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Can You Fly a Drone in a Drizzle?

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Just when you’re getting ready to go have fun flying your drone or you’re conducting some commercial work, it begins to drizzle. What’s next?

Can you fly a drone in a drizzle or should you land and wait it out?

It’s not advisable to fly a drone in a drizzle. Most drones have pores that allow water into the internal parts, causing damage. Besides, it’s pretty challenging to navigate a drone in a drizzle, especially when it’s accompanied by mist, increasing the chances of crashing and damaging your drone.

Even so, there’s more to consider. For example, how much drizzle is too much? What’s the quality of your consumer drone?

Keep reading to find out more about when to skip flying your drone in the rain and when it’s okay.

Drizzle vs rain, what’s the difference? #

Both rain and drizzle refer to liquid falling from the sky, but the difference comes from the size of the droplets.

If you’re getting 0.5-millimeter or smaller droplets, that’s a drizzle. If the droplets are 0.5 millimeters or larger, that’s rain.

Can you fly a drone in a drizzle? #

To answer this question accurately, you need to remember that there are two types of drones, consumer and industrial.

Most consumer drones are not water-resistant, as they are the ones with pores that will let water into the drone. 

Most drones also have fans that turn on to help cool down the drone. These fans work by taking air from the outside and bringing it into the drone, and if it’s drizzling, some of the droplets will end up in the drone as well.

If moisture gets into the interior of the drone, your drone might become heavy and struggle to fly.

As a result, it might use more battery power, which shortens the flying time the drone will need to fly back home.

The drone may end up falling from the sky when its battery is depleted.

However, industrial drones are meant to offer exceptional services even in unfavorable conditions, such as the DJI Phantom 4 or the DJI Matrice drones.

They are entirely sealed, have a higher IP rating, and can handle a drizzle, but not for a long time.

 Drones are like humans. We may not catch a cold immediately after being rained on, but after a couple of hours, we may experience a cough or flu.

Similarly, drones may not show any negative signs immediately after being flown in a drizzle. Later, you might start seeing something wrong with your drone.

For example, it might not fly well if some internal parts have rusted or if the water that got in caused some short circuits.

More reasons why you shouldn’t fly a drone in a drizzle #

If you still want to fly in a drizzle, below are more reasons still why you should reconsider.

You may void the warranty #

Before attempting to fly a drone in a drizzle, check its IP rating.

If the rating is less than IP43, it should never come into contact with any moisture.

If you fly such a drone in a drizzle, you ignore its capability and may not be eligible for a warranty if the drone gets damaged.

As a matter of fact, DJI states that its warranty doesn’t cover damage caused by flying in the rain, strong winds, or storms.

Reduced GPS strength #

Drizzles are often accompanied by fog or clouds, which make it difficult for the drone to access GPS satellites.

As a result, the drone will have trouble navigating, hovering, and the emergency RTH may not work if it has lost GPS.

A lack of GPS also means you have to fly in ATTI mode, which is challenging for a new drone pilot, and you have a higher risk of crashing since the drone can’t maintain its altitude.

Wind #

When it’s drizzling, the rain droplets aren’t the only thing you should be worried about.

Due to their weight, most drones are not designed to survive huge wind gusts—even manned aircraft struggle in strong winds.

Strong winds also make the motors work harder, draining the battery and making it difficult to get the drone back home in time.

There is also a risk of the drone being flown away never to be seen again. If you think your drone is strong enough to survive a drizzle, it will most likely not be strong enough to handle extreme winds.

It’s best to land and wait the drizzle out.

The cameras and sensors may not work as expected #

If you’re planning to tough it out because you need to get some work done, I hate to break it to you, but that may not be fruitful.

Even a slight drizzle will interfere with lenses, RTKs, and other sensors, introducing errors.

While these errors are sometimes insignificant, you can avoid them by flying in ideal conditions.

If you really have to fly in a drizzle, you better have the DJI M300 RTK, one of the few drones tested to withstand droplets of up to 6.3 millimeters in diameter, while a drizzle is considered to have 0.5-millimeter droplets.

Drones that can fly in a drizzle #

If your work involves flying in drizzles, rain, snow, or other adverse conditions, then waiting it out may not always be an option.

Luckily, some drones have an IP rating high enough to withstand drizzles. I already mentioned the DJI M300 RTK. Others include:

  • DJI M200 Series
  • DJI Agras 16
  • SwellPro Splash Drone 3
  • HexH20 Pro V2
  • Goolskey Poseidon-480

If you can’t get any of these drones and want to fly in a drizzle, consider getting a wet suit for your drone or waterproofing it with a silicone coating.

These two methods will not make your drone invincible against water droplets, but they will significantly minimize the chance of damage.

What to do if your drone has flown in a drizzle #

If you had to fly through a drizzle for some time before landing, don’t fret.

In most cases, nothing significant will have happened, but to be sure, follow the following steps to salvage your drone:

  • Power off the drone
  • Remove the drone battery
  • Disassemble the drone and dry the internal components with a blow dryer or cloth. If none of these is accessible, leave it open to dry for a few hours.
  • Reassemble the drone and turn it back on

You may need to contact a qualified technician if the above doesn’t work. If it works, watch it for the next few days to ensure the moisture didn’t cause any long-term damage you hadn’t identified.

Conclusion #

So, should you fly your drone in a drizzle? Unless it’s one of those industrial drones designed to handle some water droplets, I’d advise against it.

It’s possible that nothing will happen, especially when compared to flying in heavy rain, but you can’t be sure.

The risks of crashing or damaging your drone are higher and considering you will not be covered by warranty, I don’t think it’s a risk worth taking.


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