Drones are fun to fly. In today’s world of technology, they can be considered as one of the greatest inventions. Drones can take pictures, capture stunning videos, make deliveries and take you to the places where it was impossible before. There are a lot of manufacturers out there that produce drones loaded with tons of features. These drones are designed to meet different consumer requirements, but can they fly and survive in adverse weather conditions? For example, can drones fly in the rain? This question often comes to mind.
Generally, drones are not designed to withstand against rainy conditions, because they are neither waterproof nor water-resistant. Motors and other electrical components are critical parts of the drone and water can easily destroy them. So, if you are planning to take your drone out in the rain and test some technical possibilities, you need to consider many factors. On the other hand, there are some aircrafts specifically made for the people who want to have fun in rain.
Things That Can Happen to a Drone While Flying in Rain
If you have finally decided to fly your drone in the rain, then this may not be the possibility that you are going out to take some photos and videos. Because the camera lens won’t be able to deliver the results with any clarity once it gets the rain drops on it. If you feel, there is a chance of rain in weather forecast; it will probably not be a good idea to go too far from your home and fly. If it starts raining, turnaround and fly back home, as you still have a chance to prevent the rainwater from getting into your drone. And when you recover the drone, shut it off instantly and take the battery out. In case of light rain, your best course of action would be to remove the battery out of the drone and leave it somewhere in a dry place for some time. And if your drone got soaked in case of a sudden heavy rain, you need to immediately remove the battery and don’t put it back in the drone again as this water-drenched LiPo battery might have gone bad and you can’t trust it anymore. Now leave the drone in the sun to dry for maybe a couple of days before switching it on. Remember; don’t try opening the drone as it will deny your warranty claims.
So there are numerous components of a drone that can be damaged by rain water. The area around the gimbal is not completely sealed off and water can easily penetrate through. However, motors can be somewhat protected due to spinning of the props, still they won’t last long; and if the water gets into the electronic speed controller, your drone will be falling out of the sky as it may cause short-circuiting. This short-circuiting can damage the electrical components on circuit board and melt the cables inside, or rotor and stator of a motor may end up welding together.
If the water flows in the flight controller, it will connect the positive and negative poles and there can be a problem for you to control the drone also.
Short-circuit is not the only reason that can lead to a drone crash. If you are flying a fixed wing drone, too much raindrops on its surface and wings not only disturb its flight characteristics but also slow it down. This effect is not so strong for the rotating wing quadcopters but still the drones which don’t have much power, water on their surface should not be underestimated.
Visibility is also an important factor to consider when flying in rain. If you are flying the drone where you can’t see it, you not only risk losing it, but also put others in danger. So it’s better to keep it in sight and if it goes away, just press the “come home” button immediately.
Effects of Humidity and Fog on Drone Flight
As far as humidity is concerned, first thing that comes into mind is that the exposure of a drone to the mist can be a problem, but it’s not the only case here. Humidity can make a radio signal weak because it causes interference. This is because high frequencies have shorter wavelengths and the possibility of hitting water droplets increases in humidity and rain. Water molecules absorb some of the energy of the radio waves. So, humidity factor can affect your signal at long ranges.
Fog also has the same effects on flight performance as humidity. If you have been flying in fog and your drone didn’t sustain any damages just yet, despite being covered in water coat, then it was very fortunate for you. For instance, a drone pilot was describing his experience of flying a Phantom in fog and he ended up losing three of its motors after some days. So, fog should be taken seriously, although, it may not be as unsafe as rain is, but before you set out to fly, it would be a wise decision to check the forecast first. Another issue with the fog is visibility, and as we all know that FAA does not allow you to fly beyond visual line of sight.
Effects of Cold Temperature on Drone Flight
Cold temperature can also impact the performance of the drone. It decreases the chemical activities in the Lithium Polymer battery, which is usually installed in DJI drones. Decrease in temperature can significantly decrease the flight time. Before you plan to fly in cold temperatures, you need to ensure that you have followed below steps recommended by DJI.
- Make sure your battery is fully charged.
- Pre-heating can improve the battery efficiency. Battery heater can be used for such purpose. Keep the battery temperature at 20ᵒ or more. DJI GO app can be used to check the battery temperature.
- Let the drone hover for at-least a minute to warm up the battery.
- Voltage drops can be avoided by gently pushing the sticks on the controller.
- Keep checking the battery status while flying.
Effects of Snowing on Drone Flight
Generally, there shouldn’t be any problem when flying a drone in snow but you need to be extra careful before doing so. Use some protection to cover the contacts of the battery and clean the snow from the drone body. When you retrieve it after flying, clean it immediately from the snow again with some dry cloth before it melts.
How to Differentiate Between Waterproof and Water-resistant
As aforementioned there are some drones that are water-resistant and waterproof as well, so before we list them it is important for you to know the difference between the two.
Something that prevents water from getting into it for a short period of time can be labeled as water-resistant, it is not waterproof. So, if you encounter light rain during flight, there won’t be any issues, because your drone can handle it but don’t just stay there and let the rain or snow penetrate into your aircraft, because it can still lead to one of the events mentioned above. So, a drone being water-resistant gives you enough time to react and avoid the possible damages.
And something that is completely shielded and does not allow the water to pass through it – is known to be waterproof. Waterproof drones can fly in rain and if they fall in the water or lake, just take them out and they are ready to fly again. You can submerge them completely in the water. Some of them can also be used for underwater short flights, so you can take them with you while going on a sailing trip or swimming.
Some Waterproof Drones to Fly in Rain
Now there are some drones available on the market that you may consider buying if you want to push their limits in adverse weather conditions. Some of them are listed below.
1. Splash Drone 3 Auto
This is the latest version of the Splash Drone. It can fly in rain, float and land on water. It comes with “follow me” feature, and can be a great choice for water sports such as water skiing and kite boarding. It has a great camera which can shoot 4k videos underwater. In addition, it can carry 1kg payload module, which can be used for fishing and lifesaving in water.
The splash Drone 3 brings along a 2-axis gimbal, which is waterproof and its camera shoots 4k videos. Amazing underwater shots can also be taken by skimming this drone over water.
You will get a FPV controller with it which enables you to watch live feed from the drone. Android app is available on play store which can be downloaded for more control options and if the drone malfunctions during flight, use “return to home” button to immediately retrieve the drone.
Range: 1 km
Gimbal: 2-axis gimbal is included
Camera: A waterproof camera with 4k recording functionality
Flight time: 14 to 16 minutes
2. GP Toys H2O Aviax Drone
GP Toys H2O is a best beginner drone for both land and water. It can dive under the water up to 20 centimeters and gives you best underwater shooting experience with its waterproof feature. Colorful LEDs on the drone make it possible to fly the drone at night. Battery status, drone speed and its flight data are displayed on the LCD transmitter. It offers cruise control, 360 degree flips and headless mode. You can control it from about 320 feet away. Your queries are also responded within 24 hours by its reliable customer support.
If the wind is blowing too fast, don’t fly the drone as it will make it hard to control due to its small size and light weight.
It takes about 60 minutes to completely charge it as claimed by the manufacturer.
Range: About 100 meters
Camera: Not included
Flight time: 6 to 8 minutes
Dimensions: 9.2 9.2 5.7 inches
3. Goolsky Q353 Triphibian
The Goolsky Q353 is an amazing toy drone with unique capabilities. Like an amphibious aircraft, it can sail on water before taking off, and can run on land also.
You can call it a toy drone but sailing on water, flying in air and running on land, make this drone quite unique. It’s completely a waterproof drone and if you dump it in water it comes back up on the surface.
It comes with a controller that provides you all the information you need and “return to home” feature is also available.
With 150 meters range, it gives you flight time of around 7 minutes.
Range: 150 meters
Camera: No camera included
Flight time: 6 to 7 minutes
Waterproof: 100% waterproof
Flight operations: Can be used for land, air and ground operations
4. Parrot Hydrofoil Minidrone
Parrot Hydrofoil is designed for freshwater and is capable of reaching speeds of up to 6 mph on the water and 11 mph in the air. Shock resistant structure of this drone allows you to fly over water, land and indoors. You can take aerial images during the flight with its VGA mini camera and if you want to access more controls and maneuvers, just download the FreeFlight app from Google Play.
The drone can be controlled from 20 meters away and takes 25 minutes for a complete charge.
Range: 20 meters
Camera: VGA camera included
Flight time: About 7 minutes
Dimensions: 13.38 12.6 5.52
5. JJRC H31
JJRC is a great drone for entry-level pilots. The drone is fast and has a smooth flight. It’s very durable and can keep on flying even after taking hit. There are holes in its body, so it’s a water-resistant drone. Landing in water must be avoided.
JJRC H31 is a maneuverable drone and can perform 360 degree flips. It brings along a JJRC transmitter and has a “one key return” feature.
Due to its size, it is not recommended to fly it in windy conditions.
So, overall, this sporty drone does well and can be a great choice for beginners. It moves fast and can battle with rainy conditions as well.
Range: 70 to 80 meters
Camera: No camera included
Flight time: 8 to 10 minutes
Other features: Can do 360-degree flips, has “one key return” function
QuadH2O is another great invention in drone technology. It’s completely waterproof, can land on water and shoot amazing videos for you. The drone has its own FPV mini camera, but you can install cameras of your own choice like, GoPro, etc. It can fly with the speed of 45 mph and also has a GPS.
An optional waterproof gimbal that isn’t included with the drone is also available but it reduces flight time from 12 minutes to about 7 minutes.
Whole package weighs about 1.4 kg and the drone can handle extra payload of about 2 kg.
The controller has 7” color monitor, where you can check live feed from the drone.
Range: 1000 meters
Gimbal: Optional waterproof gimbal is available
Camera: Built-in FPV camera
Flight time: 10 to 12 minutes
So Can Drones Fly in The Rain?
Rainy conditions won’t miss a chance to damage your drone and it would be better not to launch it in rain if it is not water-resistant or waterproof. In case of a very mild rain, it can somehow be safe to try for a short period of time; however, we will not encourage you to do that either. Rainy conditions also create cold environment, which may have negative impact on your drone’s LiPo battery. In cold and rainy weather, drone motors would require extra power to lift it up and water flow inside the drone could seriously harm the electronic circuitry. Camera and gimbal are also sensitive parts and they may have the same outcome.
If you still can’t live without flying a drone in rain, then you have plenty of options to choose from waterproof or water-resistant drones.