Electric RC Cars: A Beginners Guide


Electric RC CarsWhile there are plenty of radio controlled cars out there from a nitro powered buggy to a petrol powered monster truck none come close to electric RC cars. With it’s long list of benefits no other type of vehicle can come close and in this post I want to explain why covering everything from it’s benefits over other types of cars right through to which brands are best. So let’s begin.

Types of Electric RC Cars

Electric RC Cars come in all shapes and sizes or should I say designs. Here I want to talk through the most common four although it could be argued that there are a few others. They are buggy’s, trucks, truggy’s and replica cars.

Buggy’s

Buggy’s are my personal favourite because they come with a sleek design that is ideal for driving at high speeds over dirt tracks. Below are a few examples with thanks to Nitrotek for the pictures.

Trucks

Trucks are an equally popular type of vehicle. These are a little more like the monster trucks you see driving over crushed up station wagons while the crow cheers on. Although these RC versions are massively smaller. Check out some great looking examples below.

Replica Cars

Replica cars are my personal favourite mainly because of the Subaru models which remind me of going to watch the Brighton Bears in my brothers Subaru many years ago. They are exactly how they sound they are replicas of actual vehicles. These include a BMW, Mazda, Porsche and Lamborghini.

How do Electric RC Cars work?

How an electric RC car works is probably a question that could be an article all of its own but for the purposes of this article I will explain the general idea.

Electric RC Cars work by using a chargeable battery to power the car. A transmitter sends signals from the handheld controller to the cars receiver telling it to speed up, slow down or turn left or right. For speed the engine will be in control increasing or decreasing the speed accordingly. For turning servos in the car activate to make the wheels turn allowing the car to turn left or right.

Are Electric RC Cars are Safer?

Electric RC Cars are safer than nitro or petrol powered cars because of the way the car is powered. Chargeable batteries are easier and safer to charge. Nitro and petrol cars involve adding flammable oil and fuel. A battery gets charged in the same way as a mobile phone or electric shaver. This makes them the safest type of car.

 

Who are RC Cars good for?

Electric powered RC Cars are the one type of radio controlled car that are good for pretty much anyone. The reason they are good can change though. Let’s look at the main three categories and look at exactly why they are such a good choice.

Kids

The first remote controlled car I had was a battery powered one that I used to drive around my living room. Sure I banged into the door and skirting board more often than not but I still had fun. For most the hobby starts as a kid and so it is important to make sure that the models are safe.

This is where electric RC Cars come in. Chargeable batteries are really quite safe and are extremely easy to be charged. Compared to a nitro or petrol powered vehicle which involve filling a tank with flammable liquid the electric car is a dream – this makes it ideal for kids.

Beginners

Beginners do not need to be kids. Some beginners are adults and if they are anything like I am with technology the simpler it is the better. Electric cars with chargeable batteries are easy to charge up. They are no harder than charging a shaver or mobile phone – something we all do these days. That allows the car to be made ready to run (RTR) very quickly and very easily and that makes it ideal for beginners.

Adults

Of course while there are many great cars for kids and new adults not all electric RC cars are low spec. Many are an extremely high spec with powerful engines that can propel the car to great speeds. For more on top spec cars see the top brands section below.

Why Buy an Electric RC Car?

There are a number of reasons why someone may choose to buy an electric RC car whether they are a beginner or not. They are as follows:

  • Speed
  • Choice
  • Better than Nitro (Arguably)
  • Better than Petrol (Arguably)

Speed

Speed is without doubt one of the very top considerations. Nobody wants a car that drives slowly. Wheres the fun and excitement in that.

The world record for an RC Car is the Bullet which travelled at 202.02 mph. The bullet is an electric RC car so you could say electric RC Cars can travel upto 202.02 mph. That is an extreme case and no hobbyist could afford to by such a car.

Electric RC cars normally travel upto 70mph with some high spec models making it as high as 100mph.

Choice

Choice is an important consideration. There are more electric cars out there than Nitro and Petrol put together. Take Nitrotek as an example. They stock 78 Electric RC Cars while they only have 36 Nitro cars and 9 Petrol RC Cars. The more choice the

Better than Nitro (Arguably)

Many might argue that electric RC cars are better than nitro cars. This is of course going to depend mainly on your point of view and experience level but there is one major thing that makes electric cars better than nitro.

The Difference Between Electric and Nitro RC Cars

The main difference between electric and nitro RC cars is how they are powered. Electric RC Cars are powered by a chargeable battery while nitro cars are powered by nitro fuel. The main advantage of electric cars over nitro is that they are safer because they do not use flammable fuel. That makes them a better choice for the majority of people such as kids and beginners.

Better than Petrol (Arguably)

Much like nitro cars electric RC cars are safer and easier to use than petrol powered vehicles. As with nitro it isn’t always as simple as one is better than the other and that is that. There is more to it.

Electric vs Petrol: Which is better?

Electric RC Cars are better than petrol RC car for beginners, kids and those who are not confident with fuel. On the other hand Petrol RC Cars can offer larger models often with more power and speed.

 

How much do Electric RC Cars cost?

Electric RC Cars can cost anywhere between £10 and £3000 depending on the specification and retailer. A toy grade model can cost from £10 up to about £30 while a hobby grade radio controlled car can cost from £30 up to over £3,000.

The retailer you buy your car from will determine the price mainly because different retailers stock different types of car. Toy grade cars are very different to hobby grade and come at a much lower price. If you go to a retailer that sells toy grade expect the price to be lower. This is not necessarily better. I picked three retailers to demonstrate prices.

RC Car Retailers

  • Al’s Hobbies
  • Nitrotek
  • Amazon

Al’s Hobbies offer hobby grade cars from the mini models costing as little as £17.99 right up to the large, fast and powerful models costing up to £1159.99

Nitrotek also offer hobby grade electric models from a 1:24 scale for £69.99 up to 1:8 scale costing £419.99

Amazon offer everything with toy grade cars starting at only £10 going up to hobby grade cars as much as £3,000. Obviously Amazon has a number of retailers selling on their site so you may be able to find each model cheaper by going direct to the retailers website.

Considerations when buying an Electric RC Car

Buying a RC Car is not like buying a sofa. As I described above there is a lot that happens within a RC car that can affect performance. The result is that there is a long list of considerations what go way beyond the look and price. Below are some of the most common things that you should think about before making a purchase.

Hobby Grade vs Toy Grade

The difference between toy grade and hobby grade RC cars is the quality. Toy grade are cheaper almost impossible to repair once broken. Hobby grade can not only have individual parts replaced but they can be upgraded and personalised.

If you are looking to get a car for a child of say 5 years old a toy grade car may be perfect as a started car. For a teenager or adult a hobby grade car (even if a cheap one) is definitely the way to go.

Brushed vs Brushless Motor

For beginners it may seem a little advanced to consider the type of battery. It is however always good to know because you can find two cars that are identical in every other way and yet one is more expensive. That is probably going to be because of the motor.

Brushed motors have a configuration or wound wire coils. A brushless motor uses a permanent magnet. It is all very technocal and for a beginner you do not really need to know about this other than to know typically brushless motors are better and will result in a higher price. This does not mean that brushless are no good or to be avoided.

For more on the difference check out this article –  www.automate.org

2WD vs 4WD

One of the most common bits of advice I give to beginners to radio controlled cars is to buy a four wheel drive vehicle (4WD) when possible. For a beginner this doesn’t matter to much although as you will see with my next point I recommend off road and they do perform better with four wheel drive just as a real car would. If you want to go through sticky mud on the local track four wheels will beat two.

On Road vs Off Road

One great consideration to make when buying a RC car is whether to get an on road or off road vehicle. I get this all the time too. My advice is always the same – get an off road. This is for one very simple reason – it can drive on any terrain. Simply put an one road RC car can drive on concrete and tarmac. Basically that is the road, pavement and driveway. An off road vehicle can drive on all of these plus your back garden, the park and the local dirt track and pretty much anywhere in between.

To buy a on road car is limiting. Of course if you are looking to buy a replica sports car like the ones shown above then you will need to go with whatever terrain it can drive on – most commonly on road.

For more check out my article – Why Choose an all Terrain Remote Control Car

RTR or Self Build

For a beginner there really is only one choose – Ready to Run (RTR). This is because RC Cars are in many ways as complex as your families car. There are a load of parts that must all be put together in the right way and in the right order to get it to work. If you are new to the hobby you wont know one component from the next.

Once you have driven a car for a while and enjoy it then you can consider going on to build one yourself. In fact as a second step it is a great move because you can take your basic knowledge and super charge it (Pun intended) to the next level.

 

Top Electric RC Car Brands

One thing that the world of radio controller cars offers is choice. This is particularly the case when it comes to brands. There are so many that it would be near to impossible to name them all. However who really wants to know about some crappy brand. Here I want to talk about some of the best starting with the brand I think is the best – Traxxas.

Traxxas

Traxxas LogoTraxxas are according to their website the number 1 brand in ready to race nitro and electric cars. They have many designs perfect for the beginner and include items such as track, cars, quadcopters and even some speedboats. They also have many accessories perfect for helping you to personalise your vehicle. Prices start at around £110 ($150) but can go a lot higher.

First formed in 1986 Traxxas have build a brand on producing fast ready to race vehicles of a extremely high standard. Traxxas products are fully assembled on delivery and packed with features that allow for the high performance that the brand has become known for. It is in my opinion one of the best radio controlled brands anywhere.

For more go to www.traxxas.com

Losi

Losi LogoOne of the first things you notice when looking for Losi RC cars is the vast range of vehicles available. The designs are described as innovative, advanced and capable RC Cars for enthusiasts. Losi vehicles are made to an extremely high standard using quality materials and workmanship. Just one drive of a Losi car and you will see why they are one of the leading brands.

With over 100 years or combined experience they bring a passion for the industry into ever product they come up with. Losi produce radio controlled cars for hobbyists by hobbyists.

For more go to www.losi.com

 

Coming Soon!!!!! – HPI & Tamiya

 

What’s Next?

Thank you for reading all about electric RC cars. If you would like to know more about any aspect of radio controlled cars please check out the rest of the SimplyRC site. I have added the links to a couple of pages you might find useful below to get you started.

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