Electric Helicopters currently make up the largest growth segment in the RC copter sector at the moment. If you’ve never tried this hobby before, you honestly don’t know what your missing- it’s a barrels of fun and surprisingly, with the advent of electronic RC helicopters, it can be both light or serious hobby, depending on what you’re looking for. The reason this version of RC helicopters seen such phenomenal growth can be attributed to improved motors, batteries and micro electronic technology that was found in the industry until recently.
What is hard not to love about these electric versions is the noise generated by these machines The electric motor is almost silent and lets you actually hear blades stomping the air down.
If you’ve ever flown an RC chopper that uses nitro, you know the mess that it can make, the headaches that the engine starting can give you, the heavy vibrations, stupid starters and glow drivers…. and not to mention the shipping costs for the fuel. Unfortunately, shipping for the LiPo battery is also slowly becoming a pain in the butt; yet it’s still a whole heck of lot less of a headache than getting nitro.
This is a big moment in the RC helicopter hobby- the copters continue to improve more and more. In fact, flight times are the same if not more than their counterparts that run on gas and/or nitro. Nowadays, you even see large models kicking out 15-20 minutes of flight time on their batteries (!).
What’s more, thanks to electronic varieties, there are many more designs (which wouldn’t fly if run on nitro or gas) thanks to electronic versions. To say the future looks bright for electric RC aircraft is an understatement.
Bottom line, Electric RC helicopters are simply both more convenient and more reliable in most cases.
Size isn’t everything (?)
Now with electric varieties in the mix, the various available sizes of RC copters keeps expanding more and more.
At the bottom of the size range, you have models such as E-flite’s Blade’s McX2, whose rotor diameter is a hair over 7”.
At the other end of the spectrum, you can find large RC model helicopters such as Bergen’s e-Obeserver which as a diameter just under 70” and weighs in at 20lbs. This commercial model is used for professional filming and now proves just how far electric RC choppers have come and just how much they now rival their nitro and gas brethren.
Arguably, the most popular size for hobby grade choppers at the moment (singl blade) would be the 400 class/ size models (approximately 70cm in diameter). They are perfect as they are big enough for training yet small so that purchasing/re-fueling/repairing.
The overall design of an electric hobby chopper more or less the same as its gas or nitro cousins- in fact, there is no difference with the construction or controls of the chopper. The crazy thing is, many manufacturers actually offer the same models in all three varieties (electric, gas and nitro).
So how have electric RC helicopters made the job to catch up to their cousins? Let’s look at the three points that explain how:
- Powerful batteries (Lithium-Polymer (LiPo)
- Powerful DC Motors
- High Output Speed Controllers
If electric RC helicopters could not count on these three characteristics, they would still all be small and perform poorly.
But isn’t flying electric a lot more expensive than nitro?
That might have been the case a few years back when the batteries were ridiculously expensive, yet this is simply no longer true.
Flying an electric model chopper can be costly if you are flying back to back flights before re-charging, since you will need more than one battery pack on a larger chopper (if you choose to purchase a larger one- and once you become an experienced pilot, you will). The good news is that you will never buy fuel, be it nitro or gas (and nitro can hurt your wallet quite a bit).
Obviously, smaller electric choppers do not require such expensive batteries and can fly perfectly fine with just one battery.
Electronic hobby choppers are effective because they offer a compromise between power, size, flight times and performance. What’s more, with time these compromises will certainly disappear. One incredible phenomenon that is occurring is that almost all nitro pilots that give electronic birds a shot….have switched over 100% to electronic choppers! That right there pretty much sums up the argument- and the proof is in the pudding.
There are still many positives to purchasing a gas-powered or nitro-fueled RC helicopter; however, the reality is that electric RC birds have finally cut up and are in fact on the brink of over-taking their older brethren.
If you want a good balance of quality flight time, performance, power and size at an affordable price, then electronic is certainly the way to go.