Depending on where you live you may be flying in hot weather all the time. Extreme heat and high humidity play a factor in your Drone flights. Each affects your Quad differently. Let’s have a look at the various challenges of flying in the heat.
Can I Fly My Drone In Hot Weather? Yes, you can fly your Drone in Hot Weather. You must take extra precautions and steps to ensure both your Drone and its Batteries do not overheat. This will shorten your flight Times considerably.
Disclaimer: Like flying in extremely cold temperatures, flying in extreme heat can be a significant issue. You risk the battery failing completely, or if it gets too hot, it may explode (Rare). Permanent damage to the Drones electronics can occur. Let’s look at a few things to consider when flying in warm weather.
How Hot Is Too Hot To Fly a Drone?
First of all, you need to check your Drones Manufacturers Operating manual.
Get it out and check to see the recommended operating temperatures. My DJI Phantom 4 battery specs say – Operating Temperature Range: 32° to 104°F (0° to 40°C). This, of course, is what DJI recommends for optimal operation. For maximum flight times and battery care
When it is hot outside it can be a real challenge to fly. I have also operated in harsh Canadian winter conditions, -12C or 10.4F. That is very cold. I have an entire post of Flying in the cold. It’s worth a read if you live in cold-weather regions or the great white north.
I’ve also had the opportunity to do some filming in the Mojave Desert, and it was HOT. (It was a dry heat). The common issues with Hot/Cold flights were my flight times. Both much shorter. I have a separate Post Hereon flying your Drone in the Cold.
The Many Challenges of Hot Weather Flight
Let’s have a look at some of the issues that can crop up, caused by flying in hot weather. These are in no particular order
One effect that didn’t occur to me at first was Propeller Efficiency. In sweltering temperatures, the Air can be thicker. This is evident more when it’s humid out. The thicker hot air forces the propellers to work harder to keep the Drone in the Air. This contributes to shorter flight times in the heat.
Another issue in the Heat on a bright sunny day is the Color of your Drone. White is fine, but some Drones are grey or even black. This is problematic in that it contributes to the Drone heating up prematurely. You might look for a lighter colour skin to purchase. Depending on your model you may find one on Amazon.
In the Extreme Heat, your Electronics can go a little wonky. I noticed my iPad really heated up fast and the video signal started to black out. It would freeze and disappear, or the signal would drop altogether. With the Phantom series., and many other brands, when you lose signal, it returns to home. If your Drone does not have this feature be extra careful that you don’t get too far out of range.
Another challenge is Weather.
Flight Times, as we mentioned earlier, are reduced for many reasons. The heat affects the batteries and the props, but Humidity and Moisture in the air is always a worry.
If you’re out flying on a muggy day, in the clouds, or it’s a foggy day at the local park, you need to be cautious about getting the Drone wet. Try to avoid flying in high Humidity as this is a good way for condensation to form on the motherboard and the electronics.
How to Maximize Flight Times In Hot Weather
Flying in the heat takes a bit more preparation but here are a few essential tips to help extend your flight time. Overall, it will be a shorter flight, but these tips will help maximize air time and protect your battery health.
- Keep Batteries Cool until flight time
- Try not to hover for very long, keep moving
- Easy, slow Controller inputs
- Fully Charge Battery Before Each Flight
- Keep an eye on Battery Voltage (APP Feature)
- Keep an eye on the battery temperatures.
PRO Tip. Before you take off, try to do the following double checks in the shade or under an umbrella. This may seem simple, but it will keep the Drone (and you) a little bit cooler, and the battery temp when you start will be lower which is ideal for flying. It’s important to do one more check;
- Check Battery Charge
- Check Compass Calibration is OK
- Check the number of connected Satellites
- SET the Home Point
- Check the Return to Home Altitude
It’s always a good thing to recheck your setting for the camera as well. Look to see if you remembered the ND Filter and removed the camera gimbal!!
Your White Balance can be an issue when flying, especially on a really sunny day. Make sure there no condensation on the lens.
Does Hot Weather Affect Drone Batteries?
Basically, LiPo (lithium polymer) batteries generate power with a chemical reaction. Hot temperatures can affect this interaction, reducing energy, increasing temperatures.
In some cases, it results in a sudden drop in power, causing your Drone to plummet unexpectedly. If you push the batteries too far, it may cause complete battery failure. If it gets scorching hot, in rare cases, it may explode. This has never happened to me.
Here are a few questions to ask before you fly your Drone in the heat.
I always asked myself, how can I keep my batteries cooler? How far from the vehicle will I be? Can I keep my Spares fairly cool while I’m flying? Keeping your Batteries cool solves a majority of your challenges.
Hot Weather Drone Battery Care Tips
Where I live in Ontario Canada hot weather is a three or four-month issue. Aside from the heat, a significant problem at times is high humidity. It adds another layer to flying your drone. Heat with the added humidity can shorten the life of your drone if you fly in it often. On a hot, humid day I always avoided flying for too long.
If flying in the heat stopped you from enjoying your drone, you’d be stuck in the house, in some parts of the world it’s warm all the time.
The primary issue is really just trying to keep your aircraft and batteries cool. It’s actually not that hard to do if you have the correct gear.
Other ways to keep stuff cool are easy to organize. Examples; well, an obvious one is your cars air conditioning on the trip. Something else I used to do; I kept my drone in a cool place for an hour before we left to go flying. (The beer fridge). I also packed an electric cooler for the car ride and stored my batteries in there the whole trip.
The cooler actually solved a lot of issues. The main one being, batteries are not supposed to be charged up if they are still warm from the previous flight. I have 4 batteries, so when I take one out, I put it in the cooler, and in about 30 minutes it’s ready to charge.
I never had an issue, but you should read your battery care manual to be safe. Check out your Drone makers forum for other users advice. As always take it with a grain of salt.
I also liked to fly early in the morning when it’s cooler, no wind and nobody is around. Flying after supper is excellent as well. Moth times you can take advantage of Magic Hour for photos and videos.
Mobile Device Batteries In The Heat
We tend to focus on the Drones batteries, but we must remember your Controller, Phone and Tablet Batteries as well. Most controllers are not as much of a problem as the big batteries.
The controller is mostly electronics, so the battery lasts longer. Just make sure it’s fully charged before you go. Try to keep it in the shade.
Your phone or tablet battery will drain quickly. Electronic devices are notorious for heating up. You should be cautious if your device heats up because some will just shut down as a protective measure.
I used a small thin ice pack from a cooler bag. As long as it doesn’t sweat you should be ok. I put the cooler pack in a Ziploc bag. It helps keep the device cooler, longer.
I always carry a little portable charger for my device to keep it topped up. One last suggestion is to remove the case for the phone or tablet. Let it Breath.
Keep Your Cool When It’s Hot
We’ve been talking about keeping everything else cool but what about you? There are lots of ways to stay cool while flying. Stand in the shade obviously, but when you’re in the Mojave Desert a Joshua Tree is useless!
I always brought a tripod with a white beach umbrella. As long as it’s not too windy, you’ll be fine. A breeze is good though!! !. Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids.
Can it Be Too Hot To Fly A Drone?
Yes, I would say if the temperature gets too high, over 105F, it’s probably a good idea to stay home. At that temp, you are risking losing your Drone do to equipment failure, or it’s so unresponsive you actually ditch it, or worse.
Also, consider if your Drone is under warranty. You may void the warranty by flying in those conditions. That’s my experience anyway. The manufacturer will know your flight conditions when you send it in for repair. Most Drones keep a record.
Let’s be honest here., unless you’re at a location you will never get back to, or you have a bucket list shot you need to get, what’s the point. You probably won’t enjoy it, and you will sweat your Butt off.
One final item to think about
If you’re Flying in the Heat, specifically in the desert, take-off and landing with sand is problematic for the aircraft. I would highly recommend using a Mat or a Take Off Pad.
You can find the Mats at a Home Depot or Lowes, and the Heli Pads are sold on Amazon. You may find one you like here. They are not expensive and will save you some grief no matter where you fly from, they are good in the snow as well.
Dress For The Heat And Keep Your Cool
I hope I have provided you with some useful tips and ideas for a safer and more enjoyable time Flying in Hot Weather. One thing I can tell you for sure. On those early, calm mornings, as the sun starts to come up, the aerial views are spectacular.
I wish you a safe flight. Stay out of the ?