Safe Drone Operation for Inclement Weather

Home inspector

Drones are quickly becoming one of the most useful tools in a home inspector’s arsenal. And that’s great when the weather is beautiful, but what about this time of year?

You’re in luck. While older quadcopters and freezing, wet weather were sworn enemies, new technology means you can fly in almost any conditions. You’ll just need a little preparation before you set out.

Here’s how to use your drone for home inspections, even in the rain and snow.

Keep an Eye on the Batteries

Drones can quickly go through battery life on beautiful, clear days. When the weather is foul, batteries drain much more quickly. The last thing you want is a weak or (worse!) dead battery before you land the aircraft.

Drone pros, DJI, say lithium polymer batteries are less effective the colder the weather gets. And that’s because the chemical reactions that make electricity slow down in cold weather.

“This starts to occur at temperatures lower than 59oF (15oC) and is a known issue of all LiPo batteries.”

They recommend working around cold battery drain by warming batteries pre-flight, investing in a battery heater and always monitoring voltage on the main screen.

Calibrate the Gimbal On Site

Without a camera, a drone is just a quadcopter. It’s not of much use for inspecting roofs and chimney tops. Where there’s a camera, there’s probably a gimbal, and cold weather can make it run afoul.

The gimbal, says BirdsEyeView Productions, stabilizes the camera’s horizontal level for clearer imaging. But gimbal sensors aren’t fond of cold weather. They recommend a workaround:

“To try and avoid these type of problems arising we suggest calibrating your sensors outside, in colder climates, rather than in the artificial warmth of a shop or home.”

A Little Rain or Snow is OK

After investing in a shiny new drone, the last thing you’ll probably want is to take it out in snow or rain. But believe it or not, plenty of drone enthusiasts say wet weather is no problem as long as you have the right equipment.

Water-resistant and waterproof drones apparently work really well. Quadcopter Cloud says “drastic improvements and advancements” make this generation of drones safe if the sky opens up before you can land, or even if you accidentally crash land in a pond.

“Today’s high-tech quadcopters and drones have been designed to be more rugged and waterproof.”

Watch a DJI Phantom quadcopter fly through a downpour and come through it unscathed:

Watch out for Winds

Water might not be a problem, but high winds can spell a crash-bang disaster. Many drone pilots refuse to take their equipment if wind speed is in the double digits. But then again, some pilots say that you just need practice and common sense.

According to BirdsEyeView Productions, wind can even be fun if it’s not intense. Watch out for your battery life, though. High winds equal resistance and more maneuvering. And that puts a heavier strain on batteries than a calm day.

“Windy days can also be fun to fly in, as long as it isn’t very strong and you feel confident enough to control your device (and keep it away from buildings)!”

Inclement weather doesn’t just take its toll on your equipment. So don’t forget about yourself. Drone Enthusiast offers up a short list of gear that you might want for winter weather flights.

  • Hand warmer packs
  • Transmitter glove (covers hands and handheld equipment together)
  • USB external battery pack

Winter isn’t ideal for drone flights, but it can be done. Advancing technology makes it possible as long as you take extra precautions and have the right gear. With those things in order, you’re ready to take off.

Does home inspecting sound more and more interesting all the time? You’re not the first to think so. At ICA School, your education is up-to-date with industry standards as well as new technology. And that includes drone flights.

Enroll now and get started on your home inspection training right away.

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