Gas/Nitro Flight VS. Electric Flight 101

by t.korb | July 25, 2012 | (13) Posted in Tips


    In todays world of R/C flight there are many different choices we as pilot can choose from; ranging from the type of aircraft we desire to fly to the type of power source one ops for. This brings me to a compartive analysis I decided to write-up for people to review and hopefully educate the novice pilots and help make chosing a power source more easy. :) ENJOY :)





                                                 Gas/Nitro Power

    *Often more experienced pilots use gas, due to tuning carb

    *Can’t easily move a fuel tank around to adjust CG like you can with a lipo

    *Gallon a Gas/Nitro fuel can run you $20-$35 dollars per gallon (comparable to a 1800-2200 3s or 4s)

    *Fuel can be used to power any type of aircraft (unlike lipo as to where a specific battery voltage is needed-depending on your needs and type of motor)

    *Nitro fuel is less affected by temperature changes

    *Need starter often to start gas aircraft (or risk injury to hands-know from personal experience)

    *Fuel tanks often weigh more than lipos-comparatively speaking

    *Seems to me the average pilot is switching to electric-just seems easier

    *Gas engines need some kind method to create spark-i.e glow plug, spark plus etc

    *Gas aircraft are often more expensive compared to electric setups

    *Gas/Nitro aircraft are oily (wipe off that fuel..yuck)

    *Gas/Nitro aircraft are louder-but sound so cool  :)

    *Throttle end-points need to be adjusted correctly for correct fuel cutoff

    *Gas/Nitro aircraft need more field equipment  to get the aircraft airworthy

    *Gas/Nitro aircraft need external power source to power Rx

    *Gallon of gas doesn’t last as long as a lipo

    *Gas/Nitro aircraft can go back up in the air after refueling (compared to recharging a lipo for a hour or so)

    *Gas/Nitro engine setups can be more complex from turbo-chargers to mini radial engines

    *Gas/Nitro engines are often used and look more realistic with scale-type aircraft builds

    *Gas/Nitro motors power are categorized in either cui or cc

    *Gas tank size directly affects flight time (oz.)


Electric Power 

    *Electric aircraft often cost less to operate-great for a beginner

    *Lipos are more accessible online to purchase compared to Nitro fuel

    *Electric aircraft require a ESC to operate- unlike Nitro-based aircraft

    *ESCs often can be a pain in the buttox to program (especially if it’s a off-brand ESC and no programming manual or program card is avaliable.

    *The aircraft’s COG can be adjusted easily by moving the lipo battery within the aircraft’s fuselage, to achieve your desiredflight characteristics

    *Lipos need to be charged & balanced  before flight-unlike Nitro-based aircraft where all one needs is more fuel

    *Lipos can be more dangerous to use/handle-Use a lipo bag and don’t leave it unattended if charging

    *Temperature change affects the aircraft’s performancemore dramatically than in a Nitro-based aircraft

    *Depending on the power setup-batteries can be cheaper compared to a gallon of Nitro fuel

    *Can use various lipos in series or parallel setup to achieve longer flight times or more power-unlike with Nitro aircraft where a bigger fuel tank or a bigger engine is needed  respectively

    *Electric flight is 100 percent more quiet

    *Electric flight is more environmentally friendly

    *Electric aircraft’s power band directly affected by the amount of voltage left-compared to Nitro-based aircraft (long as there is fuel left youwill get full power)  

    *The understanding of basic electrical theories  is useful knowledge when setting up more complex installs

    *Electric motor power is measured in watts

    *Battery size directly affects flight time (mah)

    *Lipo batteries often have different type ofcharging plugs and power adapters (one need to make sure they plugs match upcorrectly) i.e EC3, JST, etc.

 This write up is by no means set in stone, and I am in no means a expert-I consider myself moderatly experiecned in the R/C hobby. Hope you all enjoy. Feel free to comment or add any information you feel I missed, also I tried my best to "dummy-down" this article-hince why some of the comparisions are kinda wordy.





t.korb on July 29, 2012
Thanks for the awsome comments guys-and Yes hans I tried being neutral and evenly bias within my list, but I think the electric in me showed. :0

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hans on July 29, 2012
Good list. Neutral also! I started with Nitro simply because electric was heavier that time. Today I fly electric for the same reason (the other way around that is).

I think for many people the ease of use and how clean electric is is the main reason. Sure to start with.
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Jeriah on July 26, 2012
awesome info!!!!! thanks a lot!
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PeterGregory on June 14, 2015
This is a good list. I build and fly both fuel and electric. After creating a similar list I stopped trying to figure out if one or the other had conclusive superior benefits - coming to the conclusion they are about equal.
All things considered, the safety of lipos is the major detracting factor of electrics, and the cleaning of the fuel plane after flight (especially with fuel containing castor oil) is the major detractor of fuel airplanes - in my book.
Fuel doesn't spontaneously combust like lipos can. Electric planes don't gradually saturated with fuel and oil.
I have glow, diesel, and gasoline model engines - on top of the electric systems of the electrics.

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Gas/Nitro Flight VS. Electric Flight 101