Do RC Heatsinks Work? (Which Are Better?)


Do RC Heatsinks Work?

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The question that always comes up is whether RC heatsinks actually work. What’s the point of spending money on something if it doesn’t provide any real benefits?

We’re here to tell you––RC heatsinks do work! The main purpose of an RC heatsink is to have a large surface area for the maximum possible airflow through the device. This maximizes cooling properties and helps reduce power consumption, two very important factors when it comes to RC electronics. And with more time spent in operation, increased longevity can be achieved as well.

Reasons why you should use an RC heatsink-there are quite a few! For starters, they’re lightweight and easy to use. Most heat sinks fit on the bottom of the engine so you don’t have to worry about weight distribution. Heatsinks are also easy to install. You simply remove the old one and put on the new one, it’s as simple as that! They’re also affordable and easy to find, seeing as how they’re widely used in RC cars, boats, planes and much more! They’re also quite durable which means you won’t have to replace your RC heatsinks often at all.

In addition, RC heatsinks are made from high quality materials like aluminum so that they will last for quite a long time before needing replacement.

RC heatsinks are a great buy and cost less than you would think! They’re practical and worthwhile to have. So why not try one out today? You can find them by clicking here.

Are bigger RC heatsinks better?

Heatsinks can add weight and change the look of an otherwise nicely finished model. In this article we will find out if heatsinks actually work and if they are worth their weight in precious (or heavy) metals.

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There is no doubt that it gets pretty hot in the cockpit of many models. Since we are running LiPos at high currents, that heat needs to be transferred to the air around the model to ensure a safe flight. The more efficient we can make this transfer, the better. The first step in this process is creating tunnels for air movement on both sides of the model. 

We want one side to be open at the top and bottom so that hot air can be exhausted after it has been warmed up by our electronics and before it is moved into our cooling air stream over the motor and ESCs. On the other side we want a channel for fresh cooling air that moves through our model directing heated, contaminated air away from our components.

So, one way to increase the efficiency of cooling air is to create more effective tunnels for it. The best way to create such tunnels is with a heatsink. But, in some cases, a larger heatsink isn’t always the better choice. 

A bigger cooler can also be harder to fit and mount, may hog up too much valuable space inside our model and also may not fill all available space between the pilot’s hands on the controls and all the components of our model. That space becomes even more valuable when things like an HD camera are being added.

The second reason why we want to avoid using larger heatsinks is that they can cause severe interference with the electronics connected to our flight controller (FC). Reducing the size of our RC heatsink can drastically affect the way our electronics work and can even damage your hardware!

So, what is a good heatsink? In this article, we will try to answer that question.

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Some rules on using RC heatsinks

Before we begin let’s get one thing clear up front – you should never glue a heatsink directly onto your model. You will most likely not get it to fit afterwards when you are ready to fly it and you may also cause damage to your electronic components. So, first off don’t do this! Always use mounting material and/or spacers so that you can easily remove the cooler without ruining the electronics connected to it later on.

Here are a few rules for using heatsinks:

  1. Always use mounting hardware so that you can easily remove the heatsink. 
  2. Avoid pinching or bending of the cooling air channels between your model and your heatsink. 
  3. Always consider the space between your model and control surfaces and pay attention to how close you mount the heatsink to them. 
  4. Keep it at least a millimeter from important electronics like ESCs, FC boards, switches, etc. 
  5. Use a good thermal compound when attaching heatsinks to electronic components like flight controllers or voltage regulators. 
  6. Make sure not to cover any heat vents when installing your cooler, otherwise air circulation will be impeded and function will suffer.

Do I need a RC heatsink?

A good cooling system for your RC motor is important to prolong its life. This especially applies during hard use or when running it near its maximum RPM.

Some of the components inside your RC motor can get hot, like the brushes, commutator & windings and as a result will wear out faster and possibly burn out when you’re running the motor at high speeds.

RC motors are generally run at less than 70% of their maximum RPM so there really isn’t much need for a heatsink (keeping them cool). But if you run an open RC motor at full throttle or use it in a high speed application then heat will be generated which could shorten the life of your motor.

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If you’re using the motor in a high speed or hard use application then it’s recommended that you install some form of heatsink to help keep it cool.

The more powerful a motor is, the hotter it will run. The amount of heat generated is usually determined by the size and rating of your motors brushes & commutator.

If you have an RC car that uses brushed motors then you may need to provide some form of cooling for them if they’re used in very hot conditions (below 0°C) or have been dropped more than 3 feet to their operating surface.

An example of a simple high speed cooling solution is to use a small heatsink where the motor sits in your RC car or truck. This is just a chunk of aluminum that will act as a heatsink and extend the life of your RC motor.

Conclusion

The goal of this article was to introduce the idea of using a heatsink for cooling your RC motor. We hope you now have a better understanding of why they are used & how to use them properly. We also hope the information we’ve provided has been useful and helpful to you.

Now that you have all of this information, you can easily go and purchase a heatsink for your RC car if it is needed, or avoid them all together and save the weight of them if they are not needed. If you have one, or if you don’t; the important part is that you have fun and enjoy using your RC and being with your friends. 

Matt Robbs

I love to spend time with my wife and 3 kids. There is no better way to get them off the couch and outside than for us to grab the RC cars or boat and enjoy the sunshine!

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