Drones have many crucial and delicate parts, and they experience a considerable risk of damage. Drones have to be as light as possible, including the motors and propellers, resulting in delicate parts that can be easily damaged. The propellers have to be both light and strong enough to keep the drone in stable flight, and it's a plus if they can also withstand some degree of collision.
Carbon fiber is an extremely light and durable material, and is often used in products that need to be light, but still be incredibly strong. This means carbon fiber products often cost more than its alternatives. Based on that, is it worth it to install carbon fiber propellers on the Phantom 3?
- Stock propellers for the Phantom 3 are made out of durable plastic.
- Carbon fiber propellers are lighter and stronger than plastic.
- They provide less vibration, resulting in smooth imagery.
- They feel more responsive to controls.
- Carbon fiber propellers are expensive.
- They may allow for less flight time.
- They can wear down the motors quicker plastic alternatives.
Hard Plastic Stock Propellers
The Phantom 3 comes with propellers out of the box. They are made out of durable plastic and resist breaking. All specs about weight, flight times, drone speed, and more are all based on these plastic blades. Changing them out will directly influence differences in the specs.
Below is a photo of the Phantom 3 Professional model with the stock plastic propellers:Click here for all specs
The primary concern with plastic propellers is in whether or not they will break. Consistent and safe flight will most likely find no issues, but crashing is another story. Gimbal guards and propeller guards can help protect a drone in a collision, but depending on the severity of the crash, it may not be enough to save the propellers.
That is partly due to how it was made. Plastic propellers are designed to be able to suffer some damage before it adds significant strain to the motor. A severe crash that leads to a ruined propeller will often end that day's flight.
Advantages of Carbon Fiber Propellers
The biggest difference is in the weight and strength. Carbon fiber is lighter and stronger than plastic. Changing out the propellers can instantly take several grams off of the total drone weight. That alone can offer a huge boon to drone pilots.
Below is a video showing the differences and installation of carbon fiber propellers on a Phantom 3 drone:
The strength difference is also significant. A carbon fiber propeller can handle more strain than its plastic counterpart without chipping or breaking. This makes it more reliable in the event of a collision. This also helps when operating at high power. The carbon holds together much better at higher speeds. A motor has an easier time spinning the carbon propellers than it does the plastic ones.Carbon propellers are also stiffer than plastic. This ensures that wind conditions and air resistance have a lesser impact on the propellers. The most noticeable difference this makes is with smoother imagery and video footage. This also helps with how responsive the controls feel. Drone pilots often feel more in control of a drone flying with carbon fiber propellers.
Disadvantages of Carbon Fiber Propellers
The first and most obvious disadvantage is the price. Carbon fiber propellers are much more expensive than plastic. A pair of replacement plastic propellers costs $6.00 on the DJI store, while a pair of carbon retail at $15.00. Each set of propellers only includes 2 blades, so to replace all the propellers, you would need 2 sets. Keep in mind that the Phantom 3 already comes with a full set of plastic propellers.
Below is a photo of plastic propeller replacements:
Below is a photo of carbon fiber propeller replacements:Click here for specs
There are other disadvantages too. The fact that carbon fiber is noticeably lighter than plastic also has a downside. It has less presence and power in the air, leading to slightly shorter flight times. This also gives less upward power than plastic propellers do, which may cause problems in certain situations.
Another concern is the strength of the propeller. Being stronger is better for the propeller’s structure, but isn't as good for the motor powering it. For every impact the propeller withstands, the motor absorbs the shock. This may lead to increased wear over time. That is one of the reasons plastic propellers come standard; it's much easier and cheaper to replace those than it is to have a worn out motor.
The decision on whether or not to buy carbon fiber propellers depends on preference. Is it worth it to get carbon fiber? Yes, it is. The increased investment easily makes up for the lighter, stronger, and more responsive drone. Is it worth it to stick with the plastic? Yes, it is. You will save some money and cut down on the wear against your motors. It all comes down to what is more important to you.
Drone pilots more interested in performance will lean more toward carbon fiber. Pilots who like to play it safe may stick with plastic. Both are solid choices. Regardless of your choice, you might want to pick up a replacement pair of your preferred propellers in case anything happens.
Please share this with anyone you know who owns a Phantom 3!