Why are drone flight times so short

drone flight times

I have often wondered why are drone and quadcopters flight times so short? Even with the latest technology using lithium batteries.

Well, the reason for short flight times is mainly down to the amount of energy required to fly a drone or a quadcopter, the blades are very short so they are required to rotate at high RPM  to generate the lift required to fly which then leads to a lot of energy needed.

Also with the energy used to fly a drone or quadcopter you also get a lot of heat build-up in the batteries which can then deplete the energy stored in the batteries which are partly why they do not last as long as you might want.

How do I extend my drone flight time?

So is there anything we can do to increase the flight times while flying drones or quadcopters? I have found letting the batteries cool down before recharging will definitely help.  This allows the battery to fully recharge and store the energy it needs. Another consideration is the more the Drone weighs the more energy is needed for it to be able to fly. So when we start strapping on Go Pros and extra cameras to the drones it does have an impact on how long the drone can actually fly.

Another consideration is weather conditions when flying your drone.  Lithium batteries work less efficiently in cold weather conditions so this will reduce any flight time. Batteries can discharge more quickly in the cold so be sure to keep a close eye on what charge you have left.  This is particularly important during flight.

Conversely, when the weather is warmer your drone will have to work a bit harder to create lift which will force the motor to use more power and effectively reducing flight time. In warmer conditions, flight times should be less and the downtime between flights will be longer.  This is because you should let the battery cool before charging.

Any sort of moisture also plays a part in your flight time.  Rain is the more obvious source of moisture and due to it affecting the aerodynamics of the flight can have a fairly significant impact on flight times.

Other sources of moisture which can also impact flight times, and often not considered, and humidity and fog so make sure, in these conditions, you keep a careful eye on the battery charge.  Humidity, in particular, can quickly fool us. A nice clear sunny day can also see high humidity levels. You can check humidity levels through your local weather forecast ahead of your flight.

The ideal conditions will use the battery power most effectively.  This would be no wind or rain, a nice sunny clear day with moderate temperatures.  This will also see an effective GPS signal which will ensure you stay in control.

This scenario would also see your batteries cooling down quicker before you put them on to charge.

So how long can a drone fly? Drone flight time comparison.

The average drone flight time is about 25 minutes. This does depend on how fast the Drone is flying and the what altitude the drone has got to which does affect flight time. Just some comparisons of drones with different flight times are Yuneec Typhoon H  can fly up to 25 minutes with a range of 1500m.

The drone which appears to have the longest flight time is the DJI Phantom 4 Pro Plus which can fly up to 27 minutes with a range of up to 7000m.  Parrot Bebop 2 can fly for 21 minutes with a range of up to 2000 m so as you can see the average flight time is between 20 and 30 minutes. If this bracket is acceptable for you, it might be that the range becomes the more impact factor for which drone you might choose.

What is the cheapest drone with the longest flight time

The MJX Bugs 2w  has the flight time of up to 18 minutes which is one of the better budget drones with a decent flight time. It has a 1800mAh  lithium 2s battery with a range of more than 500 m due to the small size of the drone. This drone is most definitely one of the better budget drones with a longer flight time than the average budget drone and worth considering if cost is a consideration.

Why don’t drones have flight times longer than one hour?

There are not really any commercial drones that can fly for 1 hour or more continuously.  To be honest, to fly drones for one hour continuously would be very difficult as you need a lot of concentration to fly a drone safely. Most professional drone pilots would have multiple batteries to allow them to do longer flight times with very little downtime but they wouldn’t fly for 1 hour continuously.

At the moment there are drones that can fly for over half an hour these are pretty much all the DJI’s  models that I’ve used including phantom 4 professional that can do up to 30 minutes no problem and the Mavic can do up to 30 minutes the new inspire 2 is just short of 30 minutes with a flight time with up to 24 minutes.

Racing drone flight time

The average race time is 3-5 mins this is at top speed for most of that time so using a lot of energy very quickly. A lot depends on the course the size of the drone and the type of batteries being used.  

Because you want to keep the drone as light as possible then smaller batteries are used as small as 1300 mah which gives the best power time to weight ratio compared to say 2300 mah which would give around 8 to 12 minutes if you are not racing at full speed.

Just like a race car you only want to carry just enough fuel to last the race so you do not want to carry extra fuel or battery size if it’s not needed.

Racing drones are at the opposite end of the spectrum, as it’s about getting from A to B as quickly as possible. When we fly out camera drones it’s about longer slower flight flying the longer the flight time the more footage we have and less downtime changing or charging batteries.

Drone flight time record

The official longest drone flight time is 2hrs 6 minutes which was in 2015 in Transylvania for the duration of the flight it was controlled just by a human input, It weighed 4.712kg it’s a drone spider that is developed for commercial security systems.

Recently the longest unofficial longest drone flight time was recorded at 4 hrs 40 mins which smashes the record, However because Guinness world records weren’t present it’s not an official world record. But still very impressive and I’m sure they will get the official word record if they want it.

The Quaternium HYBRiX.20 is a hybrid drone it used a combination of gas and electricity It uses the latest advanced technology that uses a fuel range extender that can provide more than 2hr of operation with a maximum payload.