Buying a Drone? Here Are 5 Things to Remember

Let’s be frank:

Buying a drone is one of the best things EVER.

Choosing the right UAV and waiting for it to be delivered is like being a kid on Christmas Eve. You track that package night and day, hoping that someone how it will magically get to you sooner.

However, before you get to that point, you want to make sure your new drone is the right one for you. There’s nothing worse than doing your research, getting it in the mail, and finding out you have to send it back and start the process over again.

So today, I’ve put together 5 things I wish someone had told me before I bought my first drone. I hope this list will save you time (and money) when buying your first drone or your next one.

Let’s get started:

1. Buy a Drone That’s Within Your Skill Level

There is a big difference between beginner drones and advanced ones.

Advanced drones come with cameras, gimbals, FPV capabilities, and a host of other bells and whistles. They also tend to be more difficult to fly than beginner drones.

Not surprisingly, they’re much more expensive.

For new pilots, the odds of crashing are high, if not inevitable. Newbies keep hearing about the DJI Phantoms of the drone world that cost between $500 and $1,300. They think this is the first UAV they should buy.

In reality, it’s much safer to start off with a cheap drone, like the Cheerson CX-10 or Hubsan X4, and work your way up. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. You’ll save money on broken propellers.
  2. You’ll save money on possibly needing to replace your entire drone.
  3. You’ll build up the necessary basic orientation skills to become a safe pilot — keeping people, animals, and other objects out of harm’s way.

No matter which drone you choose, buy one that’s within your skill level.

2. Use a Trusted Drone Retailer

Most likely, you’ll buy your rig online.

The two most trusted retailers I’ve found are Amazon and Banggood. If you want a quadcopter, hexacopter, octocopter…whatever you’re looking for, these two retailers will have it.

They’ll also have a ton of reviews for you to check out. Make sure to read these before making a purchase. This will give you an inside look at what it’s like to own the drone before buying it.

And don’t forget to check the estimated delivery date. If you’re in the west, a lot of these drones are shipped from Asia and can take weeks to arrive, which is an eternity for a drone enthusiast. Take this into account when weighing your options.

3. Before Buying, Decide What Purpose You’re Going to Use It For

Drones have all sorts of applications, both recreational and professional. Before buying, you need to decide how you are going to apply your new toy (or if it’s even going to be used as a toy at all).

Here are a few purposes that might apply to you:

  • Learning to fly and building your skills.
  • Flying indoors vs outdoors. (You’ll want to take size into account and its ability to handle wind.)
  • Aerial videography and photos.
  • Business

If you’re just learning to fly, go for a cheap drone like we discussed before. This will save you a lot of time and money.

Depending on a drone’s size, some are more suitable for flying indoors/outdoors than others. The bigger a drone is, the harder is it to fly it indoors, but it will handle wind better outdoors.

If you’re planning to shoot aerial videos and photos, you’ll want a drone with a solid camera and possibly a gimbal to keep your shots stable. This will take you into the more expensive rigs.

If you’re planning to start a drone business, your drone will become an integral part of the service you offer.

Its quality directly relates to the quality of your products and services, so it’s important to invest more money upfront.

Take some time and think about your drone’s purpose, then conduct your research.

Speaking of research, don’t forget to…

4. Weigh Your Options…but Don’t be Afraid to Pull The Trigger

With any purchase, you want to be happy with what you buy.

Yes, you can return your drone (usually), but needing to wait for another one to arrive can be torture, especially if all you want to do is fly the damn thing. So do your research.

But also don’t be afraid to buy one when the time feels right. There are so many options out there, you can spend weeks researching drones. Don’t stay in gridlock.

When you find the right one, pull the trigger.

5. Stay Up to Date With The Industry

Staying up to date means that not only will you know about the latest innovations, but you’ll be in the know about changes in drone laws, new applications, and everything else this fast-growing industry has to offer.

Pick a few blogs to read consistently. Many have email newsletters that will notify you of news and other happenings.

Here are a few of my favorites:

To Wrap It Up

Buying a drone is exciting. It’s like being a kid all over again.

But there are important adult aspects to consider, like money, safety, and what you’re going to use the drone for.

I hope this article has given you some clarity to help you make your next purchase. I know it’s exactly what I needed when I started out.

If you need a bit more direction, I put together a guide that will teach you how to buy a drone. The information couples nicely with this article.

Happy flying!

Alan Perlman

Alan Perlman founded UAV Coach, a drone pilot and sUAS industry training community, to help push the drone community forward and to help new pilots break into the sUAS industry.

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