You may like winter and cold weather, but your drone batteries don’t. It affects their chemical charge and gives you shorter flight time. If you’re typically used to getting around 25 minutes of flight, in cold weather it comes down to about 15, or even less. Dirk Dallas from Adorama TV shares some useful tips for extending the drone’s battery life in cold weather, as well as some tips for flying in winter conditions.
1.Fully charge your battery and fly within 24 hours
Before you begin the flight, it’s recommended to prepare your drone by fully charging the battery. Also, make sure to fly within the next 24 hours to get the maximum out of the charge.
2. Keep the battery warm
If it’s too cold outside and the battery cools down, you will see a warning on the drone’s display. If this happens, the drone won’t take off at all. This is why you need to try and keep the batteries warm at all times. Here are a few ways to do it:
While you’re driving to the location, keep the gear on the back seat of your car instead of the trunk. The heating is on in the car, so the batteries won’t cool down.
When you get out of the car and hike to the place of shooting, keep the batteries wrapped up in something. It can be a scarf, a sweater, and even gloves will do. In addition, keep them close to your body, for example in an inner pocket. If you remember Thomas Heaton’s video from a few weeks ago, you’ll remember he held the camera battery under his armpit to warm it up.
You can also try hand warmers. As they emit direct heat, don’t keep them directly next to the battery. Instead, wrap the battery into gloves and tuck in your pocket along with a hand warmer.
Another solution is keeping your batteries in an insulation bag. Just like a wrapped battery, keep it close to your body.
You can also try a battery heater. However, they are available for a limited number of drone models, like older DJI Inspire and Phantom. If you use some of these drones, you can get the heater, but make sure to follow the directions and not leave the battery in it for too long. If your drone doesn’t have a matching battery heater (even if it does), I believe some of the DIY solutions above will do the trick just fine.
There are even insulation stickers for batteries if you use DJI Inspire. They prevent the cold air from draining your battery.
When the drone and the battery are ready, it’s advised that you don’t go into full flight right away. Let the drone hover for about a minute first, just to make sure everything is working properly. You don’t want your drone to experience a sudden voltage drop and crash in the middle of the flight (anyone said Karma?).
3. Monitor the battery’s temperature and voltage
Some apps, like DJI GO app, allow you to see your battery temperature. You should also keep the battery’s voltage indicator displayed on your monitor so you can keep track of it. If it drops below 3.2 V, it’s recommended that you don’t fly the drone. When during the flight the voltage hits 3.6 Volts, it’s time to bring the drone back and end the flight.
4. Use gloves with touch screen technology
Just like you keep the batteries warm, you should do the same with your hands. So, wear gloves, but use those with touch screen technology. This way you will be able to use the screen, tablet or phone without having to use your bare fingers and freeze.
5. Keep tablet and phone warm
None of the batteries like cold, so you should keep your phone and tablet warm just like the drone batteries. Keep them fully charged and wrapped into something. Hold them close to your body, and you can also pop in a couple of hand warmers into pockets.
6. Protect your drone from moisture
You already know moisture and gear don’t get along very well. So, do all you can to prevent the moisture damage the drone’s components. Use a landing pad to launch the drone. I guess you could also use a foldable reflector or a piece of thick nylon.
If it’s lightly raining or snowing, keep your drone covered until it stops. Start the flight and filming only when it’s dry.
If it starts raining or snowing, bring the drone back. There’s a handy tip for getting your footage after all – fly the drone backward. This way you’ll get the shots, and prevent the snowflakes or raindrops from getting onto your lens and ruining the shot.
It’s advisable that you stay away from clouds while you fly the drone. It’s not only because of visibility, but also because the clouds contain moisture. Lots of it.
7. Keep air density in mind
Air density is something that can change the performance of your flight and make it different from what you’re used to. When it’s warm outside, the air is thinner, and it’s thicker when it’s cold. Because of this, Dirk suggests to go easy on the throttle and be careful with the controls, as they may respond differently than on a warm day.
If it’s still cold where you live and you’re about to fly your drone, keep these tips in mind to get the most out of the flight and keep your drone safe.