How Long Can a Drone Fly? In-Detail Guide to Understand Its Timing Better!

We considered all there is to know about drones so that you can learn the basics and be on your way to flying a drone.
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Last updatedLast updated: August 05, 2022
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There is so much to know about drones! One thing to know about is the average flight time of drones and how long a drone can fly. These differ depending on what kind of drone you get. Typically, the more money you are able to spend on a drone, the longer it will fly. Another thing to consider is that drones usually don’t fly for as long as advertised because of external factors like weather or because of things you can control, like payload. If you want your drone to fly the longest, you need to pay attention to all these conditions.

Next comes batteries. There are proper ways to charge, store, and install batteries. Batteries are arguably the most important part of your drone, so make sure you know your stuff! It is vital to know how long it takes to charge your drone because you want to get your drone from the charger and into the air as quickly as possible. Lastly, there are lots of interesting kinds of drones to learn about, like tethered drones. This article will teach you all the basics about drones!

Average flight time ranged by type of a drone

The main thing that affects the average flight time of a drone is what kind of drone it is. It is impossible to give a blanket statement on what the average flight time of a drone is without going into the specifics of drone types. The advertised maximum flight times for some popular toy drones run between 7 and 13 minutes. This means the average is roughly 10 minutes. However, they will need to be constantly recharged, and usually, the flight time is shorter than advertised.

The advertised maximum flight times for some popular mid-level drones range from 15 to 25 minutes. So, the average flight time of mid-level drones is advertised to be 22 minutes. But the real flight time is probably 2 to 5 minutes less than what is advertised.

The advertised maximum flight times for some popular high-end drones range from 25 to 31 minutes. With these numbers, the average flight time of high-end drones is around 28 minutes. If you have a second battery, that means you can stay in the air for nearly an hour, which will give you a lot of time. Syma makes a range of different drones for beginners and experts alike that all differ in flight time so that you can choose one that best suits your purposes.

Popular toy drone models flight times

How Long Can a Drone Fly? In-Detail Guide to Understand Its Timing Better!

Here are some advertised maximum flight times for popular toy drone models. The Cheerson CX-10 Mini has a flight time of 8 minutes. The Force1 U49WF Drone has a flight time of 13 minutes. The Force1 UFO 4000 LED Mini Drone has a flight time of 9 minutes. The Ryze Tello has a flight time of 13 minutes. The Holy Stone HS110D has a flight time of 10 minutes. Lastly, the Snaptain A10 Mini Drone has a flight time of 7 minutes.

You can find some toy drones with shorter or longer flight times, but these are the times of a few popular models. When you factor in that the flight times are likely shorter than advertised, this leaves flight times to be 5 to 10 minutes long in reality. Most toy drones cost less than $150. This is a good resource on a list of drones in that price range. If you are first starting out flying drones, it is a good idea to start with a toy drone to test the waters before you invest in something more serious.

Mid-level drones flight times

These are some of the advertised maximum flight times for popular mid-level drones. The Altair Outlaw has a flight time of 15 minutes. The DJI Spark has a flight time of 16 minutes. The Ruko F11 GIM has a flight time of 28 minutes. The Parrot Bebop 2 has a flight time of 25 minutes. The Upair Two has a flight time of 24 minutes. The Yuneec Q500 has a flight time of 25 minutes.

When you factor in that the flight time is a bit shorter than advertised, this leaves you with flight times ranging from 12 minutes to 25 minutes.

High-end drones flight times

Below are some advertised maximum flight times for high-end drones. The Autel Robotics EVO has a flight time of 30 minutes. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro has a flight time of 31 minutes. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro has a flight time of 30 minutes. The DJI Inspire 2 has a flight time of 27 minutes. The Yuneec Typhoon H has a flight time of 25 minutes.

Remember that flight times are usually 2-5 minutes shorter than advertised.

What drone can flight time be shorter than promised?

Any drone flight time can be shorter than promised. There are a lot of factors that go into your drone’s flight time, such as payload, flight conditions, usage scenarios that shorten flight time, and battery age. If you are flying in absolutely perfect conditions with no use other than flying your drone, that is when you will be closest to the advertised flight time because those are the conditions they test the drones in. But the minute you add on any extra factors, you will lose minutes of flight time.

Payload

How Long Can a Drone Fly? In-Detail Guide to Understand Its Timing Better!

Payload is anything you add to your drone that adds weight. That’s like if you’re using a drone for fishing or add lights for flying at night. Even though these weights may seem small, they can greatly affect how long your drone can fly. LED lights would also drain your drone’s batteries. Another thing you might add on is a parachute for emergencies.

The most common thing that people add to their drones is a propeller guard. This protects your drone if it crashes, but at the same time, it is additional weight that is added on. It also affects the drone’s efficiency because it interferes with how they lift. So, all things considered, propeller guards shorten flight times.

Flight conditions

One of the biggest things that affect the flight time of a drone in the air and weather conditions. Although some drones are designed to be able to perform in temperatures that are nearly freezing and will indeed fly in these temperatures, the cold will drain their batteries faster. This will shorten the flight time of your drone.

On the other side of the coin, very hot weather can affect your flight time too, because hot air is not as dense. That makes your motor work harder to develop lift which is more demanding on your batteries.

Lastly, wind greatly affects your battery life because your drone has to work extremely hard to fight the wind, no matter how small the breeze. Once you get up to 15 or 20 feet, there will likely be a slight breeze.

Usage scenarios that shorten the flight time

Another thing that affects the battery life is the way in which the drone is being flown. The longest flights are when you’re just hovering over our drone. Once you’re moving your drone a lot, it will strain the motor and drain your batteries. The same thing can be said about speed. If you are at maximum speed, you can get as low as half of the advertised flight time or even less.

A lot of drones come with different modes of flight like beginner or sport, and the mode you are using will also change your flight time. Another thing that can lessen your flight time is taking videos because it will drain your battery.

However, it is interesting to think about how fast a drone can fly. Sometimes you may not care too much about flight time and just want to have a good time racing your drone around and doing extreme movements. And that’s okay!

Battery age

Something that people don’t often consider is that your drone’s battery age can affect your flight time. More specifically, it is affected by how many times you have recharged your battery. The more times it has been recharged, the less charge it will hold. This is when your flight times will decrease. If you properly care for and charge your batteries correctly, this will help to keep your batteries lasting longer. But even if you do this, you will eventually have to replace your batteries.

If you own smart batteries, they will inform you of the health of your battery. It is considered good practice to replace the batteries when they get to 50% of their battery health.

How to improve your drone’s flight time?

If you already have a drone and you don’t want to buy a new one, there are still ways to get a great performance out of the one you already have and improve its flight time. Some things you can do are reduce the weight of your drone, choose good weather conditions, fly steadily and slowly, get better batteries, have backup batteries, charge your batteries before your flight, and maintain your batteries correctly. In this section, we will go over how to improve the flight time of your drone using these simple steps.

Reduce the weight

To reduce the weight of your drone, don’t use any add-ons and take off anything you have already added on. Propeller guards are one of the main things that people add on, so if you have them, take them off. If there’s a removable camera on your drone, you can take that off too in order to get a longer flight, but if you are mainly using your drone to take pictures and videos, it may not be worth it, and you might be better off using other techniques to improve flight times. If some of your add-ons are specific to certain situations, like lights for nighttime use, you can take them off during the day.

When it comes to reducing the weight of your drone, you really need to weigh the pros and cons. You don’t want to take anything off that is vital to enjoying your drone, such as the camera or lights, when flying at night. But if your main goal is just to fly your drone around, then it is definitely worth it to remove things.

Choose good weather conditions

Choosing the correct weather conditions to fly your drone in will both improve each specific flight as well as increase the lifetime of your drone altogether. Avoid flying in rainy and humid weather. This will hurt your motors which will decrease the efficiency and useful lifetime of your motors. It will also damage your batteries, both long-term and short-term.

Don’t fly when it’s very cold because your batteries will run out faster. You can get a battery heater or warm your batteries in your pockets before flying. You can also hover for a couple of minutes after taking off to warm up the battery.

Don’t fly when it’s very hot out. When it’s hot, there is a higher air density, which makes it harder for your drone to create lift. Very hot weather can also make your batteries overheat and even explode. Look out for battery temperature and stop flying if your batteries reach 65 degrees C. Wind makes your drone work harder to stay stable, which drains the battery. Fly when there is no wind or just barely a bit of breeze.

Fly steadily and slowly

If you are racing drones and fly at full speed, you will get an extremely short flight time, such as 5 to 8 minutes of airtime. If you want the drone to stay in the air for longer, don’t fly at full speed. You can instead not use sport mode and try not to make any sudden changes in the direction of movement. Move slowly and steadily to get as good of a flight time as you would with just a hover. This is something people don’t realize because it can be fun to move your drone quickly and suddenly. But you have to trade off that fun for short airtime. It can be much more fun to stay in the air for longer than it is to go fast.

Get better batteries

Drones come with standard batteries. However, some drones are compatible with different batteries that hold more charge for longer. If you’re building your drone yourself, you should configure it to use as powerful of a battery as you can afford. It will cost you more money, but in exchange, you will get to fly your drone for longer periods of time.

Have backup batteries

How Long Can a Drone Fly? In-Detail Guide to Understand Its Timing Better!

Your flight time can be doubled if you have a charged pair of backup batteries that you bring with you when you fly. It might be annoying to have to land and change the batteries when you’re in the flow of things, but it’s better than running out of time altogether. Just make sure the batteries are charged, or else they won’t be of any help.

If you’re flying somewhere that you can’t have a charger on hand, charge them as closely to your trip out flying as possible. When flying in the cold, keep your extra pair of batteries warm until you’re using them. A good place to put them would be inside of your coat in an inner pocket that is thick, so it’s close to the heat of your body.

Charge batteries before flight

When you fly, your battery should always be fully charged. This will both get you the longest time in the air and also help maintain the life of your batteries. Your batteries will start to discharge once you take them off the charger, so it is best to get them off the charger and into your drone and into the air as quickly as possible. This will give you the most charge while you are flying. The same can be said for your extra batteries.

If you have more than one extra battery, get a charger that can charge more than one battery at once because otherwise, it won’t charge fast enough and will lose charge once you take it off the charger to charge the next one.

Tips on maintaining your batteries

Taking good care of your batteries will provide the longest times in the air and also extend how long your batteries will last. Here are some easy tips on how to get the fullest life from your batteries. Don’t allow your battery to discharge completely. They will begin to degrade if they are completely uncharged. A lot of batteries are designed to not allow the battery to fully discharge, but not only is it bad for the battery to run output-it can also be dangerous if it runs out mid-flight and your drone falls or crashes.

Don’t allow your battery to freeze. It will compromise the chemicals in the battery. If a battery freezes, it should be thrown away. Let your battery cool down a little bit after taking it out of the drone before putting it on the charger.

Never put a battery into a drone that is turned on. This will damage the battery as well as be dangerous. Similarly, don’t take out a battery if the drone’s power is on. It’s easy to forget to turn your drone off if you are switching from your original battery to a backup battery midsession, so be careful of this.

Lastly, keep your battery in a dry, cool place at about 40-65% charged when you’re not using it. Don’t keep it in the charger for extended amounts of time. Keeping it charged too high or too low will damage the cells of the battery. This will make a short time in the air or a battery that you can’t even use altogether. If you are having trouble charging your batteries, you’re not alone. This article can help you troubleshoot so you can fix the issue.

How long does it take to charge a drone?

The time it takes to charge the battery of a drone depends on the battery’s size, condition, and age. Toy drones take the least amount of time to charge because they are the smallest. Mid-level drones actually take the longest to charge because they are heavier than toy drones but aren’t as advanced as high-end drones. High-end drones barely take longer to charge than toy drones.

It is important to know how long your battery takes to charge so you can plug it inappropriately before leaving the house for your flying session. This is because you don’t want to leave it in the charger for extra time, but you also want it to be fully charged.

Also, remember that you need to charge your controller as well as your drone. Some controllers use AA batteries, and some drones use an app to be controlled. But if your controller has a rechargeable battery, consider that charging time as well.

Toy drones

For toy drones, battery charge times range from 45 minutes to 90 minutes. On average, a toy drone’s battery charge time is roughly 70 minutes. This is because the flight times aren’t very long, so it doesn’t take a very long time to charge the battery. Also, the battery is smaller because the drone is smaller.

Mid-level drones

Now that you are flying a mid-level drone, the flights will last a little longer. But because the battery is bigger, it will take longer to charge. Charge times range from 55 minutes to 5 hours. You will definitely have to charge your battery for over an hour for most batteries, and the average time to charge the battery of a mid-level drone is 2.5 hours. This means you will have to think ahead to when you are going to leave the house to fly in order to plug it in at the right time.

High-end drones

Even though high-end drones are more powerful than the rest, the batteries are also designed to charge quicker because they are of a higher quality. The charge time for high-end drones tends to be between 70 minutes and 90 minutes, with some outliers. This means below 2 hours. The average charging time for batteries that are high-end is roughly 80 minutes.

Drones with long flight times

So far, we have only discussed the normal drones for consumers, hobbyists, and amateurs. The average consumer drone has a flight time, at best, that is around half an hour. But once you start talking about commercial drones, there are many outliers that fly for an extremely impressive and surprising amount of time.

Some accomplish this by using more powerful, bigger batteries. On the other hand, some use other sources of power like solar power, hybrid motors, or being tether to fly indefinitely.

Although the average person would not be using these drones, it is still interesting to look at how they work and how long they can fly. And if you really become an enthusiast and have the budget for it, you might just end up with one of these drones!

Commercial drones

How Long Can a Drone Fly? In-Detail Guide to Understand Its Timing Better!

Commercial Trusted Source Royal Mail to deliver to Scilly Isles by drone in first UK trial of its kind | Royal Mail | The Guardian Royal Mail is to trial using a drone to send PPE, Covid-19 test kits and other items of mail from the UK mainland to the Scilly Isles. The company said it would be the first parcel carrier in the country to deliver mail to a UK island using an autonomous flight, which would fly out of sight of any operator during the 70-mile journey. www.theguardian.com drones are one step up from your average consumer drone. They cost more money than consumer drones but also come with longer flight times. The batteries are very powerful. Some of these drones can last around 40 minutes in the air, while others can make it to nearly an hour. Sometimes drones are necessary for things like public safety operations, so it is vital to stay in the air for longer. This is a good example of when a drone like this would be used.

Fixed-wing drones

How Long Can a Drone Fly? In-Detail Guide to Understand Its Timing Better!

Fixed-wing drones have the tendency to be forgotten by your average consumer. That is because they don’t align with the image in people’s minds of what a drone is. But they are a lot more efficient aerodynamically. They can also fly for a much greater amount of time than your regular quadcopter, even if you are using the same sized battery or similar.

Some fixed-wing drones are hybrids and even have an automatic landing and takeoff. This takes away the need to manually launch it the way you need to with a normal drone that has fixed wings.

They have a price tag along the lines of a mid or high-end consumer drone. But the flight times are a lot better, with an average of around 45 minutes. There’s a lot you can get done with 45 minutes of air time!

US-1 battery drones

How Long Can a Drone Fly? In-Detail Guide to Understand Its Timing Better!

US-1 Battery Drones are designed focused mostly on their batteries. The US-1 is essentially a battery that flies, and the cells of the battery take up most of the space inside. There is a lot of lithium-ion inside the battery on the inside of the drone, so it is much heavier than your average drone for consumers. It weighs 15.7 pounds. There is also a higher price because of the advanced technology, clocking in around $7,500. It is designed for users who are commercial but have an extremely extended flight time. This makes it well worth the price tag. It has a flight time that is uninterrupted of roughly 2 hours! The battery also charges incredibly quickly, reaching 75% charge in just 45 minutes.

Diesel-powered drones

How Long Can a Drone Fly? In-Detail Guide to Understand Its Timing Better!

A diesel-powered drone broke a world record for flight time. The Vanilla Aircraft’s VA001 has a wingspan of 36 feet and is fixed-wing. It flew for five days, one hour, and 24 minutes. It also had three days of fuel still in it after it landed. Although this is far from something any consumer would get their hands on, it is impressive to think about and just goes to show what drone technology is capable of and the direction the sport might be headed in.

Solar-powered drones

How Long Can a Drone Fly? In-Detail Guide to Understand Its Timing Better!

Solar-powered Trusted Source How Does Solar Work? | Department of Energy The amount of sunlight that strikes the earth’s surface in an hour and a half is enough to handle the entire world’s energy consumption for a full year. Solar technologies convert sunlight into electrical energy either through photovoltaic (PV) panels or through mirrors that concentrate solar radiation. This energy can be used to generate electricity or be stored in batteries or thermal storage. www.energy.gov drones surpass consumer drones and even regular commercial drones. They can fly at extremely high altitudes. One solar-powered drone is able to cruise at 70,000 feet with an 82-foot wingspan. It does so by using solar energy that is created by solar cells onboard to power motors that drive twin propellers. The longest recorded flight of this drone, the Zephyr S by Airbus Trusted Source Zephyr S High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) - Airforce Technology The Zephyr S next-generation High-Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) is a new variant of the Zephyr family of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) owned by Airbus Defence and Space. The aircraft was unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show 2018. www.airforce-technology.com , is 25 days, 23 hours, and 57 minutes. That’s nearly 26 days!

The British companies Prismatic and BAE Systems are currently developing the PHASA-35. This has an even larger wingspan, coming in at 114 feet. This gives squarer feet to place photovoltaic cells. The end goal of this drone is to be capable of continuously flying for more than a year.

Tethered drones

How Long Can a Drone Fly? In-Detail Guide to Understand Its Timing Better!

Tethered drones can stay in the air forever. When you tether a drone, you leave it plugged in, so you aren’t limited anymore by battery power. Instead, you are limited by the length of the cord you are tethering with. This kind of aerial viewing long-term is good for security or surveillance when it doesn’t make sense to install a security tower.

The DroneCatcher, which is a tethered drone, has the mission to the net and bring down malicious drones. If something wrong is spotted by this drone, it will untether itself and fly via battery power to catch the drone that is the enemy, and then it will go back to its station where it has a power supply.

Final thoughts

There is a lot to know about drones! The first thing to consider is how long a drone can fly. The order of flight time goes like this: toy drones, mid-level drones, and then high-end drones. Flight time is often less than advertised because there are conditions that can affect it, like wind or payload. Batteries are another thing to think about. Some batteries can take a long time to charge. It is important to take good care of your batteries. This includes not letting it discharge all the way and not letting it freeze.

Also, consider how long it takes to charge your drone. You want to charge it right before flying it, so you have to time things well. Lastly, there are lots of interesting drones out there, like fixed-wing drones and solar-powered drones. Now you know the basics of flying drones!

References

1.
Royal Mail to deliver to Scilly Isles by drone in first UK trial of its kind | Royal Mail | The Guardian
Royal Mail is to trial using a drone to send PPE, Covid-19 test kits and other items of mail from the UK mainland to the Scilly Isles. The company said it would be the first parcel carrier in the country to deliver mail to a UK island using an autonomous flight, which would fly out of sight of any operator during the 70-mile journey.
2.
How Does Solar Work? | Department of Energy
The amount of sunlight that strikes the earth’s surface in an hour and a half is enough to handle the entire world’s energy consumption for a full year. Solar technologies convert sunlight into electrical energy either through photovoltaic (PV) panels or through mirrors that concentrate solar radiation. This energy can be used to generate electricity or be stored in batteries or thermal storage.
3.
Zephyr S High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) - Airforce Technology
The Zephyr S next-generation High-Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) is a new variant of the Zephyr family of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) owned by Airbus Defence and Space. The aircraft was unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show 2018.
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