How Do RC Electric Motors Work?

When it comes to RC vehicles, there are generally two different options: nitro or petrol RC models, and electric RC models.

The main difference between the two is that the former are powered by a combination of different fuels (such as petrol), while electric RC vehicles are powered by electric motors.

Today, the experts from AT Models are explaining just how RC electric motors work, as well as some of their main features and advantages compared to the likes of nitro and petrol RC vehicles.

What are RC electric motors?

RC electric motors are usually brushless motors, meaning that they don’t have physical brushes that make contact with any of their rotating components. Instead, they use electronic commutation to control the timing and distribution of the electrical current, resulting in an efficient and reliable operation and smooth usability.

Some key features and benefits of RC electric motors include:

  • Efficiency: Electric motors have high energy efficiency, converting a significant portion of electrical energy into mechanical power. This efficiency translates into longer run times and better overall performance of the RC vehicle.
  • Instant Power: Electric motors provide instant power delivery, as there is no need for a warm-up period or fuel ignition which is necessary with nitro RC vehicles. They offer quick acceleration and responsiveness, which can be advantageous in racing and manoeuvring situations.
  • Low Maintenance: Compared to internal combustion engines like the ones found in nitro and petrol RC vehicles, electric motors require minimal maintenance. They don’t have fuel systems or exhaust components that need constant attention, making them more user-friendly and reducing maintenance costs.
  • Quiet Operation: Electric motors produce less noise compared to engines with combustion (nitro and petrol RC vehicles). This characteristic makes electric RC vehicles more suitable for environments with noise restrictions or for individuals who prefer a quieter experience.
  • Environmental Friendliness: Electric motors produce zero emissions during operation, making them environmentally friendly. They don’t require the use of fossil fuels or emit harmful exhaust gases, contributing to a cleaner and greener RC experience.
  • Compatibility: RC electric motors are compatible with a wide range of battery technologies, such as lithium-ion polymer (LiPo) batteries and nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. This versatility allows users to choose the battery type that best suits their needs in terms of power output, run time, and weight.

So, how do RC electric motors work?

RC electric motors work based on the principles of electromagnetism. A quick run-down of some of their components and how they work, as well as some of the processes completed by RC electric motors are as follows:

  • Construction: Brushless RC electric motors consist of several key components. These include a rotor (also known as an armature), stator, magnets, windings (coils), and an electronic speed controller (ESC).
  • Stator and Windings: The stator is a stationary part of the motor and contains multiple windings, which are typically copper wire coils. These windings are arranged in a specific pattern and are connected to the ESC.
  • Rotor and Magnets: The rotor is the rotating part of the motor and consists of a series of permanent magnets. The magnets are typically mounted on the rotor’s outer surface and are spaced evenly around it.
  • Electronic Speed Controller (ESC): The ESC is a vital component that controls the operation of the motor. It receives signals from the RC transmitter and adjusts the electrical current supplied to the motor.
  • Commutation: Brushless motors use electronic commutation to control the timing of the electrical current flow. The ESC monitors the position of the rotor magnets using sensors or back electromotive force (EMF) feedback and determines when to energise the windings.
  • Phases and Rotation: The windings in the stator are divided into multiple phases, typically three phases. The ESC sequentially energises these phases in a specific order, creating a rotating magnetic field that interacts with the permanent magnets on the rotor.
  • Electromagnetic Forces: As the magnetic field from the stator interacts with the magnets on the rotor, electromagnetic forces are generated. These forces cause the rotor to rotate, producing mechanical power.
  • Speed Control: The ESC adjusts the timing and intensity of the electrical current supplied to the motor to control its speed. By varying the current, the ESC regulates the rotation speed output of the motor, which translates into the desired performance of the RC vehicle.

To conclude, RC electric motors are the powerhouses behind modern RC vehicles.

Operating on the principles of electromagnetism, these motors provide efficient, reliable, and high-performance power for all types of RC vehicles. Through electronic commutation and precise control from the electronic speed controller (ESC), electric motors deliver instant power, quick acceleration, and offer a smooth operation.

Electric motors have transformed the RC hobby, providing an environmentally friendly alternative to combustion engines and enhancing the overall experience for RC enthusiasts of all skill levels. With advancements in battery technology and ongoing motor innovations, RC electric motors continue to push the boundaries of performance, making them a popular choice among hobbyists and racers alike.


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