Can A Brushless Motor Run Without An ESC (Full Guide)

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Do You Need An ESC To Run Your Brushless Motor?

Some of you who may be new to the hobby ask this question especially.

Brushless motors are the standard for most hobby-grade RC models of today, but can you run your brushless motor without an ESC (Electronic Speed Controller)?

You Can’t Run A Brushless Motor Without ESC

Well, this is a rather simple answer.

You cannot run a brushless motor without an ESC.
An ESC regulates the current to the brushless motor, and without regulating, your motor will not spin. 

If you want to go faster, your transmitter controller will send electrical impulses to your ESC, which will allow for the motor to spin faster and increase the speed of your RC model.

The ESC Regulates The current To Your Brushless Motor

Some of you may be wondering why it is that an ESC is needed for a brushless motor to work, but in reality, an ESC is needed for all electric RC models to work, regardless of the motor.

An ESC works by charging the magnetic field to rotate your motor’s armature and by controlling the speed at which your motor spins by regulating the electrical current applied to the motor. If the ESC wasn’t present, your motor wouldn’t run at all.

As you can see, ESCs are an absolute necessity for your RC model, and without it, your RC model would be nothing more than an expensive shelf piece.

Extra read: what ESC to what motor? make sure they work together

Can You Test A Brushless Motor Without An ESC

While we’re on the subject of the importance of the ESC, let’s touch on how to test your brushless motor without an ESC.

Unfortunately, if your ESC is missing, you cannot run your brushless motor.

If you’re in this predicament, your only option is to get a new ESC. Otherwise, your motor will not be able to run.

Can You Run A Brushless Motor On A Brushed ESC?

For those of you who may be in a desperate situation where you have a brushless motor, your old ESC broke, but the only other ESC you have is brushed.

In this case, you can’t pair a brushless motor with a brushed ESC, and this is because the brushed ESC is meant to be paired with a brushed motor, which is powered by a DC current, whereas a brushless motor runs on an AC current.

If this is the situation you’ve found yourself in, your best bet is to buy a brushless ESC.

Can Any Brushless Motor Work With Any Brushless ESC?

However, if you have both a brushless motor and a brushless ESC, but they’re of a different brand, can you run them together?

Fortunately, yes! You can run any brushless motor with any brushless ESC.

The only tricky part may be fitting the ESC and the motor together in the same RC model, but if they do indeed fit, then you’re set!

Is An ESC A Motor? How Does A Brushless Motor ESC Work?

Now, this question is asked by many confused newcomers, and if you’re one of them, then fear not, because the answer is fairly simple.

No, ESCs are not motors, but they provide the ability for the brushless motor to run by charging the electromagnetic field in the armature of the motor.

As for how a brushless ESC works, once again, it charges the electromagnetic field within the armature of the brushless motor, making the armature spin.

Whenever you want to slow down or increase speed by using the input controls on your transmitter, the ESC receives electrical impulses that provide less or more current to the motor, making the motor spin slower or faster, which allows your RC model to go slower or faster, accordingly.

What Are The Differences Between Brushed And Brushless ESCs?

Speaking of questions from the beginners to the hobby, you may be wondering if there are any real differences between brushed and brushless ESCs.

One of the biggest and most notable differences between a brushed ESC and a brushless ESC is that a brushed ESC provides a DC current, while the brushless ESC provides an AC current.

Another notable difference is that a brushless ESC and a brushless motor have three wires, and out of the three, only two are energized by the ESC. 

Any pole within the armature that isn’t energized will generate a tiny amount of voltage that is proportional to the speed of the armature.

With a brushed motor, however, the motor will essentially run itself, as long as a current is applied to it.

These facts are important for noting why brushed and brushless components don’t work together, as they operate fundamentally different.

Are There ESCs That Can Work With Both Types Of Motors?

For those who wish for there to be a sort of universal ESC that can work for both brushed and brushless motors, this answer may disappoint.

Unfortunately, there is no such ESC that can work for both brushed and brushless motors.

Our apologies for those of you who were hoping for an ESC that could work for both types of motors.

Can You Convert A Brushed ESC To Work With A Brushless Motor?

While we’re on the topic of motor and ESC wizardry, is it possible to actually convert one motor type to another?

Sticking to the theme of the last answer, this one is also and unfortunately a no. Sadly, you cannot convert your brushed ESC to a brushless ESC.

If you want to change out your brushed system for a brushless one, you’ll need to buy a new brushless system and install it.

Do I Need A New ESC For A My New Brushless Motor?

Some of you may be worried that you will need to buy a new ESC for your new brushless motor, but don’t worry, because we’ll clear things up.

Unless your ESC is for a brushed motor, you will not need to replace it. If your ESC is brushless, then you’re good to go.

Like we’ve said before, as long as your ESC is brushless and is a good fit for your motor and RC model, it will work with any brushless motor.

How To Connect Brushless ESC To A Brushless Motor

Luckily, this answer is very simple!

There will be three connector wires for your brushless motor and your brushless ESC. Simply take the three wires from your brushless ESC, then connect them to the three wires of the brushless motor.

Some people get worried about which wires they should be connecting, but the order doesn’t matter. As long as the wires have a firm connection to each other, you’re all set.

How To Choose The Best ESC For Your Brushless Motor?

Before you buy a new ESC for your brushless motor, you’re going to want to look at the specifications of each ESC.

Current ratings are one of the most important things to look at before buying an ESC.

What is a current rating? It’s measured in amps, which is what the motor will draw as it spins. In the case that your motor draws more amps than your ESC can take, it could lead to combustion and/or a critical motor failure.

For those of you who are beginners to the hobby, it’s a safer bet to go with the ‘continuous’ current rating rather than the ‘burst’ current rating.

Sources used for this article

ESC Electronic Speed Controllers : An introduction

All About Brushless DC Motors

How to Test a Brushless Motor

FPV Drone ESC Buyer’s Guide