Drones are now more widely used than ever before. Not just for photography, but a whole range of other applications – surveillance, architecture, real estate, even fishing. Another way in which drones are increasingly used today is for carrying out roof inspections.
So, what kind of benefits can drones offer for roof inspections, and what are the best models for the job? That’s what you’ll find out in this guide. We’ll first take a look at how different types of drones are used for inspecting roofs and their advantages, and then we’ll review the best drones for roof inspections on the market.
Benefits of Drone Roof Inspections
Many people who aren’t familiar with drones often think of them as complex machines used for taking aerial photos and videos. However, newer drones are more versatile than ever, with there now many incredibly user-friendly and high-quality options with whole range of different uses.
With a drone, jobs like inspecting roofs can be carried out easier, faster, and cheaper than ever before.
Traditionally, there were two main ways you can inspect a roof:
- By having people physically inspect it in person
- Or by hiring a light aircraft to record footage from above
Both of these methods have their drawbacks – the first is often dangerous, while the second is expensive and impractical. However, a drone solves both of these issues.
With a high-quality camera drone, you can fly above a building within seconds and record HD footage that you can later inspect. There are also FPV drones for seeing what the drone sees in real-time, either via your phone or through VR goggles. All the top drones have features like zoom and altitude hold to make it easier to pinpoint potential problem areas while steadily hovering in the air.
This means you can use drones to help inspect a wide variety of different issues with roofs, such as loose tiles, areas of wear and tear, pests, malfunctioning gutter systems, and more. As many of the top drones offer up to 30 minutes of flight time, you can really take your time to ensure you capture every detail you need.
A drone doesn’t just help with spotting what you can see with the naked eye. Thermal roof inspection drones are used to take high-quality thermal images of roofs to help you identify problems like areas of heat loss. They can also be used to monitor the efficiency of solar panels.
Plus, there are also many drones out there that are compatible with various drone roof inspection software, such as DroneDeploy, Pix4D and EZ3D. This means you can conduct in-depth post-flight analysis and produce a comprehensive drone roof report.
So whether you’re a property owner looking to carry out your own inspections, or if you’re part of a company monitoring large buildings, the right drone can completely transform the way you carry out roof inspections and offer far greater efficiency than other methods.
The Best Drones for Roof Inspections
So now you’re filled in on what an aerial drone roof inspection can do for you, let’s take a look at the best drones for the job. We’ll review both normal camera drones and thermal so you can pick the solution that best suits your needs.
DJI Mini 2 – Best Drone for Inspection Work Under 250g
If you’re a property owner looking for a high-quality yet affordable drone that’s easy to get started with for roof inspecting, then the DJI Mini 2 is certainly one to check out.
One of the best things about this drone is that it can fit in the palm of your hand and weighs just 249g – under the 250g FAA registration limit. This means you can start flying the drone right away without the hassle of registering it and waiting for your registration certificate to arrive — a legal requirement for heavier drones.
Another benefit of going for a small, lightweight drone like this is that it’s easy for beginners to fly than heavier models.
Its easy portability and exemption from registration are certainly not the only highlights of the Mini 2. DJI is the leading manufacturer of consumer camera drones and are known for their exceptional recording capabilities – something exemplified by this drone.
This drone’s camera allows you to capture 12MP photos and 4K video at 30fps, more than enough clarity for most drone roof inspection tasks. It has a wide transmission range of 10km, with incredibly reliable streams thanks to DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 transmission system. This means you can easily inspect large buildings or multiple properties in one go, all from a safe distance on the ground.
The 31 minutes of flight time is fantastic for such an affordable drone, while the level 5 wind resistance means it can withstand tough weather despite its small size.
Parrot Anafi Work – Comes with 3D Software for Enhanced Inspection Analysis
Drones like the Mini 2 are regular camera drones that can be adopted for particular jobs like roof inspections, and while they can still be a great help, they’re not specifically designed for these applications. In fact, very few drones are – but the Parrot Anafi Work is.
Any drone that’s going to be used for roof inspections needs to be able to provide exceptionally clear HD footage, and that’s what you get with the Anafi Work’s 21MP, 4K camera. Thanks to the 3 axis stabilization, the footage is kept steady during flight.
This drone’s camera has a unique 180° orientation, so you can adjust it during flight to capture a wider variety of angles and perspectives. This makes it ideal for capturing areas like tight corners that would otherwise be difficult to view from the air with a less flexible drone camera, so you can scan every part of a roof to check for damage.
However, this seriously impressive camera isn’t even the most interesting aspect of the Anafi Work. The thing that really sets this drone apart and makes it great for drone roof inspections is that it’s compatible with the Pix4DModel software and is supported by the Pix4DCapture flight planning app.
You get a year’s subscription to the Pix4DModel drone roof inspection software when you buy this drone, adding 3D roof model creation to your arsenal. Not only can you perform in-depth post-flight inspections on these models, but you can also easily share them over the web for easy collaboration.
While most personal property owners looking for a home inspection drone won’t need features this advanced, they can be hugely helpful for professionals working in construction or building management.
Aside from the camera and software, the Anafi Work has some other great features that make it useful. These include smart flight features for easier flying, as well as GPS return-to-home functionality to help avoid any collisions if the drone becomes low on battery or flies out of range.
The physical design of this drone is also very practical, with a USB charging system so you can charge it using a power bank. That won’t even be required in many cases, though, as it comes with four batteries with 25 minutes of flight each, so you can easily swap them out while in the field for increased flight times.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom – Best Drone for Roof Surveys with Zoom
One of the main challenges facing roof inspectors is that often small, hard-to-spot issues can end up causing major problems. This means vigilance is key when inspecting a roof from the air.
Most drones have some form of zoom functionality to help you zero in on one small area, but few can do so while still retaining enough picture clarity for inspection analysis.
If this is an issue you’re looking to solve, you really won’t find a better option than the Mavic 2 Zoom. The 12MP camera quality isn’t as high as some of the other drones we review on this page, but with 4x lossless zoom, this is simply the best zoom drone on the market.
There’s also 2x optical zoom, which provides higher clarity pictures, but is more used for producing cinematic effects in aerial videography rather than for drone roof inspection.
Not only can you zoom in on small details with unparalleled detail retention with this drone, but you can also do so from a safer distance than with other models. For example, if you’re inspecting a large industrial building with extrusions on the roof, you can fly at a safer distance while still getting a better zoom.
Aside from the zoom capabilities, this drone also has many of the fantastic features that are characteristic of DJI drones, such as long transmission range and long battery life.
There’s also a variety of intelligent flying features that make it easy even for inexperienced fliers to capture stable, high-quality footage with this drone. You can lock on to particular parts of a roof and film it from different perspectives with the point of interest mode, while the waypoints feature allows you to easily create custom flight paths using the DJI app.
Parrot Anafi Thermal – Most Affordable Thermal Drone for Roof Inspections
We’ve already covered how the Anafi Work is one of few commercial drones made specifically for tasks like roof inspections, and the Anafi Thermal is an even more specialized model.
Consumer and professional drones with built-in thermal cameras are actually very hard to come by, and most other solutions out there require purchasing an expensive drone and an expensive thermal camera separately, but that’s not the case with this model.
The Anafi Thermal already has an incredible 4K HDR camera with a 21MP Sony sensor for capturing extremely clear footage during daylight, and the thermal camera can detect temperatures from -14°F to 752°F.
Developed by leading thermal camera manufacturer FLIR, the Anafi’s camera is perfect for detecting cold spots, hot spots and thermal leaks on roofs. Plus, with 180° tilt and 3x zoom, you can adjust the camera to capture different details in excellent clarity.
Its incredible dual camera capabilities aren’t the only impressive aspects of this roofing drone, though. It’s also designed for maximum practicality in the field, being ultra-compact and lightweight for easy portability.
The drone weighs less than a pound and can fly for up to 26 minutes at a time, which should be more than enough for most drone thermal roof inspection operations. Plus, it can resist wins of up to 31mph, so you can use it even in challenging conditions.
It has a 2.5 WiFi video transmission range of 2.5m, meaning inspecting large buildings in one go is no issue.
There’s also the intuitive Freeflight 6 app that you can use to easily control the drone. One of the highlights of these is that you can easily switch between RGB and thermal views depending on your requirements. You can even merge the two views if you need a complete understanding, with thermal differences colored for easy analysis.
DJI Phantom 4 with FLIR Vue Pro R – Best Drone for Roof Inspections with Thermal Camera
DJI‘s Phantom 4 is another good option if you’re looking for a drone to carry out both regular and thermal roof inspections.
The regular camera offers fantastic clarity for daylight inspections, with 20MP stills, 4K video, and a 3 axis gimbal for ultra-stable footage.
With this drone, you do need to purchase the VUE Pro thermal camera separately, but this is a camera that’s been made in partnership by DJI and FLIR, so it’s one of the best solutions out there.
The VUE Pro allows you to capture extremely high quality thermal images and take advantage of a range of advanced features. For example, the MAVLink compatibility means you can geo-tag images for more advanced analysis.
It also has an accessory port through which you can control the camera in-flight by integrating it with the drone’s control system.
You can easily configure the VUE Pro using the FLIR UAS app, through which you can set color palettes and image optimization features. It also allows you to easily configure PWM inputs in the field without requiring a computer.
The camera can operate from -4 to 122°F, which along with the Phantom 4’s powerful wind resistance and 72kph max speed means you can use this drone for testing operations in a variety of different environments and conditions.
If you choose this drone for roof inspections, you can also benefit from DJI’s many intelligent flight features, such as altitude hold for easy hovering and active track for focusing on specific parts of a roof during flight. These make it one of the best drones for property inspection for both new fliers and experienced drone pilots.
Drone Roof Inspection Cost
If you’re hiring a company to carry out your drone roof inspection, the price very much depends on the size of the property and your requirements. A drone roof inspection price can range from several hundred dollars for small homes to thousands for larger buildings. Requirements like thermal inspections will add more to the cost.
However, while inspecting large public properties isn’t recommended for beginners, there’s nothing stopping you from carrying out a drone roof inspection yourself on smaller, personal properties. With just a little training, you can end up with an option that’s a lot more practical and cheaper in the long run than hiring specialist drone property inspection companies.