With winter now here in the northern hemisphere and many new drone owners taking to the skies with their holiday gifts, we thought it might be helpful to provide some tips and advice on using drones in cold weather. Cold has a major impact on how these aircraft fly so there are a few key items that should be kept in mind for winter use.
The number one issue with cold weather and drones is the impact it has on the batteries. As we have written before, the LIPO batteries used in most UAVs have a chemical makeup that slows in lower temperatures, which in turn reduces the power delivered from them and overall capacity and flight time.
Make sure batteries are fully charged before flight, you don’t want to use a partially charged battery in cold weather, where flight time is already reduced.
Keep the batteries in a warm location before use, DJI recommends having them at 25C before flight. Warm them in the car or store them in a small container such as a cooler with hand warmers, hot water bottles, heating bags, or similar to help maintain the temperature. Be sure to monitor them to ensure they do not get too hot or become wet in the process.
Sticking a spare battery in the inside pocket of your jacket can also help keeping them warm from body heat. DJI also makes battery heaters for some of their systems which can also be a convenient solution, although they do use a small amount of the batteries charge to run the warmer.
Many consumer drones have the battery mounted inside the main body of the drone itself, which helps protect it from the elements. However on larger systems and others with exposed batteries, wrapping them in a layer of foam or thermal insulation can help to maintain the temperature of the battery in flight. (more…)