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I'm pretty certain my ESC is broken, so I went looking for some on amazon. I found a decent one for a good price, as well as a 4 pack that was a better cost per unit. I don't really want to have extra escs lying around because the space where I'm allowed to keep my electronic what-nots is rather small, although they would be helpful for quick repairs. Which leads me to my question,

Is it common to break ESCs, especially when starting out?

If I'm going to go through a couple ESCs, I'll by the 4 pack, but if I'm probably not going to break any more then I'll buy the singles whenever I need a replacement.

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Aside from quality control issues with the product, the only real way to destroy an ESC faster than the effects or normal wear and tear (minimal) is to mistreat it:

  • Using it with a voltage higher than its rating
  • Using it with a motor that's dramatically too large
  • Drawing more current than its rating
    • Frequently stalling the motor against tree branches or alike
  • Not adequately cooling the MOSFET transistors when used in high-power applications

I will say, there's something to be said for having all of the ESCs on a model be the same make and model. This would minimize the risk of asymmetric behaviors between the ESCs in-flight.

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ESCs usually last for ages. I still use the ones I bought when brushless motors were relatively new, 15+ years ago.

That said, if you buy the absolute cheapest they do occasionally just die for no reason. If you buy that pack of 4 (presumably the yellow 30amp ones Banggood sell for $15) I wouldn't be surprised if one dies quite soon and the others last for years.

Generally ESCs survive crashes and only die when they get so hot that some solder melts and causes a short circuit.

The other issue is that cheap ESCs often use linear BECs, which reduce the battery voltage to the 5v required for the radio by wasting the extra as heat. This is fine when you only have a 2 cell, 7v battery (and only need to waste 2v) but a problem with higher voltage battery. Often they'll be happy to run four servos from a 2s battery but only two at 3s. You'll notice that those yellow ESCs have a warning not to use the BEC with a 4s battery.

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Yes, ESCs are semi-disposable. I smoked 3 before I flew my first flight.

I buy esc's in groups of 5 (same for motors - I fly quads) then I have a spare for failure. Been using that pattern for 5+ years.

ESC's stop failing when:

  • You learn how to build like a bawce (10-15 clean builds or more)
  • You have the right ESC and stop shopping based on price and recommendation, and instead on specs, quality, and manufacturer.
  • Your drive train is not red-line'd all the time. Get bigger than you think you need for amp handling, ESCs are self-destructive* on many levels, so you want them to run cool and without stress.
  • LEARN TO TUNE - crap tunes will smoke ESC's in a few seconds
  • Build and test in a controlled environment.**

* ESC's generate EM fields that pull in dirt and crap and that will fuse to the unit and decrease efficiency, among many other things that slowly kill the ESC.

** Never finish an install and go fly. Start with power up, then extended power up, then hover, then extended hover, then LoS minor workout. If the motor/esc are good then slowly ramp up to more aggressive flight. This allows you to catch a fail early, especially something easy like a tune error or mechanical resonance (very common).

Once I switch to good ESCs I stopped worrying. I am talking about KISS ESC's. I have not been able to find anything close to the performance (well FETTEC...lol). The 5" AIO's are cheap AF but easy to smoke - so I run AIO that are rated for high amps and have very few problems.

Most of the success I have in my builds is 90% skill of my build, tightness of my wiring, and tuning well.

If you are going through ESC's too quickly and there is not user error, then you need to rethink the drivetrain.

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