Drones With the Longest Flight Times
In the world of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAVs or drones, the longer you're able to spend in the skies, the better. Although you may not need to be aloft for hours, drones with improved flight durations give you more freedom to explore.
Below you'll see which top drones we've found with the longest flight times anywhere. RC Hobby Review has done our research and are eager to share the results with you, our readers. Our job is to help you make the buying choice that you won't regret.
Quick Comparison Chart Of The Best Drones With The Longest Flight Times
The Top Drones with the Longest Flight Times
Altair Outlaw SE - Best Budget Option
The Outlaw SE is a drone from Altair Aerial that is packed full of amazing features at an extremely affordable price. Typically, with a budget drone, I’m used to seeing flight times hovering around 10-12 minutes. The Outlaw SE comes with a battery that gives you a flight time of up to 20 minutes! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to impressive features on this done.
This long of a battery life is not often seen in drones at this price point, so it’s pretty amazing the Outlaw SE has these capabilities, and that they work so well. Also, the Outlaw SE has a flight range of 600 meters which is so impressive. This range gives pilots so much space to explore with their drone. Users can also enjoy multiple flight modes with this drone. Return-to-home, altitude hold, and one-touch takeoff and landing will all help beginner pilots feel confident and in control while using the Outlaw SE. Plus, users can have some fun with waypoint mapping and set a path to watch the drone fly.
Just because this drone costs less doesn’t mean you’ll be missing out on anything. The Outlaw SE has outstanding GPS features and a GPS flight mode to help both beginners and experts remain in control throughout their entire flight. Plus, the Outlaw SE drone comes with a built-in 1080p HD camera that is perfect for taking aerial photos and videos. It’s amazing that you get a professional-grade camera on this well-priced drone.
The only setback of the Outlaw SE is that beginners may have some trouble flying it outside of GPS mode. It also needs to be calibrated each time you turn on the drone which can be tedious. However, despite this, it’s an amazing drone for both beginners and experienced pilots and includes tons of professional-grade features for a fraction of the price. This is one of the most affordable drones on the market that is extremely fun to fly which makes it a great option.
Although it comes in at last place with a maximum flight time of 16 minutes at 12.4 mph and 15 minutes of hovering time, the DJI Spark is still a capable drone. Designed as a consumer-level entry model, it lets you use hand gesture control in addition to a normal remote control, so you might be able to get more done in less time.
Another perk of the DJI Spark is that it's cheap. DJI introduced it for about half the price of other prosumer gear. Nonetheless, it has many of the features that the manufacturer is known for, like the ability to return home when you lose connection or the battery is about to give up the ghost.
This UAV is extremely compact, which is perfect for casual pilots who don't like carrying lots of gear. Since you can keep it in a backpack, it's quite convenient.
Check out this video showcasing some of the Sparks capabilities.
MJX Bugs 2
The MJX Bugs 2W is a really great choice for a smaller drone. It has a lot of the same specs as a drone that is more expensive, but its price is easier on your wallet. The MJX Bugs 2W comes with a 1080P camera, and for its price point, it’s a great one, too. The MJX Bugs 2W has a flight time of around 18 minutes and can fly around 800 to 1000 meters. The drone comes with two batteries that take about five hours to charge. With a 5GHz WiFi FPV (first person view), this drone is not a high-speed choice but would still get the job done as far as taking aerial pictures.
The MJX Bugs 2W also comes equipped with reliable failsafe, meaning that you do not have to worry about this drone just falling out of the sky. Another great feature of the MJX Bugs 2W is the remote. It comes with a phone mount on top of the remote controls that is big enough to fit an iPhone 6S. The mount has a clamp that is strong enough to hold the phone in place. The esthetics of the drone are very pleasing, considering its name is “bugs” and it literally looks like a bug.
The things that I would consider negatives would be that drone has to be calibrated before each flight session. I could see that possibly being annoying for some users. Also this drone has no on and off switch, meaning that once the battery is in place, the drone will begin to take off. This drone is really for someone who is entry-level, someone who has maybe never owned a drone before. You will get the biggest bang for your buck when you purchase this drone.
GoPro changed the market of photography when they came out with their waterproof cameras. Their cameras are amazing, and I would not expect anything less from their version of a drone. The GoPro Karma has a 20-minute flight time and can fly around 3000 meters. It comes with many different accessories that include, a carrying case, a mounting ring, the battery and charger, six propellers, Karma Grip, which is like a stick for handheld videoing, the Karma drone itself, the controller, and the Karma stabilizer and harness.
The only thing that the GoPro Karma does not come with is the actual camera. The GoPro Karma is compatible with GoPro’s HERO4 (needs a sold separately harness), HERO5, and HERO6 cameras. It takes about five and a half hours to charge everything. The remote is very easy to fly the drone with.
The photo and video quality will be determined by which GoPro camera that you decide to pair with the Karma. With all the included accessories, there are still many more that are available for use with the Karma. The GoPro Karma is handheld or wearable as well which is also a great plus. GoPro also offers an app called the GoPro Passenger App, where you can fly the drone and view your flight. This drone would be suited for someone who takes aerial photography seriously. The included accessories would be enough of a bonus for you to go out and get this drone right now!
Hubsan H501S X4
This drone's gold-and-white appearance makes it an appealing buy, but its maximum flight duration of up to 20 minutes is even more attractive. Although it's not as aerodynamic or sleek as some other models in the same flight time range, it's significantly cheaper than most, selling for less than $250 at retailers like B&H Photo & Video and Amazon.
Like other low-end models, this drone shoots 1080p video, but the self-contained design might make up for the lack of 4K resolution. This device includes a first-person view, or FPV, transmitter and a 4.3-inch display that lets you see what you're shooting in real time without having to add extras. It also has features like GPS, so it can follow you around or return home.
This is one case where cheap doesn't mean bad quality. Hubsan packed a lot into this 400 g package, like brushless motors that offer superior performance and propellers that tighten themselves as they rotate.
The Traxxas Aton is a drone that is listed as one of the best for under the $500 price point. It has a flight time of 20 minutes, and has a flight range of about 300 meters. The Aton has a rugged design making it really great for a first time drone owner that may not really know how to fly the drone. This will prevent damages to the drone. The battery on the Aton takes about an hour to charge before flight times can begin.
The Aton is equipped with high visibility LED lights. The Traxxas Aton also comes equipped with GPS that will let you know when it has calibrated by the system of all green lights being lit up. The Aton has three different modes that can be assigned will flying, which includes Film, Sport, and Expert. The Aton is slower processing in Film mode, however, in sport and expert mode, the drone becomes really cool to play with. The Expert mode allows the drone to be pushed to its limit.
The drone can complete flips, and can handle some pretty awesome freestyle flights. This low level cruising drone is perfect for flying in community parks with lots of trees and brush. The Aton can avoid these obstacles and the owner would not be freaking out about potentially having a crash. The Aton does not come with a camera, therefore the user will have to purchase a camera separately.
The Aton is compatible with GoPro cameras, so the picture and video quality will depend on which GoPro the drone owner decides to pair with the drone. With this being said, this drone would not be a good fit for someone who really cares about aerial video footage or who might be a photographer of some sort.
The Traxxas Aton offers several disappointments for the price. First, the cameras not included. Second, the battery and remote sometimes lose communication with each other, meaning that you may not be in full control of the drone, increasing the possibility of the drone falling. The drone does not come equipped with the “track me” or “follow me” software in the system. Overall this drone is a good choice for those who just want a “toy” to play with.
DJI Mavic Air
The DJI Mavic Air is a foldable drone that is about the same size as a smartphone when it is folded. It has a flight time of 21 minutes and can fly about 4000 meters. The drone comes with a 4k camera, getting about 100 Mbps video quality. The drone has about 8G of internal storage and if offered in different colors. The DJI Mavic Air takes about 55 minutes to charge the battery before each flight. The drone is equipped with the “Track Me” feature, in which the drone will follow closely behind you as you hike or as you are filming.
The DJI Mavic Air can even be controlled by hand gestures! This drone would be a good beginner’s drone. With all the features that this drone has to offer, someone who has never flown a drone would be easily able to fly this drone. There are a few negatives about this drone, though. The Mavic Air still has some software bugs that need to be worked out. The new update that the drone just received will sometimes cause it to stop communicating with the remote control, causing it to fall directly out of the sky.
The Mavic Air is also rather expensive, so many customers are extremely upset at the possibility that the drone could potentially fall out of the sky. DJI’s customer service does not have the best track record, either. Overall, this drone is a great option if money is no option for you.
Check out this video on the Mavic Air from DJI for more info on this drone.
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium
The X-Start Premium is a drone that is a really good drone for It has about a 25 minutes flight time and it can fly at a range of 2000 meters. The drone comes equipped with a 4K camera with Ultra HD, so expect the video quality to be awesome. The camera photo quality is really great as well coming in at 12 megapixels. It takes about an hour to charge the battery for flight. This drone comes equipped with the “follow me” option, meaning the drone will follow closely behind the owner. T
he color of this drone is a bright orange, which would make the drone easy to spot if for some reason it crashed, or even if you are just watching it in flight, you would not be able to miss a bright orange flying robot hovering in the air. The drone’s rugged design is also another plus because it can fly through tough conditions and still be able to make it back to the owner okay.
There are some negatives with this drone as well. The drone does not come with replacement batteries. You either just have the one battery or you have to buy a replacement battery separately. The camera quality has been known to have a little bit of bad quality the further that the drone gets away from its remote. There are still some bugs and kinks that are being worked out with the X-star’s software programming.
There are some instances where the software caused the drone to suddenly take off on its own and then not respond to its remote control. Crashes have been the results of most of these software issues. Autel Robotics’ customer service is horrible. Many people are losing money because the customer service is not helping the drone owners the way that they are supposed to.
Phantom 3 Standard
DJI's famous Phantom 3 Standard comes in at about the same price as its Spark, but it can fly for 25 minutes on a single charge. It also incorporates a relatively sturdy gimbal, or pivoting support, that keeps the 2.7K HD camera stable enough for professionals.
One of the biggest advantages of the Phantom 3 Standard is that it's a well-proven platform. It's known for being straightforward to fly, and its rugged controller lets you attach your smartphone to get a 720p video feed of your target.
This UAV is also easy to customize. For instance, if you're focusing on a person, then you can tell the drone to face them even as you navigate around them in circles. Or you can program flight paths that include custom stopping points and trust the drone to do the piloting while you adjust the shot.
Yuneec Q500 Typhoon
The Yuneec Q500 Typhoon is another great drone option. It has a flight time of about 25 minutes, and can fly around 1000 meters. The drone comes with two batteries and is on the Android processing system. This drone comes with a remote that features a two-pilot mode so that a drone enthusiast and their friend could fly the drone together. The drone comes equipped with a feature called Follow Me, in which the drone will focus in on the owner and will literally follow the owner wherever he or she goes.
The drone comes fully assembled when purchased. The camera on the Typhoon can take 12-megapixel photos and shoots videos at 4K/30fps Ultra HD. It also uses 1080P/120FPS slow motion video. This drone would be for someone who has flown a drone before and who is a little bit more professional than a drone enthusiast, especially because this drone is more on the expensive side. This would be a great choice for someone who likes to shoot aerial videos, since the camera gives the option of a slow-motion video. This drone gives you everything that you would expect to get with its price tag.
Parrot Bebop 2
The Bebop 2 comes in at an impressive 25-minute flight time, and as Engadget notes this is twice as long as Parrot's previous version. Although the base model starts at $349, you have to pay an extra $500 for the Skycontroller 2 package that lets you fly using a compatible VR headset. If this sounds too expensive, you can use an Android or iOS phone as a controller.
This drone's crazy flight time owes a lot to its ultralight design. Its 500 g weight also lets it go from 0 to 37 mph in just 14 seconds and come to a halt in around 4 seconds.
Such maneuverability is handy when you're using the "follow" mode to film yourself on the go. The speed is also useful considering that since the 1080p-capable drone can travel almost 1.24 miles, you might want to quicken the trip.
The DJI Mavic Pro creates stabilized 4K images and can fly for 27 minutes at 15.5 mph or hover for 24 minutes. In other words, you can get about 8 miles of travel out of this drone, which outpaces most models by a huge margin.
Mavic-series drones are intensely popular because they fold up into compact packages that fit in the palm of your hand or inside a large pocket. Although its 743 g maximum weight is significantly greater than some of the other models that we've discussed, this UAV seems to make up for it with a high-capacity battery and a cool cover that protects its gimbal and camera.
Don't like using the controller? You can operate this drone in Wi-Fi mode at the flick of a switch. This reduces your max speed to 14 mph from the usual 40 mph, however. Also, beware of the fact that some generations of the Mavic Pro have had problems with firmware updates and software.
DJI Inspire 2
This drone is gargantuan compared to what we've reviewed so far. With its landing gear deployed, there's more than a foot between the individual motors, and it costs around $3,000 for the basic model or $6,000 for the whole combo. Of course, the Inspire 2 can stay airborne for up to 27 minutes, and it shoots 5.2K or 4K video, which is a necessity for the serious professional.
Is such an expensive drone worth it? If you're trying to take to the skies with your favorite pro-grade camera and lens set, then this platform is definitely suitable. As a prosumer device, it moves at around 58 mph, and it has a 4.3-mile control radius. In other words, you can create intricate, well-planned shots with cinematic quality.
While this is a product for those who love creating, it's important to know that the base model doesn't get you everything. You'll need to add gimbals and cameras to capture footage, so be prepared to spend a lot. Remember that you'll have to pay for a computer that can edit all of the high-res videos that you create.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro
We like the DJI Phantom 4 Pro because it costs less than options like the Inspire 2 yet packs beefier specs than the low-end models in our list. For instance, it shoots video at 60fps, 4K UHD resolution, and its built-in camera includes a mechanical shutter.
Like the Inspire 2, the Phantom 4 Pro can fly 4.3 miles away from its controller, making it one of the best drone with longest range options. It also senses obstacles in multiple directions. When it comes to maximum flight duration, however, it adds a bit more precious time to top out at 30 minutes of flight time.
The Phantom 4 lies somewhere in the middle of the hobbyist-prosumer spectrum. More of a complete package than the Inspire, it includes a remote controller with a viewscreen and slick features like automatic route selection. The advanced model with all of the bells and whistles weighs around 1388 g and sports an added backward vision system.
It features an upright 4K Full HD camera, capable of taking footage in 60 FPS, as opposed to standard 30 FPS recording. The body is made of titanium and magnesium alloy, which helped reduce the drone's weight and increase the flight time.
It also has a rear vision, which this drone utilizes once the Flight Autonomy is activated. The 20 MP Camera is tiny (1-inch) and light, but still well built and integrated. It features mechanical shutter, which helps stabilize the footage recording. Camera sensors also help record even the tiniest detail even when you are flying at high speed.
Flight autonomy helps drone detect and avoid obstacles, from all directions and angles. This not only helps protect the drone from the potential collision but also allows photographers to take more complex and sophisticated footage from virtually any corner.
The remote controller has a built-in screen, powered by 5.8 GHz transmission, though you can set the standard 2.4 GHz transmission. Make sure you adjust the transmission accordingly, depending on the area you are flying over. If the area you are flying over is dense and used extensively, switch to the 5.8 GHz mode to avoid stuttering and lag while recording.
Beginners will probably enjoy the TapFly mode(waypoint control). In essence, you select the area you want your drone to fly, and it will immediately follow your orders while minding the obstacles in its path. Note that you can still use different camera modes as you are using the TapFly feature.
Like most sophisticated drones, DJI Phantom 4 PRO features Return To Home mode, meaning that the drone will return to the point of liftoff on your command. Moreover, thanks to the Gesture Mode, you can control the drone via simple gesture movements (read instruction manual).
The drone is smart and highly responsive, featuring double integrated compasses and Internal Measuring Units (IMU, see Wiki for more info). It consistently updates the data, measuring and calculating speed, altitude, range, while at the same time minding the surroundings and making sure it doesn't crash.
Most importantly, it stays up to 30 minutes in the air. Another great thing is that, once you set everything up, the application will show you the remaining battery life, so that you can safely land it on time. And guess what, the batteries will discharge on their own if you aren't using them over an extended period; in short, they'll maintain themselves.
The maximum controllable range for this drone is 4.3 miles, but you'll lose the video control range once you go beyond 1.5 miles. All in all, if you are looking for an amazing professional drone with long flight time, DJI Phantom 4 PRO might be a solid option.
Autel Robotics Evo
The Autel Robotics Evo is the newest drone on this list. The drone was released the middle of 2018, and many people are expected to try it and see how it performs. Because it is still so new, there is a high chance that the software will still have some bugs that need to be worked out. So far, we know a good bit of information about the Evo. The camera is a 4K camera with 60fps with Ultra HD video, meaning we have excellent video quality. The photos are 12 megapixels, meaning great photo quality.
The Evo can fly for about 30 minutes at a time, and the battery takes about an hour to charge before the flight. The Evo has a huge flight range, one of the biggest flight ranges of all the other drones in its price range, coming in at very close to 7000 meters. The Evo is equipped with the “return to home” feature where the owner will sort of “call” the drone to them and the drone will find their location and come to them.
One of the major positives about the Evo is that the drone comes with two cameras, which is currently unheard of in the drone world. The drone also comes with ultrasonic sensors that helps it from landing on uneven surfaces. This also increases the stability of performance. The Evo is also foldable, which makes it very easy to travel with. The remote for the Evo comes equipped with a 3.3 inch screen, taking the need for connecting to a mobile device to view critical flight information away.
Everything is easy to read and can be seen clearly right there on the remote. Since this drone has just only recently became available on the market, I think a drone enthusiast that has plenty of experience should purchase this drone. New models usually means new technology specs that a beginner may not have a clue about or how to operate.
DJI Mavic Pro Platinum
The DJI Mavic Pro Platinum is another drone that is usually ranked high among drone enthusiasts. This drone has been referred to as a “beast” and reports that it has a 30 minute flight time with a little over 7000 m flight range. The Mavic Pro Platinum is foldable for easy portability and travels well. The drone also comes with a neat feature in which the owner can even use hand gestures and signals to get the drone to fly or come home. The Mavic Pro Platinum is equipped with the “come home” feature, meaning you simply press a button and the drone comes back to the owner instantly.
The Mavic Pro Platinum comes with three batteries that take about an hour each to fully charge. The drone comes with a 4K camera with 60Mbps video and 12.35 megapixel images. The company also reduced the amount of noise that the drone makes by about 60 percent. The Mavic Pro Platinum is a little on the expensive side, but the all of the technology enhancements on this drone,
I feel like the price point is appropriate. This drone would definitely be for someone who enjoys flying drones, but maybe not so much as for a beginner. Simply due to the fact that it is more expensive, if someone just learning how to fly the drone accidentally crashed it, you would be in the hole over $1000.
Phantom 4Pro V2.0
The Phantom 4Pro V2.0 is an easy to fly drone with 30 minutes worth of flight time. The Phantom can fly about 5000 meters and comes with three batteries. The charging time for the batteries takes about an hour for each one. This drone has a photo quality of 14fps and 20 megapixels. The camera on the Phantom is 4K 60fps, with really great video images. The camera also features the OcuSync HD transmission system that supports duel-frequency, and allows the owner to switching and also connects to another product offered by DJI, their DJI Goggles RE, wirelessly.
The Phantom has many cool features such as a Five Direction Obstacle Sensors, Mechanical Stutters, and a new feature called Draw. Draw is new technology in which the owner can draw a path with their finger on their smartphone or tablet, and the Phantom will follow the line that the owner drew, while still remaining at the designated altitude. Flytap is another great feature on the Phantom Pro V2.0. With Flytap, the owner can simply tap on the screen to direct the drone. So if the drone is flying and suddenly there is an obstacle in the way, the owner can tap the screen away from the obstacle and the drone will then fly in that direction. The drone can be flown in three different modes for flight, which are position mode, sport mode, and tripod mode. Position mode includes flytap, activetrack, and obstacle sensing. Sport mode adds extra agility and increases the speed of the drone. Tripod mode limits the speed the drone can go and is the perfect mode for flying indoors.
This drone would be for a person who enjoys flying and playing with the drone, but it was also be suitable for someone who needed to take aerial photos. People with interests in hiking and camping would also enjoy having this drone on the trails with them to keep them on the right paths.
XK Detect X380
XK's Detect X380 may seem somewhat average compared to professional models, but it has plenty of flight time. At approximately 30 minutes per trip, you can choose from a range of models that let you get up in the sky for far less money than you'd spend on something like an Inspire or Phantom.
On the other hand, you pay for what you get, as there's no fully manual mode without GPS. This device comes in four flavors that support 1080p or HD video, and while it has basic circle hovering and return home features, its control distance is limited to around two-thirds of a mile.
Who might find this drone appealing? Its modular design means that it's a good entry-level model for anyone who wants to hack their hardware on the cheap. Even though reviewers say that the X380 can hold its position fairly well while hovering and work with 10-inch propellers, heavier gear might slice your flight time in half.
As Wired notes, this six-rotor device isn't for most people. If you're one of the world's few well-bankrolled filmmakers or photogs, however, then you might not see the $4,600 price tag as an obstacle.
The M600 can lift around 13 pounds and fly for up to 16 minutes. Without a payload and using upgraded batteries, its flight time extends to 40 minutes. You also get to work with a range of gimbals and mobile SDKs, or software development kits, which let you create your own apps.
Although this drone unquestionably caters to professionals, it's interesting to see how a few thousand dollars more can get you such a big difference in performance. Of course, some of its features, like Lightbridge video transmission and Intelligent Battery Management, are also found in DJI's more accessible devices.
FreeFly System Alta UAV
FreeFly's System Alta UAVs come in six- or eight-armed models. These drones are ready to carry heavy items like film cameras. Depending on your choice of batteries and payloads, they can fly for up to 35 minutes. They can also hoist up to 20 pounds, although maximum loading decreases their flying time dramatically.
As you might expect from such a heavy-duty piece of hardware, these drones are large. They work with 18-inch propellers, so safety is a point of concern. One of the cooler aspects of this minimalistic platform is that it includes TITH quick release fittings on the top and bottom of the drone, so you can choose where to mount your camera gimbal.
Of course, you'll pay dearly for all of these features in the cost. If you're not running a business with a need for such a UAV, you'll probably be better off buying something way cheaper and purchasing backup battery packs.
When it comes to the drones with longest flying time, it's impossible to ignore the HyDrone 1550. Unlike the vast majority of devices that use lithium batteries, this UAV features a hydrogen fuel cell and a carbon fiber airframe. In other words, it's capable of working in bad weather and dangerous surroundings while carrying payloads that weigh up to 5 kg.
This is a clear example of the potential that professional-grade drones hold. It can stay in the air for an incredible 3 hours, and it's rated to fly distances of about 55 miles at comfortable 22 mph cruising speeds. It can also reach altitudes of more than 1.5 miles.
Do you need this drone to shoot movies? Probably not, although it might help if you're delivering contraband packages via the skies, monitoring forest fires or surveying transcontinental fuel pipelines. As for pricing, the manufacturer doesn't bother listing its cost, so we won’t even speculate. For one of the longest flying drone on the market the cost maybe worth it.
Prolonging the Flight Time
Drones perfectly portray the advances in the technological development of the human society. They are engaging, fun and useful, used for various reasons by various groups of people. And though people use drones for multiple purposes, one thing is certain, and that is a struggle with drone flight time.
So, how does one increase the drone flight time?
Well, there are several "tips & tricks" that can aid you in that mission. These include:
- Conservative Flying
- Minding the weight
- Tuning your drone
- On battery charging and maintenance
- On battery storage
- Obtaining extra batteries
Note that these topics will be observed from an objective perspective, in the sense that the pieces of advice can be applied on any drone. We will also advise you on three different drone categories, where we'll recommend three drones according to their class:
- What mini-drone has the longest flight time?
- What DJI drone has the longest flight time?
On Conservative Flight
What do we mean by conservative flying? Firstly, consider the weather conditions, especially the wind strength. Also, rain and slow a can shorten the flight duration. Isn't it more comfortable to ride your bike on a windless, rainless and snowless day? Less drag, less friction; in short, less resistance.
Well, the laws of physics apply to drones too. The more there is resistance, your drone will drain more battery power to maintain the speed, direction, and instructions. Moreover, most drones aren't rainproof, which should inspire you to take it for a spin when its sunny with mild temperatures.
Secondly, don't go full Mad Max on your drone. If you want to conserve the battery life, don't fly it aggressively at full speed. Think about your car or even your bike: if you don't take your leg of the gas paddle, or if you paddle your bike at full speed, it will drain your fuel and your energy.
On the other hand, if you maintain the average speed level, you'll do your drone a favor because the battery will drain steadily and consistently. Remember, every acceleration requires an energy boost, which taxes the drone's battery.
Minding The Weight
Naturally, there is only so much you can do to reduce the weight of your drone, but it is possible. Keep in mind that every gram you take off the drone affects the battery durability on a short and long-term basis. If you are interested in this topic, you can check this forum discussion (with graph) to have a better understanding of the subject.
Let's break this down. First, weight affects the drone's maneuverability, that is, the amount of control you have over your drone. If you tie this with the first factor we discussed (conservative flying), you'll see that weight affects battery duration on multiple levels.
Furthermore, if you are an experienced pilot, take the protective guards of your drone. Likewise, take off the camera (if you aren't using it), for it will extend the battery's durability in two ways (less computing power and less weight). However, this is very situational, since not all drones have protective cages and guards.
In short, remove every part that isn't necessary for your drone to function it the way you want; even though the weight won't prolong the batteries durability substantially, it will help a little.
Tuning The Drone
There are two things you could tune on your drone to enhance the battery functionality: changing the propeller and changing the battery.
Let's look at nature, specifically birds and the way wing size affects their flight. In essence, birds with large wings (like condors) spend less energy to stay in the air. They don't have to flap their wings as often as, let's say, a sparrow must. Sparrow has shorter and narrower wings than the condor, and thus the sparrow has to exert more energy to fly.
Similarly, drones with bigger propellers (regarding length and width) fly longer and require less power. However, you do sacrifice the speed, agility, and maneuverability. The condor might fly longer, but the sparrow is much agiler and has quicker reactions.
What you have to do is consider the things you value more, agility and speed or distance and durability. Since this is an article about drone flight time, we advise you to go for drones with bigger propellers or to upgrade your current drone.You can also tie this too with the discussion we had on conservative flying (less maneuverability will, in a way, force you to fly the drone steadily and conservatively.
Changing The Battery
Drone manufacturers want to make the drones economical and available to everyone. While it is great that you can purchase the drone for a couple of bucks, the battery you get probably won't satisfy you.
However, you can tune the drone manually. If you decide to purchase a better battery, consider two things: compatibility and mAh. When it comes to compatibility, make sure that the battery you plan to buy is compatible with your drone (mind voltage, battery type, etc.)
Similarly, consider the mAh (click here to read more about mAh). In essence, the more mAh (milliampere-hour) the battery has, the better. However, mAh isn't the only thing you have to consider. Examine the construction quality, mind the brand, and discuss this with the people who have the same drone you have.
Maintaining And Charging The Battery
When it comes to battery maintenance, you are thinking long term, and in a way, investing in the battery's future. Keep in mind that everything we mentioned thus far, regarding weight, propeller size, and so forth, affect's the battery's long-term use.
Most drones use Lipo batteries (Lithium Polymer). Some of the pieces of advice we'll provide here are taken from Heliguy's article on Drone Battery Maintenance (you can read the full article here). Here is the list:
- First thing's first, read the manual! Even if you understand drones, still, read the manual, for the time you invest in studying it with care may prolong the battery life.
- Make sure the battery is 100% charged before you take your drone for a spin.
- Cycle through the batteries if you have more than one (we will discuss this in the next section)
- Fully discharge the battery. Yes, this will also help prolong the battery's durability (only charged when the battery is drained or almost completely drained)
Naturally, keep in mind the safety tips: don't use batteries that are damaged, batteries that were in contact with water, etc. A damaged battery can damage or destroy your phone (plus, you'll lose your warranty if this occurs). Furthermore, charge your drone with an official battery charger. Also, the manual will explain the drone's signalization regarding charging issues (overcharging, voltage issues, short circuit detection, etc.)
Aside from charging, you should also think about adequately storing the batteries. For instance, if you are using them once or twice a week (every 6-8 days), the batteries don't have to be fully charged all the time. Instead, keep them on the level between 60% and 80%.
On the other hand, if you don't plan on using the batteries for an extended period (2 weeks or more), keep them between 40%and 60%. Note that some manufacturers (like DIJ) feature apps that automatically discharge the battery if they aren't used.
Also, store them in dry places at room temperature, assuring that the room isn't too hot or too hold. If you are carrying more than one battery (one in drone, one with you), try to obtain protective drone battery storage. If you can't obtain the storage, just make sure that you mind the extreme temperatures while you are transporting the batteries.
Obtaining Extra Batteries
Most manufacturers will offer you extra batteries, which is great if you wish to prolong the flight time. Why? Well, let's say your drone flies 10 minutes. At minute 9, you flight it down, turn it off, exchange the batteries, and enjoy extra 10 minutes of flight time.
It's easy, efficient and comfortable. Admittedly, this won't affect the battery's life, but it will double the flight time. However, don't bring a pack of batteries because you can damage your drone (problems with overheating the motor).
Of course, make sure you follow the tips we provided (regarding battery maintenance and charging) to ensure their long-term durability and drone's safety and functionality.
Why Look for a Drone With Longest Flight Time?
The vast majority of UAV pilots are fine with the usual 10- to 15-minute flight time standard. If you're doing anything specialized, however, then finding a drone with longest range is essential.
Suppose you're shooting a film that involves an overhead city shot. While you plan on adding audio later, you keep on having to redo your work due to the passing cloud cover. Or perhaps an actor in your epic YouTube drama just can't seem to get a take right. These types of snags are common to filmmaking, so it's important to compensate with a drone that lets you work for at least 25 minutes.
Another potential benefit of having a drone with longest flying time is their photo-taking ability. Although it only takes seconds to capture a still shot, you may find that things like wind and other challenges make it advisable to aim for something above the 20-minute mark. Longer flight times also give you more freedom for location scouting.
The real question is: "Do you need longer flight time?" At first, you might say that question is redundant but consider your needs. What kind of drone do you need? More importantly, why would you want to buy a drone?
Perhaps you simply want to have a commercial drone, have fun with your friends and family, and show them the stunts you can pull with your drone. On the other hand, maybe you are a professional blogger, adventurer that not only wants a sophisticated drone but needs it to grow the business, take HD photos and videos. Naturally, if your budget allows it, go for the most sophisticated model. But, if your budget is limiting and you are juggling between several options, always tie your choice to your needs.
Picking a Balanced Set of Features
Of course, it's important to realize that there are tradeoffs. Longer time aloft may not mean better results if you buy a drone that produces poor footage. UAVs that use low-weight airframes to stretch their battery lives to the maximum possible extent may lack the power to lift the camera payload that you prefer to use.
Also be aware that some mini- and nano-size drones aren't really appropriate for much more than amusement. Unless all you're doing is sending handwritten love notes through someone's window, you'll probably want to upgrade. In practice, the actual flight time that you experience may not equal a given manufacturer's specifications, as you can see from DIY quadcopter flight time calculators.
Begin your journey towards extended flight.
What are you planning on doing after you buy an amazing drone with longest flight time? Check out our other great blogs for insider piloting news and the latest pointers on getting the most out of your drone.