Carbon Fibre Props VS Plastic Propeller

As explained how to choose propellers before, in this post we will mainly focus on the type of material, how it could affect flight performance, and the value. Good props can improve your aircraft’s control-ability, increase the battery life, improve your video quality, and many other good things.

Carbon Fibre Propeller Cons and Pros

Is carbon fibre propellers better than plastic propellers? When choosing multicopter props, not only we need to consider the size and pitch of the props, we also need to choose the type of material: carbon fibre, plastic, fibre glass reinforced, wooden props etc. Carbon fibre props are almost twice as expensive as the common plastic props, and it’s promoted to have better performance than the cheap plastic ones. So is that true? What are advantages and cons with Carbon Fibre props? Here are what I found personally.

Advantages

  • Carbon fibre props produce less vibration due to its stiffness, and it sounds quieter too when spinning.
  • Less jello in the video.
  • They are lighter and significantly stronger than plastic when crashed, but not indestructible though.
  • Come balanced straight out of the box (usually).
  • Perform well under high RPM (work well with high KV motors.
  • Light weight props means less inertia, thus faster motor speed change, and the control feels more responsive.

Bad

  • Expensive!
  • Carbon Fibre props has slightly shorter flight time than plastic prop of the same size/pitch prop
  • Less thrust than plastic props.
  • Because it’s tough and hard to break, when crash, the motor bearing will take most the impact.

Experiments on Different Types of Props

Many tests have been done on how good the carbon fibre props are, compared to the plastic props. I have found people reported back with two different stories, one says carbon fibre props are better (for example this one), the other says, no, it’s not noticeably better. I think they might be both correct, for their own situations, and the brand/make of the props they have tested. But it’s really not fair to say, “Carbon Fibre props are better”, or “Carbon Fibre prop sucks”, only based on the 2 sets of propellers you bought randomly off the internet.

Also the propellers need to be balanced well before the tests, otherwise it would be meaningless. I notice many of these tests were using a cell phone for vibration measuring, which is not accurate at all (as it misses some vibration frequency bands).

Wooden Props

Personally I have not tried this type or props. I don’t think wood props are popular either in the multicopter world, since it’s expensive, and heavy.

I think they might work well for FPV aerial photography with larger and more powerful multicopters, but might not as good for acrobatics, stunt flying because of the increase in rotation momentum due to heavier weight,and make them less responsive to changes in motor speed.

Conclusion

In my experience CF props are better, but there are so many cheap copies which have not properly tested might do more harms than goods. It’s worth a try on the carbon fibre propellers, so be careful when choosing, and only buy from good reviewed sellers.

The funny fact is, Carbon fibre props are actually plastic based material impregnating some carbon fibre, and plastic is also carbon base. I would recommend to try CF props out, if budget permits. It might improves your flight experience, but it’s not a “essential” upgrade. For beginners who are learning to fly, plastic props are more than enough, as you are likely to crash and break many props, before mastering the skills.

14 thoughts on “Carbon Fibre Props VS Plastic Propeller

  1. Mark Akers

    FACT OF PROPS DUE TO TESTING ALL TYPES OF PROPS- Phantom 4 & 4 Pro models and Inspire 2 extensive testing.
    1-Factory DJI Phantom Quick Connections are brittle, (the white part on the factory motors) 1 single tooth, of the quick connectors on the motors is hard to see: yet I assure you the Phantom 4 or 4Pro will crash shortly after one of the teeth from the white parts of the quick connector on the motors fracture.

    2- The (factory Props) Phantom 4 & Pros: factory props and types of after market props:
    2A- The worst props ever tested were a brand name- “Ultimax” all colors made of very soft plastic. This brand failed after 1 flight.
    B- The factory props, will strip inside, also hard to see on white props. Small imperfections will cause loss of props.
    C- (Carbon Blend or Carbon Reinforced Props:) Our option is clear- “Junk”One flight if you start hard and fly aggressively, inspect the inside of the Carbon Blend props. You will see white stresses where the props are about to snap inside.
    D- If you fly the carbon blend Reinforced Props and touch most anything like leaves or anything: they chip and snap easily.

    3- (True Carbon Fiber Props)-
    A- Much stronger, have not failed ever due to breakage.
    B- offen need balancing, carefully remove small amounts of the heavy ends or add tiny weights I had rather sand off small
    amounts.
    C- Carbon Fiber Expense – Some Brand names are Pre- balanced, and aluminum mounts are needed, but worth it.
    D- Saving money on 9550 100% carbon fiber props, – If you search “ 4Pcs or 8Pcs 9450 Carbon Fiber Self-Tightening Propeller Props for DJI Phantom vision 3” you can heat the metal cap with heat gun, or even grinder, then punch it out from the bottom.
    D1- If you use the above Carbon Fiber props. you will need 10mm or 8mm spacers for proper fit but these are fine after balancing.

    DO NOT USE – “Aluminum Quick Release Propeller Adapter {SCREW} CW/CCW for DIY Drone or Quad” mounts. Unless you use “Goop” shoe glue in place of “Loc Tight” you can heat the aluminum, and remove the props.
    IF YOU INSTALL FROM INSTRUCTIONS WITHOUT GLUE ON THE QUICK CONNECT THREADS, WHEN YOU LET OFF FOWARD THRUST THE PROPS WILL UN-SCREW IN THE AIR. I tightened these with grips on both Phantom 4 pro, and Inspire 2, both made it less then 300 feet after small left right up down test, I simply took off and before the tree line on my property reduced thrust, causing both drones to loose 1 or more props. Luckily I had our Aero-Space Carbon Fiber landing gear and camera protection installed on the drones. Both of the fall were 30-45mph 90-110ft without damage.

    We offer Phantom 1 solid part landing gear and camera protection, and lower shell protection, as well as top shell full protection made with multi layers of aerospace approved carbon fiber with gloss 3K finish.

    We also offer ZERO loss inspire or Phantom controller cables and replacement Drone Cables with or without amplifiers, or optional 2.4 or 5.8 or Duel band base station amplifiers with zero loss cables from controller to 3 types of tripods and choice of 3 hight levels of antenna mass or poles with auto adjusting directional changing rotor with remote control rotor free for first adjustment, until the drone is over a mile away this is not a concern.

    While others sell $100 plywood inspire 2 tripod mount without the tripod to hold Inspires, we offer 4 layer carbon fiber Inspire 2 holder with padding and free tripod for about he same price and professionally built.

    Soon we will release the fastest longest range consumer drone that is wether proof, options of cameras, batteries for flight, 3 powers of amplifiers. Not just the controller but also the drone must be able to return the signals.
    I assure this drone to be a built in the USA very cool looking, day or night flight, safe and crazy fast.

    Reply
  2. Roy

    I have a DJI Mavic Platinum and with the gimbal locked I can not see the screen at all with the carbon props. . I have two sets from Drone World. With the plastic props the screen is only a little Shaky. Had the drone 4 days and gimbal Broke. Think it’s the carbon prop that causes the damage

    Reply
  3. Wayne

    Twice now, I’ve thrown a blade mid-flight with my TBS Discovery. (Neither crash resulted in damage – except to a battery that was thrown loose in the chaos at 60′.) The props I used were Turnigy plastic props from HobbyKing. No more. Going with the strength of the CF.

    Reply
  4. Paul

    Why would my Dragonfly 5030 propellers breaking at the hub? They’re just shattering in the hover. No impact, no reason? Any ideas anyone?

    Reply
  5. Random Guy

    Hi Oscar, you said that CF props give shorter flight times than plastic props. I don’t understand how that is possible. If they are lighter then the motors use less energy to spin them. As the motor uses less energy, then that should lead to increased flight times. So I went to search across the internet. I found a forum where someone did some tests and his results show the opposite of your statements.

    Here is the link to that site: rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1991794

    As for less thrust, I am not sure about that either. Can you give reasons why please? Also how would the efficiency look like (power used vs thrust) ?

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      just from thrust tests, and personal experience. They are not a lot lighter than plastic props, and they are not as efficient, maybe it’s just the ones i used were good quality.

      Reply
      1. Scott

        Hi Oscar,
        I think you have written this on things you have read rather than a lot of personal experience and although I like your information and thoroughness in general, I think you have missed the mark on this. Although I agree that in general they are much better for efficiency etc. There are many things you have said about carbon props that are very wrong? For example that they are mostly balanced.. In fact over many years of use I have found them far worse than plastic. I suspect because the moulding of plastic is much better and it is common for many carbon props are hand layed. I think you should spend more time with the props and do your own tests or review the comments and generalisations you have made in this article. Thanks for your helpful info and the site you maintain as its a great place for beginners to gather info to help them in this great sport. Cheers

      2. Oscar Post author

        Not sure where you are getting the carbon props from, the ones I got from T-motors were very good quality and balanced well.
        I think you should spend some more on good quality products, it’s worth it and it might change your opinions on carbon fiber props.
        That’s just my personal experience, and personal experience is always subjective. I completely understand if you have had different personal experience.

        This article was written when i just started in RC and blogging, my writing was very poor back then, so apologies for the lack of useful info.

  6. paul holterhaus

    xoar props are advertized to be lighter than cf,,,,carbon sinks,wood floats; also xoar props have been tested to be the most efficient on electric wings. I would like to know more,,,my 2 cents.

    Reply
  7. Brian Kuehn

    You haven’t touched on “mixed carbon/nylon” props. I’ve tried nylon and carbon fiber, and found, at least for my tricopter, that the “Mixed carbon/nylon” props are the way to go. They cost a little bit more than nylon props (maybe 20%), but they are much stiffer and lighter, giving all of the advantages of pure carbon fiber without the cost. They do have a downside, they break more easily than pure nylon props as they are a bit brittle. Don’t crash though and they will last and last. The ones I buy from Hobby King have also been the BEST BALANCED out of the package of all the various propellers that I’ve tried for both fixed wing and multi-rotors. They aren’t quit perfect but they are so close that you don’t really need to do any balancing. I do still balance them as I balance everything, but the time need to balance one is a fraction of the time needed for any other prop.

    Reply
  8. John Campen

    Good Blog mate!

    Please see my post on DIY Drones re this topic. [link]

    I think there are still to many assumptions about CF props and we are still a long way off to find the best balance of material type for props and in particular for multi rotor aircraft’s.

    My feeling is CF props are simply to stiff and this shows up in the reduced flight times compared to plastic props which is what I also have found to be the case. If they have reduced flight times, then in my book this is obviously a reduced efficiency

    How I came to this “epiphany” that encouraged me to research this further was while watching an eagle thermaling outside my balcony one day and I could see his wing tip feathers flexing as they help to absorb sudden changes in the air lift. Obviously this flexing helps with his flight stability and to also to make it less stressful for the eagles wings, and so it would also have be much more energy efficient.

    My thinking is on how nature evolves, if stiffer was better, then the eagle would also have much stiffer wings.

    I would like to see a lot more testing and R&D in this direction. In fact I think the best props to date are the wooden props, but I have yet to do some testing on them to prove it. My local supplier who has been flying RC for 35 years quietly one day whisperer to me, “CF props are crap and if I can get hold of some good multi rotor Woodies, they would be the best”.

    Reply

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