Drones have been revolutionizing the world in recent years. Though they are not considered a new technology these days, drones and the technology they utilize are constantly being improved, and they are being used in many fields or tasks.
Now, certain types of roofs need to be continuously inspected, and drones are a smart easy solution for inspecting roofs. Although these drones can be easy to use, there are some legal requirements that people have to be aware of before using them for roof inspections. Even so, drones are still the best option in most cases.
What does a roof inspection drone need to be able to do?
Drones used for roof inspections need to be easy to pilot, and they have to fly safely near the building without crashing. They also have to be legal in the area they will be used, and it’s important to note that not everybody is allowed to pilot a drone nor perform roof inspections with a drone. Often a drone pilot’s license is required.
Using drones for roof inspections offers people more security and accuracy in the work, and this allows inspectors to perform their job without risking life or limb. To do a roof inspection without a drone means that inspectors have to climb up to the roof, and walk all over the area to make a detailed examination. This can be extremely dangerous as roofs are often inclined, and many times inspectors do the job alone without any backup.
In the real estate industry, the use of drones for roof inspections has been one of the biggest technological advances since it makes work easier, safer, and affordable. When the roof inspection is done expertly, this gives the inspector a full preview of the roof, and it can also give a more complete inspection than one done in person since the drone can reach places that people can’t; consequently, this drones can provide an extensive and intensive inspection of a building.
What features are essential in a drone for roof inspections?
Drones are very efficient when it comes to roof inspections. They can reach places that people cannot, with safety and more accurate performance, so they will provide the inspector with a bigger and better overview of the roof and any potential issues. But to accomplish this task, drones need specific physical features that will allow them to make a more accurate, detailed report.
To do an accurate roof inspection, drones need to have some specific features:
A high-quality video camera is absolutely essential for drones that will be used for roof inspections. The whole point is being able to capture a detailed image that provides precise information about the status of the roof.
The camera not only has to provide a high-quality image, but also a continuous image input to the controller, so the inspector will be able to see in real-time the status of the roof. Thus, the camera has to be light, weather-resistant, and having long battery life. Many drones currently on the market offer a perfectly adequate camera to perform roof inspections.
The battery life of the drones another crucial factor. Longer battery life will provide the drone with a longer flying time. The battery sends the voltage needed that makes the motor run.
For very large roof areas where a detailed inspection needs to be made, it is very helpful to be able to complete the entire task without stopping to recharge or swap out the batteries. Look for a drone that has a battery life of at least 30 minutes of continuous flight time.
For really large jobs that will require more time, you can consider enterprise-level drones that come with up to 50 minutes of flight time.
Drones can fly fast, but for roof inspections, it’s more important that they are stable, and are able to hover accurately. If not, the drone may crash into something when it is flying close to the roof structure. A smooth, stable hover is also important to be able to capture clear imagery for an accurate report.
This hover accuracy is provided by sensors placed all over the drone itself but is also affected by the experience level of the person controlling the drone. This is one important reason why the inspector using drones for roof inspections needs to be certified as a drone pilot! No one wants any collateral damage that can cause a big unnecessary expense for the company or the inspector itself.
Obstacle and Collision Avoidance Sensors
Sensors on the drone provide the pilot with better management and control of the drone. The sensors that prevent the pilot from any obstacle or collision are placed all over the drone. The sensors involved in collision avoidance include Inertial Measurement Units, GPS, Tilt Sensors, Current Sensors, and Magnetic Sensors. The simultaneous operation of all those sensors helps the pilot to have better control of the drone. Each type of sensor has an important role to play in providing a stable, collision-free flight.
Let’s spend a few minutes exploring each of the sensors mentioned above, to have a general description of how they work and how they contribute to safer, smoother flights.
Inertial Measurement Units & GPS. Both of these work together to keep track of the direction of the drone. In simple words, they sense the orientation of the drone and direct the drone while it’s in the air.
Tilt Sensors. Tilt sensors work beside the accelerometers to provide input to the control system so the pilot can maintain a stable level of flight. They detect any movement variations.
Current and Magnetic Sensors. Both give continuous information regarding the internal flight system of the drone. The current sensors measure components such as the battery and the others related to it; this helps to optimize the battery life of the drone. The magnetic sensors measure directional and inertial navigation to help with the drone guidance systems.
Thermal Imaging Sensor
This can be considered an optional feature, but one that any professional drone roof inspection pilot needs to seriously consider. Having thermal imaging can reveal certain types of water damage, places where insulation is failing, and other things that are not visible to the naked eye.
Thermal imaging sensors are usually specialized to enterprise-level drones, although some consumer or prosumer-level drones also come with thermal sensors. The best option is probably a drone that has a dual thermal-visual sensor so that you can collect both types of data in a single flight.
Top 5 Drones for Roof Inspections
While some drones can be upgraded, many drones are perfect for roof inspections and accomplish the tasks very well. So, here is a top 5 of the best drones for roof inspections with a brief description of the features each drone offers:
1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is perfect for roof inspections since the drone is equipped with professional sensors that give the drone a very stable flight. The drone provides an automated flight mission system, which allows it to operate on its own; this feature permits an automated roof inspection.
In addition, the drone comes with a full 4K HD video camera that accurately records pictures and videos. Also, the drone can fly over half an hour, with a flight range of 8 kilometers.
While the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is expensive, every cent is worth it! This drone is the best when it comes to roof inspections. Also, it is easy to manage, so piloting the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is a comfortable task even for the relatively inexperienced.
2. Parrot Anafi
The Parrot Anafi drone is in the middle of this list because it has the advantage of being affordable and easy to manage, but the durability is less reliable than some others, and it is not exactly made for roof inspections.
The design of this drone may look a little bit unique and rough; however, the Parrot Anafi is surprisingly lightweight. Thus, its sensor helps the pilot maintain the drone in a stable flight, and it is a 4K HDV camera directed straight toward the front allowing it to take pictures or record videos in a first-person view.
The Parrot Anafi has a 4-kilometer flight range, and it can provide 25 minutes of continuous flight time. However, in general terms, it can accomplish roof inspections very well.
3. Hubsan Zino Pro
The Hubsan Zino Pro is the perfect combination between affordable and quality. The drone comes with nice features that are commensurate with its price. While the drone is not insanely perfect, I can say that its general performance is good, and it can accomplish a roof inspection task adequately.
The Hubsan Zino Pro is reviewed as one of the best drones in value for money, and this is the reason it is placed on this list. The drone comes with a 4K HD camera, it can fly for 23 minutes with a range of 4 Km, it has intelligent flight modes, and it comes with an intelligent fail-safe.
4. Autel Robotics X Star
With almost perfect reviews, the Autel Robotics X Star is a ready-to-fly drone that provides people with a user-friendly experience. This drone is simple to use and comes with sensors that optimize outdoor navigation.
It also has a 4K HD camera, so I can say this drone is a good fit for roof inspections. Also, something that makes the Autel Robotics X Star a good drone for these tasks is its intelligent battery and the 1-hour fast battery charger! The drone is made of resistant material so it’s durable enough to stand up to the job.
The flight time of this drone goes over 25 minutes, but one disadvantage of the Autel Robotics X Star is its poor flight range: this drone just operates at a safe distance of 2 kilometers.
5. DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual
If you’re willing to venture into the higher price range of the enterprise-level drones, a good entry-level drone, and a perfect one for roof inspections is the Mavic 2 Enterprise. It comes with a dual thermal and visual sensor, giving you the best of both worlds when it comes to image data.
The Mavic 2 Enterprise obviously comes with all the flight stability and autonomous flight features that you would expect, along with 4K video recording, a flight time of 31 minutes, and 10 km of range. This is the drone to pick if you’re ready to get into the big leagues when it comes to drone roof inspections.
How to get started with drone roof inspections
To take the lead of the drone roof inspection, it is you need to get two certifications: Drone Pilot, and Home/Building Inspector. Both certifications can be acquired without too much time or money invested.
There are a lot of official websites that provide training courses and can point you in the right direction to getting y our certification.
For our recommended courses on becoming a licensed drone pilot, check out our courses page.
To learn more about starting a drone inspection business, read our article on how to start a drone inspection business. It’s a relatively low startup cost business for those who are looking for a self-employment opportunity that’s easily within reach.