Choosing and Maintaining Electric Motors for RC Airplanes

Choosing and Maintaining Electric Motors for RC Airplanes

Radio-controlled (RC) airplanes are one of the most exciting hobbies for airplane enthusiasts. RC airplanes allow people to experience the joy of flying their own miniature planes using remote controllers. These airplanes can be powered by either gasoline engines or electric motors. However, in recent years, electric motors have become increasingly popular due to their convenience, lower cost, and compatibility with smaller, indoor RC planes. Unlike gasoline engines, electric motors don’t emit toxic fumes, making them ideal for indoor use without the need for ventilation. Despite the differences, both types of motors can generate enough power to lift an RC airplane off the ground. In this article, we will discuss the types of electric motors commonly used in RC airplanes, factors to consider when choosing one, and how to maintain and care for them properly.

Types of Electric Motors for RC Airplanes

Electric motors for RC airplanes come in two main types: brushed and brushless. Each one has its unique features, benefits, and drawbacks:

  • Brushed Motors: These motors have been used in RC airplanes for a long time. They use brushes to make contact with the commutator to produce the necessary electrical signals.
  • Brushless Motors: These motors are a newer option and use electronic controllers to regulate the signals sent to the motor. Brushless motors are more efficient, faster, and more durable than their brushed counterparts.

When choosing an electric motor for your RC airplane, you must understand the differences between these motor types. Brushless motors are the more popular option due to their efficiency, but they can be more expensive than brushed motors. However, brushless motors can provide better performance, have a longer lifespan, and are easier to maintain. Some popular brands of electric motors for RC airplanes include E-flite, Scorpion, and O.S. Engines.

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What motor should I use for RC plane?

For your first RC plane, a motor with a kv rating between 850 and 1500 is ideal. Another crucial factor to consider is the size of the motor. It’s essential to avoid over-powering the plane, as it could add momentum during crashes. Lighter and slower planes are less prone to breaking than heavier, faster ones. For more information on motor selection or for quality motors, check out RC enthusiast websites or online hobby shops.

Selecting the right electric motor for your RC airplane is essential for optimal performance. Here are some critical factors to consider when choosing an electric motor for your RC airplane:

  • Motor Size: The size of the motor should be proportional to the airplane’s size and weight. A larger airplane requires a larger motor to generate more power efficiently.
  • Power Output: Power output determines the airplane’s speed and maneuverability. More robust motors generate more power, allowing the airplane to fly faster and perform acrobatic maneuvers.
  • Motor Weight: The motor’s weight is crucial, as it can significantly impact an airplane’s balance and stability. A heavier motor can cause an airplane to tilt, making it more challenging to control.
  • Battery: The battery used to power the electric motor should be compatible with the motor. Larger motors require more significant battery packs to generate more power.
  • Airplane Design: The design and aerodynamics of the airplane can also affect the motor’s performance. An efficient and sleek airplane design can make the motor work less, reducing the power required to fly the airplane.

When choosing an electric motor, ensure that you have all the relevant information on the motor’s size, weight, power output, and whether it is suitable for your airplane. Using an incompatible motor or battery can lead to reduced performance and potential damage to the airplane.

Here is a sample table for reference:

Motor Size Power Output (Watts) Motor Weight (grams) Battery Voltage (V)
2212 1000 50 11.1
2826 1200 80 14.8
3536 1800 150 22.2

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What size electric motor do I need for my RC plane?

The size of electric motor required for an RC plane depends on the type of flying you plan to do. Electric motor power is measured in watts, and 750 watts equals one horsepower. For sport flying, use an estimate of 100 watts per pound of weight; for aggressive aerobatics, use 150 watts per pound; and for 3D flying, use 200 watts per pound. Websites like HobbyKing, Tower Hobbies, and Horizon Hobby offer a wide range of electric motors suitable for various RC planes.

Electric motors are crucial components in RC airplanes as they power the planes and provide necessary thrust. Proper maintenance and care are essential in ensuring that your electric motors operate efficiently and last longer.

Here are some tips to maintain and care for electric motors in RC airplanes:

Clean Regularly: Keep the motor clean, free of dirt and debris. Accumulated grime can interfere with the motor’s performance and cooling.
Check Bearings and Gears: Regularly inspect the bearings and gears for signs of wear and tear. Broken bearings and shattered gears can lead to motor failure.
Lubricate: Regular lubrication of the motor bearings and gears reduces friction and increases the life of the motor.
Avoid Overheating: Overheating can cause permanent damage to the motor components. Avoid using the motor at high temperatures for extended periods.
Store Properly: Proper storage can prevent moisture from rusting the motor components. Store the motor in a dry, cool, and well-ventilated area.

It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance and care of your electric motor. Additional protection and maintenance materials that are widely available in hobby shops can be used to protect and prolong the life of these motors. Consider using them for extra care on your motor.

Overall, with proper care and maintenance, your electric motors in RC airplanes can last longer and provide the necessary thrust for your flights. Don’t forget to check out the links to recommended products and websites for more information.

How do you inspect and maintain an electric motor?

To inspect and maintain an electric motor, there are several steps you should follow. First, perform visual inspections to identify any obvious issues or damages. Second, check the brushes and commutator to ensure they’re properly aligned and in good condition. Third, conduct a motor winding test to check for any problems with the wiring. Fourth, inspect the bearings for any wear or damage. Fifth, perform vibration tests to detect any abnormal vibrations. Finally, use infrared thermography as a predictive maintenance tool and document everything for future reference. For more detailed information, you can check out websites like or which offer a range of products and services related to electric motor inspection and maintenance.


Electric motors are a critical part of modern RC airplanes, delivering power, speed, and maneuverability. As the popularity of RC airplanes increases, electric motors have become an essential component for hobbyists. Understanding the types of electric motors, factors to consider when choosing one, and proper maintenance and care will help ensure your motor performs at its best and lasts longer. The right motor, combined with proper care, can enhance the experience of flying an RC airplane.

If you’re in the market for an electric motor for your RC airplane, there are plenty of options to choose from. Several websites offer a wide range of motors with different specifications, sizes, and costs. Before making a purchase, always check the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure the motor is compatible with your airplane. It is also essential to read customer reviews and check for warranty information to ensure you get the best value for your money.

In conclusion, RC airplanes offer an enjoyable hobby for enthusiasts of all ages. Ensuring that electric motors are well maintained, properly cared for, and appropriately sized can enhance the experience of flying these miniaturized airplanes to the fullest.