Glenn loves writing: no wonder he decided to become a journalist without too much thinking right after his high school. When not working for his magazine, he writes for us on a freelance basis, putting all our findings together.
Vincent is a professional videographer who seems to know everything about the industry. He got his first quadcopter as soon as they appeared on the market, so if any drone-related question arises, we know who to ask.
Last updated: November 04, 2021
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Do you suspect that your roof needs some extra attention? Using your toy drone with an attached action camera to it is not the best idea. There’s an evolving market offering you drones specifically designed for roof inspections. They offer impressive features required to do a proper inspection, and ordinary toys and gadgets won’t suffice. And if roof inspections are part of your job, quality equipment is even more important. Our review will show you how to find the best drone for roof inspections.
Over the years, the market for drones has changed since people discovered they could be such practical solutions. To get a roof inspection right, you need to have a clear image from the camera. Next, there must be sufficient flight time so you can finish a full inspection before the battery dies. And of course, it must still be within transmission range even if you send it up high above a tall building. Stick with us to find out more! Let’s go!
"An outstanding model that features 3-axis motorized gimbal for ultra-smooth footage, wide operating temperature range, and compact design.12MP 1/2.3” CMOS, 2.7K HD camera.2.5 miles transmission range.30 min flight time."
"With this premium model, you don’t have to worry about crashes because it has a five-direction obstacle sensing feature.4K camera with 1-inch 20MP sensor.4.3 miles transmission range.30 min flight time."
"Do you need more modes to control your drone? In this one, you’ll find everything you need for roof inspections.1080P HD 108° FOV adjustable FPV camera.0.3 mile transmission range.22 min flight time."
The Mavic Mini’s name states one of its best features: it’s compact, so you don’t have to carry much weight around. It looks sleek, so if you appreciate aesthetics, this one will charm you. Want to make your own design? This set comes with colored markers to decorate your drone.
Its tech features are ideal as a roof inspection drone, thanks to a 12MP camera that allows you to capture HD videos.
You can easily work with this drone, whether you have an iOS or Android mobile device. Just make sure you have at least iOS v10.0 or Android v6.0. The DJI Fly App is compatible with multiple different mobile phones. The app is user-friendly, and thanks to the tutorial, you’ll inspect roofs like a pro in no time.
What do we love it for? The 30-minute fly time is more than enough in most cases when using drones for roof inspections. There is also no need to worry about stability, thanks to a 3-axis gimbal that will prevent it from losing focus.
What were we disappointed with? The body doesn’t look like the best, and you must be prepared that the app will drain a lot of your phone’s battery quickly. There are some bugs in the app software, but this may get sorted with future updates.
Here’s a drone for building inspection that carries all the latest technology to make your task easy. Thanks to FPV and a 100° wide angle, you’ll be able to direct the drone easily and get a lot of information through the camera.
The brand took it to another level by enabling you to operate it even with hand signals, your voice, or your smartphone. You can draw a path on your phone, and the drone will follow, or signal a ‘V’ sign with your fingers if you want your drone to take a selfie of you from up high.
Operation is fairly easy, with a single button for taking off or landing the unit. So, even newbies will find this a practical tool.
What are our favorite features? It’s portable with many components being foldable, so it won’t take up much space. Thanks to an optical flow sensor, the drone will be stable during operation.
What could be better? There are models with better cameras, and it’s a bit bothersome if you need to pair the remote each time you start up the machine. You may also find it a bit slow, and the connection to smartphones doesn’t always work well.
Here’s another drone with an impressive flight time of up to 30 minutes, making it practical for longer inspections.
Your camera will be more than decent thanks to a 1″ 20MP sensor with which you can capture 4K video footage of either 60fps, 30fps, or 14fps. There’s also a mechanical shutter, which works better than the traditional rolling shutters for scenarios where movement is involved.
You’ll have a light unit to carry around since the body is a mix of titanium and magnesium alloys. This keeps it sturdy but without adding much weight to the drone. Although, note that this is much heavier than many other units mentioned in our drone for roof inspection reviews.
A handy Return to Home Mode ensures it gets back after each flight, and it will even gauge where on the ground is a safe place to settle.
What are its best features? It can sense obstacles in five different directions, limiting the chances of collisions.
What could be improved? Even though the drone can sense obstacles, it doesn’t prevent wind from pushing the drone into certain objects. You may find this drone more difficult to operate than some others.
If you’re using drones for roof inspections often, you’ll appreciate the 30 minute flight time as well as the fact that you can transmit images or video up to 500m. Also, thanks to an additional battery, you won’t have to recharge first before continuing your work.
The model uses GPS positioning to hover effectively, so you have time to capture quality footage. The images will be clear and colorful thanks to 4K HD pictures. On top of that, the drone can reach speeds of 25mph, and it’s able to resist winds.
Directing the drone can be easy since you can tap on up to 16 points on a map on the screen while the app is open. The drone will follow these waypoints automatically. The app, of course, tracks the drone’s position, so if it should be out of sight, you can easily find it.
What are our favorite features? Taking off is easy because there’s only one button to push. We also think you’ll appreciate the carry case that will keep the drone safe during transportation.
What could be better? There’s no object avoidance feature, and some may find the manual to have inadequate information. The instruction video is also not always available in all languages.
You won’t get an excessively long fly time out of this drone for building inspection, but a time of 18 minutes is still decent. As long as the house is not too big, you’ll complete the inspection before it needs to land. It does have an RTH (Return to Home) feature, making it easy to get back. It will even return automatically if the battery level drops too low, so no chance of a lost drone because you ran out of power.
You have a 90° adjustable angle to help you get the best shots, and FPV makes it easy to manage your drone.
It’s fairly easy to operate since you take off and land with just one key. You can still control this unit even if it’s over 1900ft away. It’s not the best transmission range on our list but still decent.
What are our favorite features? You can lock it at a certain height and then just focus on flying it in the right direction, which is helpful if it’s not in the line of sight anymore. Thus, there are fewer aspects to control at once.
What could be better? This is a 2K camera, not a 4K camera, as can be found in some other drone for roof inspection reviews. Unfortunately, the batteries take a long time to charge, so invest in a spare.
This drone looks ultra-futuristic with its black casing, and its features confirm this notion. With this one, you can use your voice to control it, telling it when to change direction. Alternatively, you can use gestures which the camera will pick up, or you can, of course, use the provided controls.
Although some functions are not relevant to roof inspections, you can do flips and other stunts with this drone. That makes it a versatile unit, so while one family member will use it for building maintenance or inspections related to work, others can use it for fun.
For the app, you’ll at least need Android v4.4 or iOS v7.0. You can transmit video up to 180ft away, which isn’t as impressive as some others on our list. When operating the drone, you can fly it as far as 240ft away.
What are our favorite features? There’s a Gravity Sensor Mode, which enables you to guide the drone by simply moving your smartphone in a certain direction.
What could be better? This drone doesn’t have great battery life, with only 12 minutes on each battery. That gives you a total of 24 minutes, but you’re wasting time on exchanging them, and you still don’t get the 30 minutes that the high-end machines provide. Charging time is 2 hours, so you’ll wait a long time before you can get flying again.
Is it the bright orange color that attracts you to this drone for home inspection? It will certainly make it easy to track if it’s quite a distance from you. Looking like a robot insect, this drone has GPS positioning, which helps to guide it effectively. It’s impressive that it can still transmit 4.3 miles away from you!
The app to use with this drone – Autel Explorer – comes free, and we’re impressed by the long flight time of 30 minutes before a battery exchange will be necessary.
What makes it stand out? The app offers helpful features that include virtual reality FPV as well as waypoint planning, which the drone will automatically follow. The purchase includes a 32GB MicroSD card on which you can save up to 60 minutes of video, even at 4K quality.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? The brand should improve the user’s manual, so you don’t have to watch videos just to get to know your new device.
In this roof inspection drone, you get a 1080p HD camera, which isn’t the best on our list but sufficient for inspecting a roof.
You can initiate Altitude Hold, so your drone stays at the same height – that’s one less thing to monitor while you do the inspection. It has a 6-axis gyro to help with stability.
As an additional expense, you can invest in VR glasses, place your phone inside, and then your roof inspection will be a 3D virtual reality experience.
To get the right angle for your inspection, there’s a 45° adjustability on the camera. Again, it’s not the most impressive on today’s market, but still valuable.
What are our favorite features? It’s easy to operate, and with features like one key start and landing, it should be user friendly even for inexperienced users. You’ll also appreciate the additional battery that extends the flying time to 40 minutes.
What could be better? The transmission range on this one is really not impressive. Even though the range is not essential for drones for home inspections, it would be helpful to have a little more than just 165ft. Recharging the batteries can take up to 160 minutes, which can be bothersome if you have more inspections to do.
This drone looks impressive with the black casing, and it won’t easily show smudges after lots of handling, unlike the many white models on our list of reviews.
You’ll get up to 22 minutes of flight time from one battery, which isn’t the best, but a great average for roof inspections. You’ll usually get most of your necessary footage in that time. Also, the good battery life is in part, thanks to its brushless motor.
It comes with all the features you expect from a high-end drone, including Auto Return, which it will do if it runs low on power, so you don’t lose it. The FPV feature helps you have a realistic view of the roof.
What makes it stand out? You can easily switch between low and high speeds, giving you more control when you need to. It can hold altitude, and Trajectory Flight is also helpful.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? Battery life may deteriorate over time, and it’s difficult to find replacements. It doesn’t always respond to the controller as it should.
The last drone on our list, the HUBSAN H501SS, also has a brushless motor, which is always good for energy efficiency.
You get most of the bells and whistles you would expect from a high-quality drone, including it returning home automatically, and it can follow you if you tell it to track your mobile device. Just note that there are limitations because the auto-return only works when it’s in GPS mode and connected to at least six satellites. If it’s in altitude hold mode, this feature won’t work at all.
You can enjoy FPV mode, but note that the video resolution is only 1080p HD, which is less impressive than many others here. Some users find the app not as user-friendly as some other software products.
The unit has a 6-axis gyroscope to keep your drone stable.
Why are we impressed? Thanks to the GPS feature, you can activate Altitude Hold.
What negatives must you be aware of? Recharge time is 150 minutes, so you’ll wait a while before you can head out to inspections again. There’s only one battery included.
Things to Consider
You can see that the market for drones for roof inspections is quite vast, but not all of them will suit your needs. We created a buying guide to show you the different facts to keep in mind when you’re shopping. We’ll discuss everything from the cameras to speed and, of course, the speed and flight time. And don’t forget to check out the FAQ section where your important questions are all answered. Also, see which accessories are really giving you value for money.
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.
You need specific features for a proper roof inspection, starting with the right camera. Without it, there’s no way of guiding your drone into the right places. You also have to consider the unique aspects of roof inspections, such as the drone being exposed to high winds if it’s a tall building. This requires great stability, which ordinary drones and toy drones won’t have.
Drones you use for fun do not require any licenses, but if you use the device as part of your work, you will need a certificate, which you can obtain after passing an FAA test. You’ll need to learn about topics such as radio procedures, inspections, maintenance, and more. Also, you need to register your drone. There are strict rules, such as the fact that you shouldn’t fly over people. These guidelines and rules make sense since a roof inspection drone can possibly fly at heights where you can see into people’s homes. Thus, it’s important that aspects like privacy are kept in mind by anyone operating a drone.
Many drones work well with apps and the drone brands design apps that suit their devices. It’s not always necessary to use these apps, but they will allow you to access more features of the device, and it will give you more flexibility during operating it and inspecting a roof.
You can see what an exciting part of your home maintenance or work a drone can become. If you decide to invest in one, we suggest the DJI Mavic Mini as your first option. It’s compact, but it comes with some impressive features, and it’s not even the most expensive on our list.
Alternatively, Holy Stone is a good brand to choose from. The HS160 Pro allows you to use voice control, and the camera’s angle is impressive. It also looks stylish, so you can impress clients with your business equipment.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is another worthy candidate. Although it’s pricier than many others, you can’t get past the fact that everything from the camera to its speed and controls are state of the art.
The only thing left to do is for you to pick one. On our list of best drones for roof inspection, there’s one for every budget and application. If you have tips about picking the best one, please share with our community.