avoid damaging you battery it is important to use a good charger. Generally a smart charger is the best choice when charging Ni-Mh batteries, because it charges the battery in less than half the time and prevents the battery from over charging.

When charging Li-Po batteries it is important that you always use a balancer charger, which reduces the risk of overcharging your battery as well as maintaining the health of the individual Li-Po cells.

It is important when considering which battery to purchase for your airsoft AEG to determine what voltage you need to power your airsoft gun, and will the battery fit in the battery compartment of your AEG. After you have chosen a battery that will suit your gameplay and your airsoft gun, make sure that you have a charger that will keep your airsoft batteries in peak condition. Ultimately, an airsoft battery is only as good as its charger.

About the Author: Mike Zhang is the President and COO of Airsoft Megastore, the #1 fastest growing Airsoft online store in the U.S. Airsoft Megastore offers a full selection of gas and electric airsoft guns, as well as batteries, high quality airsoft BB's and a variety of airsoft accessories.

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