There are numerous differences between Nitro RC cars and Electric RC cars. It can be difficult for a potential buyer to choose between the two types as it would depend on numerous factors such as budget, time constraints, ease of use, operating costs, maintenance costs and of course, the buyer’s personal taste and requirements.
The main difference between Nitro and Electric RC cars comes down to the motor and chassis. As the name suggests, Nitro RC cars use nitromethane as a fuel and therefore have an engine that is very similar to normal cars on the road that we use to drive from to locations. Whereas, Electric RC cars run on power generated by batteries (such as LiPo batteries).
Electric RC Cars and types of motors used in them
The brushed motors are usually found in what is known as toy-grade RC cars and also on some hobby-grade RC cars. These motors have small contact brushes that allow the motor to spin which come in two variations which are (a) fixed and (b) non-fixed.
So as to not make this too technical for the reader, the essential difference between fixed and non-fixed is that the latter allows the user or driver to tune the engine up to a certain level.
Non-fixed brushed motors have an additional advantage over the brushed ones when it comes to cleaning the dust and debris that accumulates during frequent usage.
Brushed motors have certain disadvantages, in that, they create more friction and therefore, heat, which in turn affects the performance of the engine.
Whereas in the case of a Brushless motor, it can handle a higher voltage than the brushed motors. Higher the voltage it can handle the faster it can go.
Combining this with the comparatively less heat loss brushless motors are more efficient.
Due to these reasons, the brushless motor is preferred by professionals, as they create more power, allowing the vehicle to move faster than even nitro RC cars! Currently, the fastest speed clocked by an RC car is in the name of an Electric car with a brushless motor.
Differences in the parts of Nitro RC Cars and Electric RC Cars
With advancements in technology, electric controlled are, in some instances, faster, quieter and cleaner with regards to pollution than their nitro counterparts.
Unlike an electric RC car, Nitro RC Cars rely on fuel and hence have multiple elements to them such as carburetors, glow plugs, air filters, clutches, pistons, crankshafts, and flywheels. In addition to this, nitro RC Cars also have a fuel tank and exhaust system.
Because the car generates power by combustion of fuel and due to the presence of a lot of moving parts, Nitro RC cars generate a considerable amount of heat. These cars have a large heat sink to effectively dissipate heat from the engine block.
Among the few upper hands, a Nitro RC car has over an Electric RC car the prominent one is the ability of the former to disperse heat through regulating the air and fuel mixture to control engine temperature.
Generally, Nitro RC Cars are considered to be more efficient with regards to heat dissipation thanks to the head heat sink.
Differences in chassis between Nitro RC Cars and Electric RC Cars
Usually, Electric RC cars have chassis’ made out of either plastic or metal. Toy-grade electric RC cars tend to have plastic as the chassis, as it is a cheaper material and easily available while hobby-grade electric RC cars usually have their chassis made from carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber is an expensive material but also lighter and more durable than normal plastic. Therefore, professional racers of electric RC Cars tend to prefer carbon fiber chassis.
When it comes to a Nitro RC car, it has a lot of moving parts and is generally heavier than the Electric RC Cars. Apart from that Niro RC cars generate more heat than their electric counterparts and hence need a metal chassis. Chassis of Nitro & small gas-powered cars are generally made out of lightweight anodized aluminum which also helps in heat dissipation.
Starting a Nitro RC Car vs Electric RC Car
Starting a nitro RC car isn’t as easy as pressing a switch (as is the case in electric RC cars).
To start a nitro RC car, users might require additional tools as well whereas with electric RC cars it is as simple as pushing a button and the car is ready to go.
Advantages and Disadvantages (Nitro RC Cars Vs Electric RC Cars)
Some users, who have an inclination for mechanical work, enjoy Nitro RC Cars more as it allows them to tinker with the motor and tune it to go faster. Therefore, some advanced and experienced drivers also prefer these cars as it allows them to tweak the engine for performance and according to requirements.
Depending on the user, this can be seen as an advantage or not since beginners and intermediate drivers might prefer not to spend as much time on their vehicles.
Also, Electric RC Cars are usually waterproof and allow for the driver to enjoy his vehicle in different terrains and drive through snow or water puddles while Nitro RC Cars are generally not waterproof.
Further, you should keep in mind the cost and time involved in the maintenance of Nitro RC Cars which include replacing the fuel and various liquids; replacement of parts, etc.
Differences in the Sound Produced
Nitro RC Cars are also significantly louder than Electric RC Cars and may sound a lot like real racing cars with an intense sound while accelerating.
This can be seen as an advantage or disadvantage, depending on the user since Nitro RC Cars would not be suitable for quiet neighborhoods due to the loud noise while an electric RC car can be used anywhere and anytime.
Differences in the Run time
Nitro RC Cars than run on nitromethane generally provide longer run-time than electric RC cars. They also have the added advantage of being able to refuel the tank and starting again as opposed to Electric RC cars.
Electric RC cars usually run anywhere between 20 to 25 minutes before requiring another charge (which can take anywhere between 45mins to 1 hour!).
Differences in Speed
One of the main advantages of Nitro RC Cars is the experience and sound of driving a lifelike car with its speed and exhilarating acceleration while an Electric RC car might not provide the same experience.
The advancements in technology, however, have made Electric RC Cars just as competitive in terms of speed.
As an example, please take a look at the astounding 100mph Electric RC Car made by TRAXXAS called the TRAXXAS XO-1 Supercar which also has a longer runtime.
Cost of Nitro RC Car vs Electric RC Car
Although the answer isn’t as straight forward, it can generally be decided by taking into account two different types of costs:
- Purchasing cost
- Maintenance cost
Generally, the purchasing price of Nitro RC Cars is cheaper while an Electric RC car can be more expensive, especially when it has a brushless motor in addition to expenses for batteries and the cost of fuel (in the case of Nitro RC Cars).
Similarly, the maintenance cost of these two cars also varies greatly.
The difference in cost of maintenance
There is also a difference in the costs of maintaining Nitro RC Cars and Electric RC Cars.
A driver would need to keep investing in nitromethane so as to continue enjoying his radio-controlled car. With an Electric RC Car, however, once a user has a battery, they can be recharged quite a few times before needing to be replaced.
However, it should be noted that the battery may not be cheap.
Conclusion: Nitro vs Electric RC Cars
In conclusion, if you are new to RC cars of a higher grade and don’t want to spend too much time or money on the maintenance of the vehicle, it would be recommended to go for an electric RC car.
An electric RC car is essentially plug and play and has a lower maintenance cost over the long term while also being waterproof, clean and much quieter. Besides with certain upgrades in place, the vehicle can also be modified to go faster.
While Nitro RC cars would be more suitable for avid enthusiasts who would also like to work on their mechanical aspects of the vehicle while also enjoying the driving experience and sound of a Nitro RC Car.
In the end, it all comes down to you, the buyer!