Tricopter Vs Quadcopter 2022: Which Is The Best Choice For You

Tricopter Vs Quadcopter 2022: Which Is The Best Choice For You

Quadcopters are the most popular type of drone, but tricopters are gaining popularity for their stability and maneuverability. Tricopters have three rotors instead of four, and one rotor is mounted vertically to provide lift and stability. Quadcopters have four rotors, two of which are mounted vertically and are more stable than tricopters.

Both have their pros and cons, but which one is better: Tricopter vs Quadcopter? Let’s take a closer look.

The Tricopter

The Tricopter

The main advantage of a tricopter is the build cost. Fewer motors and parts mean less probability of failure, making them more reliable and, technically, more “resilient” in that sense compared to the quadcopter (We’ll soon see how it doesn’t apply with the hexacopter and octocopters).

The tricopter used to be more popular when the cost of individual components (i.e., price of motors, ESCs etc.) was much higher than that of today. Today, this argument might not make as much sense in all cases, especially with smaller crafts, since parts come much cheaper.

The placement of the YAW control at the tail of the craft makes the craft feel agile and “smooth”, especially while performing turns and bank turns. The FPV experience on a tricopter may be hence, unmatched by any other type of multirotor configuration.

Building a tricopter is also more difficult than building a quadcopter. If you are a beginner in terms of building a craft, a tricopter is probably not the way to go at this point.

The Quadcopter

The Quadcopter

The most popular multirotor configuration out there in the market today is the quadcopter. This configuration is adopted by a wide range of differently capable multirotors, including FPV racing quads and quads that are capable of photography and videography (for example, DJI’s phantom or Inspire series).

The quadcopter has more lifting/thrusting power than the tricopter but may feel less agile while turning. This configuration is probably the easiest to set up if you want to build one from scratch.

There are plenty of guides out there for building quadcopters of a wide array of different sizes and shapes. If scaling up and carrying larger payloads is what you are looking after, start by looking at the quadcopter instead of a tricopter.

If you are a beginner with little flying experience, go for a small, ready-to-fly quadcopter and learn to fly a multirotor from there. They come very cheap and offer the most in terms of efficiency for their price.

Pros And Cons

Pros And Cons quadcopter vs tricopter

Now that you understand the main differences between the two vehicles, it’s time to compare other characteristics to see the main advantages and disadvantages between the two. Since there are many more quadcopters being sold in stores that previously had an abundance of flying helicopters, spaceships and planes, you’ll want to carefully access these differences to see which is right for you.

It may also assist you with buying a gift, as one may suit a child more than another, or perhaps an adult would have a preference for one over the other.

One other notable disadvantage of purchasing tricopters is that they’re harder to find. You may have noticed that you never see any on the shelves at Best Buy or ToysRUs, or even your local RC toy shop, but usually, toy planes, helicopters and quadcopters are in abundance.

Even if you do a search on Amazon, most likely, you’ll see the same three brands over and over again, amidst an awful lot of kits offering tricopter frames and parts for sale. You may actually have to hunt down these drones on the manufacturer’s websites in order to place your order.

Pros of Tricopters

  • One fewer motor
  • Weight loss
  • increased battery life and
  • Lower cost
Pros of Quadcopter 
  • They are less complicated.
  • In the event of a collision, the repair costs are minimal.
  • They can lift more weight.
  • Increased chances of survival in the event of a crash
  • They come in a variety of styles.
  • They have the ability to move in any direction.
  • Flying is now easier.
Cons of Quadcopter 
  • Not dependable
  • A single motor failure can result in a crash.

Differences Between Tricopter And Quadcopter

Differences Between Tricopter And Quadcopter

The main difference you’ll notice between a tricopter and a quadcopter is that they have a different number of rotors. A tricopter has three, while a quadcopter has four. Besides this main difference, a copter can look like a helicopter, a UFO, or any other type of flying device.

Just like the DJI Phantom 2 differs so vastly from the UDI U818A-HD, two tricopters may also appear vastly different from each other, except for those three rotating blades at the top or sides.

Some tricopters may be made as toys, while others may have gimbals attached so that you can shoot professional-quality videos. There are some that you can even attach your own gimbal and choose your own camera.

Many tricopters look more like the traditional helicopter shape, while a quadcopter has its own unique style. Choosing a tricopter over a quadcopter may be simply due to personal choice. You may find more tricopters are marketed as UFOs or helicopters, whereas quadcopters are a vehicle in their own right.

When you’re observing the differences between tri and quad, you may also notice one other difference. With a quadcopter, you’ll notice that the four rotating blades are usually either above or to the immediate sides of the main body frame. These four blades are spaced equally apart from each other.

But on a tricopter, often, there will be one blade to the front or back of the main body, with two other blades to each of the left and right sides of the tricopter. One of the tricopters, such as the Cheerson, may have been able to engineer theirs with the rotors more equally spaced apart around the central body, but you’ll still notice that the forward or back rotor is distanced slightly apart from the others to provide that additional thrust. But it’s certainly a rule that can be broken in this tricopter configuration.

When shopping for drones, you’ll have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages to choose the best for your flight purposes.

Speed Of Tricopters

Speed Of Tricopters


Most people unanimously agree that the tricopters simply don’t achieve the performance of the quadcopter. It stands to reason as there are only three blades and motors in a tricopter, and not four like in the quadcopter. This means that there is less thrust in the tricopter than in the quadcopter. That means a slower, less powerful performance.

These three blades and motors translate to a slower speed and performance level. While this may be an issue for an expert, the beginner may love this as a feature as they can control the quad more easily and keep it within a viewable flight range, rather than a faster quad that may fly out of range too soon.

For this reason, many people may wish to choose a tricopter as a gift for children rather than a quadcopter. In fact, quadcopters are often seen as toys for adults due to their reputation as a fast-paced flying toys.

Because of this lack of performance, the tricopter is often only available in smaller sizes and not the larger sizes that you can buy quadcopters in.

Tricopters are also not as popular purchase as a quadcopter, so many people can overlook them, much like a quad collector has outgrown an RC plane or helicopter. Perhaps one day, tricopters may make a reappearance on the market. If so, they may have as many amazing features as quadcopters can have now.


Convenience of tricopter vs quadcopter

One main disadvantage of the tricopter is that it may be more difficult to discern which part of the copter is the nose, or basically, which end should be facing forward. A pro may quickly get it, but the beginner may be confused as to why the controls of the radio controller aren’t operating the way they should.

They want the drone to fly forward, but it flies sideways instead. This is often because the drone flies in the direction that the nose is facing. A pro pilot will be able to sort out the direction in the air and compensate accordingly, but not the new beginner.

Unless the tricopter has a headless mode function, which will enable the pilot to fly in a forward direction no matter which way the nose is pointing, flying a tricopter may be a bit more difficult until you figure out which way is nose forward.

The battery technology is increasing, so a tricopter doesn’t necessarily have a longer flight time than the quadcopter nowadays. Many of the tricopters and quadcopters have flight times of six or seven minutes before they need to be charged up again.

Flight Time

The tricopter might be a better toy for children or the occasional hobbyist. Most are built with durability in mind, so they can withstand crashes. They are also lighter weight, so there are fewer worries about safety, particularly if there are several children in the yard.

But since the tricopter is of a lighter weight, it may be easier to learn how to fly. This convenience gives it one advantage over the quadcopter. We must also keep in mind that quadcopters are also used as commercial drones, while rarely the tricopter is, so people may feel more comfortable learning how to fly a tricopter first.

Price Of Tricopters

Price Of Tricopters

The price seems higher for a tricopter that has similar features to a quadcopter, especially since many quadcopters under 0 also include a video camera. This may be a result of tricopters not selling in the volume that a quadcopter does. If marketers can find a way to sell more tricopters in 2018, then their prices should come down a bit.

It is also difficult to find an inexpensive tricopter that is priced under $50 today. At one time, it may have been simple to find a cheap tricopter, but for some reason, they just don’t seem to be around anymore. It’s possible you may find some old store stock with affordable tricopters if you’re really interested in learning how to fly one.

Other Tricopter’s Characteristics

Other Tricopter's Characteristics

Both tricopters and quadcopters can be made in virtually any color of the rainbow. More common colors are white and black, but blue and red may be found too. Both are made from the same plastic carbon fiber materials.

Just like with some models of quadcopters, the tricopter can also carry a camera. These drones can cost more money, though, and may require the additional purchase of a gimbal and camera.

Both tricopters and quadcopters can have lights, but the newer LED running lights to seem to be more common on quads, while tricopters seem to have larger light bulbs, if at all. This delegates them to mostly daytime flights, which should be fine for children or beginners who aren’t going to be flying a drone through the air in the evening anyway.

Tricopters For Sale

Tricopters For Sale

There may not be as many tricopters on the market as there are quadcopters, but you can still find some great drones. You’ll recognize some popular quadcopter manufacturers, such as Cheerson, who have their own version of the tricopter. In order to find more, you may wish to check manufacturer’s websites to see what they have on offer, and then once you know the name and model number, you can begin your search online for the best price.

There are also some other less familiar drone manufacturers, such as the Invader or the Chengxing. Most have similar features, while a few offer additional items such as a video or snapshot type of camera. You also have the option to purchase a generic assembled kit so that you don’t have to do any work at all.

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Our Top 4 Recommendations For Tricopters Are Reviewed Below

Our Top 4 Recommendations For Tricopters Are Reviewed Below

RC Mini UFO “Invader” Tricopter

6-Axis Gyro, 2.4GHz frequency, 4 Channels. The manufacturers of the Invader call their tricopter a “UFO”. It’s made with a white plastic body and three circles protected within blade guards, evenly spaced apart from each other. The blades are black, with some red graphic details on the blade guard parts.

Like most quads, the mini UFO Invader has a six-axis gyroscope system. This has the ability to balance the drone tricopter while in the air.

This tricopter is built with durable plastic to protect it from damage during bad crashes. The manufacturer claims that they’ve built this toy more durably than other similar drones on the market today.

The Invader has a full-size radio controller in a black and silvery-white box with a carry handle. The unit has a small LED screen on the bottom to help the pilot with discerning which of the controls are active. The controller uses a 2.4 GHz frequency and has four channels.

With the radio controller, you can perform rise, decline, forward, backward and left and right flight options. You can fly the Invader out to a distance of sixty to eighty meters. You can also perform trick moves, including a 360-degree rotation, and also hover around a 360-degree circle.

The price of the Invader is around $76. You’ll need to add four 1.5 volt double A (AA) batteries for the remote controller. It will take forty to seventy minutes to fully charge up this drone. You’ll then have about six to seven minutes of flight time.

Cheerson CX-33S CX33S Tricopter

Cheerson CX-33S CX33S Tricopter

The Cheerson CX-33S comes with a camera and a radio control unit with a full-color screen. It’s built with a video transmission system of 5.8G. There are two different flight modes: beginner and expert, so you can choose which one you’re more comfortable in. This drone is white with a darkened “cockpit”.

This toy performs all the standard moves you expect. From ascending to descend, to forward and backward, left and right turns, and a hover mode. You can also fly it with a left sideways flying and a right sideways flying. You can fly it out to a distance of thirty to eighty meters.

The Cheerson makes it simple to fly. There is one key that will enable take-offs and one key to enable landings. The camera has 2 megapixels and can take both snapshots and record video for upload to your computer.

The drone has a six-axis gyroscope that helps keep it balanced in the air and a gyro calibration function. The copter contains a sensor that notes high-density air pressure, which helps it to keep its height and to hold in position. Within the Cheerson are six motors, which give it more power to take flight.

The radio controller has the standard 2.4Ghz and four channels. It takes about 210 minutes to get the drone charged up, which gives you about six to seven minutes of flight time. You can control your drone out to a distance of about thirty to eighty meters. You’ll need to purchase batteries for the radio control unit. The Cheerson CX-33S tricopter can be purchased for around $180.

In the box is the drone, the radio transmitter, one cable that connects to your computer’s USB port or the wall outlet, two spare blades and a user manual.

Chengxing Scorpion S-Max Tricopter

Chengxing Scorpion S-Max Tricopter

The Chengxing Scorpion is a tricopter with a dark grey and black plastic body with a unique six-blade system. However, it’s still classified as a tricopter, as the three sets of blades are installed one on top of the other in pairs.

There is a grayed-out area in front, presumably for a helicopter “cockpit”. There are four black blades, with an orange on the back to differentiate orientation in the air and a white one underneath

The radio controller is made with a white and black plastic body with an antenna facing forward. There is a small LCD readout screen on the bottom front of the radio controller unit so that you can see the currently selected settings. The radio controller operates at a 2.4Ghz frequency. It has a built-in gyroscope to keep it flying through the air.

The Scorpion is priced at about $65, making it a bit pricey, considering its few listed features on the box. There is minimal building once you get the box home. You charge it up, and it’s ready to fly. You’ll need to add your own batteries to power up the radio controller. It takes six AA (double-A) batteries.

The Scorpion is lightweight but durable. It may be a good option for beginners, so you won’t be too worried if it does crash. The optimum age level is fourteen years to fifteen years old. The recommended flight levels are for beginner to intermediate flight levels.

This tricopter has three long black arms and sits on two long landing legs. The body’s mechanics are open, but you can add a plastic body casing if you wish. You also get a fully functional radio controller and cable in this set. You can add a gimbal if you wish, so you can add a video camera. Having a kit assembled for you can seem pretty pricey — around $500.

Your kit will have an optimized central body that has been pared down to the basics to keep it lightweight. When someone else does this build for you, it will be more convenient.

This drone has a tall T-shaped frame. It has Hml650 gear. The motor shaft has a hidden design, keeping it protected, particularly when it may crash. This drone is built to be stable while even in flight.

The radio transmitter is 2.4 GHz with nine channels. The drone can be recharged with the included USB cable. The tricopter has a built-in GPS compass system enabling the radio controller to stay in contact at all times. The three motors are made with brushless disks.

If you’re searching for tricopters, your three main choices are going to be the Invader, the Cheerson CX-33S or the Scorpion. If you prefer to get into the building from kits, there seem to be more of those available for sale online, including a wide range of parts.

It may be easier to build a tricopter than a quadcopter as you only have to worry about three arms and not four, and also installing only three blades and not four. It may be a simpler solution when you want to try a build, but you want something a bit simpler to make. Apparently, it can be quite costly to have someone build you a tricopter.

No matter whether you decide to purchase the best tricopter or to wait until more are available on the market, you’re sure to discover a fun and exciting hobby that takes you away from the TV or computer screen and into the outdoors to enjoy fresh air and exercise.

Compare With Hexacopter

tricopter vs quadcopter vs hexacopter

The Hexacopter

The hexacopter offers everything that the quadcopter does, plus more. While scaling up to bigger multirotors, this configuration offers more power, efficiency, stability and capacity for carrying heavier payloads than a quadcopter.

They are also pricier than the quadcopter, but they come with an inherent increase in reliability. If one of the motors fails, for example, these crafts would still be able to fly fine enough to make a safe landing. With quadcopters or tricopters, this is simply not the case.

If you are a semi-professional photographer or a UAV pilot working for a company that does infrastructure inspection, the hexacopter is where you might want to start.

Comparison Summary and general rules

Here are some of the flight characteristics compared in a nutshell.

  • Flight time: The argument that tricopters have longer flight times than a quad, for example, because of one less motor, may not always hold true. There are many factors that have to be taken into account.
  • The main theme revolves around the total amount of work done by the motors to get the craft up. Less amount of motors equals less power and thrust. The existing motors must hence, work harder. Generally, you want a good thrust-to-weight ratio for maximum flight times. For larger quads capable of carrying heavy payloads, this thrust-to-weight ratio is best realized with hexacopter and octocopter configurations. For smaller ones, tricopter/quadcopter is probably the way to go.
  • Agility: Regardless of the configuration, smaller multirotors are generally more agile and maneuverable. There is a reason why FPV racing drones are in the 250 size range. Other than size, tricopters can be said to be the most agile due to the way the YAW configuration is set up and not because of the fact that there are fewer motors. A quadcopter with a V-tail configuration can have a similar YAW configuration, making it feel more agile.
  • Stability: Generally, the larger the quad, the more stable it is. However, after a certain point, there are diminishing returns with size. It is not possible to indefinitely scale a multirotor and reap the benefits of scaling. As a result, building a multicopter like a hexacopter that has additional motors improves the overall thrust, power and stability of large multirotors that are generally used to carry heavy payloads (like heavy camera equipment).
  • Payload capacity: Obviously, payload capacity would be directly proportional to the size of the multirotor. But like we discussed, for stability, size cannot be indefinitely scaled and hence, hexacopters and octocopters are used for managing large payloads.

What Multirotor Should I Pick?

What Multirotor Should I Pick

The answer depends on your needs and goals. Though we can give you a general idea, we cannot decide for you:

  • Beginners: Quadcopters
  • Intermediate multirotor enthusiasts: Tricopters and quadcopters
  • Semi-professional photographers and sUAS pilots: Hexacopters
  • Professional top-tier sUAS pilots and photographers: Octocopters

You can learn more about Hexacopter Vs Quadcopter if you want.


FAQs about tricopter vs quadcopter

How does a Tricopter drone work?

A tricopter has two rotors that are spinning in opposite directions, but there is a rotor left that produces a torque that tries to spin the tricopter. Because of this, a rear servo was used to tilt the rear rotor to compensate for this torque in the same manner a helicopter tail rotor does.

What type of batteries do quadcopters use?

5 kWh Lithium-Ion Battery Pack for Drones and Robotics

The most commonly-used battery technologies in unmanned systems are lithium-based, as they have a higher energy density than the older nickel-based technologies, so they can provide more useful power per unit weight.

How long do quadcopter batteries last?

The typical flight time for most high-quality drones is about 20 minutes. Lower-quality drones have battery life ranging from 5 to 10 minutes, while mid-range drones have flight times between 15 to 20 minutes. Professional drones have flight times between 20 to 30 minutes.


A quadcopter is probably your best bet if you’re looking to take some casual photos or videos. They’re more stable and more accessible to fly than tricopters, so you don’t have to worry about crash landing as much.

However, if you’re looking to do some serious racing or flying, then a tricopter might be a better option. They’re more agile and can reach higher speeds, but they’re also more challenging to control.

Check out the list of best drones under 500 if you want to buy a drone for yourself

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