As the outdoor temperatures are getting colder, we receive more questions about flying a drone in bad weather, and even more extreme weather conditions.
This triggered us to list some tips and answer the most frequently asked questions. Especially because we often are toting our drone to countries like the Faroe Islands, Norway, and other places with temperamental weather conditions!
Important: European Drone Regulations Update
Since December 31, 2020, new European Drone Regulations are in effect. Please check out the previous link to find out how this impacts your flying a drone in Europe and how you can prepare for your flight!
Tips to Drone in Bad Weather Conditions
Although you always need to keep your drone in a visual line of sight, we wanted to give you some tips and tricks to help you fly your drone in low temperatures and unpredictable weather.
Both the European and the American legislation state that you should maintain a visual line of sight with your drone.
This is why we advise you to check the weather before you leave for your planned flight, this way you can reschedule the flight if the weather conditions are too bad.
Most modern drones are using lithium-polymer (LiPo) batteries, known for having reduced capacity when they are exposed to cold weather. This is why flying in extreme temperatures is not advisable because your drone won’t be performing optimally.
If you still decide to fly your drone in these conditions, we would advise you to keep an eye out for your drone’s battery since it will drain faster during the cold weather.
Assuming you’ll want to be warmly dressed for the cold weather, we’d advise you to invest in touchscreen gloves (so you can still navigate your drone) and bring a pair of sunglasses (since snow is a good reflector).
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Over the past few weeks, we received a few questions about flying a drone in bad weather, which we wanted to address.
Can I fly my drone at night?
While flying a drone at night sounds like an incredible idea to capture the beautiful skyline of your city, however – in Europe – the use of a drone is considered an aviation activity which is why you aren’t allowed to fly at night.
Other rules apply in the USA, where most American cities just require an additional waiver or certificate before this is allowed.
Can you fly a drone in the cold?
Theoretically, you can but from a practical point of view, you will notice that the flight times are going to be relatively short, which is why you should pay extra attention to the lithium-polymer (LiPo) batteries.
Instead of the typical 20-25 minutes of flight time may only get 10-15 minutes of flight time in cold weather.
Next to the battery, the cold weather can also impact the drone’s sensors, causing the drone to be less responsive to control inputs or even to drift away.
Useful tip: Before I fly a drone in cold weather, I warm up the batteries in my coat pockets or somewhere that is not as cold! It helps a lot. While I warm them up a bit, I usually will grab my Sony a7iii and shoot a bit in the meantime.
Can you waterproof a drone?
Unless specifically mentioned by the manufacturer a drone isn’t water-resistant (Surviving light rain) or Waterproof (Survive a landing in a pool).
From a purely theoretical point of view, you would be able to waterproof a drone with the use of silicone glue, but we are not advising you to do this because this will void any warranty which was still valid.
Can drones fly in rain?
Generally, drones cannot fly in rain, because – as mentioned – the most fragile and critical part of the drone (the motor and the electrical components) drones are neither water-resistant nor waterproof.
With these weather conditions, it wouldn’t make any sense to fly since the camera lens will be fogged, making the drone and its footage unusable.
If you are already flying and encounter rain, we advise you to land your drone as soon as possible – and the same goes for fog and snow: these conditions promote the production of condensation which can damage your drone.
If you do endure a rain shower, we advise you to wipe down the drone with a towel after the flight to ensure it’s completely dry before storing it away.
Can drones fly in the snow or fog?
According to European rules, you can keep flying your drone as long as you can see your drone and its surroundings. This means you are allowed to fly your drone in bad weather, but you should stop when it’s misty or when it snows.
The condensation created by snow or fog could damage the motors of your drone and ice could even settle around the propellers, which is why we wouldn’t advise you to fly in these conditions.
Can I use a drone at the beach?
Most beaches are considered to be no-fly zones because most countries won’t allow you to fly over national parks – which includes beaches.
On the other hand, the sand from the beach could seriously damage the drone’s engines so we won’t recommend it either.
Do you have any useful tips for flying a drone in bad weather? Let us know in the comments!