As drone enthusiasts, we like to fly our drones regularly, but sometimes the weather can hinder us, especially those of us who live in cold and wet climates like me (UK). One question that frequently arises is, can you fly your drone in the rain? The simple answer is it depends on your drone’s specific features and capabilities. In this article, we’ll explore the risks of flying a drone in wet conditions, the impact on performance, and the steps you can take to protect your drone from rain damage. We’ll also discuss the drones that can be flown in the rain as well as popular consumer drones that are not designed for flying in the rain.
Can You Fly A Drone In The Rain?
I’ll assume that most people who are asking about flying drones in the rain are talking about consumer drones. Flying consumer drones in the rain is generally not recommended, as most consumer drones are not designed to withstand wet conditions. Rain can cause a multitude of problems for consumer drones, including electrical damage, reduced visibility, and flight instability. Moisture can seep into the drone’s internal components, potentially causing short circuits and permanent damage. Moreover, raindrops on the camera lens can obstruct aerial footage and make navigation challenging.
Can DJI Drones Fly In The Rain?
DJI are the largest drone company in the world; some of their most popular drones are from the Mini and Mavic range, and people often ask if these drones can be flown in the rain. The short answer is no; DJI discourages their customers from flying their consumer drones in the rain; it’s in all their manuals, and it may cause you to void the warranty.
However, there is evidence that suggests flying some of these drones in light rain will not damage them. People on popular drone forums have claimed to fly DJI drones in the rain without any adverse effects.
The DJI Mini 2 is one of the most popular mini drones, and people often ask if the Mini 2 can be flown in the rain; while I would discourage it, there is evidence that it can withstand rain. In the video below, a DJI Mini 2 fell into the water and was there for some time. However, the owner says that it was working fine after he had dried the drone.
I would never fly my drones in any adverse weather (I’m afraid to fly them even in mildly windy conditions); however, if you want to experiment, it’s best to fly in light rain.
These are expensive products, so it is never advisable to use them in ways that may cause serious issues. However, please do remember that flying a drone in wet conditions that are not designed to handle such conditions can void the warranty and result in costly repairs, so it is best to get some insurance for your drone.
Understanding IP Ratings
An IP (Ingress Protection) rating is an internationally recognised standard that indicates a device’s protection against solid particles, such as dust, and liquids, like water. The IP rating system is crucial for determining if a drone is suitable for wet conditions.
An IP rating typically consists of the letters “IP” followed by two digits. The first digit determines the level of protection against hard particles (ranging from 0 to 6), while the second digit represents protection against liquids (ranging from 0 to 8). The higher the number, the greater the level of protection.
For example, a drone with an IP rating of IP54 would have a solid particle protection level of 5 (dust-protected) and a liquid protection level of 4 (splash-resistant). On the other hand, a drone with an IP rating of IP67 would be dust-tight (level 6) and capable of withstanding temporary immersion in water (level 7).
When considering a drone for flying in the rain, look for a model with a high IP rating, particularly for the second digit. Here’s a quick overview of some common liquid protection levels:
- IPX4: Splash-resistant, able to withstand water splashes from all directions.
- IPX5: Protection against low-pressure water from all directions.
- IPX6: Protection against high-pressure water from any direction.
- IPX7: Capable of withstanding temporary immersion in water up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.
- IPX8: Suitable for continuous submersion in water, with the depth and duration specified by the manufacturer.
Remember that an IP rating does not guarantee absolute protection, as it is based on controlled laboratory conditions. However, a higher IP rating will provide better protection against water ingress during rainy flights, helping to keep your drone safe and functional in adverse weather conditions. If your drone has one of the above IP ratings, you can fly your drone in the rain.
Drones With IP Ratings
In my experience, there are not many consumer drones with an IP rating; the ones that do have an IP rating are not consumer drones but have been developed for commercial applications.
SwellPro is a UK-based company specialising in waterproof drones; they have developed a range of drones that have been developed for commercial applications for tasks that need to be completed in wet conditions. All their drones have an IP67 rating; this is the highest IP rating I have seen for any consumer or industrial-grade drone. With an IP67 rating, SwellPro have the best waterproof drones on the market, their drones are very durable and can be operated in harsh weather conditions.
DJI are the leading drone manufacturer in the world; they are known for their exceptional high-quality drones used for various applications. As I mentioned, despite being the largest drone manufacturer, they still have not released a waterproof consumer drone that can be flown in the rain.
However, a few of their commercial drone can be operated in wet or rainy conditions. These include the DJI Matrice 200 and 300 series and the M30/M30T drones. The latter drones have an IP55 rating, the highest of any drone in the DJI range.
Parrot is a well-known French drone company, and they have one drone that comes with an IP53 rating.
The Parrot Anafi USA is a rugged, weather-resistant drone with an IP53 rating. Its robust design makes it suitable for a range of professional applications, including search and rescue, surveying, and inspection tasks in wet environments.
The Autel Evo Max 4T is an industrial-grade drone that comes with some powerful features allowing it t be used for a wide range of applications. The drone has a rugged design and comes with an IP43 rating.
3 Reasons Why You Should Not Fly Your Drone In The Rain
As we have seen, there are drones that are able to withstand a little bit of rain, although they are not supposed to be flown in wet conditions. Flying drones that do not have protection against the rain can lead to several issues, including:
Most consumer drones are not waterproof or even water-resistant. When flown in the rain, water droplets can seep into the drone’s critical components, such as the motors, battery compartment, and internal circuitry. Moisture can lead to electrical shorts, causing immediate operational issues, or it can accumulate over time and cause corrosion. This can lead to the failure of the drone’s electrical system and, eventually, its complete breakdown. Repairing or replacing these components can be quite costly; in some cases, the drone might be rendered completely unusable.
A drone’s camera is critical, especially for those using it for aerial photography or videography or for navigating the drone beyond the line of sight. When it’s raining, raindrops can splatter on the camera lens, significantly affecting the quality of the footage. It can result in blurred or spotted images, making them less usable for professional purposes. Furthermore, reduced visibility can make it more challenging to navigate the drone, increasing the risk of collision with obstacles that aren’t clearly visible, which could lead to damaging crashes.
Rain affects the flight dynamics of a drone in a few ways:
The added weight of the water droplets on the drone’s body and rotors can make it more challenging to achieve and maintain stable flight. This can lead to increased power consumption and reduced flight times.
The impact of raindrops on the drone’s rotors can disrupt the airflow, affecting the drone’s lift and manoeuvrability. This can make the drone harder to control and potentially more susceptible to wind gusts.
Wet conditions often come with other adverse weather conditions like wind and fog, which can further compromise the drone’s flight stability and visibility.
Tips for Protecting Your Drone from Rain Damage
If you must fly your drone in wet conditions, consider the following tips to minimise the risk of damage:
1. Be Mindful of the Weather
Always check the weather forecast before you plan to fly your drone. If there’s a high chance of rain, postpone your flight until conditions improve. If you’re already out and it starts to rain lightly, land your drone as soon as possible to minimise exposure to water.
2. Quick Response Time
If you’re caught out in sudden light rain, land your drone immediately. The less time your drone spends in the rain, the less chance water has to seep into the internal components and cause damage.
3. Make Use of Protective Accessories
Even though your drone isn’t water-resistant, you can still protect it to some extent by using available accessories. For example, some companies sell drone “raincoats” or waterproof covers that can offer a level of protection. These can be useful for sudden unexpected showers, but they are not designed for prolonged use in wet conditions.
If you own a DJI drone, you may want to check out this store on Etsy; they sell wetsuits for many DJI drones, which will allow you to fly your drones in the rain.
4. Lower Your Altitude
Flying lower can help reduce the impact of rain on the drone and its camera. However, be extra cautious of ground obstacles when doing so.
5. Close Monitoring of Drone
Keep a close eye on your drone’s performance and battery life. Wet and windy conditions can strain the drone’s systems and drain the battery faster than usual.
6. Post-Flight Maintenance
As soon as you’re done flying, make sure to dry off your drone thoroughly. Use a dry cloth to wipe down the exterior, and consider using compressed air to ensure no water remains in crevices. Don’t forget to remove the battery and dry the compartment as well.
7. Practice Makes Perfect
If you know you might need to fly in light rain, practice landing your drone quickly and smoothly. This can help you bring your drone to safety as soon as possible when the rain starts.
Remember, most consumer drones, like the DJI Mini 2, DJI Air 2S, Phantom 4 etc., are not designed to withstand wet conditions. While these tips can help in light rain, it’s always safer to avoid flying in the rain whenever possible.
In conclusion, to answer the question, can you fly your drone? We have found out that you probably can but should not and only do if you have some kind of protection, like a wetsuit for your drone. However, in my opinion, it’s best to avoid wet conditions to minimise the risk of damage and maintain optimal performance. Always consider your drone’s capabilities, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, and stay informed about local weather conditions before taking your drone to the skies.