Quadcopters, Hexacopters and Octocopters: What Are the Differences?

When shopping for a drone or building one, one of the first things you’ll need to decide on is which platform to choose. Since multirotors are available in different guises, the process of selecting the right platform can be a bit tricky.

Factors such as budget and what you plan to use the drone for typically decides which platform you’ll eventually settle with.

Generally, the more motors a drone has, the more expensive it is. However, more motors also mean better flight performance and other benefits. As you will soon find out in this article, there are pros and cons to each platform.


Quadcopter

The quadcopter has four motors and is the most popular drone platform as it is very affordable to manufacture. From toy drones to professional aerial photography platforms, the quadcopter has a nice balance of performance and affordability.medium_p1

Pros:

  • Having only four motors means it is the most affordable to purchase and maintain.
  • Less complicated than other multirotors that have more motors.
  • Very portable and easy to store.
  • Excellent flight times.

Cons:

  • No motor redundancy. When one motor fails, the drone cannot continue flying and will crash.
  • Less precise and less stable compared to a hexacopter.
  • Quite unstable in turbulent flying conditions.
  • Less thrust than a hexacopter.

Hexacopter

The hexacopter is a step up from a quadcopter and has two extra motors. This means it generally costs more to purchase and maintain in the long run. One major advantage you’ll get with a hexacopter is motor redundancy. Due to this redundancy, a hexacopter may continue flying when one motor has failed (although it will wobble very badly) if the conditions are right. However, not all hexacopters have this advantage as it depends on a hexacopter’s flight controller and whether or not it is set up to support it.

Pros:

  • More thrust than a quadcopter.
  • Handles quite well in windy conditions.
  • Decent flying stability and performance.
  • Motor redundancy (depending on flight controller and flying conditions).

Cons:

  • Costs more to purchase and maintain compared to a quadcopter.
  • Slightly larger, heavier and less portable than a quadcopter.
  • Slightly shorter flight times.

Octocopter

Octocopters are great for those who wish to lift expensive equipment and cannot afford any crashes. This is because octocopters have motor redundancy that work quite well. Due to having eight motors and generally large wingspans, octocopters are also very stable in windy conditions, making them excellent aerial photography platforms. They are, however, more costly and harder to transport.

Pros:

  • Has more thrust and is capable of lifting much heavier payloads than a hexacopter.
  • Excellent motor redundancy.
  • Handles windy conditions exceptionally well.
  • Excellent flying stability and performance.

Cons:

  • Costs more to purchase and maintain compared to a hexacopter.
  • Larger, heavier and less portable than a hexacopter.
  • More motors mean higher power consumption which leads to shorter flight times.

X8

Like octocopters, X8s also have eight motors but while octocopters have eight arms, X8s have four arms with two motors mounted on each arm (on top and bottom). This creates for a more compact layout that is lighter and takes up less space. In terms of flight performance and reliability, X8s are generally more superior to octocopters but they have slightly shorter flight times.

Pros:

  • The best in this list when it comes to flight performance and stability.
  • Better motor redundancy than an octocopter (hardly any noticeable wobble with the failure of one motor).
  • Lighter and more compact than an octocopter.
  • Easier to transport than an octocopter.

Cons:

  • Costs about the same as an octocopter but more expensive than a hexacopter.
  • Slightly shorter flight times compared to an octocopter.


Adrin Sham

Adrin Sham is a designer and photographer turned drone enthusiast. Since buying a drone for aerial photography some years ago, he has since developed a passion for UAVs and all things related.

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