RC Engines: A Beginner's Guide

RC Engines: A Beginner’s Guide

Remote control vehicles, also known simply as RC vehicles, have become increasingly popular among hobbyists and enthusiasts of all ages. These miniature vehicles are controlled from a distance using handheld devices that transmit signals to the RC vehicles, allowing them to move forward or backward, turn left or right, and even perform stunts. However, what most people don’t know is that the heart of these amazing machines lies in their engines, which power the tiny vehicles to perform incredible feats. Understanding the basics of RC engines is essential for anyone who wants to maximize their fun and enjoyment in this time-honored hobby. In this article, we will discuss the fundamental concepts and components of RC engines, including the different types of engines available and their respective strengths and weaknesses. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced enthusiast, this guide will provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about which RC engine will best suit your needs. So let’s dive into the fascinating world of RC engines and explore what makes these vehicles tick.

Types of RC Engines:

RC engines are classified into three main types: electric, nitro, and gas-powered. Here’s a brief overview of each type:

Electric RC Engines:

  • Powered by rechargeable batteries
  • Simpler design and fewer components than other engine types
  • Quieter operation
  • Low maintenance
  • Quick acceleration
  • Often used for indoor applications
  • Limited battery life

Nitro RC Engines:

  • Internal combustion system using a nitromethane and methanol mixture
  • Slightly more complex than electric engines, requiring more maintenance and tuning
  • Excellent speed and acceleration capabilities
  • Longer run times than electric engines due to the fuel tank
  • Noisier than electric engines
  • May be more challenging to start

Gas-Powered RC Engines:

  • Similar to lawnmower or chainsaw engines
  • Powered by gas and oil
  • Heavier and larger than other engine types
  • Exceptional power for driving larger models
  • Longer run time than nitro engines
  • Require more maintenance and tuning than nitro engines

RC enthusiasts can find a wide variety of RC engines online through websites such as Tower Hobbies, AMain Hobbies, and RC Planet. These sites offer a broad selection of engines from popular manufacturers such as Traxxas, HPI Racing, and Dynamite.

What is the difference between gas and glow RC engines?

Gas and glow RC engines are the two types of internal combustion engines used in remote-controlled aircraft. The main differences between them are:

  • Fuel: Gas engines use gasoline (petrol) while glow engines run on a methanol/nitromethane mixture.
  • Starting: Gas engines typically start with a pull cord or an electric starter, whereas glow engines require an external power source, such as a battery or a starter box.
  • Power: Gas engines have more raw power and are better suited for larger planes, while glow engines are better for smaller planes and precision maneuvering.
  • Maintenance: Gas engines require more maintenance due to their higher power output and the use of gasoline. Glow engines require less maintenance, but the glow plug needs to be replaced regularly.

If you’re interested in RC engines, websites such as Hobbyking and Tower Hobbies offer a wide selection of gas and glow engines to choose from.

Electric RC Engines:

Electric RC engines are a popular choice for hobbyists due to their simplicity and low maintenance. Here are some additional facts about electric RC engines:

The Components of an Electric RC Engine:

Component Description
Battery Power source for the engine
Motor Converts electrical energy into mechanical energy
Electronic speed controller (ESC) Limits the amount of power delivered to the motor
Receiver Receives signals from the remote control transmitter and sends them to the ESC

The Advantages of Electric RC Engines:

  • No need to purchase fuel or tuning equipment
  • Quieter operation than nitro and gas engines
  • Can be used indoors due to their low noise and zero emissions
  • Quick acceleration and high torque
  • Long-lasting batteries for extended run time
  • Less maintenance required than nitro and gas engines

If you’re interested in purchasing an electric RC engine, turn to trusted websites such as Amazon, Horizon Hobby, and Hobbytron for a variety of options from well-known brands like Traxxas and Axial. Did you know that electric RC engines were first introduced in 1963 by the Cox company as a way to power their model airplanes? Today, they are used to power everything from cars to boats to helicopters in the world of remote control vehicles.

What are the pros of electric powered RC planes?

Electric powered RC planes have become increasingly popular compared to their gas-powered counterparts. Here are some of the pros of electric powered RC planes:

  • Electric planes are quieter than gas planes, making them more acceptable in residential areas with noise restrictions.
  • They are more eco-friendly, producing no exhaust fumes or emissions.
  • They don’t require fuel or oil, making them more cost-effective in the long run.
  • Electric motors operate at a much higher efficiency level than gas engines, resulting in longer flight times and better overall performance.
  • They require less maintenance and are easier to start and run than gas planes.

If you’re looking to purchase an electric RC plane, you can check out websites like Horizon Hobby, Tower Hobbies, or Motion RC for a variety of options.

Nitro RC Engines:

Nitro RC engines are known for their power and speed, making them popular among hobbyists who want a thrilling remote control vehicle experience. Here’s what you should know about nitro engines:

The Components of a Nitro RC Engine:

Component Description
Engine block Houses the reciprocating pistons
Crankshaft Converts reciprocal motion to rotary motion
Carburetor Mixes fuel and air in the right proportions
Glow plug Ignites the fuel/air mixture in the engine
Fuel tank Stores the nitro fuel, usually a mixture of methanol, nitromethane, and oil

The Advantages of Nitro RC Engines:

  • More powerful than electric engines
  • Provide better acceleration and top speed than electric engines
  • Longer run time than electric engines due to larger fuel tank
  • Unique sound and smell due to the nitro fuel
  • Can be tuned and modified for enhanced performance

When purchasing nitro RC engines, look to trusted brands such as OS Engines, HPI Racing, and Dynamite. Online hobby shops such as Tower Hobbies and AMain Hobbies also offer a wide range of nitro engines for all types of remote-controlled vehicles. Did you know that nitro RC engines were developed in the 1940s as a way to improve internal combustion engines for aviation purposes? Today, they continue to be a popular choice for hobbyists seeking the thrill of speed and power in their remote control vehicles.

Why do RC cars use nitro?

Some of the main reasons why RC cars use nitro fuel include:

  • Nitro fuel provides more power than electric batteries
  • Nitro engines create a realistic engine sound and smell
  • Nitro engines offer more tuning options for hobbyists
  • Nitro fuel has a longer run time than electric batteries

Overall, nitro fuel offers a unique and exciting experience for RC car enthusiasts. However, it’s important to note that nitro engines require more maintenance and care compared to electric RC cars. If you’re interested in purchasing an RC car that uses nitro fuel, be sure to research and follow proper safety precautions.

If you’re looking to purchase an RC car or need more information about the hobby, check out websites like RCPlanet.com or HorizonHobby.com.

Choosing the Right RC Engine for You:

When it comes to selecting the right RC engine for your vehicle, there are a few key factors to consider. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Your Experience Level:

If you’re new to the hobby or don’t have much experience with engines, electric RC engines may be a good starting point. They’re easy to use, require minimal maintenance, and are quieter than other types of engines. Intermediate and advanced hobbyists may prefer nitro or gas-powered engines for their speed and performance capabilities.

Your Vehicle Type:

The type of vehicle you’re operating also plays a role in selecting an engine. For example, a small and lightweight vehicle may not require a gas-powered engine, as the additional power may make it difficult to maintain control. Similarly, an electric engine may not provide the same level of performance as a nitro or gas-powered engine when operating a larger or more complex vehicle.

Your Budget:

While it’s tempting to go for the most powerful and advanced engine available, it’s important to consider your budget when making a decision. Electric engines are generally the most affordable, while nitro and gas-powered engines can be significantly more expensive. Ensure that you weigh the costs and benefits of various engine types before making a purchase.


No matter what type of remote control vehicle you own, understanding the basics of RC engines can enhance your enjoyment and help you get the best performance out of your vehicle. Whether you go for electric, nitro, or gas-powered engines, take the time to learn about their components, advantages, and limitations. Keeping these factors in mind, choose an engine that suits your experience level, vehicle type, and budget. By doing so, you’ll be able to get the most out of your remote-controlled vehicle hobby.