What is the Role of an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) in an Electric Skateboard and Why is it Important?
Looking beyond the aesthetics, the Electronic Speed Controller of an electric skateboard is also an important consideration when choosing what to buy.
|ESC kit, 36V, dual motor compatible||Flipsky ESC, 50A, BEC embedded.|
Neufday Electric Skateboard ESC 36V.
A good eSkate looks beautiful from a distance, but a lot of things went into the build that made it so.
We agree that the knowledge of ESCs is better for those who like to DIY – but we also believe that everyone should know the basics about these components.
This informs the approach to this guide. We made it suitable for anyone who needs to know their ESCs capabilities as a better buying guide and the DIYers who prefer custom builds.
What is an Electronic Speed Controller?
Short for Electric Speed Controller, the name says it all already.
This is the eSkate component that regulates the speed that your unit can attain at any given time.
The ESC might be designated to work with speed, but it does way more than that. It is the entire brain of the eSkate on which every other component works.
This speed controller is paired with the motor, which drives the entire setup. That way, it can inform on both speeding up and slowing down directly.
Main ESC Controller Points for e-Boards
This will be dependent on the kind of build you want to achieve.
When choosing an ESC, it is good form to look at three (3) parameters:
– The Ampere,
– Battery rating and,
– If the motor is brushless or not.
The Amperage informs you of how much current the ESC can draw from the board without getting fried.
This is why we always inform that cheap ESCs are more expensive in the long run than good ones.
When you go for the cheap ESCs, there is a high chance that they get fried soon and often. This means you have to buy more and more of them over a short period.
Keep in mind that even when they were in use, you don’t get the best from them.
On the other hand, you also risk damaging other components of your eSkate when your ESC gets done.
The e-Board battery
You could save yourself all that trouble when you choose a good ESC with the best rating.
That said, the battery rating to look out for here is the series arrangement of cells.
We discussed electric skateboard batteries extensively in one of our guides, which is a resource you’ll find useful.
The battery rating on the ESC (can be anywhere from 3s to 10s) informs how many of them you can pair to the controller.
Furthermore, the number of batteries informs how much power you can get – which also translates your maximum speed, mileage, performance, and longevity of the unit.
Brushless and brushed ECS – motor compatible
Maybe this is not a crucial part for most since 95% of the electric skateboard motors in the market are now brushless.
In case you end up having the contrary, you must make sure the ESC is specific for this type of motor.
Learn more about e-Skateboard motor by reading our guide.
Other ESC Factors to Consider (for DIYers)
Whether you are choosing a standard ESC controller or VESC (more on this below), look out for the:
– Added functionalities and,
– The configuration.
This is especially important for those that are building their units themselves.
Some controllers will allow you to add more apps, adjust settings, include features like kick-to-run and even add a Bluetooth functionality.
Of course, that depends on how much you are shelling out too, but it’s better to get a great value for money than paying more for less.
Battery eliminator circuit (BEC)
So, you might be thinking by now that it is just a matter of buying an ESC compatible with the chosen battery and motor, but, the one thing that could slip off is whether the system has a BEC embedded or not.
Most top ESC brands have it already. If that is not the case, you will need to get one aside. For more info about BEC, check here.
Single or dual electronic speed controller
Likewise, the ESC could be configured as a single or dual unit.
As the name implies, the single unit only works with one motor at once while the dual option controls both motors on your eSkate.
More often than not, you will find a dual ESC on most electric skateboards today.
That makes sense from a financial standpoint, given that it is inexpensive to run with one dual ESC instead of two (2) single options.
From a DIY point, though, you could also consider the fact that one single electronic speed controller going bad means you have an extra one to rely on till you can get the other one fixed.
Like most things for personal builders, this will come down to personal preferences.
RC Car ESC: Yay or Nay?
When electric skateboards first made the market, RC car ESCs were what went under them.
They are practical and get the job done, so there was no reason why the choice didn’t make sense. Above all, they were also relatively inexpensive while not cutting any corners.
But then, there was a problem.
These ESCs can be adapted to the eSkates, but they are not configured to fit eSkates out of the box. This could, thus, cause some compatibility problems or simply prevent it from giving the best out of it and therefore, the electric skateboard.
Fortunately, we now have picks like the Hobbywing skateboard ESC and LingYi ESC to fix those issues.
These Chinese brands know how to make a mean ESC on a budget.
The best part is that they are coded and programmed natively to skateboards. Thus, you get the best out of them every time.
The Fuss About the VESC controller
If you have researched ESCs in the past, or just came to buy them, you might be faced with a new option – VESC.
It seems that they are the rave everywhere to turn to these days. That begs the question of what they are and why they are stirring up the waters.
Short for “Vedder Electric Speed Control“, they are an open-source ESC developed by a Swedish engineer, Benjamin Vedder.
If you are going for a custom build, it is much better to choose VESC over a normal ESC. They supply more power and offer more features than the latter option.
For a quick rundown of where VESC excels, we have the following:
– VESC allows users to limit the range of current reaching the motor. Remember that taking too much current can get the motor fried.
– The temperature of the unit’s board can be better controlled and coded on the VESC.
– Preventing over-discharge of the battery to ensure longevity by setting the minimum voltage required for battery drain to occur.
– Users get to customize their acceleration and braking curves to what suits their riding style best.
– VESC allows for better and improved torque control.
– It comes in two (2) different versions to serve users better, and prevent the high cost of entry.
– Version 4 is great for street and normal, everyday usage.
– Version 6 supplies more power, customization options, and a range of performance boosts. Better for eSkate professionals and enthusiasts.
Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) for eSkateboards Wrap Up
Like we said before, an ESC for your new skateboard is an important consideration for choosing and building an eSkate from scratch.
If you would be settling for a basic system, though, we don’t see the reason to build the board from scratch. It is even easier to get something you would love from any of the common production/ manufacturing companies.
When you are stepping up the game, consider the VESC corner, though, DIY is a fine skill to break out.
All in all, buying the right electronic speed controller will ensure that the motor and battery integrated to a standard deck perform smoothly and for a long run.