How to Choose a Quadcopter: 6 Expert Tips

Not to toot our own horns (too much), but when it comes to purchasing a quadcopter, my team and I have a fair bit of experience. So we understand, first hand, how daunting of an experience buying a drone can be.

But it doesn’t need to be!

While there’s an ever-growing list of options in the quadcopter and remote control drone market, there are some tried and true tips we can offer to make the experience easier.

1) Know Your Goals

As quadcopters come in all different shapes, sizes and types, it’s extremely important to know your goals and plans for your next (or first) quadcopter.

Will you be working with it professionally or is it strictly a consumer hobby for you? These types of questions will help you determine which type of quadcopter (if any) is best for you.

For example, if you’re working with a real estate broker to obtain aerial shots of a property, then your needs are vastly different than if you’re working with a cinematographer for a multimillion dollar film production involving explosions and Michael Bay.

These vastly different cases are both more than doable, but they each require a different set of features out of their respective quadcopters.

In some cases, you may not even want a quadcopter. While quadcopters are extremely versatile and impressive vehicles, in some instances, such as land surveying, you might actually be better off using a different type of UAV, such as the Sensefly eBee.

2) What is Your Budget?

Knowing your budget is an important realization for any project. Be realistic – if you only have $75 to work with, then that DJI Phantom 3 might be out of your price range.

Remember your goals. Do you actually need a DJI Phantom 3 or do you just want it because it is cool (fact: it is very cool)? The price ranges for quadcopters run across an extreme spectrum, so knowing your budget will allow you to narrow down your options to what will work best for your budget and goal.

While cheaper training quadcopters may be in the $25 to $200 range, professional rigs may begin in the $1,500 to $3000 range with accessories and can go much higher from that point.

Set a budget, add a small amount of wiggle room, and stick to that range. Depending on your budget it may be best to work toward a small fleet of quadcopters over the course of years, with each best suited to certain needs, instead of trying to spend a sizeable sum on what you think is your current do-it-all quadcopter.

Remember that each year comes with some large advancements in technology, and what is cutting edge this year will certainly be less cutting-edge with each subsequent year. Don’t waste money and be smart about your purchases.

3) Choose A Reputable Company

Just as you would with any high dollar purchase, do your research on the manufacturer and choose one that has a solid track record, good support, and a strong community/ecosystem.

If you need repairs or assistance in the future, this will make a huge difference in the level of customer support that you receive from the company or other consumers. Some notable companies of merit in the quadcopter realm are DJI, 3DR, Yuneec, and Parrot.

(Here’s a list of 70 other drone companies you can check out.)

4) Know What’s in the Box

It is important to make use of the wide resources available for quadcopters to ensure you know as much as possible about the ones that you’re considering. Find out exactly what comes with the purchase, including accessories and cases, so that you can make sure you’re making the best decision for your budget and goals.

While one quadcopter might be $200 more, it may also come with the extra batteries and a travel case that you had planned to buy, which might make it a better overall deal than the cheaper one.

5) Check Out Your Local Model Aircraft Club

Having the option to call up, email or meet in-person with a group of knowledgeable and experienced fellow enthusiasts can be invaluable in this process. You’ll establish a network of local support that will only grow more useful as you become more involved in the drone community.

Explain what you’re trying to do, what your goals are, what your budget is, and see what they recommend. Find some veteran members and ask what they fly – see if they’re willing to let you try theirs before you buy one.

It’s also a great way to make friends!

6) Contact UAV Coach

Last, and certainly not least, if you’re thinking about purchasing a quadcopter, then contact us!

We’re here to help and we love hearing about your plans in our industry/community. Send us an email at support@uavcoach.com and we’ll be happy to help you find what you’re looking for.

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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