Also known as glow-powered RC helicopters, nitro RC helicopters offer a fun alternative to traditional battery-powered models. They receive their namesake from the special type of fuel used as a power source. Nitro RC helicopters use a combination of nitromethane (10-40%) mixed with methanol. If you’re thinking about investing in one, though, you should first read the pros and cons listed below.
Pros of Nitro RC Helicopters
Because they run on actual fuel rather than an electric charge, nitro RC helicopters tend to deliver greater speed and torque than their battery-powered counterpart. The miniature engine creates combustion in a similar manner as an actual car or truck, burning the nitro fuel to generate power. This results in a superior level of speed and performance, making nitro models an attractive choice for hobbyists who intend to race their RC helicopters.
While there are always exceptions to this rule, you’ll generally find that nitro RC helicopters deliver longer flight times than electric models. It’s downright frustrating when you’re in the middle of the flying a helicopter only for it to gradually lose power due to a dead battery. The large tanks equipped on RC models, however, can offer 15 minutes or longer of flight time.
Let’s face it, there’s a certain “cool” factor associated with nitro engines. The power and sound of these engines will attract onlookers of all ages and background.
Cons of Nitro RC Helicopters
Of course, there are also some disadvantages to owning nitro RC helicopters, including engine maintenance and upkeep.
Nitro engines have more components than electric engines, which means you’ll have to invest more of your time and energy into cleaning it. The good news is that most nitro RC helicopters can be cleaned with good ol’ fashioned Dawn dish soap (it works wonders). Using a damp washcloth with a small amount of dish soap, wipe down the components and blades of your helicopter to maintain its pristine look.
Another downside to nitro RC helicopters is the simple fact that you can only fly them outside. Attempting to fly one indoors is dangerous for several different reasons: the engine puts out harmful exhaust fumes, and the increased power could result in bodily injury. If you’re looking for a new RC helicopter to fly indoors, stick with a low-powered electric model.
The sound difference between an electric and nitro-powered RC helicopter is like night and day. Electric models run practically silent, allowing users to fly them just about anywhere. Nitro models, on the other hand, sound like a full-sized aircraft hovering nearby, which may disturb some people. The bottom line is that you don’t want to fly a nitro RC helicopter in neighbors, crowded parks, or similar areas where you could be accused of “disturbing the peace.”