Can Drones See Inside Your House? (Probably Not)


With snooping drone cases on the rise, it’s normal to feel concerned about your safety.

Even as a drone enthusiast myself, the last thing I want is a drone to be able to see inside my home. But that begs the question, can drones see inside your house?

Don’t panic; with their standard cameras, drones are limited and thus can’t see through your house walls! Drones only see up to 50 meters when in properly lit areas.

So, unless the drone is perched directly outside your window and your house is well-lit, it cannot see inside your home. 

And unless the drone has built-in microphones and audio software, they won’t hear you either.  

The above features, though, may be present or absent in drones based on their technology.

It’s, therefore, vital to keep reading to know if drones see through your walls and if there’s a need for you to take action after tracing a rogue drone.

No, Drones Can’t See Inside Your House

No matter how powerful a drone is, it’s still limited and can’t see inside your house.

The only drones with the capability to see through houses feature high-quality cameras (infrared or thermal) and sensors. And even these are limited as they only pick up heat signals.

Drones can't see inside your house

Even with an infrared camera, the drone still cannot see through walls – only curtains. Moreover, lighting also limits them. So, poorly lit homes are hard to see through.

During the daytime, the sun’s reflection on windows also makes it hard for cameras to see inside, obscuring their view. 

In addition, drones have to fly very close to the windows to have a clear view of whatever is inside. Only then can they take photos or videos successfully.

Can Drones See Through Curtains?

Infrared camera drones can see through thin curtains, but standard camera drones cannot.

However, the drone must be close enough to see through and the curtains must be thin. Otherwise, it won’t see through thick opaque curtains or when too far away.

It’s important to note that infrared only captures thermal signals, which are grayish images, giving you an idea of what is in the house – not true images.

Can Drone See Through Walls?

Infrared camera drones can’t see through walls. They can see through thin curtains but not the walls.

Your home walls, just like mine, are thick, which makes it impossible for any drone, not just the infrared cameras drones, to see through. 

Besides, most walls in these modern days are insulated; thus, it won’t be possible for infrared drone cameras to see through.

Another limitation why infrared drone cameras shouldn’t worry you is the distance the drone is flying from.

Drones can't see through walls and wall insulation

If it’s flying 5 yards away, there should be no cause for alarm. Why? IR relies on heat from objects (heat signatures) inside the wall to relay information to the pilot. 

So, hotter objects in the home would be more visible, and the less hot ones could be less visible by the drone. 

Can Drones See Inside Your House At Night?

The most recent FAA drone rules give pilots the right to fly at night. But can drones see inside your house at night?

Sadly, drones can see inside houses at night based on various aspects, for example, the drone’s camera settings, the lighting inside the house, and the distance, among others. 

Let’s get more practical here. 

Let’s assume some nosey guys or robbers are spying on me at night using a DJI mini 2 drone. 

At 3 meters and with the camera zoomed at least 3 times, would the drones spying on me at this range see inside my house? 

From my findings, at this close range, drones whose cameras have thermal imaging features, such as DJI Zenmuse H20T, can see inside my house if it’s adequately lit.

Apart from that, the drones must have a night vision feature. However, with no lighting in your house, drones using infrared light cannot see inside your house at night. 

Can Police Drones See Inside Your House?

Though police drones see inside the house, they only see heat signatures of people or objects inside the house. The infrared (or thermal) cameras enable them to offer this exceptional service.

Police drones can see heat signatures of people or objects inside your home

For a drone to see inside any home, thermal or infrared cameras must be attached to them, and the pilot will only be able to see the heat signatures of objects in the building.

But why are police drones equipped with these exceptional features? Police drones are used to spy on enemies, check if there are possible threats in buildings and battle zones, and look out for obstacles in the battle lines. 

Only through the information these drones collect can the police and military take any desired action in time.

What Do Police Drones Look Like At Night?

At night, police drones feature a strobe light and four navigational lights.

When a police drone is flying, the navigational lights (two green and two red) can be seen in the dark.

You can also see flashing white lights from afar (about 3 miles away). This is usually the strobe light. Else, you may see red and green dots hovering in the dark or getting closer to your home. 

How To Detect Police Drones

The best way to detect police drones is to use a drone detection app. All you need is your smartphone and a downloaded app. 

Once the app captures the non-encrypted WI-FI signals, it instantly compares them with the database. This way, it can determine the signal’s source – whether from drones or other sources and notify you. 

Though there may be limitations based on the app you’re using, you can also know from what area the pilot is operating. 

Dronar app on Google Play
Source: Google Play

Unfortunately, apps may not effectively detect drones that do not rely on WI-FI signals for communication purposes or use encrypted WI-FI as it uses the signals from the WI-FI to detect the drone. 

Examples of drone detection apps include;

How To Tell If A Drone Is Spying Or Watching You?

Besides drone lights and their sounds, below are the sure ways to tell when drones are spying on you while you’re asleep. 

  • Sounds
  • Anti-drone Radar 
  • Radio surveillance
  • Acoustic Detectors
  • Looking out for lights

Drone Sound

Not just police drones, but all drones produce sound due to their propellers. 

Bearing in mind that there’s not much noise at night, it would be easy to hear a drone at night. Based on the police’s drone model, its sound could be low (for example, fixed-wing drones) or high. 

When the drone flies close to your house, say about 30 meters, you’re likely to hear it.

Quadcopters and other models can also be heard from as far as 100 meters away if they are loud enough. 

Anti-drone Radar 

Their accuracy is one of the main reasons radar detectors are expensive and the best to use to spy drones at night.

They’re also excellent at differentiating drones from other things, such as flying objects and birds.  

They can detect police drones effectively even from five miles away. Sometimes, even more! Not to mention, they monitor all directions, but you can have them monitor a specific direction if you like. 

Kaspersky anti-drone installed outdoors
Source: Twitter

Better still is that these detectors give information on the drone model, among other details. It’s worth noting that the features of a radar detector are tied to its quality, which also impacts its cost. 

Examples of Anti-Drone radar systems include:

  • Kaspersky
  • Robin Radar

Acoustic Sensors

If you live in an entirely quiet area during the night hours, acoustic sensors could help detect drones. Since these sensors rely on sound to distinguish the item flying nearby, they’re built with the ability to detect drones effectively. 

It doesn’t matter if the police are using the quietest drones; acoustic sensors will still detect and send an alarm to you. 

Looking Out for Lights

Police drones are easy to spot based on their lights. Based on the type of drone, they could have any of these lights. Sometimes it could be a combination of these lights:

  • White steady lights
  • White flashing lights
  • Steady colored lights
  • Flashing colored lights
  • Red and blue steady lights
  • Red and blue flashing lights

Again, based on the drone, its lights could be on its body. In other models, on the rotor arms’ configurations. Due to their functions, though, these drone lights may be found in various positions on various time stamps. 

The drone’s location may determine how its lights will appear. So, if you see one or more of the above colors on a drone, it’s likely a police drone. 

Radio Surveillance

Radiofrequency (RF) detection is effective in tracing the drone’s frequencies. This is possible when there’s existing communication between the drone and the pilot. 

RS®ARDRONIS-I radio-controlled drone identification solution
Source: Rohde and Shwartz

In other words, when the drone sends videos or photos it’s collecting to the pilot, it uses frequencies that RF detection can trace back to the drone. 

Aaronia and Rohde and Shwartz are some leading designers of radio frequency drone detection systems.

Parting Shot

What do you think now; can drones see inside your house? Ordinary drones can’t see through your walls at night or during the day. Not even the top-notch infrared drones!

Since infrared drones need some light to relay heat signatures and they have to be close enough to relay them, it should never worry you if you see a drone flying above your roof. 

Stay calm. If it’s at night, you can turn off the lights and leave the pilot to deal with their frustrations!

Your other drone questions answered:

Photo of author
Peter Karanja is a licensed drone pilot from Kenya, freelance writer and drone enthusiast. He has been using drones for land survey, GIS, and photography for the past three years. Being a drone user, he loves writing about drone applications, safety tips for using drones, and the best ways to get the most out of a drone.

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