Flying FPV Drones in Winter: Tips, FAQs & Expert Insights

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As an experienced and passionate drone enthusiast, I’ve had the privilege of logging countless exhilarating flight hours. I am well aware of the challenges posed by freezing weather when it comes to flying drones. However, waiting for the winter season to pass is simply not an option when you’re eager to take your drone out for a spin.

That’s why, in this guide, I will round up some valuable tips and insights to ensure a safe and successful flight experience with your drone in cold and wintry conditions.

Can you fly your drone in the winter?

The simple answer is yes!

Most drones are fully capable of flying in cold temperatures, even with light snowfall. Drones like the Mini 3, Mini 2, Mavic 3, and DJI Avada are designed to handle these conditions effectively.

However, flying in cold weather does require some additional considerations compared to a warm, sunny day.

11 tips for flying your drone in winter weather

1. Know your drone’s operating temperature

All drones come with a minimum operating temperature rating. For instance, the Mini 3 is rated to fly to -10 degrees Celsius, while the Mini 2 is rated to 0 degrees Celsius. It’s essential to check this information on the manufacturer’s website.

While it’s possible to fly in colder temperatures, doing so might be at your own risk and even against local regulations.

2. Monitor the weather forecasts regularly

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it is crucial to maintain a 3-mile line of sight and keep your drone within your visual range at all times. However, adverse weather conditions such as fog, ice, rain, and wind shear can significantly hinder visibility.

Therefore, it is essential to consistently monitor weather forecasts to ensure that no adverse conditions are expected on the day of your drone flight, which could potentially lead to visibility issues.

3. Battery management is key

One of the primary concerns when flying in cold weather is battery management. In extremely cold conditions, the drone might not receive enough power from the battery. This is called “battery sag” when it gets freezing. The battery doesn’t have enough power to give, so keeping your batteries at a good temperature is crucial for a safe and successful flight.

To address this issue, it is recommended to keep your drone batteries warm. Store them in a warm environment, such as the interior of your car or inside your jacket pocket.

Alternatively, you can use electronic hand warmers to maintain a safe battery temperature. These hand warmers have a built-in battery, which can be powered on to generate a small amount of heat. You can place the hand warmers close to your batteries inside your camera bag, ensuring they stay at a suitable temperature.

The other thing I do before I actually go for my flight is to put the drone up in the air, let it hover for a little bit, and move it around, which also helps warm the battery back up.

4. Consider Multiple Batteries

Cold temperatures can cause your drone’s battery life to decrease more rapidly.

It’s always best to have at least three fully charged batteries to account for the reduced flight time caused by the cold weather.

5. Beware of ice buildup

If there’s a lot of moisture in the air, light snow, or fog, you can quickly get a layer of ice built up on the propellers, which can become dangerous. It can cause a lot of vibrations in the drone, and in some instances, it could actually cause your drone to crash.

So, I always recommend inspecting your propellers between flights and ensuring no thin layer of ice is built up on them or the edges.

This brings us to our third point: the importance of keeping your flight duration brief.

6. Keep your flights short

By shortening your flight, you can get the drone back more frequently for inspection. Additionally, it reduces the risk of accidentally losing your drone due to quick battery drainage.

In colder weather, the battery tends to drain faster. That’s why, when flying in winter, I ensure the battery level never goes below 50 percent.

As previously mentioned, battery drainage becomes even more pronounced towards the end. Even under favorable conditions, the last portion of your battery doesn’t provide as much power. Taking this precaution ensures that you have enough power to navigate back safely.

Therefore, it is advisable to keep your flights short, avoid venturing too far, and inspect the propellers regularly.

7. Invest in landing pads and accessories

If you’re flying in snowy or wet conditions, investing in a landing pad is a wise choice. A foldable landing pad offers a stable surface for taking off and landing, even on snow-covered ground.

Moreover, consider wearing photography gloves to keep your hands warm while maintaining precise control over the drone’s movements.

This is crucial because frostbite can occur rapidly, and sometimes when you’re flying a drone, you’re caught up in the exhilaration and enjoyment, oblivious to how cold your hands are getting. Ensuring warmth and comfort significantly enhances the overall experience of your flight.

That brings us to our last and final tip.

8. Remove unnecessary accessories

Chilly temperatures can significantly cut down the time your drone can stay airborne. Tacking on extra weight, like accessories and equipment you don’t really need, will make its performance even worse.

Evaluate your drone’s performance and remove anything that isn’t essential. This will aid in getting the most out of your flight time and battery life when you’re flying in the winter.

9. Avoid high altitudes

In freezing weather, flying your drone at high altitudes can be risky. The combination of thin air and cold temperatures can affect the drone’s performance and battery efficiency.

Stick to lower altitudes for safer flights.

10. Avoid snowy conditions

While flying your drone in light snow might seem harmless, it can lead to moisture buildup on your drone’s propellers and other parts. This can affect flight stability and even lead to a crash.

It’s best to wait until the snowfall has stopped before taking your drone out for a spin.

11. Fly from the comfort of your car

A convenient tip for winter flying is to operate your drone from the warmth of your car. Modern drone transmission systems are robust and capable of handling signals even from within a vehicle.

Position your car in a way that maintains a visual line of sight to the drone, and enjoy a comfortable flying experience while sipping on a hot beverage.


Final words

Thanks for reading. I hope these tips and guidelines help you get a safe, enjoyable, and successful winter drone flying adventure.

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Have a great day, and let’s keep our drones flying high.

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Written By Kristen Ward

My name is Kristen R. Ward. I’m an adventure Filmmaker and I run a production company based out of New York. FPV drones are integral to my business. I'll be teaching you everything I've learned over the years creating videos for clients.

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