Your Drone Motor Overheating: What to Do

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Practically everyone wishes to play with their drone as much as possible. But on the other hand, no one wants its motor overheating. There are indeed some contributors to that problem. We mean something wrong with the filter, propellers more sizable than needed, long bolts, mass distribution, motor interference, and particularly surrounding temperature. These are likely the culprit behind the strain your drone motors experience.

In the event of drone motor overheating, what should you do then? There are always ways, and the most practical ones are addressed in detail and in an easy-to-follow manner right here in this firsthand guide. 

Please note that, in the article, we also mention the term ‘drones’ as UAVs (unmanned aircraft vehicles), crewless aircraft, flying robots, or flying machines.

Why do your drone motors overheat?

Comparison of electric motors from fifferent models of DJI quadcopter drones: from left Phantom 4, 3, and 2.
Comparison of electric motors from fifferent models of DJI quadcopter drones: from left Phantom 4, 3, and 2.

1. Filter problems

Restricting or turning off the vehicle’s gyroscope settings results in unwelcome signal noise. Normally, gyroscope noise keeps changing up and down, possibly leading the drone motors to heat up.

2. Oversized propellers

The motor will become hotter when over propped. Let’s say your drone propellers are overly large and bulky, it will be a must for the motors to do double duty to spin them adequately fast to make the aircraft stay airborne. At the end of the day, these motors become extra hot. 

3. Long mounting bolts

In case the bolts used to mount the motor to the aircraft’s frame are unnecessarily long, the possibility is they contact the motor’s windings. As a consequence, a power current encounters resistance when attempting to run through the vehicle’s frame.

4. Mass distribution

In case the UAV works to remain in the air with uneven mass distribution, this is likely to overstrain its motors overworking to make up for the unbalanced weight.

5. Manufacturing defects

Your drone motor may suffer a manufacturing defect. Else, there is a chance that it was damaged during the delivery and the bent shaft or bearing gets misplaced. 

6. Motor interference

Should the propellors contact an accessory or the frame, this highly lightly makes the motor work way harder to tackle the friction. What is more? Grass, dust, dirt, or something is ‘capable’ enough to accumulate between your propeller and motor, keeping it from spinning freely.

7. Surrounding temperature

Letting your aircraft airborne on boiling days seriously strains its motors. Black motors are particularly an easy target for the sun’s heat soak.

How to diagnose your hot motor

You can check whether your suspicion about drone motor overheating turns out true or not by testing:

1. Motor temperature

To begin with, examine the machine’s motor temperature following a flight. How? Just pinch your motor. Do you manage to keep the fingers on the motor when doing so? 

If the motors are only warm (and their heat is not overwhelming to the point to burn you), there is a good chance that these are not problematic. 

Also, bear in mind that the rear motors becoming warmer compared to the front motors is not something strange. Wonder why? As the UAV is in the forward aerial operation, its rear motors need to spin more quickly than the front ones to produce a comparable amount of lift.

2. Motor’s windings

Investigate to make a point that the drone motor’s windings are not making a contact with the screws that mount the motor to the vehicle’s frame. Should you intend to examine these on your own, make use of a multi-meter. Place it into continuity mode and select a motor which is not heating up. Follow with putting the probe on a screw and using the other probe to contact one other motor wire.

This is when you have no desire to hear any beeping. Make certain to press a probe to the UAV’s frame and examine the motor wires again. Do you notice that a set of motor wires beeps? That is it! It is your suspect motor.

3. Hot frame 

Another sign that one of your drone motors becomes extra hot is when a particular spot on the vehicle’s frame becomes hot following the flight. By hot here, we do not necessarily mean the level that is superb enough to burn you. Rather, when touching the aircraft after flying and feel that its frame is warm in a particular area, you are better off examining further.

Why does that certain spot become warmer compared to others? The reason is, power currents are passing through it. More often than not, UAV frames are conductivity-type and will get hot when encountering resistance.

4. De-sync

This is another indication that a motor overheats. As the motor that heats up does not spin at a similar rate to the other motors, the flying machine will fall out of the sky or operate chaotically.

If this is the case, devote more attention to which drone side is the first to fail. By so doing, you will be able to find which motor is the culprit.

How to solve drone motor overheating

Two new brushless electric motors for drone isolated on white
Two new brushless electric motors for drone isolated on white

1. Install a new motor

This is an effective way to deal with the de-sync problem. Your motor now may suffer from damage impossible to handled with timing adjustments. Think about that the latest crash has likely harmed the motor’s internal parts. Letting a damaged motor remain on your aircraft will negatively affect other motors in your setup.

2. Change PID settings

First off, reduce the D gains by about three to five points. Continue to fly in between tweaks. Only drop them down when they get in the teen. 

Follow with the P gains. Decrease the P gains by about three to five points, too. Continue to fly and execute the process again until you figure out a decrease in motor heat.

3. Tackle filter problems

Are you among those who use Betaflight? Else, are you depending on Falco X? Either this or that, decrease the filter cutoff frequencies, to begin with. Reduce stage I and II gyro cutoffs by five to ten each flight. Moreover, switch on dynamic AA to medium or low. 

Particularly, be certain to account for the number of magnets inside the drone motor bell. Filtering may not function properly in case the value you input is not correct.

4. Consider ESC settings

For those making use of BLHeli, make a point that you get the most updated version installed. 

After getting the most recent version set up, allow the PWM frequency to be at 48 kHz. Also, disable the DEMAG. Follow with enabling auto to be the motor timing setting. 

While these settings are not the best ones for performance, they are arguable to be the most robust.

5. Count on a professional investigation and fix

Have you purchased a crewless aircraft vehicle from a reliable manufacturer? Also, is the warranty still valid? Then, when it comes to manufacturing defects, how about you consider allowing it to be there for professional examination and repair?

UAV makers have plenty of experience in defining the core problem and have the parts and tools ready to take the place of any defective motor. Remember, where this way may cost you money, it is time-saving as you do not have to figure out the issue yourself.

6. Change the propeller size and pitch

Change your more sizable propellers for less large ones. Also, adjust the pitch to the lower level. 

In this way, power used is reduced while overall thrust is not as much. The response of lower pitch propellers to swift direction changes owing to the greater low-end torque is way better.

7. Install shorter bolts

To deal with the motor windings, lose the screws that keep your drone motor all set. Next off, check the conductivity until you do not hear the beeping sound anymore. Otherwise, install less long bolts and make certain it does not touch the motor’s windings.

8. Seek assistance

Have the tips shared earlier in the guide not fixed the problem yet? Also, do you intend to deal with it yourself instead of reaching out to the motor or UAV manufacturer? If so, we suggest finding a relevant forum or group and call in a recommendation. There are many drone lovers online who hope this hobby becomes even more mainstream. And there are always those who are in the mood to help you tackle the issue.

Tips to fly your drone in the hot weather condition

Let’s see how to prevent drone motor overheating because of the most common cause (surrounding temperature).

1. Refer to the operating temperature that your drone maker designates.

Most of the time, drone makers include the temperature range for operation in their model’s specifications. For instance, the DJI Phantom 4 and DJI Mavic Pro Quadcopter’s operating temperature range is from zero to forty Celsius degrees. 

2. Avoid leaving your aircraft, batteries, and other gear in a hot car.

A park vehicle’s interior will heat to a way higher temperature compared to the temperature outside. When the outdoor temperature is about 21 Celcius degrees, the parked car’s inside temperature likely increases to forty Celcius within only half an hour. Because of extended exposure to high heat, the life of the lithium-poly battery used in your drone may decrease.

3. Make the batteries stay cool before use.

Extreme temperatures (be it cold or hot) and batteries are eternal rivals, indeed! In case you pack some spare batteries for your UAV, be certain to put them in somewhere shaded to keep them from overheating. We do not recommend you leverage cold packs since there is a good chance that they cause condensation possibly doing no good to the batteries.

4. Keep tabs on your battery temperature.

Before you operate the UAV in the air, look into the suggested temperature range for its battery listed in the model’s specifications. Make certain the battery is within that range to prevent long-term damage. If not checked, your overheated battery might fail 100% and result in an aircraft crash.

5. Make the UAV stay passing in and out of some cloud cover.

In case a few clouds appear when your aircraft is flying, consider them as a temporary solution to the effects of the sun’s sweltering heat. Make your flying robot stay passing in and out of them, which should work to regulate its temperature. 

6. Be cautious about cameras and electronics heating up.

Lots of drone pilots who leverage the iPhone as the camera are not careful enough to let high temperatures make their phones shut down. It will be a big letdown in case the camera shuts off amid the drone flight, which leads to lost footage.

7. Shorten playtimes and enjoy breaks between your drone’s aerial operation.

One tip of avoiding drone motor overheating is shortening playtimes. Due to hot weather, your UAV’s motors have to overwork to produce more lift. That is why make a wise plan of using the aircraft to stay out of possible risks. Also, breaks between flights give your machine and electronics enough time to attain a stable temperature again.

8. Make the aircraft and equipment stay dry. 

Remember, lots of hot weather environments have humidity as their close company. And believe it or not, even when the sky is crystal clear, humidity likely leads your aircraft to return damp with moisture. 

So, make sure to check the weather (humidity forecasts, among others) before the flight. Have a towel ready to clean the machine between or after flights.

All things considered

Dealing with the problem of drone motor overheating may consume time and need your patience. Take your time and account for each possibility slowly but surely. Should you still encounter the same problem, seek help from manufacturers or ask for advice from other drone lovers. Else, think about replacing the drone motor and starting anew. 

Do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions. We are always glad to help where we can. Last but not least, make certain to check out other useful guides on our website that may cover what you are wondering about.

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