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How to Fly Drones in Cold Weather: The Guide You Need

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Flying a drone when it is cold outside is as fascinating as in other seasons. Yet, many may wonder whether it is troublesome to operate this machine at temperatures below 0°C? 

Veterans drone operators know that at a lower temperature, the drone battery performance deteriorates. In this guide, we are listing out crucial steps on how to fly drones in cold weather. With them, you can overcome the relevant difficulties and ace your flying experience.

One thing to note is, here, we also mention the term ‘drones’ as flying robots, flying machines, aircraft, or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles).

1. Get yourself the proper drone for the weather

travel with drone in cold weather

These are some suitable models you may want to use when it is cold:

DJI Phantom 3 Standard QuadcopterDJI Phantom 4 PRO V2.0 QuadcopterDJI Mavic ProDJI Inspire 1 v2.0 QuadcopterYuneec Typhoon H Plus Hexacopter
Maximum altitude limit6000 m (~20000 ft)6000 m (~20000 ft)5000 m (~16000 ft)4500 m (~15000 ft)5000 m (~16000 ft)
Temperature limit0°C to 40°C (32°F to 104°F)0°C to 40°C (32°F to 104°F)0°C to 40°C (32°F to 104°F)-10°C to 40°C (14°F to 104°F)-10°C to 40°C (14°F to 104°F)
Maximum wind speed10 m/s10 m/s10 m/s10 m/s12 m/s
See on AmazonCheck Latest Price Check Latest Price Check Latest Price Check Latest Price Check Latest Price

2. Check the weather

The weather is among the most significant points when operating a UAV in winter. See to it that you check the weather forecast at the outset.

Is the weather changing? Or is there snowfall? Then it is best to leave your aircraft on the ground for the sake of safety. 

Besides, consider the wind. The flying machine can get knocked with ease when it is windy and cold. 

Generally speaking, avoiding snow, moisture, strong wind, and rain is always advisable. But what if you wish to fly at a subzero temperature? If so, keep reading to find out.

3. Prepare before flight

Battery warmer

How to fly drones in cold weather? Please do not turn on your robot and let it depart at once. A cold start means an insane decrease in battery durability. Further, while your UAV is in the sky, the battery voltage might decrease drastically. The machine can interpret this as insufficient battery capacity and fall.

So, before the drone take-off, warm it up for about sixty seconds. It is okay to allow this machine to run for two minutes or three while standing without becoming airborne. But on the other hand, this way will, sort of, reduce the battery level. Else, or you can pick a drone battery heater

By the way, you do not forget to check for the proper function of all UAV systems, do you? 

Touch screen gloves

This stuff is helpful, convenient, and affordable. Wear it when flying your drone in winter. Your fingers are pretty vulnerable to cold. And compromising your health for a super-simple item like gloves is the last thing you want.

Gloves often feature a special fingertip coating. That is why you do not have to remove your gloves while using the touch screen. 

Drone sweater

No kidding, learning how to fly drones in cold weather involves wearing clothing for them. Especially, should you be searching for a unique and trendy option, you cannot go wrong with this solution. 

There are many choices out there these days. They should protect your flying robot as well as they can. 

Landing pad

You are better off not letting your drone contact the snow, even when it lands. The propellers can get the snow spun and stuck into the motors. There is a good chance that it will melt and turn into water. The aftermath is a short circuit, and your aircraft is unrepảiable. 

While all this does not have to occur, the danger exists, particularly with the sensitive UAVs. Thus, use a drone landing pad to ensure safety along the way. With it, you will not worry about snow getting whirled up. It is that useful while not costing you a fortune.

Filters for desirable footage quality in winter

In cold weather, you are sure to have a chance to take impressive pictures and videos. Still, on the other hand, a neutral density (ND) filter should not be something you disregard. 

As you know, the sunlight and white surroundings are super bright. That is why the image will become overexposed, and your pictures fail to have enough details. 

An ND filter works just about like sunglasses and proves to be your life-saver. It somehow darkens the image, providing you with enhanced image details. Also, it helps prevent image overexposure. 

Speaking of which ND filter to select, we suggest you consider the light situation before you decide. To the best of our knowledge, in the case of the dazzling sun and hyper-reflecting snow, a decent ND32 filter should be your best bet.

Obstacle detectors activated before a flight

It is always advisable to do so before you fly your drone in winter. 

Speaking from our experience, we were about to crash our flying robot in the snow! Its lower sensors failed to function right when we carried out a terrain tracking plan on an ice-capped mountainside. It went directly to the snow instead of keeping its fall along the slope. 

Luckily for us, we remembered to activate the obstacle detectors beforehand. They did an excellent job of stopping the UAV. 

So, the bottom line is, assuming your aircraft has a sensor, switch it on. This step is especially crucial when you strive on how to fly drones in cold weather.

4, Charge drone batteries fully

How to Fly Drones in Cold Weather

Whether it is a UAV or a phone you own, the lithium battery rule is not an exception for any device. In harsh weather, they discharge far more quickly and can slow down, particularly the drone sensor. That is why you need to do something to avoid an abrupt voltage drop.

We mean, make sure to charge the battery fully. Make use of tips and tricks for tỏ your UAV battery, say scarves, inside pocket, and heating warmer. 

Also, do you use your phone to control your aircraft remotely? Then, a power back is something you need. By connecting it to the phone when you fly, you can have peace of mind that the phone-based remote control will not turn off all of a sudden.

5. Plan a shorter playtime

Again, the lithium-poly batteries in UAV like the cold the least! It decelerates their functioning and decreases their flight capacities. 

Given this, drone flight time tends to be far shorter when they operate in winter and whatnot. Here, we mean(temperatures at no more than 10°C. A UAV battery full of charge often offers twenty to 25 minutes of playtime. But it can last only ten to fifteen minutes in a harsh climate.

Also, it is worth noting that this aircraft contains many electronic parts. Will you operate it in the sky when the weather is humid or cold? If yes, the likelihood of it getting damaged is high. Plenty of humidity presents the fog or something. And we do not have to mention that electricity and water are never a match, do we?

6. Monitor the flight altitude

What is more to note about how to fly drones in cold weather? It is not advisable to pilot them at high altitudes. Assuming the ground records a temperature of -10°, we are sure you can guess how it is at 150 meters (500 feet) above sea level. 

When you go higher, the temperature reduces, you know. The result is, your battery capacity and playtime get affected. In our case, barely fifteen minutes of airborne drone operation, and our battery level was already low.

But that is not all. There is high wind at these altitudes. Aside from the decreased drone battery life, what may concern you more is the remote control. There is a good chance that the sun and wind melt it like snow. 

7. Keep an eye on the voltage

For decent civilian UAVs, say DJI, particular apps are often accessible. They allow you to measure in-flight voltage. With these, you can keep tabs on all crucial aircraft systems’ status with ease. 

Open the app and tap on the battery icon. There, you will see settings for the temperature, voltage, and then some. We suggest dragging the voltage display to the screen. This way enables you to watch out for it in real-time. 

Moreover, you are better off not flying your drone when its volt drops below 3.2. Keep a check on the indicator. You can see different colors indicating backlight voltage. Read means you need to land the flying machine right away. Yello color implies the immediate need to decline. Your battery is alright if the green shows up. 

The voltage decreases owing to the cold condition. Thus, do not forget to warm up the batteries before, as addressed above.

Generally speaking, follow this survival rule: Once the voltage mark gets to 3.6 volts, begin returning. Should the battery get drained more, the flying robot may not be strong enough to come back. Along the way, it is likely to fall. Would you be among the lucky people out there who do not damage the aircraft? Even so, the search is chancy and takes some long hours.

8. Protect your drone from getting wet

How to fly drones in cold weather, especially in winter when the humidity risk is higher? Indeed, when you are in a harsh environment with snow on the ground, steer clear of it and land somewhere dry. In other words, choose your pad, bag, mat, vehicle, or another hard case as the landing surface. Else, use a piece of cardboard. 

Plus, again, assuming you fly super high, your drone may be vulnerable to moisture in the clouds. The chance is, it gets into the aircraft and does no good to the electronics. The consequence is your UAV becomes a disabled one. Bear in mind that moisture is the forever rival of electrical components. 

Hence, develop a habit of checking the weather forecast and keeping track of the cloud cover. By doing so, you will receive fewer unpleasant surprises.

9. Gain smooth in-flight control 

When piloting your UAV in winter, you are better off being gentle with it. Avoid straining this machine to optimal power. This way, it will be less burdensome. Further, with less power used, your drone can reach the default position. And you have more control over it. 

As you know, any abrupt movements, particularly when you push the drone to an extra speed, deplete the battery way more quickly. To prevent a waste of the charge reserve (which ends up causing an accidental fall, be careful when moving the remote control sticks. By any chance, do you use a UAV in winter to capture a mesmerizing moment? If so, light movements will increase your camera stability. 

10. Prevent fogging on the drone camera at cold temperature

You move your drone from an indoor location or something to a cold ambient environment. So, there may appear fogging on its camera. This case has to do with thermal shock. 

As far as we know, pro videographers and photographers who visit cold countries tend to leave their gear outside nightlong before using it the next day. This tip assists in preventing thermal shock. One thing to note: As the battery is not fond of the cold, do not leave it outside!

Further, before launching your drone, check out the camera lens. If needed, get rid of the moisture using a soft cloth meant for glasses or lens. The last thing you want is to shoot such heavenly landscapes and wind up realizing when editing the video that the footage has no stability. 

All in all

Above is the detailed walkthrough on how to fly drones in cold weather. As you see, harsh climate and low ambient temperature can influence the UAV playtime and dramatically decrease its performance. That is why we suggest strictly following the mentioned guide if you wish your machine to stay in the air and do its job safely.

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