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What Size Electric Motor Do I Need for My RC Plane?

Radio-controlled (RC) flying is growing rapidly, and enthusiasts are now able to choose from a wide variety of aircraft that are suited to their preferences and ability levels. The electric motor that drives an RC plane is one critical element that can have a significant impact on its capabilities and performance. Many are switching from traditional Brushed DC Motors to more advanced versions to enhance the plane’s efficiency.

The electric motor is what propels the soaring aerobatics and heart-pounding speeds that grab the intrigue of RC pilots, much like the beating heart of these little marvels. In fact, these motors’ transition from the traditional DC Motors to the ones we use today has been fascinating.

Understanding the crucial factors that determine motor selection might mean the difference between a smooth takeoff and a bumpy crash landing, whether you’re an experienced or beginner RC pilot.

Read on as I clarify the main ideas when it comes to selecting the best electric motor size for your RC plane in this guide. We’ll talk about the difficulties of motor selection, from decoding the technical language to examining the crucial interaction between power, weight, and propeller dynamics.

Maybe you want to upgrade your aircraft or make a new one from scratch, What I’ll teach you will help you appropriately choose the best electric motor for your plane. 

Electric Motor

Factors You Should Consider Before Choosing a Motor Size

Selecting the right electric motor size for your RC plane is like finding the perfect engine for a car–it’s all about getting the right power for the job. But, just like you wouldn’t put a racecar engine in a delivery van, you need to consider a few things before picking a motor for your plane.

Aircraft Type and Purpose:

Different planes are good at different things. Some are built for speed, like race cars in the sky. Others are like acrobats, doing flips and spins. 

And then there are the chill planes, made for relaxing flights. The kind of plane you have determines what motor it needs. A super-fast motor might not be great for acrobatics, and a gentle motor won’t give you the excitement of speed.

Weight of the Aircraft

Heavier planes need stronger motors to accommodate their weight, lift them off the ground, and keep them flying. But if you put a super strong motor on a light plane, it’s like using a rocket to push a bicycle, a bit too much.

Desired Performance

What stunts do you want your plane to do? Do you want it to zoom around or do multiple flips? The motor’s power affects how your plane performs these tricks. Too much power might make it hard to control, while too little might make it boring.

Flight Duration

How long do you want your plane to fly before it needs a nap (recharge)? Some motors use a lot of energy for quick bursts of action, while others are like marathon runners, conserving energy for longer flights. Picking the right motor helps you decide how long your plane stays in the air.

Propeller Selection

If it’s too big or too small, your motor has to work too hard or doesn’t work efficiently. So, matching the propeller with the motor is just as important, we’ll talk more about propellers later. 

Budget Considerations

Money is a real thing, even in the RC world. Sometimes, the fanciest motor might be too pricey. But some motors give a good balance between cost and performance. It’s like choosing between a sports car and a reliable Sedan – you want something that’s great but doesn’t break the bank.

Electric Motor

Calculating Power-to-Weight Ratio for Optimal Performance

Let’s uncover a secret code that helps your RC plane take flight like a champ; it’s called the power-to-weight ratio. This ratio is more like a formula that determines how well your plane climbs, dives, and performs its tricks.

On one side, you have your plane’s power, and on the other, its weight. The goal is to find the perfect balance. If the power side is too heavy, your plane shoots up into the sky like a rocket but might be tough to control. If the weight side is too heavy, your plane struggles to take off and do exciting maneuvers.

Let’s put it in more context, shall we? You’re running a race. If you have super-strong legs, you can run fast. Your plane is the same, a more powerful motor lets it fly faster and do crazy tricks. But just like how you wouldn’t sprint for hours, your motor needs to manage its energy too.

A powerful motor that conserves energy can keep your plane in the air longer.Still, on the analogies, think about carrying a backpack. A heavy backpack slows you down, right? Your plane’s weight affects its performance similarly. A lighter plane needs less power to get off the ground and stay nimble.

But if your plane is too heavy, even a strong motor might struggle to make it fly like a bird.Now here’s the sweet spot, calculating the code. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a math wizard. The only parameters you need are your motor’s horsepower and your plane’s weight. 

The power is usually measured in watts (like a lightbulb), and the weight is in grams or ounces. Divide the power by the weight, and you get your power-to-weight ratio. The higher the number, the more exciting your plane’s performance.

Once you know your plane’s ideal ratio, you can pick a motor that matches it. This helps your plane take off smoothly, do tricks with ease, and land like a feather.Now let’s talk about propellers. 

Propeller Selection and Its Impact on Motor Sizing

Just like you wouldn’t put giant wings on a small bird, you need to pick the right propeller size for your plane. Let’s delve into the world of spinning blades and see how propellers work their magic in harmony with your motor.

● A propeller looks and moves like a fan, but it moves the air to push the plane forward. The propeller’s shape, size, and angle determine how much air it moves and how fast your plane goes.

● The motor creates the power, and the propeller transforms it into thrust to move your plane. If they’re not a good match, your plane won’t move like you want it to.

● Your plane needs the right propeller size to work well with the motor. A bigger propeller moves more air, which is great for bigger planes. Smaller propellers are better for smaller planes.

● The angle of your propeller’s blades–also called the pitch–also matters. A higher pitch moves more air but needs a strong motor. A lower pitch is easier on the motor but might not give you as much speed.

● The propeller’s job is to push the plane forward, but it needs to do it efficiently. If the propeller is too big, it might need too much power to turn. If it’s too small, it won’t move enough air to get your plane going.

● Wrapping up, the motor’s power, the plane’s weight, and the propeller’s size and pitch need to work together for a smooth flight. A mismatch can make your plane wobble, struggle, or not perform its best moves.


Battery Compatibility and Voltage Considerations

Your RC plane needs a battery to power its motor, just like your remote needs batteries to work. But not all batteries are the same, and the voltage they provide matters. 

● The battery stores energy for your plane. A bigger battery means more energy and longer flights.

● Voltage is like the power level setting on your remote. Too much voltage can be a problem for your motor, and too little won’t make your plane fly.

● Batteries come in different types, each with strengths and weaknesses. Pick one that fits how you want your plane to perform.

● Make sure the battery’s voltage matches what your motor needs. This ensures your motor runs well and your plane takes off smoothly.

● Batteries can be tricky. Follow the rules for charging and using them safely.

Choosing the right battery and voltage keeps everything running smoothly and makes your flights fun. So, remember, the battery is your plane’s energy source, and the right voltage is like the right amount of power to make your plane soar.

Final Thoughts

As you prepare to launch your RC plane into the sky, at least now you understand the rudiments of motor sizing, Remember that your motor choice is like the heart of your aircraft. It powers your adventures and defines your experience.

By understanding the intricacies of motor sizing, you’re setting yourself up for successful flights, exciting maneuvers, and hours of joyful flying.Of course, there’s much more to choosing a RC plane, for a more informed motor sizing decision, check out this video.Maybe you also want to know How Do I Choose a Brushless Motor?

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