Which propellers are right for my quadcopter?

Choosing your propellers correctly.

So you're building your first quadcopter, and you need to choose your propellers, but you don't know which you need to buy. Propellers are often referred to as props.

The first question you need to ask yourself is what material you want them to be made out of. Quadcopter props generally come in either plastic, or carbon fibre. Carbon fibre costs more, but it's stronger so less likely to break when you inevitably crash. It also often looks better. However it only comes in one colour, so you loose the benefit of using colour to assist with orientation.

Plastic propellers come cheap, but break easy. If you crash even fairly gently, you are likely to break a plastic propeller. This is actually beneficial to a beginner because it means less of the impact stress is conducted to the motor, which in turn means you are less likely to damage the motor or the frame. This also helps if you hit anything, you are less likely to damage whatever you've hit. Don't make the mistake of only ordering one set of plastic propellers with your first quadcopter, you will find yourself grounded very quickly when you break a prop. Plastic props come in a variety of colours, so you can have the props on the front and back in different colours, which helps with orientation.

Propellers come in a variety of sizes.

The first two numbers in the size given refers to the length of the prop in inches. So a 1045 prop would be ten inches long.

The second two numbers refer to how far forward the prop would move itself in a single rotation,
also in inches. So in theory a 1045 prop would move itself forward 4.5” during a single rotation. So the higher the last two numbers, the more deeply angled the prop blade is.

Note that this naming system is not totally standardised in China, so an 8” prop may be promoted as either 0845 or 8045- either way it's the same thing.

You want a propeller which is suitable for your motor, and for your frame. A prop which is too big for your motor to swing will put too much resistance on it, which will cause it to overheat and may damage the motor in the long term. A propeller which is too big for your frame will bump into the neighbouring prop, or parts of the frame.

Many motors publish recommended propeller sizes, many multicoper frames also recommend a prop size to use.

The angle of the blade generally wont be important on your first build, as most quadcopter shops will only sell suitably angled blades. Sizes between 0020 and 0049 are common, with 30 and 45 being the popular sizes at the moment.

Many people are flying small quadcopters, 220, 230, 250 size, such as the Blackout, QAV 250, or similar. These generally run 1806 size motors on 5” props. Some may support 6” props. Look for 0530, 0545, 0630 size props or similar. These come as two or three blade varieties.

After that you hit the 330 size category. The generally run 2204 size motors and up rated at 2000kv or more, for maximum speed. These generally use 0845 size or similar props. As motors in this size come with a range of central hole sizes, it's worth checking the props you buy will fit the motor, or include prop adapters.

The 450 size quadcopter is also highly popular. These are normally run with 1045 or similar propellers, on a 2212 or similar motor, at around 1000kv. Some people prefer to run these with smaller 0845 props, so anything between 8” and 10” is generally suitable.

Quadcopters over the 550 size generally are more varied, and you should look for what is recommended by your motor manufacturer.