Advantages of using drones for roof inspections
You may wonder whether it’s vital to add a new gadget to your toolset just to do roof inspections. But whether you’re only inspecting your own roof or doing it for a living, it’s wise to consider buying one. It’s especially handy in jobs related to solar panel installation, roof repairs, and insurance matters, or if you need to determine the value of properties. But even just for home maintenance, here’s why you need one, instead of physically getting onto the roof yourself:
- You’ll be able to do more because you can observe the areas you can’t reach yourself.
- It’s much safer sending up a drone than someone climbing to such a height and risk slipping and falling.
- You’ll get more done in a day when you don’t waste time getting onto a roof but simply let your drone fly up in a matter of seconds.
- Thanks to advanced technology, you can turn captured footage into a 3D model, which is excellent for real estate agents and developers, or if you need to plan maintenance in detail.
How to pick the best drone for building inspection
So, you know you need one, but which one to pick? Below, you can read the guidance for every aspect of modern drones, so you understand their operation, features, and selling points. When you know how to compare drones based on these different characteristics, it will become easier to identify the best one for your specific use.
You won’t really know what’s happening on the roof or where to direct your attention for maintenance if you obtain grainy footage where you can’t make out details. This is why the camera of your drone for home inspection is so important and tops our feature list.
We suggest you don’t settle for anything less than 4K resolution since it’s the technology of the future, and without it, you’re not guaranteed a detailed view.
The clarity of the feed to your mobile device also affects how easy it is to fly the drone to the right spot when it’s out of your line of sight, so aim to get the best possible, such as the DJI Phantom 4 PRO Professional Drone on our list.
For photo capturing, you’ll need at least a 20MP camera, especially if making 3D models is part of your work.
Also, look for features like the camera’s angle, as you can see on the Holy Stone HS100 model. With this, you can view roof areas from all angles you need to by positioning the drone in different places.
The range of transmission is actually not the most important feature for a drone for home inspection, unless you’re planning on using the drone for other purposes too.
Still, your work may require you to use them on large estates, mansions, or exceptionally large buildings. In those cases, a longer transmission range will be valuable, so you don’t risk losing connection or forcing your drone to return simply because it’s moving out of range.
On average, a few hundred meters will be enough, which qualifies the Holy Stone HS100 as sufficient for general inspection use.
A drone for roof inspections doesn’t necessarily have to go super-fast, but you don’t want it slow either. Your battery will only last 30 minutes or less, so you need to get it up onto the roof as soon as possible.
If you can easily adjust the speed, it could be helpful, since at first, you may prefer lower speeds while you get used to operating the drone. If you need to guide it around obstacles on the roof, you also need a lower speed. The DJI Phantom 4 PRO Professional Drone on our list is quite fast, but don’t assume others that only manage 20mph aren’t valuable. You may find them more comfortable to operate at their top speed.
Here is an important characteristic to prioritize because you don’t want your drone to run out of battery power before you’re done with the inspection. So, compare flight times and pick one that suits your usual inspection time.
Any flight time of 20 minutes or more is on par with industry standards, but you can see there are many on our list that can even manage 30 minutes. If you can exchange the battery, that gives you a full hour to work before you need to recharge.
The challenge does come with recharging, which can often take more than an hour. That’s a problem for professionals that may not be able to afford the delay when the next customer is waiting. This shows the importance of longer flight times and additional batteries. Double-check if spare parts are easy to come by before you buy.
The chances are that your drone will fly in windy conditions, especially when inspecting higher buildings. Each drone’s design and power determine whether it can handle those gusts of wind or whether it will be pushed out of control, which can lead to crashes against walls or other obstacles.
Read up on the drone’s ability to hover, maintain a position where there’s the wind, and also other stability features, such as its gyroscope and its axis. If there’s a gimbal incorporated into the design, it’s also a good sign that the drone can retain some stability even in adverse conditions. Remember, the stability will determine the quality of the footage and photos, so wind resistance and stability will greatly affect your task.
Functions and modes
The list of additional functions and modes is what will make your drone operation easier during your inspection.
If GPS positioning is possible, you’ll probably be able to create waypoints that the drone can follow instead of you directing it every step of the way. Also associated with GPS positioning is an auto return. Many drones can return when their batteries start running low, preventing the problem of your drone being stuck on the roof because it doesn’t have the power to come down.
FPV (First Person View) is a necessity, so you can tell the drone exactly where to go when it’s above the roof. The real-time footage that you see on your mobile device makes you a more efficient pilot. Also, this means you won’t only analyze the footage once the drone is back, but you can assess the situation throughout the inspection and start making your plans for maintenance or installation or any other project you’re using the information for.
The size of the drone matters if you’re often going to transport it to different locations. Pick a size that will easily fit in your backpack, and if you can collapse certain parts like propellers to make it more portable, it’s a bonus.
Of course, smaller isn’t always better since its size will determine its weight, and a very light model may get swept aside by the wind. But lightweight units are easy to handle, so you need to find a balance between all these factors.
Also, consider the size of the controller you receive with your drone. Make sure it’s comfortable to hold in your hands. You may be operating it for up to 30 minutes or an hour, so it won’t be ideal if you experience fatigue within a few minutes.
Lastly, think of the work you usually do and determine what size of a drone will get into all the spots you need to maneuver it into. If you often have to get into small nooks and crannies to capture footage, pick a unit as small as the DJI Mavic Mini.
As mentioned above, you need to find a balance between a weight limit that will be comfortable for you to carry around and a weight that won’t make the drone too easily affected by the wind. In some tasks, you may need to carry your drone on your back while you walk between buildings for site inspections. Make sure it won’t weigh you down even if you’re working all day. Luckily, modern technology enables you to have advanced tech in small devices.
You’ll be wise to invest in drones that have additional accessories, with an extra battery probably the most valuable. This will double your flight time, which is essential if you’re making your living with the help of your drone.
You want to keep your drone in top condition so it functions optimally. Find out about frames that protect the propellors or a carrying case that make it easy and safe to move your drone around.
Ensure that extras that are vital for operation are part of the purchase, such as a charging cable. Some brands may advertise extras such as VR goggles, but they’re not always included, so make sure what you’re paying for.
Most of the drones will require you to use an app on your phone. Research how user-friendly the app is and whether it will work on your type of mobile device and operating system.
The prices of drones these days are across the board. You can purchase one for a few hundred dollars, such as the DJI Mavic Mini or RUKO on our list, but you can even get a high-quality unit for under $100 if you opt for something like the SNAPTAIN model. So, you can make a purchase according to your available budget and still get value for money.
In an entirely different price range, you can opt for models like the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, which is priced well over $1000. If features like the 4K video and long flight time are priorities, this may be a wise investment.
The best way to determine the price range you need to buy in is to write down your priorities and look at the prices of drones that fit that description.