A flying drone makes an exciting gift for adults or older children. It offers the chance to pilot a UAV — Unmanned Aerial Vehicle — from the comfort of the ground. Many drones also come with a camera, so you can take great aerial photographs and video, then share with your friends later.
When people are searching for a commercial drone, they often consider the price of it first, without thinking about what other features it may have.
The price may be one factor in the new drone purchase, but it certainly shouldn’t be the only one. There are many other considerations when purchasing a drone — the time of flight being a key consideration.
While it may sound simple to choose the drone that has the longest flight time, often these drones may be more expensive. If the longest drone flight time is important, there may be two additional features to look into, which can extend flight times, without being priced exorbitantly.
The secret could lie in the long-time battery capacity of the drone. In other words, how long will the battery supply power to the drone, keeping it in the air, and yet allowing plenty of time for it to return home without suddenly crashing due to lack of power? One of the first features you should be seeking is a lengthy drone flight time, based on battery capacity.
The great thing about many drone flight times is that they’re not necessarily based on the battery that’s installed within the drone. Do not forget that flight times can be changed on the field, by recharging the battery, or switching out the battery for a new one.
But if you’re out in public there may be no easy way to plug your drone in to get it charged up. Many also take hours, while some only take half an hour. This may be a consideration during your purchase. But if you’re flying at home, you may be perfectly willing to plug your drone in for a quick 20 minute charge, and then take it back outside again.
The second feature to choose is a battery that is removable and replaceable. If you want to avoid plugging your drone in, you can pre-charge extra batteries and take them to the flying field. This means that the length of flights in the air can be extended, merely through the additional purchase of extra battery packs.
Some drones do not have the capability to have the battery switched out for a fresh one. This is often a common feature of the cheaper drones under $80 though. High-capacity batteries are expensive and they simply do not install these in the cheaper drones at the factory. You will need to read the features before making your purchase, should you wish to avoid having a built-in battery that cannot be removed.
Even if you find drones with the longest flight time, you may find that their power rapidly dwindles, particularly if you’re flying them with a camera, video, or broadband internet. These can be high-energy consumers on board.
Drones with Best Flight Time
Let’s examine some of the typical flight intervals of some of the most popular drones on the market today. They fall under four categories of drone flight time: Up to seven minutes, up to ten minutes, up to fifteen minutes, and over half an hour.
Drone Flight Time: Up to Seven Minutes
When examining the flight time for drones, you’ll notice that the following toys are merely entry level for beginners and kids. These offer up to seven minutes of flight time, which may be suitable for those who are learning how to fly and may tire easily, or for those younger kids who may have difficulty focussing on one activity for more than a few minutes. They also have the additional bonus of being extremely affordable, and are perfect for people who aren’t certain if drones are right for them, as their investment in the hobby will be minimal to begin.
Hubsan X4 H107L Drone
The Hubsan X4 H107L comes in a variety of different color choices such as green, blue, red, and black, and is about $40 to $60 depending on color choice. The Hubsan is built with a durable one piece frame and has a six axis gyro, making it easy to fly through the air. It has a high capacity LiPO battery, and four channel 2.4 Ghz radio controller. It’s extremely lightweight, weighing just 1.3 pounds, and it measures 2.3 x 2.3 x 1 inches.
Blade Nano QX Drone
The Blade Nano QX is a quadcopter with a yellow and black casing, and four blade protectors. It’s priced under $100 and features Blade’s “SAFE” technology. This allows for both a stable mode for beginners, and an agility mode for pros. This is also a compact drone that can be flown indoors. It weighs only 0.6 ounces.
The Blade has a tough but lightweight frame. It’s built with strong brushed motors that promise to be powerful, even though they’re small. This drone measures 14.1 x 8.4 x 4.5 inches. This is a good choice for beginners just learning to fly.
Cheerson CX-10 Mini Drone
The Cheerson CX-10 Mini is also a compact drone, perfect for beginners. It’s available in every color of the rainbow: 15 color options. Even though this one is compact, it still has a six axis gyro technology. There is also a flip function, and the battery is rechargeable for up to forty minutes. You can control this drone out to a distance of about forty meters. The casing is made from durable ABS plastic, and measures 4.2 x 4.2 by 2 centimeters. It also comes with a small remote controller.
Drone Flight Time: Up to Ten Minutes of Flight Time
The following three drones are for more serious flying enthusiasts, though they’re still classified as toys. If you’re looking for a good drone max time, you may still be disappointed with the ten minutes of flight time, particularly as these three are more highly priced than others. But you’ll need to look beyond the flight time of drones to see that these three do have some other great features that make them worthy of note.
Parrot Bebop Drone
The Parrot Bebop comes in two different color choices: yellow and black, or a blue and black casing. This drone weighs 400 grams and is built with safety in mind, so it’s a good choice if there are pets or children around.
If the quad collides with anything, the propellers immediately stop moving, emergency mode takes over, and the quad will lower to ground for a smooth landing. There is also a handy return to home function, so it can return to home on its own, should you be getting tired, or if it’s running low on power. The drone can be disassembled so it’s perfect for camping or hiking trips.
This quad also has a built-in video camera, which is stabilized on three axes, so video footage will stream smoothly to your smart phone, or be able to download to your computer later. You can also take fourteen megapixel photographs.
The Bebop has an impressive onboard computer that can also generate its own WiFi signal. With the use of a smart phone or tablet, and the Freeflight app, you and your friends can watch the live streaming video as it happens on iOS and Windows as it happens. There is also the Parrot Skycontroller for those who enjoy the feel of a real radio controller.
Parrot AR Drone
The Parrot AR drone was released in 2012 to rave reviews. This Parrot drone also contains a camera, and can be operated with the use of your smart phone, or the additional Sky Controller. There are three different color combinations available: orange, black and blue; orange, black, and green; or orange, black and yellow.
The AR has a 1000 mAh battery that runs for only ten minutes, so it can be a bit disappointing looking at the drone maximum flight time on this one, particularly since you’re paying more money for it. But the extra features such as a camera and stabilizing system more than make up for the lack of a drone with best flight time. The video and picture quality is high and adds to the enjoyment of the hobby.
Dromida Ominus Drone
The Dromida Ominus is a less popular brand of quadcopters that provides up to ten minutes of drone flight time. It comes in red, blue, green, and yellow color choices. This is a drone that was built for crashes — It’s so durable that it can take a beginner’s sloppy flights and aimless flying into the unknown.
The Ominus is affordably priced, and it is perfect for beginners. You can also add an optional camera for minimal cost. A stable gyro system will help to prevent crashes, and you can also do some cool tricks while flying it.
It’s RTF — ready to fly — right out of the box. Secure link technology helps the radio controller to keep in constant contact with the drone at all times, preventing mishaps.
Drone Flight Time: Up to Fifteen Minutes
Fifteen minutes of flight time doesn’t even qualify for the best drone flight time, but it’s certainly an improvement over ten or fifteen minutes. We’re heading into average flight times now. These are still toys though, and can easily be purchased online. While their flight times may be average, you can still expect varying price points and features in each of the following three flying drone toys.
Parrot Bebop 2 Drone
The Parrot Bebop 2 has an improved flight time over the Parrot AR drone. The Parrot will also allow you to record some professional quality film footage and photographs with its HD camera. It’s available in a yellow and black, or blue and black plastic casing. It’s a full-size quadcopter but still lightweight.
The Bebop is built with a feather-weight ABS plastic which protects the internal motor from crashes. If there is a collision, the propellers stop, and the drone comes down for a landing until you can get your bearings again.
Click on the return to home button and your drone will land itself back in its starting position. This drone can be safely flown indoors or out. The Parrot has a great internal stabilization system too.
DJI Phantom 3 Drone
The DJI Phantom 3 is another drone that qualifies for the category of average drone flight time. DJI is a popular maker of toy and flight drones and the Phantom 3 is on their premium line of quality drones. Like most larger drones, the 3 has some cool running lights that help to see it in the dark.
It comes with a cool camera, and this camera can actually be adjusted and moved while in flight, with the flight control system. The system also enables you to fly your Phantom 3 in windy conditions, which would cripple most other models of drones.
You’ll be able to achieve some great images and film, as the system will keep the drone stabilized, eliminating shaky, jerky video.
If the 3 is starting to run low on power it will automatically return to home, eliminating any worries that you may lose it out on the field. You can also tap a button to have it return to you.
3D Robotics Iris Drone
The 3D Robotic Iris is a premium model of drone, priced around $500 to $650. It comes in a black and blue finish, and has a squashed design, with four black rotors and four short landing legs.
The GoPro HD Hero with camera can be attached to the base, so you can film some great video and take amazing photographs in the air. This is a full size drone that measures 25 x 13 x 5 inches, and it weighs nine pounds.
The Iris has the ability to be preprogrammed to fly through the air, so you can focus on having fun, or while taking great film footage. The Iris can be linked to any computer or smart phone device. It has the unique ability to hold its focus on one subject, while it moves around, providing a unique point of view.
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Drone Flight Time: Up to Half an Hour of Flight Time
If you wish to find the best flight time drone, you’re going to have to shop around for the professional drones. These are for the serious drone enthusiast, and one who has already accumulated significant flying hours. To qualify for “drone best flight time” the following three are great choices to consider, particularly if you own a business and need to film footage for websites, or for resale value. Each of these drones can fly over half an hour.
Fae drones FAE960H is a unique looking drone in a hexacopter shape. This drone is for serious enthusiasts, after all you’re looking at an investment of over $8000, and that doesn’t include the extra accessories you’ll need. This drone doesn’t look fancy, nor does it come in wild colors, but it will be perfect for your professional applications, such as filming real estate footage for real estate sales sites, or for weddings.
This drone can fly out to longer distances than your average toy, and it can also take a heavier payload. This means you can attach a professional quality camera or video camera to the gimbal, and add varying lenses.
It does come fully assembled in the box and each one has been flight tested and tuned before it leaves the factory. The frame itself is foldable, making it easy to pack into a kit before driving out to the field.
It comes with a three times autonomous pilot, PC telemetry link, batteries, charger, remote controller, and a carrying case. The frame is made from durable carbon fiber. This Fae will run for thirty-five minutes on one full charge.
Fae Drones also manufactures the Condor. This quadcopter has an incredible ninety minutes of flying time! It comes in a black stiff carbon fiber casing, and has four extra long landing legs. The price will cause sticker shock however: $15,202!
It’s ready to fly right out of the box. It includes the remote controller, charger, and battery. It’s built with GPS navigation based on the Arducopter V3 and Ublox NEO8 multistand GPS system. It includes a wireless PC ground station.
You find that it can achieve smooth, steady flying, perfect for taking snapshots or film. It has extreme autonomy. This drone also folds up so it can be easily transported to a desired location.
Fae Drones also has the FAE1115-Octa which is a hexacopter, and it is around $13,000. This hex has six arms, and two long landing legs. The body shape looks a lot more complicated than the other offerings. It’s built for the professional. It’s ready to fly from the box. It comes with the hexacopter, Li-Po battery, controller, and charger.
Like the other drones in the Fae line, it promises great autonomy, a durable and foldable carbon fiber construction. It’s also built with the autonomous GPS navigation system, and a wireless PC ground station.
The flight controller is the ArduCopter V3 32 bit version. You’ll be able to fly this drone for a full fifty-five minutes, as long as it isn’t carrying a payload. It weights 7400 grams, with a propeller length of 16 inches. It’s a bit larger than your average drone, placing it in the professional category.
Best Flight Time Drone
When you’re searching for drones with the longest flight times you’re going to have to decide if you can afford to pay $8000 and up. The decision will be made simpler if you are purchasing this drone for your business, where you must have professional film-quality video.
The decision could be simple — a higher quality battery means a much longer drone flight time. Obviously not all of the higher end drones have put their value in the battery, as the other features may be costly to manufacture as well — such as gimbal, GPS, or navigation — but the flagships of the power battery suppliers, such as Tesla, etc.
Have spent a great amount of time trying to design a battery that lasts a long time. This can be of key importance once vehicles are designed to be driven by humans, such as the battery-powered car, where a longer battery time is definitely required for the safety of the vehicle.
Fortunately, with together’s new technology, battery charge times keep on increasing. The more product that gets sold means that the price should be coming down over the next year or so.
Charging times are also being reduced, which also helps for the functionality of drones and vehicles getting their power from them. This will be an exciting field to watch, as Tesla’s patents have now been made open.
But if you’re happy with one of the other toy drones, than a flying time of up to fifteen minutes should be enough to make most drone enthusiasts happy.
In conclusion, while you may not wish to look at just price when making your first, or even your tenth drone purchase, you should consider the drone flight time, and the ratio of price versus the drone flight time.
Take the price and divide by the flight minutes to compare at least three different models. This will leave you with a final price — the lower the price, the better quality of a toy you will get. Those higher priced Faes are really just for professionals, so don’t be discouraged.
It will be exciting to wait for the next big technological breakthrough in the field of engineered battery cell packs. It will be exciting to see what appears on the market in 2016 — high capacity batteries that can run for lengthy times on flying drones.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to trade in your old rechargeable batteries for batteries of the future… that will run forever!