Nitro VS Electric Rc

Nitro VS Electric Rc: Which One to Choose?

Engines are the hearts of RCs. You want the best and most powerful ones for them. With the numerous options out there, it becomes hard to choose. However, nitro and electric engines have grabbed the most attention.

Which brings us to the question- what to choose between nitro vs electric rc?

There are many things that set nitro and electric RC apart. If you are looking for indoor RCs, electric RCs are the winners. You can’t use nitro RCs indoors. However, in terms of speed and runtime, nitro engines win. Not only that, nitro engines can give you real experience with maintenance and driving.

That was probably not enough for you to come to a decision. You need to know more to decide which fits your needs better. So, let’s move along into the detailed comparison.

Nitro Vs Electric Rc: Basic Differences

This article will talk about ready-to-run RCs, both nitro and electric. We can compare both the RCs on some common aspects.

Nitro RCs provide users with the realism of owning RCs. The maintenance is also close to a real car. Electric cars are more toyish and are easier to run and maintain.

Here’s a short overview of both the RCs-

Comparison FactorsNitro RCElectric RC
Source of PowerNitro FuelBattery
Runtime20-25 minutes10-15 minutes
Speed35-40 mph100 mph (Brushless Motor)
18-20 mph (Brushed Motor)
ChassisMetal ChassisPlastic Chassis
Recharge/Refuel Time30-45 seconds 45 minutes
Maintenance Complicated to maintainEasy to maintain

That was a short comparison for both RCs. If you’re still confused, let’s dive more into the comparison.

Nitro Vs Electric RC: Head-to-head Comparison

The runtime on the nitro-powered RCs is more given you can just refill the fuel. For electric RCs, the runtime is relatively lower on one cycle of charging. 

Nitro fuels are easier to work with than LiPo batteries. LiPo battery charging can be critical sometimes. And, you might need to replace or depuff your LiPo battery often.

The electric RCs are ideal for both indoors and outdoors. They have most of the functionalities and aren’t noisy or smoky. Nitro RCs, however, tend to fume and are louder than electrics. They also sometimes lack the reverse function.

Nitro RCs are naturally more water-resistant than electric RCs. The electric RCs are not waterproof. The brushed motors even have vents that let in water easily.

There are far more important factors that help to make up your mind about one. Let’s see-

Factor 1: Runtime

Now, moving on to the runtime, the runtime of most nitro RCs are 20-25 mins which is higher than that of electric RCs. On an average the electric RCs have a runtime of 10-15 mins.

Electric RCs depend on batteries. So, they have a lower runtime on one cycle of charging. To have a higher runtime, you’ll have to put in spare, fully charged batteries. Or you need to recharge your battery to run them again. 

To recharge a battery you’d be needing at least 45 minutes to an hour. So, you need to wait for a much longer time in between each session. You can keep a few recharged battery on hand to avoid waiting for too long between sessions.

For nitro RCs, you can have a much longer runtime. Even more, if you use the best nitro fuels for your RC car.

On top of that you only need 35-40 seconds to refuel the entire tank of a nitro car. So, you can easily run a nitro RC for a longer time with smaller waiting period in between sessions.

Which RC has more runtime?

Between nitro and electric RCs, if you want a longer runtime then opt for the nitro RCs. You can run your RC with fewer interruptions if you use nitro RCs. The refuel time of nitro RCs also happens to be lower.

Factor 2: Top Speed

The top speed of brushless electric RCs is the highest followed by the nitro cars and then the brushed electric RCs. On an average the speed of nitro RCs is between 35-40 mph. On the other hand, the top speed of brushed and brushless electric RCs are 100 mph.

The speed of nitro RCs is naturally higher than electric RCs as it runs by combusting fuel. However, good quality brushless motors have higher top speed than nitro RCs due to their simple motor assembly.

Which RC has a higher Top Speed?

If you want the highest possible top speed then opt for the brushed electric RCs. However, if you want moderate top speed then nitro RCs should be your pick. Lastly, for a slower RC get the brushed electric RCs.

Factor 3: Chassis

The chassis on a nitro RC is metal whereas the chassis on an electric RC is plastic. Metal chassis are usually more durable and perfect for heavy-duty usage.

As the electric RCs are considered toy-grade RCs they are mostly made of plastic. So, naturally these chassis degrade over time and can’t handle too much pressure.

The nitro cars are considered the smaller renditions of real life cars. As a result, most of the parts of this type of RCs are made of metal including the chassis.

Which RC has a better chassis?

If you want your chassis to be durable but a bit on the heavier side then look into the nitro RCs. However, if you like your RCs light than get electric RCs.

Factor 4: Functions

When it comes to advanced features and diversity, the electric RCs takes the cake. Some key functions are present in electric RCs which cannot be seen in the nitro RCs.

You can run your electric RCs on any tracks or off-track. They work the same as how RC toys work typically. They also have most RC functions, including reverse and advanced brake system.

The nitro RCs, however, usually lack the reverse and advanced braking function. Some of the tracks are also off-limits for them.

Things to note for nitro RCs are the noise and smoke. You can’t use them indoors because of the fumes. And the noise can disturb your neighbours. However, that is exactly what provides you with the realism of RCs. 

Which RC has more functions?

If you want your RC to have more advanced functions then choose the electric RCs. On the other hand, if your prefer your RCs to be simple then get the nitro RCs.

Factor 5: Maintenance

The maintenance of the nitro RCs is a bit more complicated than electric RCs. You also need a few more stuff to start a nitro RC. For instance, fuel bottles and glow plug igniters for RCs.

However, many like the realism and involvement with their nitro RCs. Which is absent in electric RCs.

Electric RCs’ maintenance is far easier and not as involved. 

Both RCs have easy-to-follow manuals by their manufacturers. So, there is nothing to be scared of before buying a nitro for the first time. Many start their RC journeys with nitro. 

Which RC is Easier to Maintain?

When it comes to maintenance, the electric RCs are easier to maintain than the nitro RCs. However, if you want a real time experience of maintenance then opt for the nitro cars.

Factor 6: Cost

Coming down to the cost of the RCs, the upfront cost of electric RCs are way more than nitro RCs. Keep in mind that the brushless variation of electric RCs costs especially more.

The price of a nitro RC can be more than an electric RC long-term, based on the fuel. However, you’ve to buy a brushless motor to get a similar speed on an electric. And RCs with brushless motors are very expensive. 

Either way, you will have to spend some money. Long term for nitro, and at the beginning for electrics.

Which RC is More Cost Efficient?

Between the nitro and the electric RCs, the nitro RCs cost less while purchasing but takes up a lot of money due to constant refuelling. On the other hand, electric RCs are costly at the beginning but the batteries that they come with are rechargeable. So, its more cost-efficient in the long run.

There you go! Now you can compare them based on what you’re hesitating about.

Final Verdict

If you want to have a more involved RC experience, choose nitro-powered RC. The maintenance will also be thrilling if you are into it. It’ll help you learn some mechanical skills such as engine tuning. But make sure to know how to start the nitro RC

In case you’re looking for a zero to low-maintenance RC, opt for an electric RC. They have most functions and are fun to play with. Brushed electric RCs are a better choice for younger drivers.


Is nitro maintenance too difficult?

Nitro RC maintenance can be a little confusing at the beginning. However, manufacturers have detailed manuals. After the initial learning phase, the maintenance becomes something to look forward to.

Can I use powerful batteries in my electric RC?

Yes, you can use powerful batteries as long as it’s supported. If your RC supports 8S LiPo batteries, you can’t exceed that limit.

Which RC is better for younger drivers?

Between nitro and electric RCs, electric RCs is a better choice for younger drivers. The brushed electric motors have a lower and more manageable speed.


That’s it! Hopefully, you’ve decided on the winner between nitro vs electric rc for you. I hope this article helped you with your decision.

Both the nitro and electric RCs will give you different but enjoyable experiences. So, don’t hesitate too much.

Until next time, see you!

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