Brushed Motors vs. Brushless Motors for Quadcopter

Brushed motors and brushless motors are two common types of motors used in quadcopters, or drones in general. In this article we are going to discuss the differences between them.

Construction Differences of Brushed and Brushless Motors

A “brushed” motor has a rotating stator (wire coils) which acts as an electromagnet with two poles. The shell is stationary (not moving) therefore brushed motors can often be mounted without using any screws.

A “brushless” motor uses a permanent magnet and accomplishes the switching by electronically switching the polarity, instead of brushes, hence the name “brushless”. Because of the moving motor bell, the motor is usually mounted by the base using screws.

Advantages of Brushed Motors

  • Inexpensive to make
  • Efficient
  • Can be made in small package
  • Favourable in extreme environments due to lack of electronics
  • Replaceable brushes for extended life
  • Two wire control – control is simple; Brushless motors have 3 wires and require speed controller to work
  • No speed controller is required for fixed speed

Popular applications: fan motors, power tools, small motorized toys and computer peripherals.

Advantages of Brushless Motors

  • No brushes – lower maintenance and longer durability
  • Better speed and torque due to the absence of brushes, because brush friction increases with speed
  • Wider speed range
  • Better heat dissipation due to the construction compared to brushed motors
  • More cost effective for high speed/power operations

Popular applications: radio controlled model airplanes and drones, electric vehicles and industrial machinery that requires high rotation speed and power

Usage of Motors in Drones

Brushless motors seems to be the far more favourite choice, they are used in almost all types of drones. The only exceptions are the lower power micro drones running 1S LiPo batteries. A good example would be the Tiny Whoop. For anything more powerful, brushless motors are preferred.

Brushed motors designed for multirotors in this hobby only support 1S LiPo, maybe 2S at most. Brushless motors support much higher voltages, from 1S up to 12S. The popular motors we use on 5″ racing drones are rated for 4S to 6S.

Here are the available brushed motors in different dimensions, diameter x height (both in mm). Bigger motor = more power.

  • 6015
  • 7016
  • 7020
  • 8020
  • 8520

1 thought on “Brushed Motors vs. Brushless Motors for Quadcopter

  1. Mike Bosschaert

    Hi Oscar,
    Thanks for your brilliant and clear explanations on so many aspects of Drones and flying. I’m a complete novice in the field although I’ve been flying regular RC airplanes in my young days, about 40 years ago.
    I recently was cought by the flying fever again and got some parts through banggood, aliexpress and hobbyking and now I’ve built myself a flying F450 drone with NAZA-M and Radiolink. Meanwhile I’m studying the possibility to build something small to fly inside and got some brushed motors and Eangine AIO receiver/controller/esc., and 3D-printed a small fram. One of the big difficulties for me was to find out what to look for when you want to build a brushed-motor quad. In the brushless area it’s clear that there are ESC’s required to generate the CW/CCW pulse, but for brushed motors I’ve not been able to discover what terminology I should look for to make sure my flight controller can control the motors. How is it called when the motors can be connected directly to the FC, what type of device is necessary to connect the PWM output of an FC to a brushed motor, especially for these small Tinywhoop motors. Do you have to take care of ‘protocols’ like DShot, etc, or is that specific for brushless systems.
    It would be great if you could give this a thought and maybe add some of the ansers to this tutorial for novices as me.


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