With the weather warming up, drone lovers far and wide are taking to the skies. But those carefree summer flights aren’t without risk.
While crashes caused by overheating are rare, flying in excessive heat can cause long-term damage to your aircraft’s battery, leading to shorter flight times for the rest of its life. At least, if you’re not careful.
If you plan to brave the elements this summer, here are a few precautions to help you get the most out of your drone without putting too much strain on your equipment.
Keep Your Aircraft Cool Before Takeoff
Blast the AC in your car en route to your flight location. Keep the drone out of direct sunlight. Don’t leave it to broil in an unattended vehicle. By keeping your battery as cool as possible, you’ll reduce the overall internal temperature of the aircraft from the start of your mission, which could buy you a few extra minutes of flight time before you start getting spammed with warning notifications about your drone approaching critical temperatures.
Watch Your Internal Temperature
Check your aircraft’s internal temperature in the battery settings menu as soon as you power it on. If the internal temperature is already nearing 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it might be a good idea to postpone your mission for the day. If not, make sure to check the internal temperature readings periodically throughout your flight so you can land before the mission gets too hot to handle.
Fly at Sunrise or Sunset
If possible, plan your flights for times when the sun is not directly overhead. You should be able to squeeze more time out of your drone if you fly at sunrise or sundown as opposed to noon, the hottest portion of the day.
Shorten Your Flight Time
To prevent overheating, you’ll want to keep your flight between 5 to 15 minutes — which means keeping your mission to just the bare essentials. To help you do more with less time, consider investing in tools like a payload camera with lossless zoom, which would enable you to take a single mid-range shot of an area and zoom in later as opposed to getting close-up shots of individual elements.
Fly Close to Your Home Point
Once the aircraft’s internal temperature becomes too high, it will make an emergency landing regardless of where it is — which could be a hassle if it lands a couple miles away. To avoid an uncomfortable trek through the muggy heat, fly your drone as close to the home point as possible so if the failsafe kicks in, it’s easy to reach.
Stand Under Shade
This won’t do much for your drone, obviously, but keeping your remote controller out of direct sunlight will reduce its chances of overheating — while also increasing visibility. Be sure to listen for the fan on your controller. If it’s constantly whirling, your controller’s getting hot — and if your controller’s getting hot, chances are your drone’s feeling the burn overhead, as well.
Get a Lighter Colored Drone
Drones with black or grey exteriors tend to heat up faster than drones with white or brightly colored exteriors, which reflect heat from the sun. To avoid equipment failure during hot weather, find out whether your model comes in different colors or consider investing in a drone like the EVO series, whose iconic orange body is perfect for reflecting heat.