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