6 tips for extending your drone’s flight time

This post was submitted by Liz Pekler. Pekler is a travel photographer with almost 10 years of experience in the field. When she is not out exploring the world, she likes to share her knowledge about photography and travel through writing for blogs.

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A drone flies over the waters of Congaree River in Columbia in South Carolina on October 5, 2015. Relentless rain left large areas of the US southeast under water. The states of North and South Carolina have been particularly hard hit, but the driving rain in recent days has spared almost none of the US East Coast. AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)


One of the biggest drawbacks of drones? Short battery life.Inexpensive beginner drones often can only fly for about 7 minutes, while high-end models like DJI’s line of premium quadcopters have an average flight time of about 25 minutes.

But for drone pilots who capture aerial photos and videos for weddings, agricultural data collection, large building inspections and other purposes, even 25 minutes will seem too short.

Here are some essential tips for extending the battery life of your drone:

  1. Buy a bigger, more powerful battery.

Purchase a bigger, more powerful battery than the one your drone originally comes with. Check out online stores like Adorama and find the largest battery with the highest mAh capacity. *Note: of course, not all batteries are compatible with all drones.

That being said, take the battery’s weight into account as well because larger batteries tend to be heavier and may end up weighing your drone down during flight, which can be counterproductive.

  1. Don’t drain or overcharge your battery.

Draining your battery will make it weaker, which will result in a much shorter battery life. On the other hand, overcharging will have the same effect, but the difference is that it can also be dangerous because your battery may explode or catch fire.

  1. Fly during optimal weather.

If you want to get the most out of your battery, you need to choose the most optimal conditions for flying. Ideally, you should fly your drone during an almost windless day, but a very light breeze is okay. Avoid flying your drone in stronger or more turbulent weather because such conditions will make your drone use more thrust to be able to move in the air, and that thrust requires more energy.

  1. Try larger propellers. 

The size of your drone’s propellers may also have an effect on your battery life, so consider getting larger propellers, if possible. This is especially beneficial if you have a camera attached to your drone, as the larger propellers will allow your drone to lift more weight.

  1. Remove the camera.

Cameras usually use up a large chunk of your overall battery life while in use, particularly when you are taking high-resolution videos. But aside from the camera’s battery usage, its physical weight may also be a factor in diminishing your flight time. The added weight of the camera makes your drone work harder to fly, which in turn will drain your battery much faster. If you aren’t planning to take pictures or videos while flying your drone, it’s best to just remove the camera altogether (but only if it is detachable, of course) to make your drone lighter and your battery life longer.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 04: Drone operator, Ken Butti checks the camera gimbal of the custom built DJI s1000 Drone prior to flight at Palm Beach on July 4, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Commercial and recreational UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) sales in Australia have regulators concerned about safety, privacy and security, while the commercial industries of mining, farming, property, and sport are embracing the new technology. Under the current CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) regulations all unmanned aircraft weighing more than 2kg need to have a UAS operators certificate. Licensed operators are not allowed to fly above 400ft, not within 5km of an airfield boundary and can't fly within 30 metres of people not involved with the operation. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Drone operator, Ken Butti checks the camera gimbal of the custom built DJI s1000 drone. Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

  1. Charge your battery to full right before flying.

If you aren’t planning to fly your drone just yet, don’t charge your battery to full. Even when not in use, batteries lose a percentage of their charge with every day that passes by, so charge your battery to maximum capacity only when you are planning to fly your drone right after. A freshly charged battery has the most juice, and will therefore give you the most optimal flight time.

When followed correctly, these tips are guaranteed to add a few precious minutes to your battery life. However, keep in mind that these tips can only provide you with a modest increase, and at the end of the day, it is still practical to invest in some spare batteries and keep them on hand every time you fly your drone to enjoy uninterrupted air time.

-By Liz Pekler for TheDroneGirl.com

Note that LiPo batteries can be very volatile and dangerous! Also read: 15 things every LiPo battery user should know for important safety tips.

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