Flying a drone in adverse weather conditions can be tricky and lead to a variety of problems. In the winter, the temperatures can drop below what is acceptable for flying drones.
Cold temperatures will have a negative impact on battery performance and you can expect to have shorter battery life.
Not every drone is the same and it’s important to check the user manual to see what the recommended operating temperature range is.
Is there a temperature limit? How cold is too cold?
Most drones should not be flown in temperatures less than 0 degrees Celcius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Below this temperature is too cold and your drone could be at serious risk if flown in lower temperatures. Many of the popular quadcopters are designed to fly in temperatures that range from 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Problems with flying a drone in cold temperatures
Drones are generally not designed to be flying in cold weather conditions. Not only do you have to deal with snow, ice, and other weather-related concerns in cold weather, but the cold temperature has a negative effect on battery performance.
The life of your battery can be reduced by as much as 50% in cold weather. For example, if the battery for your drone normally has a life of 20 minutes, expect that time to be reduced to around 10 minutes in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s also possible for the drone’s battery to completely fail in extremely cold conditions. You should never fly your drone at temperatures below 14 degrees Farenheight due to possible failure without warning. It’s simply too cold for the drone to operate.
As mentioned, snow and ice can also affect the drone’s performance. Just like any aircraft, ice accumulation on the wings, propellers, and any aerodynamic surface, will negatively impact performance and lift capability.
How to improve battery life in cold conditions
If you are planning to fly your drone in colder conditions, there are a few things that you can do to improve its battery life.
We now know that cold temperatures will shorten the flight time of the drone. The chemical reaction with the LiPo (lithium-polymer) batteries is reduced which actually lowers the capacity of the batteries.
Here are some tips for improving battery life.
- Store your batteries in a dry place at room temperature.
- Warm the batteries before the flight to around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep your flight short to prevent draining the batteries.
- Hover the drone for around 45 seconds before the flight.
- Maintain a full charge on the batteries
- Go easy on the throttle.
In order to warm the batteries before the flight, you can use a LiPo battery warmer.
Providing you fly your drone according to the user manual and avoid cold weather conditions, you won’t have to worry about the mentioned problems commonly found with cold temperature operations.
This will keep your drone in tip-top shape while expanding its life.