You’ve probably seen YouTubers fly a drone in rain or snow and thought it was cool, and wanted to try it out yourself.
But, drones are electronics after all, so can you really fly a drone in the rain without it breaking?
You can’t fly a drone in the rain unless the manufacturer has confirmed it. Drones, especially consumer drones, have extremely sensitive parts that are damaged by moisture.
Unless the drone is designed to be waterproof, the best you can do is try to waterproof it, and even then, it may not be foolproof against rain damage.
This article explores waterproof and water-resistant drones for flying in rain, how you can begin to waterproof your drone, what to do if your drone accidentally gets wet from rain, and more.
- Water-Proof And Water Resistant Drones For Rain Flying
- What happens if your drone gets wet?
- Can drones survive water?
- What To Do If Your Drone Accidentally Gets Wet
- How To Waterproof Your Drone
- What is an Ingress Protection (IP) Rating?
- How to Check your Drones IP Rating
Water-Proof And Water Resistant Drones For Rain Flying
Don’t fly your drone in the rain if it isn’t waterproof or water-resistant.
Most drone consumers even warn against this – despite some fliers claiming their drone is waterproof.
These claims from fliers that a particular drone model is waterproof are usually because they’ve flown it in the rain before and it has been fine.
However, just flying once without damaging your drone doesn’t mean that it’s waterproof – or that you’ll be as lucky again next flight.
Water-resistant drones can withstand rains up to a certain level.
Don’t immerse such drones in water, though. Their ESCs may be damaged in such scenarios. While water-resistant drones may withstand being submerged in water, that doesn’t mean they should be left in water for hours on end.
I’ve had the chance to fly enterprise drones, including the DJI Phantom 4 and the Yuneec Typhoon, in extreme conditions for aerial surveys.
DJI Phantom 4
For the Phantom 4, it flew in rain without damage thanks to its build and seals. But that doesn’t mean that any drone can withstand the same punishment.
Even for the Phantom 4, the battery had to be changed after being rained on to prevent any damage.
Yuneec drones are water-resistant and can, therefore, withstand rain. They can be used underwater, too. So, you don’t have to worry about their inner parts.
Even so, upon getting home, dry your drone completely.
Looking for the best waterproof drones to buy? Check them below:
- GPTOYS F51C Waterproof Quadcopter
- QuadH2O Waterproof Drone
- Goolsky JJRC H31 Waterproof Drone
- Parrot Hydrofoil Mini Drone
- SwellPro Spry Waterproof Drone
- Swellpro Splash Drone 3 Plus Waterproof Drone
- Swellpro Splash Drone Auto
What happens if your drone gets wet?
When your drone gets wet, the vital internal parts can be damaged.
Such vital parts include the Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs). Once the ESCs short circuit, your drone’s propellers and batteries will fail, too, causing the drone to crash.
If it survives the rain, the drone’s internal parts may start corroding, especially if you don’t dry your drone promptly. This heavily reduces your drone’s lifespan.
So, if you’re using a beginner drone, keep it away from water or it may never operate again.
Depending on the drone you’re using, even the slightest drop of rain into its interior may cost you a lot of money. But to understand a drone’s level of water resistance you need to know its IP rating.
Can you fly a DJI drone in the rain?
Yes, you can fly your DJI drone in the rain, though it’s not advisable.
You may have miscalculated the amount of time the drone will be flying, and rain suddenly starts falling. Your DJI drone will most likely survive if you don’t let it get rained on for too long.
If you can’t get the drone home in time, try activating the Return-To-Home feature. As a drone pilot, you should always be aware of the weather before you fly and as you fly.
If you crash or damage your drone because you ignored the weather, you may void your warranty.
Can drones survive water?
No! Non-waterproof or water-resistant drones cannot survive water because their electronic parts, such as motors, batteries, camera sensors, and circuit boards, are damaged when they come into contact with water.
It’s even worse if your drone falls into salty water. Such water quickens the rusting process of your drone’s metallic parts.
So, even though it’s not raining, ensure that you only fly your drone in dry areas. Avoid flying it in areas where there’s stagnant water nearby, or if the grass is wet.
Being risk-averse in these scenarios saves you an expensive error or accident if you lose control of the drone and fly it into water.
What To Do If Your Drone Accidentally Gets Wet
If your drone accidentally gets wet, make it land immediately.
The longer you take, the longer the rain has to wreak havoc on your drone’s inner workings. Then, completely dry the drone’s components, including the inner parts.
The following steps will help you achieve that:
- Quickly get it out of the water and switch it off before removing its batteries.
- Carefully remove its batteries to prevent possible short circuits
- If it has fallen in freshwater, dry it quickly. If salty water, rinse using clean, fresh water to avoid corrosion of crucial metallic parts.
- Using a hairdryer, dry all the inner components of your drone for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Use a clean cloth and wrap your drone before storing it in a bag of rice to dry.
- After a few days, insert the batteries (preferably new ones) and test your drone. It should be working now.
How To Waterproof Your Drone
I’m not trying to discourage you here, but I do want to make sure you don’t break your drone. But to be blunt, you can’t fully waterproof your drone.
The good news, though, is that you can make it resistant to water to some extent.
Here are some steps to make your drone more water-resistant:
- Buy a silicone coating to seal the drone’s circuits against water: It effectively repels water and protects your drone against chemical damage as well as mechanical shock. If you can’t get silicone, buy acrylic coating – but it might give you a rough time drying it off.
- Remove the drone’s inner parts: Remove the inner parts until you access the Printed Circuit Board (PCB). You might need to remove the heat sink. But be careful not to tamper with the PCB wiring.
- Apply isopropyl alcohol to clean all the drone’s inner electronic parts: Use a clean brush to clean the electronic parts. This is a great way of making the conformal coating effective.
- Apply the coating: Except for the camera’s internal parts, the drone’s sockets, and ports, apply the conformal coating on the inner parts. Give special attention to the FCs, PCB, and ESCs. Apply the coating in layers evenly.
- Be mindful about the sensitive parts: It would be best if you applied the anti-corrosion lubricant to such areas to avoid interfering with electricity flow. So, use it on parts such as sockets and ports.
What is an Ingress Protection (IP) Rating?
Defined by the International Standard EN 60529, Ingress Protection shows to what extent your drone is waterproof or resistant to water and/or dust.
However, some companies will not use the IP abbreviations, instead, they’ll just indicate to what extent the drone is waterproof.
For example, they will use digits such as 11, 50, 60 meters, and so on. GoPro and Apple are such companies that give much more precise details on their electronics.
It’s important to note that there are two digits in the IP rating, and each has a meaning.
If, for example, your drone has a rating of IP31, the first digit (3) indicates the level of protection against solid particles while the latter (1) is moisture ingress (liquid).
Our focus, for now, is the last digit.
The moisture ingress is usually in twelve unique levels.
How to Check your Drones IP Rating
- The information on drone IP rating is found on the user manual guide or the drone body.
- If you can’t find it there, contact the manufacturer’s customer care.
- A better and faster way would be to Google the drone’s IP rating.
If, however, you see an X in the second digit place, then it means there’s no information about your drone’s protection against moisture.
Check the table below for more information.
|Example||Second Number/Digit||Moisture Ingress Protection|
|IP22||2||Dripping water (Tilted at 15°)|
|IP25||5||Minor Water Jets|
|IP26||6||High Water Jets|
|IP26K||6K||Powerful water jets( High pressure)|
|IP27||8||Immersed in water (Up to a depth of 1 meter)|
|IP28||9||Immersed in water (Up to a depth of 1 meter or more)|
|IP29K||9K||Powerful high-temperature water jets.|
Don’t let influencer videos fool you. Flying a drone in the rain is risky, unnecessary, and could lead to you losing your drone.
Of course, that depends on the drone you are flying. If the drone has a high IP rating and is designed for such conditions, then go for it.
But if it is a standard consumer drone, waterproof it for any accidental showers, and always fly your drone when the weather is favorable.
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