Best battery-saving practices every drone owner should know
Seven ways to make the most out of every charge and extend your flight time.
Vanessa Hand OrellanaCNET Senior Editor
As head of wearables at CNET, Vanessa reviews and writes about the latest smartwatches and fitness trackers. She joined the team seven years ago as an on-camera reporter for CNET's Spanish-language site and then moved on to the English side to host and produce some of CNET's videos and YouTube series. When she's not testing out smartwatches or dropping phones, you can catch her on a hike or trail run with her family.
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
ExpertiseLaptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and dronesCredentials
More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Watch this: Drone 101: How to extend your battery life
Consumer and prosumer drones have come a long way in the last few years, but battery life continues to be an issue for most drone owners. Despite more powerful cameras, collision detectors and better navigation systems, and even in optimal flying conditions most drones today will not fly past the 25 minute mark.
And while there's no way to keep it in the air any longer, there are a few things you can do to make sure you're getting the most out of each charge.
Take good care of your battery
The lithium polymer or LiPo batteries found in most drones are sensitive to overheating; charging your battery at high temperatures can wear them down and reduce the charge over time. Avoid charging them right after use when they're still hot, and make sure to charge them at room temperature once they've had some time to cool down. When not in use make sure to store them in a dry, cool place and never in the back seat of your car.
Most drone batteries have an auto discharge feature that feature that drains them a few days after charging, so timing is important. The longer you wait to fly your drone, the greater the drain. For best results, fly with a fresh battery that has been charged a few hours before your flight.
Never leave a battery charging unattended, and remove it from the charger as soon as it reaches full capacity. Some smart batteries do this automatically, but regardless of what type of battery you own, never leave it plugged into the wall for longer that it has to be.
Check the weather
Flying a drone while battling the elements is challenging for even the most experienced drone pilot. Never fly in a rain or snow storm, and avoid the wind as much as possible. The stronger the wind, the more battery power the drone uses to stabilize flight, and your battery life may end up cut in half. Humidity can also weigh down your drone and affect its battery life, so aim for a clear, dry day if you're looking to get the most out of your charge.
If you don't need it, take it off. Every extra ounce you add to your drone will make it work harder to stay aloft and use up more of the battery. Get rid of any accessories that you don't absolutely need, such as propeller guards and lens filters, or even the camera when you're not recording.
Don't fly aggressively
If you're concerned about the battery life, forgo the double flips and sharp turns. To extend your charge --and your now propeller-guard-free drone-- aim for a smoother flight path.
Never fully drain your battery
It may be tempting to use up every last bit of juice when you're out flying, but the extra five minutes of flight time is not worth the damage you may be causing to the battery. It's best to be play it safe and land before you get the low-battery alert, but at the very least do not ignore the signal and land immediately after it appears on your controller.