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Drone Battery Life: How to Make The Most Out of It?

Extend your drone batteries
Jack Brown
Written by Jack Brown

We keep talking about drones and how cool they are. Still, have you ever thought about the drone battery life? How this works and how you could make it better?

Drones are indeed the talk of the town now. Over the last few years, the unmanned aerial vehicle niche has grown leaps and bounds in popularity with more and more people taking drones as a hobby, for detailed aerial photography and sometimes just for the knack of flying.

The market gives us a wide range of choices for drones, starting from tricopters, quadcopters to hexacopters, octocopters, and the likes. However, one of the most important components of the drone is its battery. This is the powerhouse of the device. This is what gives the drone the push to take off, to fly across the sky and perform other functions.

Drone batteries

The larger the battery capacity, the longer your drone can function in one single charge of it. While some small drones are best suited for a 5 or 6 minutes flight, some others can go for as long as 20 minutes or even more.

Things to consider when choosing drone battery

It is imperative to have a reliable power source in your drone in order to have a long and uninterrupted flight. The one big problem with drone batteries is that they get discharged in 5-20 minutes, but take more than an hour to get charged. So, having a few replacement batteries is always useful, and to learn much more about them and how to choose the right one for your drone, we suggest checking out our article about drone batteries. Here are some considerations for your drone battery:

  • Battery composition – Drones ideally work on LiPo powered batteries. These are much better than the NiCad batteries in the sense that they store large amounts of power and deliver faster.
  • Manufacturer’s battery – Some drones require batteries that are specific to that particular manufacturer. This basically makes it difficult to get replacement batteries and thus improves on the manufacturer’s business.
  • Replacement cost – This is an important aspect to consider. If you are looking to extend your individual flight times and thus are looking for spare batteries, you need to be aware of the replacement costs. Some batteries cost 5% of the total drone cost while some others go as high as 20%.
  • Charging time – One of the biggest hindrances for someone looking for an interrupted flight is the long charging time for the drone batteries. This is why it is always better to have drones with long battery life so that the charging does not come into the picture too often. But there are ways to overcome this problem. For instance, if using a 2 amp charger takes the drone 60 to 90 minutes to get charged, you could use a 6 amp one and get the work done in about half the time.

How to extend the battery life of your drone?

The battery capacity

The first thing you need to look for is a suitable battery for your drone. Here, we would advise you to go for a battery which has a higher mAh or capacity. Firstly, you will need to check the battery that is being used by your drone and see whether its capacity suits the drone or not.

The next step for you would be to find the type of battery your drone needs which will help you assess your options.

Drone battery capacity

While you are searching for the right batteries, you should stress on finding the batteries with larger capacity. It is true that they are slightly more expensive but your drone deserves the best to function without any glitch. One thing which should be kept in mind when choosing these batteries is the size of the battery.

The reason we want you to be careful here is because if you opt for a larger battery then it will add more weight to the drone which basically neutralizes the advantage you are looking for in the first place. If the weight of the drone is increased it will definitely consume more power from the battery which means you cannot keep the drone much longer in the air as the life of the battery will be drained sooner than it should.

Extra batteries

The most logical approach that you can take to increase the drone battery life is buying extra batteries. In the world of drones, this is a trick that many professional drone flyers use to make sure that their battery is never out of charge.

It is true that this particular idea does not directly increase the battery life of the drone but it definitely contributes to the overall flight time of the drone. If you really want to use this trick then you have to first find a drone whose batteries are easily available.

Extra batteries

After getting to know what kind of battery you need to use, all you need to do is go online and order the ones you need. Remember, when you have made your mind to buy extra batteries, it will be prudent to find cheaper ones as compared to the expensive ones to keep your budget in check.

Drained battery, bad news

When you are flying a drone then taking care of every part of it is of utmost importance. This is why it is your responsibility to make sure that the drone batteries are never completely drained. Therefore, it would be rational for you to do a flight check just before you are planning to take your drone out for a ride.

Drained drone battery

One thing which you must know as drone users is to never fly your drone if the battery charge is below 20%. Keeping an eye on the battery charge has a dual benefit. Firstly, it actually helps keep the flight time in control. Secondly, most of the experts say that your battery gets worn off if the charge shrinks to 0%, so keeping it in check will assure that they are safe at all times.

Remember, when you buy a drone, you should at least charge the batteries for 6 hours straight to make sure that it doesn’t get drained too early when it is into its maiden flight.

When to charge

Having the knowledge of when to charge the batteries of your drones is very important as far as extending the battery life is concerned. Many of us have the tendency to charge the batteries the moment we see a charging point. But in this case, we are doing more harm than good.

According to experts, it is best to charge the batteries only after a certain amount of power is consumed by it. Any seasoned drone user is aware of the fact that the highest number of times you can charge your battery before you put it to use is twice, especially when you are opting for the 50% & 50 or 40% & 60 rule. It is here that most of the amateurs and novice drone flyers make a mistake; so be extremely careful here.

When to charge drone batteries

Timing is critical as far as increasing the battery life is concerned. It has been observed that freshly charged batteries tend to yield better results as compared to the ones which have been charged days before the flight. This is why we recommend you to charge the batteries minutes before you fly your drone. The reason why experts discourage you from charging the batteries beforehand is because rechargeable batteries have the tendency of losing charge even when idle.

Similarly, when you are charging these batteries, it is imperative to prevent them from getting overcharged. These batteries are usually pretty volatile in nature; therefore, if you overcharge or overheat them beyond a point, then there is a good chance that they might explode. If you think that you cannot keep an eye on the entire charging process then you can charge the battery till 60% or 50% and then charge the rest just before the flight. This is the most prudent way to go about it.

Getting rid of the camera and prop guards

When you buy a drone, you should enquire whether the camera that comes with it is removable or not. The reason we say this is to assess if you can remove the camera before flying the drone. It is our recommendation that you do not use a camera unless necessary.

The camera runs on power which it derives from the battery. Therefore, if you remove it, not only will there be one less component on the drone which requires power but also reduces the weight of the product which makes maneuvering it easier.

Getting rid of the Camera

Hence, you will be able to save a lot of energy here which will surely help in extending the battery life. When you get a drone, you will also find wrapping metals which are known as prop guards around the propellers that are responsible for protecting them.

There is no doubt that they protect the propellers, but they also increase the weight, which means more effort will be needed to fly it. So getting rid of it can be a good idea to extend the battery life.  However, removing the guards can damage the propellers, so you need to assess whether it is worth the risk or not as far as removing the prop guard is concerned.

Right conditions and right flight mode

The best time to fly your drone is during sunny and fair weather conditions as you can fly it to your heart’s content. But we would advise you not to fly it during rainy or adverse situations. The reason for this is that during these conditions the drone needs a lot more effort to flying around which puts pressure on the battery.

Flying drone during winter

This, in effect, reduces the battery life which is not something you would want. Another idea you can implement to reduce power consumption is choosing a more conservative flight mode as opposed to an aggressive one.

This particular mode reduces the transmitter sensitivity, which as a result reduces the overall power consumption. Thus, less power consumption will mean extended battery life.

Drones with the longest flight times

We talk about drones having an extended battery life, but the only way it manifests in the UAVs is by providing long flight times. A longer battery life leads to longer flight times.

Chroma Flight-Ready Drone

So, here is a look at some of the most popular drones which have the longest flight times and thus the longest battery lives.

  • Chroma Flight-Ready Drone – the best in the genre of long battery life drones is the Chroma Flight-Ready Drone. This copter gives you 4K aerial photography functions with a flight time going as high as 30 minutes! The 11.1 V. 6300 mAH battery is really the highlight of this supremely power-packed device. This comfortable and easy to use drone can be employed for entertainment as well as aerial photographic purposes.
  • Yuneec Q500 Typhoon QuadcopterWhen talking about long battery lives, this particular product stands out in this department. It is rather difficult to find a quadcopter with so much power. This is especially useful if you want to capture a set of aerial photographs with its long flight time and hover period of about 25 minutes! For a better insight on what this model has to offer, check out our Typhoon in-depth review.
  • DJI Phantom 3 AdvancedDJI always manages to give its users the best drones with fascinating The DJI Phantom 3 is one of the most popular drones from this house, known for its extensive aerial photography and videography skills. It gives you an altitude of 6000 meters. But what really sets this device apart is its long flight time of about 23-35 minutes!
  • Parrot Bebop Drone – The Parrot Bepop is a super stylish drone that has really pleased all the users. It is a flying camera giving videos at 720p. The 31-gram device runs on extremely efficient motors giving it stable flights. But, more importantly, the drone can run for 18 to 20 minutes on one charge of the battery making is easier to have a bird’s eye view from a height. If this model sounds interesting to you, you can also read our Parrot Bebop AR 3.0 review.
  • DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone – Another product from DJI features in this list of the drones with the longest battery lives. It can fly for as long as 15 to 18 minutes, moving with a speed of about 10 m/s, providing very effective flight performances.

Keep these pointers in mind and take a well-informed decision.

Let us know if you have any query in comments.

About the author
Jack Brown
Jack Brown

Jack is the Chief Pilot at MyDroneLab.com bringing experience, expertise and knowledge in this quite new industry. He is a graduate of the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides having all the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to drones, Jack and his team love to spend the time outside by the ocean, working on new features and teaching others how to pilot these amazing and exciting new robots.

  • Dennis Hughes

    Are there any models with solar panels? I think the biggest problem with modern drones is about their battery life. This is a critical issue for researchers.

    • i agree with you Dennis. Yes, research is going on. Although there are not many drones powered by solar panels, but yes, version 7 is one of them.

  • Marco Medina

    Very useful guide. I think, these instructions can be applied not only to the drone batteries but to any device in the market. It is extremely important to use and charge them correctly in order to improve their life.

  • Definitely. Almost all LiPo batteries.

  • Elliot Giles

    Great article. Learnt a lot from it. But I heard that the main danger time is during charging, which is why it’s recommended to never leave them alone and to charge them on a non-flammable surface or in a lipo-safe charging bag.

    • Glad we helped 🙂 As for charging dangers, you made a good point and gave great suggestions, thanks!

  • Joseph Lee

    I really hope there would be more advancements in the lithium battery technology. Some say it may take 5 to 10 years more. But I’ve read a Washington State University research that scientists may have discovered how to triple the power of a lithium-ion battery by switching from carbon anodes to tin anodes. Others are looking into a new silicon-based anode to boost capacity. Our current batteries wear out easily so we’re all banking on spare batteries.

  • Jack Brown

    That is actually great news you just shared with us, Joseph. Thanks! It looks like better days for drone pilots are closer than we think 🙂

  • Mitch Anderson

    Chroma’s battery life is impeccable. On first usage, I flew it for 30 minutes and when I landed, it still had 75% battery life. If the camera’s turned off, flight time is even longer. But the battery takes time to charge though, so buying a spare battery would be more convenient.

    • Shrunali Paygude

      Hey mitch..
      Im shrunali…. Im trying to make a compact foldable drone…which has a longer battery life..im even trying to see whether i can use solar energy as backup…..
      How was your experience with chroma?…do you suggest any other batteries for longer battery life?…please do reply as soon as possible.. Please 🙂

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