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Understanding the Pros and Cons of Nitro vs Electric vs Brushless Electric RC

Understanding the Pros and Cons of Nitro vs Electric vs Brushless Electric RC

One of the most common questions prospective RC Hobbyist have, is should they go with a nitro gas engine or an electric motor; - and in the case of electric, should they go with a brushed or brushless electric motor product. Each of these have their pros and cons, which we will outline:

Pros and Cons of Nitro Gas powered RC Products

Pros:

  • Some RC Hobbyists really like the increased realism of the smoke and noise of a nitro gas or gas powered engine
  • A key advantage is that you can run as long as you want, by just adding fuel to the fuel tank
  • It provides opportunity to learn more mechanical skills such as engine tuning
  • Are faster than brushed motor electric vehicle and some brushless electric if the engine is well tuned
  • Are more water resistant than many electric powered vehicles

Cons:

  • Nitro gas or gas powered engine noise may disturb your neighbours, and cannot be used on some RC tracks (they are not that loud, but some neighbours can be fussy)
  • Gas powered engines take a bit more work to break-in , tune and maintain. There is an initial learning curve, but they are not difficult to operate
  • As you have to purchase fuel, they have a higher operational costs long term
  • Most nitro gas powered vehicles do not have reverse
  • Cannot be used indoors due to the fumes they generate
  • Nitro gas may be difficult to obtain if you are located far from a local RC hobby shop ( 1/5 scale vehicles often have 2 cycle engines which can use a standard gas-oil mix)

Pros and Cons of Electric Motor powered RC Products

Pros:

  • Are quiet and therefore should not disturb your neighbours
  • Are easier to operate and maintain ( better choice if you are mechanically challenged)
  • Can be used indoors and on all RC tracks
  • Reverse is standard
  • Brushless Motor powered products and provide similar or higher speeds than offered by Nitro gas powered products

Cons:

  • Run time or play time is limited to the capacity of the batteries you have. Once all your batteries are depleted your play time is over, unless you have a fast charger.  You normally want several batteries to increase your play time. The “mah” rating of the battery indicates its capacity and the higher the number, the more play time the battery will provide. For example a 2000 mah NIMH battery in a brushed motor vehicles will last 12-20 minutes depending on how you drive. A 3900 MAH LIPO battery in a brushless vehicle may last 25-40 minutes depending on how you drive.
  • Brushed motor vehicles are generally slower than Nitro gas or brushless electric products
  • Brushed motors have vent holes which makes them a bit more vulnerable to debris or water getting in the motor ( usually not a problem if you keep the body on)

Brushless Electric Technology

Brushless electric motor technology is a relatively new technology for RC hobbies , but it has gained a lot of traction due to costs becoming more afforadable, and the inherent advantages of brushless motors.

A Brushless electric motor does not have the brushes or the commutator that you find in a standard electric motor. The locations of the magnets and the windings are also reversed. The permanent magnet is placed on the rotor part and the copper windings are on the stationary part around the rotating rotor. A computerized Electronic Speed Control (ESC) is used to control the electrical fields generated by the windings which causes the rotor to turn, and also controls how much power is drawn from the battery based on how much torque and speed is needed at any point in time.

The pros and cons of brushless electric motors over brushed electric motor vehicles are the following:

Pros:

  • High Power to Weight Ratio , and Higher Speeds – Brushless motor powered vehicles are substantially faster than brushed motor vehicles. For instance our brushed motor vehicles have a top speed of 35-45 km/hr , while our brushless motor vehicles typically have a top speed of 60-100 km/hr depending on the model
  • Higher efficiency for longer battery life
  • Longer motor life
  • Reduced electrical and physical noise
  • Better heat dissipation, which allow the motors to be sealed to protect them from debris and water
  • Typically are used with LIPO batteries which provide greater power and capacity

Cons:

  • Brushless electric vehicles are significantly more expensive than brushed electric vehicles, although this is not entirely due to the brushless technology, as the brushless vehicles typically come with longer lasting LIPO batteries and some other upgraded components.
  • Brushless electric vehicles may be too fast for younger drivers ( ie 11 or under)

 

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