Most RC drones are powered by Li-Po batteries. However, there are gas-powered quadcopters out there, too. They’re typically much more powerful than their battery counterparts, which is what makes them so attractive to RC flyers. Below, we’ll talk more about these types of drones.
A gas-powered quadcopter will usually weigh more than a traditional battery-powered drone since it has more moving parts.
Due to this added weight, it will have more stability in windy conditions, making it great for aerial photography. Another great reason to choose this type of quadcopter is that it offers a relatively long flight time.
Most gas-powered drones can easily fly for over 30 minutes before needing to be refueled.
As you can imagine, these drones aren’t perfect. A potential drawback is their size. Since they’re big and heavy, it can be intimidating for beginners to fly. The added weight can also result in less maneuverability.
If you’re looking to squeeze through narrow spaces quickly, then a gas-powered quadcopter probably isn’t for you. Now that we’ve talked about the benefits and drawbacks, let’s talk about specific models.
Buying a Gas-Powered Drone – Is it Possible?
Unfortunately, drones that have a gas engine are relatively rare on the market. Most of them are DIY projects that require you to buy your own parts.
As drone technology becomes more common, you may be able to walk into a store and buy one easily. But until then, you’ll need to wait. With that said, here are four gas-powered models that exist today (or are currently being built):
This quadcopter is still in the concept stage of design but is expected to hit the market in the future. It will likely cost more than a thousand dollars, but it will be well worth every penny in my opinion.
Not only does it sport a unique and sleek design, but it’s expected to reach speeds of 60+ MPH.
For a quadcopter, that’s very fast. It will also be able to carry payloads of about twelve pounds as well as stay in the air for about 60 minutes.
This gas-powered quadcopter operates via a two-stroke engine that should stand the test of time.
Finally, the drone is built durably so there’s little risk that it will fall apart after just a few uses (which tends to happen with cheaply-built models).
2. Nitro Stingray
The Nitro Stingray is another gas-powered model that has a two-stroke Scorpion motor. It has a specialized flight controller that gives the flyer full control over the drone.
The drone’s “variable pitch” feature increases mobility, allowing flyers to change directions quickly and easily. The Nitro Stingray is also known for its stability.
Even in strong wind, it’s relatively stable. Like the Yeair, that makes it a good option for aerial photographers.
Another benefit to this gasoline-powered drone is that it’s capable of performing barrel rolls and other acrobatic moves.
Note, if you want a drone that’s capable of stunts, but don’t want a gas-powered model, then check out the Syma X5C.
3. Goliath Quadcopter
The Goliath Quadcopter is a DIY project is still at the prototype stage, but it’s still an impressive model nonetheless. It was constructed for the Hackaday Prize competition.
The gas-powered fiend has a 30 HP engine that produces quite a bit of power. Why is this drone so powerful? One reason is due to its light frame.
Since the frame is either aluminum or wood, it’s light enough to where the engines don’t have to work so hard to lift it up. As its name implies, the Goliath Quadcopter is a giant capable of lifting relatively heavy payloads.
Another great thing about it is that the flight controller software is open source, so anyone can customize it.
4. Incredible HLQ
The final gasoline-powered quadcopter that we’re going to talk about is the Incredible HLQ. This model started in a Kickstarter campaign and was designed by students from San Joe, California.
The “HLQ” in the quadcopter’s name stands for “Heavy Lifting Quadcopter”. This model was shown to be able to lift to 50 pounds, which is quite a bit for an RC drone.
The reason why it’s so powerful is that it comes with 2 gasoline two-stroke engines. Each engine offers about 12.5 HP which, while it doesn’t sound like a lot, gives the quadcopter a massive amount of power.
Gasoline-Powered vs. Battery-Powered Drones: Which Are Better?
Some drone flyers prefer battery-powered drones, while others prefer gasoline-powered models. The question is, which is better?
In all honesty, it depends. In the following few sections, we’ll compare both types of drones to see which one is best for you and your flying style.
Strongest Motors (Winner: Gas)
The gas-powered models by far have the most amount of power. As you read from the reviews earlier in this post, they can reach speeds up to 60 MPH and carry payloads up to 50 pounds.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that a gas-powered machine produces more power than a battery-powered machine.
That’s because there’s more stored energy in the gasoline compared to the battery. In the future, this might change, but for now, the gas models are the most powerful of the two.
Price (Winner: Batteries)
If you’re looking to save money, then go with batteries. Battery-powered drones are simply cheaper than their gas-powered counterparts.
With that said, this doesn’t mean that battery-powered models can’t be powerful. They most certainly can. Just look at the DJI Phantom 4. It runs off a battery and has an impressive flight time of about 30 minutes.
Other models like the Parrot Bebop 2 and the DJI Inspire 2 offer equally impressive stats. On the very low end, expect to pay about $20 for a mini battery-powered drone, and on the high end, several thousand dollars.
Average Flight Time (Winner: Gas)
Both sides have drones capable of staying in the air for a long time. However, the gas-powered side has the longer average flight time.
On average, they can still in the air for at least 30 minutes. That’s on a full tank of gas, of course. A battery-operated model, like the Syma X5C for example, only has a flight time of about 7 minutes before having to be recharged.
How to Extend Drone Flight Time
The upside to the X5C is that it only costs about $50 and you don’t have to pay anything extra to recharge. With gas-powered models, you’ll need to pay for fuel each time that you fly, which can add up over time.
Surviving a Crash (Winner: Batteries)
Since battery-operated drones are lighter, they’ll be more likely to survive a crash. Take the Blade Nano QX as an example. In most cases, even a fall from a relatively high distance won’t break the drone (unless you land it in the water).
With a gas-powered drone, that’s not the case. If you crash one of these models, it will very likely be destroyed in the process. That’s because these drones weigh a lot, and all the weight makes the impact even stronger.
So, if you’re not an experienced flyer, then it’s recommended that you stay away from gas models until you become more experienced. Otherwise, you could be flushing a lot of money down the toilet.
Payload (Winner: Gas)
If you recall from earlier in the article, the Incredible HQL could lift a payload of about 50 pounds. To give you some perspective of how much weigh that is, it’s like lifting a dry bag of cement!
That’s very impressive, and is only possible with gasoline. It would be incredibly difficult for a battery-powered model to lift such a heavy load.
If you need a drone that’s capable of lifting heavy payloads across long distances, then go with a gasoline model because a battery-powered model won’t be able to get the job done.
Starting a Gas-Powered Drone
Like any other gas-powered machine, these drones are typically started with a pull-cord. You might need to pull the cord several times until the drone starts.
Also, there are might be other things like a “choke button” that play a role in starting the drone. Since each drone is different, you’ll need to judge it on a drone-by-drone basis.
Do They Come with Cameras?
It depends. Some will come with cameras while others won’t. The good news is that mounting a camera on a drone isn’t that difficult.
All you need to do is find a flat surface on the drone and attach it there. For more information on how to build a drone and attach a camera, check out this guide.
The Bottom Line
I hope that you’ve learned a lot about gasoline-powered drones in this guide.
While gas models aren’t widely available on the market yet (most are DIY projects and Kickstart projects), they may become more common as the technology becomes better.
If you have any questions about how these drones work, then leave a comment below. Good luck and fly safe!