Can You Fly a Drone in the Rain and What Happens When it Gets Wet

In this article, we will explain can you fly a drone in the rain and how you can waterproof your device
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Last updatedLast updated: August 06, 2021

With the great variety of drones out there and the functions they carry, you might want to film the storm outside while getting as close to it as possible. Drones can operate close to water, to take samples for scientists Trusted Source Nixie’s drone-based water sampling could save cities time and money – TechCrunch Regularly testing waterways and reservoirs is a never-ending responsibility for utility companies and municipal safety authorities, and generally — as you might expect — involves either a boat or at least a pair of waders. Nixie does the job with a drone instead, making the process faster, cheaper and a lot less wet. The most […] techcrunch.com , as an example.

Of course, when you’re spending that much money on one of these handy devices, you want it to last a while. That’s why many people are wondering, can you fly a drone in the rain? Doing so can increase how often you can use your drone but moisture usually has a negative impact on machines, especially if the casing isn’t fully enclosed. For more information on flying a drone in the rain and what to expect, check out the following sections.

What happens if a drone gets wet

If you happen to get your drone wet, there are a few issues that could arise, affecting your drone’s performance or shutting it down permanently, depending on how wet it gets. The following issues are most common in wet drones.

Short circuit

Can You Fly a Drone in the Rain and What Happens When it Gets Wet

Whether you’re flying your drone in the rain or just land it in some wet grass, you could be dealing with a short circuit. This is caused by moisture coming into contact with the wires or motor inside the drone. This affects the power source as well since the positive and negative terminals are no longer connected with a load, which means they have no outlet for the electrical current. This causes even more damage to the motor, control board, and wires, which may require replacement for your drone to work again.

Control loss

A loss of control can also be caused by moisture, which gets into the drone and comes into contact with the receiver or flight controls. Water can cause a connection in the positive and negative poles, which can create unexpected signals that you aren’t planning for. This can lead to an uncontrollable drone, which could then refuse to respond or crash into nearby obstacles.

Rust

Though most drones have a lot of plastic parts, there will likely be some metal ones as well, especially for the motor and other internal components. Moisture causes the metal to rust, so the wetter the drone gets, the faster the rust will form.

Eventually, those rusted parts will break and need to be replaced, so it is best to monitor your drone and keep it dry to prevent rust from destroying those delicate parts.

How to find waterproof drones

There are a lot of waterproof drones on the market, like the PowerVision PowerEgg X all-weather drone, which can handle heavy rain and is multifunctional for versatile use. These are the best drones for fishing as well as damp weather since they have the right build to keep the moisture out of mechanical and electronic areas. To find one of these models, there are a couple of features you may want to keep an eye out for.

Flight conditions check

The first thing to look for in terms of waterproofing on a drone is the Flight Conditions, which you can find in the manual included with the model you buy. This section of the manual will tell you the exact conditions your drone can handle, including if it can fly in the rain. It will also list whether the drone can land on water, like the Parrot Hydrofoil Minidrone, which includes a hydrodynamic hull that you can attach to the drone to turn it into a sort of boat for water tricks.

Keep in mind that even if you’re drone is water-resistant or waterproof, this doesn’t mean that you should prolong its exposure to rain or moisture. Water could still seep into some areas, like the battery, which can cause permanent damage to your drone or its parts.

IP rating

Can You Fly a Drone in the Rain and What Happens When it Gets Wet

The Ingress Protection Code Trusted Source IP Code - Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org (IP Code) is used to determine how the casing or enclosures used on various products protect against water, as well as dust, intrusion, and accidental contact.  These ratings are usually listed as IP followed by 2 numbers. The first number is the solid-particle protection rating, which determines how much dust and debris the casing keeps out of your drone. If there is no rating, an X is used instead, like IPX4.

The second number determines the moisture protection. The higher the number, the more protection the casing offers. For instance, an IP rating of 1 is protected against dripping water while an 8 rating is for immersion of 1m or more. For drones, the ratings usually don’t go higher than IPX6, which is for powerful water jets, which is good for those heavy rains, though it is best not to linger too long outside in damp weather.

How to save a wet drone

So, can drones fly in the rain? Technically yes, if they have the proper waterproofing, but there are many drones without this type of protection. So, what do you do if your drone gets wet? To avoid damage to the drone, the following steps are a must.

Disconnect power

The first thing to do if your drone gets wet from rain, puddles, or dew on the grass is to disconnect it from the battery. Do this as soon as possible to avoid damage to the battery and the drone from a short circuit.

Remove case

Can You Fly a Drone in the Rain and What Happens When it Gets Wet

Once the power supply is disconnected, you should remove the casing from the drone. This gives you access to the internal areas to remove any moisture that has leaked inside. Gently shake the drone to loosen any moisture that has already found its way inside the drone.

Dry parts

Take a soft towel and dry the parts of the drone that you can reach. Wipe the delicate internal areas gently, as well as the outer areas, like the propellers and body of the drone. Be sure to remove as much of the water as you can to reduce the possibility of damage.

If there is some moisture inside that you can’t reach or remove with the above method, you can try using salt to dry up the remaining water. For this, fill a black plastic garbage bag with salt until it is about 3-4mm thick. Lay the salt-filled plastic bag on a flat surface in the sun. Place the drone inside the bag on top of the salt and then seal the bag. Leave it for two days to give the salt the time it needs to absorb any remaining moisture in your drone.

After two days, remove the drone, reattach the casing and battery, and test it to make sure it is still working. If it is not, the moisture may have already caused damage and the drone may require some repairs.

FAQ

Though the above information may help to determine if you can fly a drone in the rain and what to do if you get caught in an unexpected downpour, you may still have a few more questions about how your drone handles weather. The following questions are the most common ones drown enthusiasts ask.

Is cold rain more harmful than warm one?

Though you may think that moisture is moisture, no matter what temperature it is, this isn’t the case. Drones commonly use Lithium Polymer batteries as their power source, which can actually drain faster in colder temperatures. This means that in weather that produces cold rain, the battery will run down much quicker than on a warmer day, so you’ll have much less time to actually use the drone before you need to charge the battery again.

On colder days, with or without the rain, it is a good idea to monitor your battery life more closely than you normally would to avoid losing power in the middle of a flight and causing a crash that could damage the drone.

Can snow break my drone?

Can You Fly a Drone in the Rain and What Happens When it Gets Wet

Snow isn’t as damaging to a drone as rain is because it is in a solid form and can’t penetrate the drone’s exterior until it warms up and melts. As long as your drone is rated for the temperature you’re flying it in, you shouldn’t have any issues with snow during your flight.

Be sure to clear the snow off completely as soon as you’ve landed the drone, though. This will ensure that it is clear of those flakes when you bring it inside and the drone warms up enough to melt any snow. You should be extra careful with the battery during this process since the moisture in the snow can damage the connections.

Can a drone be struck by lightning?

Yes, a drone can be struck by lightning if you are flying it during a storm. Though you may get some cool pictures while out during that type of weather, the damage lightning can cause to your drone may not be worth the risk. Lightning will fry the components, which will destroy your drone. There is no way to protect a drone from this occurrence, either, so it may be best to keep it indoors until the storm has moved far enough away to avoid lightning strikes.

Final thoughts

The popularity of drones has grown significantly over the last decade, due to the versatility and multifunctional use these devices have to offer. Of course, if you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on one of them, you likely want to use it as much as possible. That’s why many drone enthusiasts wonder, can you fly a drone in the rain?

Well, technically, if you have a waterproof drone, you can fly one in the rain, but it isn’t recommended to do so for long. Moisture can damage many of the drone’s parts, so if the rain starts to fall, it is best to land your drone, take it inside, and dry it carefully to reduce any water damage and ensure it will work perfectly the next time you take it out for a flight.

References

1.
Nixie’s drone-based water sampling could save cities time and money – TechCrunch
Regularly testing waterways and reservoirs is a never-ending responsibility for utility companies and municipal safety authorities, and generally — as you might expect — involves either a boat or at least a pair of waders. Nixie does the job with a drone instead, making the process faster, cheaper and a lot less wet. The most […]
2.
IP Code - Wikipedia
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