RC Car Electric Vs Nitro

nitro buggyWhen you are looking to buy an RC car or truck, one thing you want to consider is how your car will be powered.

This is a debate that RC enthusiasts have argued for years and will probably continue to argue till the end of time. Personally, I tend to favor electric motors just for the ease of use, but I like both.

This is an important thing to consider when buying a car to make sure you get something you will enjoy using, and make sure that your new toy doesn’t become an expensive shelf ornament. Lets look at some of the key differences between nitro and electric cars.

  • Speed – Nitro cars as whole are seen as being faster than electric ones, but that can be deceptive. Newer brushless electric motors paired with newer LiPo battery packs can match or surpass the performance of nitro motors. These types of electric setups are usually somewhat more expensive than your basic electric model however.
  • Play time – A nitro car will last about twenty minutes or so on a tank of fuel, while an average electric battery pack will last about twelve to fifteen minutes or so before it needs charged. The nitro car can be immediately refueled and go roaring around again. The electric car will need to be recharged (an hour or more depending on your charger) or have multiple battery packs to swap out when they die.
  • Maintenance – Nitro cars require tuning and setup to get them running right, and require ongoing engine tuning and maintenance through the life of the engine. Electric cars are literally plug-and-play. The only maintenance you might need is changing the brushes on a brushed motor (wouldn’t be an issue on the brushless motors). If you are unsure about being able to work on your car, you might want to stay away from nitro powered vehicles, especially the more advanced ones.
  • Noise/smell – Nitro cars are very loud and give off a lot of smoke and fumes. These basically limit nitro powered vehicles to outdoor use only. If you want to use your vehicle indoors, you want an electric motor, they are quiet and have no smell. You also should consider your neighbors if you are thinking of getting a nitro car or truck.
  • Best for beginners – Electric motors are better for beginners, especially kids. This is because when you are learning to drive and handle your RC vehicle, you probably don’t want to be worrying about how to tune and maintain it as well.

Here are two pretty good videos of kid comparing the pros and cons of electric and nitro RC cars. First, the electrics…

…and now the nitros…

Basically, it comes down to what ever you prefer and what best fits your needs. Check out reviews on cars you are interested in, consider the pros and cons of each type of motor, and you will be well on your way to ensuring that you get the right car or truck for you.