mini quad

How to choose Motor and Propeller for Quadcopter and Multicopter

motor propeller

You won’t believe how much maths and aerodynamics are involved when the engineers are designing the propellers and motors. Therefore you know how difficult it is to choose the best motor and propeller combination for your quadcopter for best performance.

Fortunately this is not a new subject, and there are so many people shared their experience about this. Also there are some general rules you can follow to choose the optimal and effective motor and propeller combination.

As part of the quadcopter tutorial I will share some information for beginners about how to choose motor and propeller for quadcopter, which also applies to other types of multicopter.

Here is a guide about the types prop adapters for your motors, and the pros and cons you might be interested.

Some basic concepts when selecting Motors


When selecting motors, there usually are specification that comes with the motor either provided by the seller or manufacturer. You should be able to find information about the power, thrust, rpm etc. This is an example of the 18-11 2000kv Micro Brushless Outrunner (10g) on Google it if you are not sure what each name represents in the data sheet, they are really basic and I am not going to go over them here.

quadcopter motor data-sheet

quadcopter motor spec

To choose a motor we first need to how much weight you are planning to take, and then to work out the thrust required to lift the quadcopter. A general rule is that you should be able to provide twice as much thrust than the weight of the quad. If the thrust provided by the motors are too little, the quad will not respond well to your control, even has difficulties to take off. But if the thrust is too much, the quadcopter might become too agile and hard to control.

A rule of thumb is Required Thrust per motor = ( Weight x 2 ) / 4

For example if we have a quadcopter witch the flying weight might be around 1 KG. Using the equation above, we now know we’re looking for a total thrust of 2 KG and 500g per motor. Of course you will have to guess the final weight of your quadcopter, when estimating, don’t forget to add the weight of the motors and propellers which vary. If you are thinking about FPV or aerophotography, you will need to add the weight of the camera as well.

Although you can choose the motors for the weight you want to carry, it’s always a good idea to carry as little weight as possible. Lightness is very important to all aircraft because any excess weight could reduce your battery life and maneuverability.

More tips on Motor Efficiency

A multicopter is more efficient when it’s lighter, so you need to pick a good battery that has good capacity but light weight. This post shows you how to find the perfect balance when choosing LiPo batteries for your multicopter.

Battery and weight is not the only factor we need to consider when it comes to Efficiency, there is also motor efficiency. When choosing motors, apart from motor KV and thrust, we also need to look at Watt’s and efficiency.

It’s like cycling, cycle at lower gear enable you to cycle faster but it’s harder to peddle. If you are going uphill, and it’s getting steeper, you will eventually come to a point where peddling becomes too heavy and you are getting slower although you are peddling very hard. This is where you lose efficiency.

The same applies to brushless motor, the higher efficiency the better. A 70% efficient motor produces 70% power and 30% heat. A 90% efficient motor produces 90% power and 10% heat.

With less efficient motors not only are you wasting a lot of power (thus flight time), you also get smaller thrust on full throttle. Most important, because the motor runs so inefficient, the response time suffers. It will take the motors more time to change rpm and this will influence the stability of your quad, and the copter will be less stable.

After you received your motors, the first thing you should do is to balance it. Although it’s not always necessary, it’s good practice.

There are so many options, brands you can choose from, it will cause you headache :D For example these are the options for 250 mini quad motors.

Some basic concepts when selecting Propellers


A quadcopter uses two clockwise(CW) and two counter-clockwise(CCW) propellers. Propellers are classified by length and pitch. For example 9×4.7 propellers are 9 inch long and has a pitch of 4.7.

Generally, increased propeller pitch and length will draw more current. Also the pitch can be defined as the travel distance of one single prop rotation. In a nutshell, higher pitch means slower rotation, but will increase your vehicle speed which also use more power.



When deciding on length and pitch, you need to find a good balance. Generally a prop with low pitch numbers can generate more torque. The motors don’t need to work as hard so it pulls less current with this type of prop. If you want to do acrobatics, you will need torque propellers which provide more acceleration and it puts less pressure on the power system. Lower pitch propellers will also improve stability.

A higher pitch propeller moves greater amount of air, which could create turbulence and cause the aircraft to wobble during hovering. If you notice this with your quadcopter, try to choosing a lower pitched propeller.

When it comes to the length, propeller efficiency is closely related to the contact area of a prop with air, so a small increase in prop length will increase the propeller efficiency. (pretty much like swimmers with larger hands and feet can swim faster, but also more tiring for them)

A smaller prop is easier to stop or speed up while a larger prop takes longer to change speeds (inertia of movement). Smaller prop also means it draws less current, that is why hexacoptors and octocopters tend to use smaller props than quadcopter of similar size.

For larger quadcopters that carry payloads, large propellers and low-kv motors tend to work better. These have more rotational momentum, and will more easily maintain your aircraft’s stability.

There are a few different types of propellers, such as plastic, carbon fibre etc, check out this post for more info.

Some tips on how to choose Motor and Propeller

There are two ways I usually do.

  • Observe and Research – go on to youtube and search people’s flying video, not only you can see the result of their quadcopters, you can also check out their setup, what motor and propeller they are using. It’s essential to learn from people’s experience because it’s free :-)
  • Understand the maths and Experiment – if you have a great mathematical mind and have spare budget, and could not find any information about the motor and propeller combination you want to use, you could experiment with different setups! Although it requires more money and more time.

Even the for props of the same size and pitch, when they are made of different material and by different manufacturers, the performance also tend to be very different. Here is an example where I compare the 5030 props of two different brands.


With a well balanced motor and propeller combination, your quadcopter should achieve great efficiency, not only improve battery life time, but also allows great user control experience. Hope this post has helped you select the best motor and propellers, and don’t hesitate to share your ideas or questions with us.:-)

83 thoughts on “How to choose Motor and Propeller for Quadcopter and Multicopter

  1. hi there
    your blog is great thank you for this..
    my name is Marcel im from czech republic….
    so my question is how i can improve longer time in air….
    i have this quadcopter…
    total weight is between 650g to 700g without gopro and gimbal….im not sure what battery is best for use ….3s battery but how many Mah for best economy…
    also if i can improve propeller or motors for longest time in air….
    im sorry for this questions but im new…)))))
    best regards

    • it’s difficult to say without actually test it, every quad setup is different.
      I think for your setup, 3S 2600mah would be a good one.
      But to identify the best capacity VS flight time, check out this post.

  2. I am working on a project that has a bot of about 40kgs. Can you suggest motors and prop sizes suitable to lift the bot up?

  3. Hi Oscar! While I found this article very interesting and useful (thanks for that), yet there are a few doubts of mine which I believe you will be able to sort out.
    I am making a quadcopter for aerial photography, so I have excessive weight in my system. Consequently, I will need more thrust and hence propellers with shorter pitch should be what I am looking for. However, shorter pitch will mean that my drone will take more number of revolutions (and ultimately power) to lift up by the same distance as a drone with propellers having higher pitch would. What should be my approach then- high pull-up capacity with slower pull-up, or low pull-up capacity with(if it works) faster pull-up? Please suggest some dimensions.

  4. Hi bro,

    I’ve been wondering where did you get the spec of the motor you showed as example. I couldn’t find data like suggested prop, or thrust on the hobbyking website link you posted. Thank you very much.

  5. hello bro…
    i want to get thrust of 7.5 kg..means i want to lift 15 kg of weight…i cannot understand which type of motors & which types rotor blade, i can use..i also want flight time around 25 there is an issue about power..for this specification i have to design he whole thing from the start.. i know this is difficult but if you could give me a hint,it will be very nice of you..

    • first, find out what thrust you are after, then decide on prop size.
      this you will find how much current you will expect and you what ESC you should use.
      but looks like this motor is rated at 16 max current anyway, i think 20A ESC would do (for props smaller than 16 inch)

  6. HI Bro,
    i am using these parts. please tell me which parts should i use

    Avionic PRO C2822 KV1400 brushless motor 41g(from
    DYS BE1806-13 Brushless Motor for Multirotor (2300KV) 24g(from

    5030 Carbon Fiber Propellers CW and CCW Rotation (1pair)(from

    please suggest me a esc for the motors

  7. i have doubt about the orientation of motor. Some motors like ‘EMAX Motor MT2213′ have the proper orientation clock wise or anti clock wise but other don’t.How to choose motors in that case??

    • Note that EMAX motors come in Clockwise and Counter Clockwise threads for securing the props to the motors, to avoid loosing props mid-flight… you need two CW and two CCW ..

      • thanks, while choosing the propellers , is it necessary to follow the recommended suggestion given on the motor. I have calculated my own thrust using static thrust calculator which is totally different from the suggested one.

        Prop: 10×4.5 with 3S Lipo (11.1V)
        8×4.5 with 4S Lipo (14.8V)
        Max Thrust: 850gms with 3S or 750gms with 4S
        ESC: 20A
        KV: 935/V Wt: 55Gms

      • It’s not necessary, but it’s safer. Try and see if you can find any thrust tests online, done by third parties. Compare the data and find the best size prop.
        Or if you are still not sure, doing your own thrust test it’s not difficult.

  8. Hi, i want to know the real price of Hexacopter Motors with different manufactres, i hope i would see my reply through my email. And i haved prepared everything such as frame, Camera, and Controller but Motors and ESC we don’t have it in our area. i hope you guys you can help me where to get six (6) Motors and six (6) ESC for my new project “Hexacopter”.

    Do you guys export it if i buy it from your company? am in Nigeria – Leaving in Borno State. how many days will take you to bring it back wen i purchase it.

  9. Hey nice article above.
    I am a first year college student.My friends and I are planning to make a very basic quadcopter. We are having problems regarding specifications of motor and battery. It would be very nice if you could help us out. Our quadcopter should be around 1100 grams(1.1kg). We are planning to use wood for frame. It would be very helpful if you could tell what kind of motor should we use and how powerful battery should be sufficient. We plan to use 4 motors and 1 battery only.

  10. Hello bro,
    I am making a quadcopter using the following parts
    1)hextronik nanowii V01 from HK site
    2)multistar motor type 2213 935KV
    3)10*45 propeller
    4)3 cell 3000mAh tunigy battery
    5)turnigy plush 30Amps*2 for two motors and 25Amps*2 for the other motors
    6)Flysky controller model FS-CT6B.

    So far I have fully assembled my quad all the motor direction and all connections are correct.I used multiwii to program my nanowii controller,so i have set as #define MINTHROTTLE 1150 and #define MAXTHROTTLE 2000 also i calibrated my ESC initially using the #define ESC_CALIB_CANNOT_FLY command in the config.h of the multiwii.ino,but I am facing a problem.
    After I arm the motors and star to raise my throttler one of my motors(rear-right) is staying constant at 1150 for a while while the other three motors raise up.After sometime the fourth motor(rear-right) also increase and at full throttle three motors are running at 1960rpm while the fourth motor(rear right motor) runs at 1660rpm(as seen from the multiwii GUI). Even during the flight it has terrible problems during take off in fact it is not taking off since three motors are at a higher throttle it tumbles over rapidly. Please Help..

    • Hi Bro, First of all, why are you running 2 different types of ESCs?
      you need four identical ESCs, Then calibrate your ESCs and try again.

  11. hi oscar, i’ve a doubt. how much weight of propellers are used in helicopters? is each copter can have different speifications r same?

    • propellers are usually a few grams, of course that depends on the prop size. Usually the weight of the prop can be ignored, size, pitch and material are what matter.

  12. Hi Oscar, love your website! New to the scene and looking into building my first EMAX 250 Carbon Fiber FPV. I do not know the pros and cons of motor size between these two. EMAX MT 2204 2300KV or the EMAX MT 1806 2280 kv. After reading this article I assume the 2204 size will draw more power and less fly time. Besides that fact, what kind of characteristics between these two motors will be different?

  13. Hi,
    My model weight specification is:
    – Model weight : 800gram
    – 1400KV motors from Mystery
    – 40A Skywalker ESCs with BLHeli firmware.
    But when I use 8*4.5 propeller, it can’t take off. So, I decide to use 10*4.5 propeller and each motor provides about 600g of thrust. But after small time of running, motors are hot. I wonder if it’s ok or not?
    P/s: the battery is ok, not hot at all.

    • 10 inch prop might be too large for these motors. the recommended prop is 9inch for 3S lipo. What’s the max thrust you can produce with these motor?

  14. I have got a doubt . I feel like most of the thrust generated by the propellers are being wasted since they are open, So my question is that if it we use some conical enclosure under each motor and propeller assembly and thereby channelizing the power(thrust) or the flow of air, can we achieve greater flight time and greater stability since the interference of the air flow between the motors is reduced? Am I right or wrong?

    • I think that’s an interesting idea I have not thought about. I am sure I have seen it somewhere, but that’s not a common setup, probably for a reason.
      Somehow I am concerned about the outward air flow within the conical enclosure will bounce off the wall, and interfere the main flow of air even more.
      I can see this theory needs a lot of experiments to verify, and can get extremely academic and deep… :D

      • Ducted fans, propellers with a short cylindrical tube around each propeller should increase the directionality of the airflow, thus reducing any turbulence caused from mixing with the air form the other propellers, thereby maybe increasing the thrust. However, I’m not sure that the extra weight added by the cylinders would offset the slight gain in thrust. As you noted, good material for experimentation.

  15. If i want bigger payload such like a camera on micro Brussless motors. Should i use larger props? Stock is 14cm. I use 15cm witch is better performens and stability. I am wondering of i could use 21 cm props. Would iT give me more stability?

    • it doesn’t work like that. It depends on how much torque your motor can generate. larger props requires more torque, if your motor cannot deliver it, it will just draw more current and produce less lift, it might burn your motor and ESC.
      You should be able to find out what is the maximum size prop you can use from your motor data sheet.
      Generally smaller props give better stability, because the faster change of RPM.

  16. Hi, I am building a 450 alien X quadcopter total weight so far is 1000g.. 25amps q brain 4 in 1 speed controller,no fpv equipment yet but will be adding once i learn to fly….Anyway I have mistakingly ordered sunnysky x2212 1400kv motors… thinking they were the 980 kv ones..!!!!. So have the wrong motors, these took 6 weeks to turn up so dont want to send them back and wait another 6 weeks… the quad is almost ready to fly… i have some graphs of the motor specs if you need them.. any suggestions as to what prop size to run… for an easy quad to operate while i learn i dont want speed just longish flight times, currently have 2 2200mah batteries… please advise….

    thanks Al…..

  17. Thanks a lot Oscar for the generous heart to all drone /flight hobbyist like myself now I think now I have got the way to my vision. Though i come from third world country ( uganda) but think you will able to guide me where possible please!
    best regards moses kaluya.

    • You are welcome Kaluya! it doesn’t matter where we are from, we all love this hobby and we are all having the same fun doing it :D

  18. Hi there,

    Love your blog, it’s no. 1 regarding to getting info and news about multicopters.
    I have a question concerning the meaning of the motor no. let’s say that here you talk about the 18-11 2000kv Micro Brushless Outrunner (10g) So what would the 1811 mean and I already understand that the 2000 in this case is the rpm.
    Another example to my question: I saw this multistar 2206-2150kv on HK, again what the 2206 mean?

    Thank you (-:

    • Hi!
      1811 is basically the indicator of the motor size.
      first two digit is the diameter (width) of the motor bell, last two digit is the height of the motor.
      so for example, 2204, is a “fatter”, wider motor, but shorter than 1811.

      It indirectly implies, the power of the motor: the fatter and taller the motor is, usually it’s more powerful and heavier too. Also the motor mount screw holes might be different according to the size. But this is not always the case, check datasheet before buying.


  19. buddy i want to add a bit of transformers stuff , quadcopter automated to transformer in to all wheel drive car (4 wheels power by 4 motors) but i have no knowledge on electronics it’s not my cup of tea .could you suggest type of micro processor i should look,so that it can work as both automated /semi automated quadcopter and car .it also perform transformation from quadcopter to car then car to quadcopter

    • wow, that is going to be a huge project if you are doing it alone!
      I would say an Arduino Mega, or two Arduino nano would be ideal.
      There is already open source multicopter project on the Arduino, all you need to do is write the code for the car, and put it together!

  20. I got confused at your equation for required thrust. Maybe you should write it as

    Required Thrust Per Motor, to avoid come confusion.

    otherwise great article!

  21. Sir please tell me what is the airfoil section which is used here in the propeller.I want to know how the cord and camber length varies along the radius.which section airfoil we must choose.

  22. Dear Oscar,

    I’m Aman Gupta, class X from Kota (Rajasthan).

    I just want to know some best online stores for motors. I’m making it for the first time so I want it second hand. Can I get it within 150 to 300 rs?

    With best regards,
    Aman Gupta

    • Lol you cannot get any motors for 150 to 300 rs. And I don’t know if you can get the motors in second hand. And also I wont recommend it. Just Buy from Hobbyking brand new and you are good to go.

  23. Oscar,

    Was nice and useful to find your blog! thumbs up for that!!!.

    My question is the next one:

    i recently buyed a tarot 650 Carbon fiber quadcopter with 3d gimbal

    and i bought this motors:

    NTM Prop Drive Series 35-48A 1100kv / 640w

    i need to know if they are enough to lift an estimated 4kg. of payload (or if im dreaming).

    i will use this propellers:

    Carbon Fiber Propellers 13X4×4%20carbon

    and this ESC:

    Hobbyking 70amp OPTO ESC with 5 Amp External UBEC

    also which setup of batteries (4S) do you recomend for a flight time near 20 minutes or more? one big battery or 2 in parallel? which size of propellers do you reccomend for that setup to maximize my flight time??

    Thanks a lot for your time it is very appreciated.

    Please if you can write me back at my email it would be awesome! so i can reply right away!

  24. hello guy newbie here who 3Dprinted his own vTail quad and outfitted with 1100kv turnigy motors and 11*5 props on a 4s LiPo 3k MAh with a kk2.1.5 board all setup and all but i have a few Q’z b4 i blast off…

    ok i wud like to hear
    pros vs cons as far as my setup ?
    chud i change props?
    will i be able to fly high (clouds)?
    will it be fast or slow?

    i guess this are my main questions , i rather ask before i fly and crash lol

  25. hi guys i have a newbie question , im running a vtail 500mm 3D printed at home and im putting turnigy 1100kv motor with 11*5 props and a 4s 3k mah and a kk2.1.5 board ……

    any confidence in taking off?
    should i change props?
    will this setup get me high?
    what might be the pros vs con that i might exp?

    im like in my final stage but dont want to risk it so rather ask first

  26. Thank you very much!! I will look into better motors and/or reducing weight.

    P.S- I am also being supervised by a parent! Thanks for your concern though.

  27. Hi!

    I am a 12 year old and have built a small 330 size quad. I am slightly worried about my motors not being powerful enough for the quad. My quad specs are 1.1kg, D2822 Turigy Aerodrive 1100kv Motors (which have a thrust amount of 540g per motor) and a 2200mah, 3s 40c lipo battery. Am I straining my motors? Oddly, the battery, ESCs and motors are barely warm at all after flight. I also carry a gopro and the motors and other parts are fine. I look a the dji phantom which is much lighter and it has 935kv motors… Am I missing something? The quadcopter is also still quite maneuverable has normal flight characteristics as my others. Just want to make sure I don’t damage my quad!

    P.S. I am running 8*4.5in props for lifting more!


    • Update: the weight is actually 1.2 kg and the motors are also quite warm now after flight and with a go pro, I take off at 1/2 throttle (a bit more in fact). Without a go pro, I take off at less than 1/2 throttle.

      • Hi Tristan,

        it’s great to see young minds like you picking up this hobby. But I am concerned about your safety since you are only 12! Are you being supervised by an adult when doing this project?
        Quadcopter is not a toy, it can be very dangerous!

        what you have is flyable. But I would use stronger motors, because 330 size quad should be very agile being able to do arobatics, you probably want to have 1:3 weight to thrust ratio, that means having 3KG of thrust in total, 750g thrust per motor would have been better.

        But I think 1.2KG for a 330 size quad, is a bit heavy. I think normally that size should be around 800 to 900 grams (including gopro).
        try to reduce the weight down, and use your current motor should be fine.

  28. Dear,
    I want to make an airplane of weighted about 1.5 kg including all access.
    An esc of 30 amp . A battery of max 2200 mah . 9g micro servo. So which motor you would refer me.
    In runner or out runner , of which rpm and efficency and thrust and propeller size.
    Tell me about that model which is easily available in pakistan and best for me.
    Thankful to you.

  29. Hello, I have a beginner’s question.
    Generally speaking which type of motor will draw more power,
    The Low Kv or the High Kv motor?

    I’m building a quad and I want to get a few more minutes of flying time and I don’t know if I should use a 1000 kv motor or something around 700kv, I know I’ll be using different size propr obviously but which motor requires more power to spin?

    • Hi, If it’s the same model motor, the higher KV motor will draw more current with the same voltage and prop. For example, the Cobra 2204 2300KV will draw more current (higher power) than the Cobra 2204 1960KV at 3S battery.

  30. Hi,
    I want to make a quad for lifting about 1 kg.and so i required parameter of motor , propeller size and battery required on it.(min flight time is 10 min).
    Thank you very much.

  31. Hi,

    Usually I order from hobbyking, but I can’t find at the thrust data in the data sheet of the motors.
    How can I calculate the thrust of the motors? If it possible of course.
    What would you recommend (motor and prop) for 2kg weights fpv flying?

    My quadcopter: SK450 with “landing gear”, KK2, turngy plush 30A, NTM Prop Drive Series 28-26A 1200kv / 286w, 1045 prop.

    First I tried to fly this config with 845 prop, but it could not take off, then I changed to 1045. It lfew for a while but I recognized the motors where to hot, and the battery also, so I stopped. I knew this config won’t enough strong for that flying but I had to try it.

    Thank you in advance!

    • HI,
      there is no way you can calculate the thrust of a motor accurately, unless it’s provided by the manufacturer, or measured by yourself.
      have you checked the “file” tab in the product page on Hobbyking? sometimes there is a datasheet file in there, or data from some users.
      If no, try google it, I am sure someone has measured this and share on the internet.

      NTM Prop Drive Series 28-26A – This motor seems to run best with 1060 props, each motor can generate 967g thrust for 19A at 100% throttle, so this motor should be good enough for 2KG quad.

      However, also make sure your battery’s C rating is high enough.
      Good luck!

  32. Thanks for ur valuable comment sir, i would also like to know what will be the flying time with 10×4.5 prop and above said configuration sir.
    And Sir as soon the buzzer of the low voltage alarm starts we need to land the quad sir?

  33. hi sir ,im planning to make a quad the estimated weight with components in 950g-1kg
    i planning to use 30A esc, 980 kv motor, 3300mAh battery 25c/50c(burst) which propellor to choose for this configuration sir ( weight of battery 247g)

    • HI!
      I would suggest to try 9 inch and 10 inch propellers, see which is better.
      9 inch should give you better stability, but 10 inch will give you longer flight time.

    • Total weight of your quad?
      Max Thrust of your motors for the battery you are using?
      Current draw of your motors?
      C rating of your battery?

  34. i have read a book about quads and for blade aerodynamics and trust calculating i need some data about the propellers blade airfoil like drag and lift and some angles.
    how can i find these things?i need a can i find it?

    • you don’t need a university degree to build a quad, forget about “aerodynamics”. Follow what I mentioned in the post and you should be fine. usually thrust data are provided on the product page on the websites, given the size of the prop.

    • Let’s have a look.
      What is the total weight of your quad when take off, and what is the spec of your motors? (thrust at battery voltage 3.7V per cell, and current draw at that thrust). Size of your battery? (C-rating, capacity and weight)

  35. I want to make a quad copter for HD video recording . so total weight is around 3.5 or 4 kg so i required parameter of motor , propeller size and battery required on it.

    • that’s heavy
      you are looking at motors that can produce more than 2KG of thrust each, that is going to be expensive.
      I have never built anything this big before so I can’t give you any useful advice.

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