4 Tips to Extend Your Drone’s Flight Time

Considering all the amazing things that the best consumer drones can do, the fact that flight times can reach 20-25 minutes is pretty impressive. But when you get focused on maneuvering your drone or capturing that perfect aerial imagery, there are definitely times when that 20 minutes seems to, well, fly right by.

The easiest way to extend your drone’s flight time is to pick up a few extra batteries. But if that’s not an option for you, here are a few recommendation for ways to help your drone fly a little bit longer.

Fly in favorable weather conditions

There are several weather-related factors that directly impact battery life and flight times:

  • Cold temperatures: Many quadcopters use lithium-polymer (LiPo) batteries, which are less efficient in cold weather. When the temperatures dip, you can expect your flight times to dip as well.
  • Hot temperatures: When the weather is hot the drone needs to work harder to generate lift. This additional demand on the motors requires more power and has a negative impact on the flight time. In hot weather, you might have to wait longer for batteries to cool down before you recharge them, which means lengthier periods between flights as well.
  • Wind: In windy conditions, the drone uses more power with each maneuver and burns battery life just trying to maintain a steady position. Flying in strong winds (anything over 20 MPH) is risky and should be avoided. If you choose to head out when it’s windy expect a more difficult flight and shorter flight times.
  • Precipitation: The added resistance on your drone from rain, snow, or any other precipitation impacts the duration of the drone’s flight. But that should be the least of your concerns as exposing your drone to any kind of moisture can cause permanent damage and should be avoided.

While it’s not always possible, you should expect longer flight times when you fly in optimal weather conditions (clear skies, no wind, mild temperatures). Check your user manual for any weather and temperature guidelines for your specific drone.

An orange quadcopter drone flies in mountain range.

Clear skies, no wind, mild temperatures, and other optimal weather conditions can help you achieve longer flight times with your drone.

 

Fly light

A heavier drone consumes battery power more quickly. Here are two simple ways to reduce the weight of your drone:

Remove the camera: Capturing aerial photographs and video footage is one of the main reasons drones have become so popular, but sometimes you just want to fly the drone. The camera directly impacts flight times in two ways. First, normal use of the camera during the flight consumes power. Second, the camera adds weight to the drone. If you don’t plan on using the camera during the flight, consider flying without it. Not only will you have longer flight times, you’ll also notice the drone is more nimble and responsive in the air.

Reconsider the prop guards: Using prop guards helps protect the drone during flight, but they also add extra weight. If you’re an experienced pilot, removing the prop guards can lengthen your flight times a little bit. But if you’re a new drone pilot, or if you’re flying in a challenging area, you’ll have to decide if the additional flight time you might get from removing the prop guards is worth the risk to your drone.

 

Go easy on the controller inputs

Flying aggressively at full throttle and high speeds requires a heavier current and can drain the battery more quickly. Using slow, gentle controller inputs can extend the flight, and has the added benefit of producing higher quality video footage as well.

Follow battery best practices

You should always fly with a battery that’s been charged to 100 percent. But storing batteries at full capacity for lengthy periods can damage the battery and limit the capacity of future charges. Some drones have intelligent batteries that automatically discharge power after a certain number of days. This useful feature helps maintain battery capacity in the long-run, but if you’re not careful, you might inadvertently head out to fly with a battery with diminished power.

Here are few additional battery best practices to keep in mind:

  • Don’t store a fully charged or discharged battery for an extended period of time.
  • Don’t fully deplete the battery.
  • Store the battery in a dry and ventilated area at room temperature.
  • Fully charge the battery for your first flight and after periods of long-term storage.
  • Fully charge the battery at least once every three months.

The Bottom Line

Increased flight time is a feature on every drone pilot’s wish list. The recommendations above aren’t going to work miracles, but they can help you get more time in the air with your drone. Any decisions you make about extending your flights should always be balanced with safety. Check with your drone manufacturer for additional guidelines and best practices to help you care for your batteries and maintain lengthy flight times.