How Long Does A Drone Battery Last?

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The longevity of a drone battery refers to two things: how long the battery lasts before it needs replacing (lifespan), and how long the drone can stay in the air before running out of charge (battery life). Whatever your situation, we cover both in this article.

So, how long does a drone battery last?

An average drone battery has a ‘life’ of about 20 minutes. Low-grade batteries run between 5-10 minutes, while the high-end ones last for 20-60 minutes. You can recharge your drone battery 300-500 times before replacement, which is around 12,500 min, or 200 hours total.

This article covers all you need to know about drone flight time, battery longevity, and other essential details. Let’s dive in!

What’s Different About Drone Batteries?

Drone batteries differ in brand, size, voltage, discharge rate, and connector. Hence, different batteries offer varying quality and performance. For that reason, you need to know what to look out for when choosing your drone battery.

The Different Aspects Of A Drone Battery: Tips For Choosing

Since a drone battery is the ‘power bank’ behind your device’s movement and task execution, it’s crucial to make the right choice. The aspects mentioned above are good to consider.

Man flying a drone in a park
  • Brand: Pick a well-reputed brand. An ideal drone battery manufacturer provides high-quality products that are reliable and won’t mess up your flying experience. A poor-quality battery negatively affects your drone’s overall performance.
  • Size: The size of a drone battery should be directly proportional to its capacity. A larger battery with a bigger storage capacity offers more flight time. Nonetheless, the battery shouldn’t be too large excess weight can reduce flight time and harm your flying experience. Also, consider your drone’s maximum take-off weight when choosing the battery capacity.
  • Voltage/cell count: The battery’s voltage should correspond to the motor’s power production as it powers the motor. But, keep in mind that more cells increase the battery’s weight. For instance, a normal LiPo battery has a nominal voltage of 3.7V, but you can connect the batteries in series to increase the battery pack voltage.
  • Discharge rate: It’s the C-rating of your battery that helps you identify the maximum current it can safely release. A higher C-rating reduces your drone’s hovering throttle input and increases the motor’s current intensity at full throttle. As a result, your drone becomes more powerful and faster.
  • Connector: It’s a device that joins the electric circuit, and makes for easy battery replacement. There are many types of these on the market – so make sure the one you pick is compatible with your particular drone.

What Are The Different Drone Batteries And What Makes Them Good For Drones?

There are four different drone batteries with varying qualities that make them good for drones.

They include the following:

  • Lithium polymer (LiPo)
  • Lithium-ion polymer high voltage (LiHv)
  • Nickel-cadmium (NiCd)
  • Brand-specific batteries

1. Lithium Polymer (LiPo)

LiPo is a 4.20V battery that’s popular for use with most drones today, especially quadcopters. Popular brands such as DJI, Parrot, and Yuneec (just to mention a few) use LiPo batteries but customize them to fit their drones’ functionality.

This battery has a linear discharge that makes for easier flight time determination by your drone’s onboard computer. Additionally, LiPo has a high energy density and is small and lightweight. This means that this battery has a large capacity, and together with being lightweight, it has the perfect combination for drones.

Lithium Polymer (LiPo) Drone Batteries

Furthermore, LiPo has a slower discharge rate, and thus, it can hold a charge for longer. You can therefore leave your drone idle for longer.

There are different packs of LiPo batteries with varying numbers of cells ranging from 1S – 6S. The digits indicate the number of cells in each pack. The higher the number of cells, the higher the voltage. Consequently, the motor’s spinning speed/RPM increases.

However, while they are the most suitable batteries for drones, they are also the most delicate. Very high temperatures could discharge them faster or even cause them to combust.

Cold temperatures may also hinder their functionality. Always read the manufacturer’s guidelines on battery maintenance since a slight mishap can cause a lot of damage.

2. Lithium-ion High Voltage (LiHv)

LiHv drone batteries have a slightly higher maximum capacity than LiPo drone batteries. Each cell’s capacity is 4.35V (vs 4.2V LiPo) when fully charged. Amazingly, if you charge this battery up to 4.20V, it functions similarly to its LiPo counterpart.

Although LiHv provides more initial power than LiPo, once discharged, its voltage drops quickly. LiPo’s discharge is more linear and thus more beneficial. The high voltage and capacity of LiHv make it ideal for nano drones due to their high run time.

3. Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd)

NiCd is a rechargeable pre-LiPo drone battery that releases relatively lower energy than LiPo batteries. 

However, the battery’s small capacity means it can only handle a small amount of energy. For that reason, NiCd has a short flight time and lifespan.

Moreover, these batteries are heavy, a factor that contributes to its fast energy loss.

4. Brand Specific Batteries

Some drones can only function with specifically designed batteries manufactured in-house.

For instance, some DJI drones are only fitted with DJI-produced batteries, which are mostly Li-Po batteries. 

However, some use aftermarket batteries. Even so, the connector that links the drone battery to the drone can be designed to work with certain brand batteries, preventing the use of aftermarket third-party batteries.


What’s The Standard Commercial Drone Battery Flight Time?

A drone flying over a snowy landscape

The standard commercial drone battery flight time range between 20 and 40 minutes. However, fixed-wing and high-quality drone batteries can last for several hours, with some going even up to more than 10 hours. A drone’s price and model determine how long your drone flies before recharging its battery.

Below, we look at how long various drone batteries last, comparatively.

DroneFlight Time
DJI drone battery (Mavic Air 2, Mavic Pro, Mavic Mini)20 to 30 Minutes
Breeze drone batteryYuneec Breeze, Yuneec Typhoon H, Yuneec Q500 4K, Yuneec Mantis Q12 to 33 minutes
4s battery (FPV drone)15 to 30 minutes
Propel Drone Battery7 to 8 Minutes
Drone X Pro BAttery25 Minutes
Promark GPS drone battery12 Minutes
Nano Drone5 to 20 Minutes
Syma x5a drone battery8 to 15 Minutes


What Is The Longest Battery Life For A Drone?

The longest battery life for a standard drone is 40 minutes. This is the flight time of the Autel Evo2 Pro, fitted with an Autel Robotics EVO II battery. It’s a custom-designed LiPo battery with a high energy density and capacity.

Even so, there are commercial drones that fly longer. Such drones include the DJI Matrice 300RTK with 55 minutes flight time, and the SenseFly eBee X can stay in the air for up to 90 minutes.


But then, can a drone fly for 2 hours?

Yes, a drone can fly for 2 hours. A perfect example is the Autel DragonFish, a fast-speed fixed-wing drone with a 2-hour battery life. In fact, fixed-wing and high-end drones can fly for several hours. The Autel DragonFish resembles a plane – it’s more silent but expensive.

A fixed-wing drone in the sky

Moreover, this drone flies for 15 km within the 2-hour duration. This distance is different for different drones.


So, how far can a drone fly on one battery?

How far a drone can fly on one battery depends on the capacity of the specific battery. For instance, toy drones can hover between 50 and 100 meters, more advanced drones can fly 5-12 km, while mid-range drones can fly from 0.5 to 3km away from the controller.


What Factors Affect Flight Time?

Several factors affect flight time, including the following:

  • Battery life
  • Drone weight
  • Flying conditions
  • Add-ons
  • Flight modes

1. Battery Life

Battery life is the main determinant of how long your drone stays in the air. Each drone model has its own fit of battery with a specific capacity. 

A high-capacity battery has a longer flight time. Nonetheless, your drone battery strength highly depends on the maintenance you offer it. If you fail to properly care for it, the strength degrades a few months down the line.

A drone controller

Usually, the most recommended drone battery is Lithium due to its exceptional performance. This battery has high longevity, and the fitted drone can fly for an extended time before recharging because it stores more charge. That makes the battery pricey, but it’s cheaper in the long run due to its long life and lifespan.

2. Drone Weight

The power needed to propel a drone is determined by its weight. A heavy drone requires more power to take off and maneuver in the air. This reduces battery life and flight time. 

Drone manufacturers therefore try to keep drones compact and lightweight (as well as to avoid FAA registration for sub-250 gram drones). Besides, being lightweight makes drones more useful in most industries.

Your drone’s battery life also depends on the number of motors present. The higher the number, the more power is discharged to keep the drone in motion.

3. Flying Conditions

The Effect of Sunny Weather on Drone Battery Life

Sunny and bright days are the best to fly your drone. In fact, non-waterproof drones shouldn’t be flown in the rain at all. And for water-friendly drones, flying them in the rain requires more power, reducing battery life and flight time.

The Effect of Cold Weather on Drone Battery Life

If your drone battery is Lithium polymer, exposing the drone to cold weather conditions ruins its efficiency. As a result, the battery drains faster. Also, extremely hot weather overloads the motor as it has to work extra hard to create lift, draining the battery quicker.

The Effect of Strong Wind on Drone Battery Life

Strong winds can also affect your drone battery life. As the drone tries to maintain its course against the wind, more power is drawn from the battery, and its life is reduced. Consequently, your drone flies for a shorter time.

4. Add-Ons

A white drone flying

The add-ons installed on your drone for its task execution increase its overall weight. These include the sensor, camera, recorder, bait system, and various other attachments. The more add-ons, the heavier the drone becomes, reducing battery life.

5. Flight Modes

High-speed drone flying in Sport Mode drains the battery faster. If you want to fly for longer, try flying in Normal or Beginner Mode, where the drone flies at slower speeds.


How Do You Increase A Drone’s Battery Life?

You can increase a drone’s battery life in several ways. They include the following:

  • Proper maintenance: This is the leading battery life increment measure. Charge your battery within the manufacturer’s advertised charging temperatures, allow it to cool down after flight before charging, and charge it away from direct sunlight or hot environments to prevent swelling and fires. Also, keep your battery 40-60% charged when storing it and maintain 2-3 months of charging and discharging the battery to around 15%. Never store the batteries when they have been discharged to 0 voltage. Also, avoid a prolonged non-use period of your drone batteries.
  • Battery upgrade: You can replace your battery with a higher capacity aftermarket one. Be keen on its weight as a heavy one may frustrate your battery life-boosting efforts.
  • Right flying conditions: Avoid rainy, excessively cold, and windy conditions. Such environments cause your drone to consume more power than normal, leading to a faster battery drain. 
  • Batteries cycling: Have several batteries and use them interchangeably. That gives each of them enough cooling and non-use time preventing them from wearing out faster.
  • Minimized add-ons: Remove unnecessary add-ons if you don’t need them for a particular flight. This reduces the drone’s overall weight and boosts the battery life.
  • Right flight modes: Use more conservative flight modes that consume less power. That way, your drone will fly longer before recharging it.

How To Tell It’s Time To Replace Your Drone’s Battery

Your drone battery becomes worn out over a continued period of use. That lowers the performance of your gadget. So, when should a battery be replaced?

A man holding a DJI drone

A battery should be replaced when the voltage starts having a noticeable decline during its non-use time. A retiring battery also feels puffed up. Additionally, you can tell it’s time to throw out your battery when you’ve almost exhausted the cycles indicated in the battery information.

However, some drone batteries have an expiry date that makes it easy to know when you should replace them. Typically, commercial and consumer drones have a 100-200 charge cycle battery life expectancy. Some manufacturers give 2-3 years as their batteries’ lifespan.


FAQ


Wrap Up

How long a drone battery lasts is dependent on several factors.

They include its weight, fitted add-ons, flying conditions, flight mode, and most importantly, the maintenance you accord your drone and the battery itself.

If these factors aren’t kept in check, your drone battery drains faster and reduces the flight time.

Luckily, you can boost your drone battery life by maintaining proper care, upgrading the battery with a new one, flying in the right conditions, cycling several batteries, reducing add-ons, and using the right flight mode.

Also, look for reliable brands when buying an aftermarket battery for your drone. And if you don’t have to get an aftermarket brand, stick with the manufacturer’s batteries.

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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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