Nitro vs Electric - Which is Best?

The majority of models offered by Serious-RC are available in both electric and nitro versions, so if you're a beginner looking for your first hobby grade remote controlled vehicle, you might be wondering which of the two is the better power source to go for. To help you make the right decision, let's take a look at some facts about both options.

 To begin, let's provide a brief overview of the various power sources available.

  • Electric (Battery powered, most commonly a NiMH or LiPo battery is used)
  • Nitro (Nitro fuel is a combination of nitromethane, methanol and oil) 

Each power source has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Nitro Engines

Nitro engines are the more complex of the two power sources. To start a nitro engine a glow plug and an external 1.5v battery powered glow igniter are required. This is because the coil of the glow plug needs to be heated in order for the nitro engine to start. Rechargeable glow igniters are commonly used and often included in nitro starter kits. Once the nitro engine is running, the glow igniter can be taken off as the engine is capable of re-igniting itself due to the significant heat generated by combustion.

Nitro Fuel

Reputable hobby shops stock pre-mixed nitro fuel for purchase. Multiple brands offer nitro fuel with varying percentages of nitromethane. For nitro RC cars the fuel typically consists of 10-30% Nitromethane, 12% oil, and the remaining percentage consists of methanol.

Things to think about

As an established shop supplying nitro vehicles for many years we have noticed that there is a prevailing misconception about nitro powered radio controlled cars, buggies, and trucks. Despite their seemingly ideal qualities such as long run times, high power outputs, and the addictive sound and smell of the small nitro based engine, it is crucial to fully understand the ongoing operational and maintenance requirements of a nitro powered radio controlled vehicle.

To maintain the performance of a nitro combustion engine, it is essential to regularly inspect and maintain it. Prior to and following the use of a nitro radio controlled vehicle, be sure to perform thorough checks to ensure its proper functioning.


  • Applying after-run oil
  • Clean and re-oil the air filter
  • Adjustment of the carburettor needles (Tuning)
  • Cleaning off all dirt and grime, attracted by fuel
  • Checking and tightening up screws that may come loose from the engine’s vibrations.


To guarantee lasting performance and maximize the lifespan of the engine, it is essential to carry out a 1-2 tank engine break-in for each and every nitro-powered remote control car, buggy, and truck. This process is called “running in” and simply involves letting the engine start and run at idle with the occasional blip of throttle.

Resolving unexpected issues also requires tweaking and fiddling. There is also the cost of consumable items like glow plugs, after run oil, air filter oil, and nitro fuel to consider when buying a new nitro RC vehicle.


  • Nitro fuel is usually £9 a litre (depending on Nitromethane percentage and brand)
  • Glow plugs around £5
  • Air filter oils £6 a bottle
  • After run oils £7 a bottle


As a summary, we would advise that buyerswith limited spare time might not find nitro-based radio-controlled vehicles to be the most suitable choice, as they demand a certain amount of 'patience' and technical know-how to address the regular maintenance needed.

On the flip side, if you're in search of a sustained and involved hobby that allows you to put your mechanical knowledge and abilities to the test, nitro could be just what you're looking for. In order to fully enjoy these intricate machines, it's important to possess a basic understanding of mechanics and have the patience to overcome the challenges they may present.

Luckily, even if you do have limited mechanical knowledge, when you purchase a nitro model from Serious-RC we provide full after care support to help you get you started and keep you up and running. We are here to help with any tuning queries or other questions.


Electric Powered

Electric RC cars work by having an onboard rechargeable battery pack. They’re very reliable and don’t require much mechanical knowledge or maintenance. They’re very clean, easy to use and produce hardly any noise at all.

With advancements in battery and electronic technology in recent years, battery operated radio controlled cars, buggies, and trucks have greatly benefited. This is mainly due to the development of lithium batteries and brushless motors. As a result, some of the fastest radio controlled cars available are electric. Take the HSP 1/10 Xeme touring car for instance, which can achieve speeds up to 56mph straight out of the box.

The development of battery technology has greatly improved the run times of electric vehicles. Modern lithium batteries, for example, can provide run times of over 40 minutes, which is significantly longer compared to older battery packs we were used to back in the 80s and 90s!

Electric radio controlled models also have minimal ongoing costs, as they don't require consumable items like nitro fuel, glow plug/spark plugs, air filters, oils, etc. Additionally, since these models don't use oil-based fuel, they don't attract much dirt or grime, making them easy to clean using an air compressor. Overall, electric radio controlled models are a great choice for beginners with little or no knowledge about the hobby, as well as experts looking for a quick and efficient option.

Well-known and established brands like HSP offer a wide range of remote controlled vehicles in electric and nitro options. This means you have lots of choice when it comes to the type and style of vehicle or power source you want. Whether you're interested in a monster truck, buggy, or car, there are numerous models available. Ultimately, the decision boils down to personal preference and taste.

Hopefully you’ve found this information helpful, and we wish you all the best in finding the right remote control model.

Be sure to check out our range of nitro models here and electric models here.