By Oscar Liang
As I have explained how to choose propellers size and pitch 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 Fiber Propeller Cons and Pros
Are carbon fiber 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 fiber, plastic, fiber glass reinforced, wooden props etc.
Carbon fiber props are almost twice as expensive as the common plastic props, and they are promoted to have better performance than the cheap plastic ones. So is that true? What are the advantages and disadvantages of carbon fiber props? Here is what I’ve found personally.
Experiments on Different Types of Props
Many tests have been done on how good the carbon fiber props are, compared to plastic ones. I have found people reporting back with two different stories. One says carbon fiber props are better (for example this one), the others say, 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 Fiber props are better”, or “Carbon Fiber props suck”, 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).
Personally I have not tried these type or props. I don’t think wood props are popular either in the multicopter world, since they are expensive and heavy.
I think they might work well for FPV aerial photography with larger and more powerful multicopters, but might not be as good for aerobatics/stunt flying because of the increase in rotation momentum due to heavier weight that makes them less responsive to changes in motor speed.
In my experience CF props are better, but there are so many cheap copies which have not been properly tested that they might do more harm than good. It’s worth a trying carbon fiber propellers, so be careful when choosing and only buy from sellers good reviews.
The funny fact is that carbon fiber props are actually made of plastic based materials impregnating some carbon fiber and plastic is also carbon based. I would recommend to try CF props out if budget permits. It might improve your flight experience, but it’s not an “essential” upgrade. If you are a beginner just learning to fly, plastic props are more than good enough, as you are likely to crash and break many props before mastering the skills.
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The writer known as I Coleman is a veteran tech reviewer who’s spent seven years writing about everything from PC hardware to drone tech and who joined the Dronethusiast team early in 2017. I brings his characteristic sense of humor and attention to detail to our product reviews and buyer’s guides, making sure that they’re packed with expert analysis in a way that’s still easy for hobby newcomers to understand. In his spare time, I is using drones to create 3D modeling software for a company in his hometown.