One of the most common questions that people ask. Even when someone sees another person flying a drone, the question “How far can drones fly?” puzzles many people so much that they will approach the owner to find out. The truth to a drones range capability is that it depends. I know, I know, not exactly the answer you want to hear.
Factors that Affect How Far Can a Drone Fly
So what does it depend on? There are many factors that this is based on such as the size of the drone. A larger drone will drain it’s battery much quicker than a small one. This is because in order for one to stay in the air, it has to fight against gravity by using its propellers. If the drone is heavier, the propellers have to work twice as hard resulting in draining its battery quicker.
Battery life is also a factor that you have to take in consideration when determining how far a drone can fly from the controller. Most commonly, a battery life is roughly 10 minutes. You must keep in consideration if it takes almost 5 minutes to fly away from the controller, you will need 5 minutes in order to fly it back. Which is necessary if you don’t want to lose it! So yes, you could push it to its limits and truly see your drones range, but is it worth the risk of never being able to find it again? Finding lost drones is not fun, but it is possible!
Toy drones may go only as far as 20 meters, where as long range drones can fly as far as many miles. You will find that there’s a connection between how far drones can fly and how expensive they are.
To name a few examples, the Holy Stone HS300 RC range capability is 150 meters while DJI Mavic Mini (review) can fly up to 2.5 miles. Autel EVO (review) on the other hand has an incredible operating range of 7 Kilometers (4.3 miles).
As you can see, some can go much farther than others. Be sure to always look into the specifications if you’re looking for one with a larger flight range.
==> You can check my top picks for the best long range drones (I reviewed drones priced from $100 to +$1000)
Drone Laws and Regulations
With a rise in popularity for drones, state and local laws are becoming more and more complicated. Some regulations allow you to fly them as long as they are in sight, while others say you can only fly them up to a certain distance. There’s a number of resources that can be publicly accessed to help keep users informed and checking drone laws for your state/country is crucial. The National Conference of State Legislatures provides of list of state laws. Drone Law Today attorneys also offer a reference book for state drone laws.
Sometimes these laws can be unclear as to what they are referencing. For instance, in Newton, MA. they reference drones as “pilotless aircrafts”. Pay close attention to words like aircraft and aerial. If you are unsure whether this applies to you or not, a quick Google search for the phrase will clear up any confusion.
Drones Flying Over Neighborhoods
Maybe now you’re wondering if it’s okay to have flying drones over private property? At the moment, this matter of concern is a grey area. There are no additional laws about flying over land that isn’t yours. However, if your drone happens to run out of battery and lands on private property, you can be sued for trespassing. Same rules apply if you choose to take off on the same property.
Limit of How High You Can Fly a Drone
Each country has their own laws of how high one can fly their drone. While it may be able to fly thousands of feet in the air (one hobbyist even flew his up to 11,000 feet), it is not legal to do so. There’s a set law in the United States that permits drone owners to fly up to 400 feet high. In the European Union, you are able to fly a drone up to 500 feet from the ground. This is to prevent any interference with aircrafts. As always, you should check with your state and country laws for flying drones.
Testing the limits of how high you are able to fly your drone may be something you can’t wait to do; but even aside from the regulations, your drone may not be equipped for the task to begin with. Many manufacturers have disclaimers of set limits of maximum altitudes that can be reached with their products. The higher the altitude, the less lift is produced from the propellers. Without a proper lift, the drone essentially could come crashing down. Keep in mind that strong winds are also more apparent in higher altitudes.
It’s important to always think of the drones’ safety when flying. Losing or crashing a drone isn’t exactly ideal. Always be aware of your surroundings before you take off and always keep an eye on the remaining battery life.