Nitro VS Electric RC Cars
When it comes to RC cars, there are 2 main types: Nitro and Electric. One is powered by a special liquid fuel, and the other one is powered by an external rechargeable battery. And if you are just getting into RC cars, you might wonder which one is best for you. That’s why I made this article. In this piece, I extensively talk about both types of RC cars so that you can have an idea of whether you should get a nitro or an electric RC.
And as you probably know already, both types of cars have their pros and cons. Electric cars tend to be a little bit more popular, especially among those just getting into this hobby. They are also a little bit cheaper on the long run, especially if you get the right model, but considering that they can get so complicated because of battery considerations, nitro cars tend to be a little bit easier to use. Anyways, to know more about the pros and cons of both RC car types, check below.
Pros Of Nitro RC Cars
Nitro cars, as the name implies, use nitromethane fuel as the primary fuel source. Contrary to popular opinion, nitro cars are very user-friendly, but many people are intimidated by them because they think they are much more complicated than what they really are. Maybe it’s because of the starter kit needed to make them run or something.
Anyways, the only thing needed to run a nitro car is a cross wrench, glow plug igniter, and the glow plug itself of course. The carb should be properly tuned (factory settings are going to be fine for 99% of people) After you have everything, simply unscrew the glow plug from the RC car, put the plug in the igniter and check if the glow plug is bright enough (the brighter the better) After this, simply screw the glow plug back inside with the wrench. You should be good to go after this.
The next step is to actually start the car. If you didn’t know, nitro cars are started with a pull start method. Simply add nitro fuel, insert the igniter onto the glow plug opening, and yank the starter a few times. The car should spring to life.
Aside from this process, there isn’t much more to nitro cars. You only need to do some maintenance on them once in a while so that they last as long as possible. There are a lot of things to keep in mind with electric models though. For example, you need to take care of the battery, which are notoriously fragile and easy to damage, especially LiPos, which can easily catch fire and stop working correctly if charged improperly.
Nitro cars also have the added benefit of providing more performance for the price. Even the entry level nitro cars available tend to be more powerful than an equivalent electric car. And if you are looking for an instant power boost, there’s always the choice of using nitro fuel with a higher % of nitro inside, something that you can’t do on an electric car without buying a new battery.
Cons Of Nitro RC Cars
When it comes to the cons of a nitro car, one of the main ones is the fact that they can be more expensive to own than an electric car. This is primarily because of the nitro fuel. A quart of decent 20% nitro fuel can be over 25 bucks, and you could easily buy 3 or more quarts a month if you tend to ride often like me. If you buy 2 quarts monthly for 6 months, we are talking about 300 dollars on just nitro fuel over 6 months, quite expensive if you ask me.
Because of this fact, electric cars tend to be cheaper to run over the long term. This is only true however if you can avoid replacing batteries. If you manage to stay with just 1 battery, then you are going to save a lot of money, but if you can’t maintain them, you are going to spend a lot of money replacing them
Another con of using nitro cars is the fact that they tend to be kinda noisy and loud. This is just a personal opinion of mine, but I can get irritated with the sound that my nitro models make. It’s an obnoxious buzzing sound that really gets to me, and since it seems that I can’t really silence it, I have kinda learned to accept it. Anyways, in short, your neighbors won’t appreciate your new nitro car, especially on early Saturday mornings!
Pros Of Electric RC Cars
There are a lot of good things to talk about electric cars, and one of them is the fact that they can achieve higher speeds than nitros if you strap a decent battery onto one. If you want the fastest cars available on the market and are willing to spend more money than usual to get one, then electric RC cars are the best choice.
This is especially true if you get a brushless RC car. As you probably already know, electric models can either have a brushed or brushless motor inside, and the brushless is the one that you want. Not only are they faster, but they will also last longer and be more reliable overall.
Replacing a brushed motor for a brushless one is also a possible mod, so if you already have a brushed model, there’s always the chance of eventually doing the mod when you wish to make your RC car more powerful.
One of the other benefits of electric cars is the fact that most of them are waterproof. Decades ago, a waterproof RC car was a feature that could only be found in the most expensive and advanced models, but this isn’t the case anymore. All brushed motors on a manufacturers lineup are waterproof, and most brushless motors are too. This is perfect if you want to ride on rainy or wet conditions without damaging your car. There are even some electric RC cars that can even ride underwater!
And last but not least, electric cars are cheaper to run over the long term. As I said above, if you get a nitro car, then you are going to have to regularly buy nitro fuel when you run out, which might be real expensive, especially over longer periods of time. As long as you treat the battery right and don’t damage it, you are going to spend much less money on an electric car.
Cons Of Electric RC Cars
One of the cons of electric RC cars is the fact that entry-level models tend to be quite crappy in my opinion. Anything under $250 is probably going to use a brushed motor, which is the motor that you don’t want in your car. Brushed motors tend to provide less power, they are more prone to malfunctions, and they generally tend to last less than brushless motors.
Most entry-level electric cars start between 150-200 dollars, and I personally wouldn’t pay that. It’s just that those entry level models do not provide much power for what you are paying for. A nitro car on that price range is going to be significantly faster and more fun.
There are a few cons associated with fast electric models. The first one is the fact that it’s going to be quite costly to get something decent.
A proper brushless buggy with a LiPo battery could be over $400 dollars, which might be way too much dough for somebody on a budget. You get what you pay for though, electric RC cars are a blast to drive, especially on indoor tracks.
How About Gas Powered RC Cars?
If you didn’t know, nitro fuel and electricity aren’t the only ways to power an RC car. There are also RC cars that will use gasoline as a fuel source. These cars tend to be much bigger (usually ⅕ scale) than normal, and they have their own pros and cons.
I even made a comprehensive article about them where I compare them to nitro cars. If you are interested in that article, please click here, but to summarize it, consider gas powered RC cars as high-end versions of nitro cars. They are faster, more expensive to initially purchase, and more durable. They are a great choice for experienced RC car enthusiasts who want to start using gas because it’s much cheaper than nitro in the long run.