Drones can capture stunning images and record videos of the impossible places to reach on foot. However, drone propellers get weakened with time due to damage, bends, or scratches, and periodically need replacement.
You don’t want to risk flying your valuable drone sky-high on weakened propellers, do you? So, how long do drone propellers last?
Drone propellers can last for up to 500 flight hours as long as they’re in perfect shape and aren’t damaged. Depending on the usage, you should plan to replace propellers after at least 3 months. Replace the propellers after a lot of flight hours, or if you’re unsure if they’re fit.
In this guide, you will learn more about the lifespan of drone propellers. You’ll also find out the symptoms of unsuitable propellers and how to fix them for the best and safest drone flight.
How long do drone propellers last?
Drone propellers are the tires of a drone. The drone can’t fly without them being in good condition.
If you engage a drone on unfit propellers, you risk the drone crashing and getting damaged. But generally, drone propellers can last for about 300-500 flight hours.
How long propellers should last depends on a few crucial factors, though. For instance, the materials the props and blades are made of have a big role in lifespan. High-quality performance plastic with reinforced fiberglass or carbon is good for strength.
These materials guarantee a solid construction that’s stable to breeze through a flight. You can fly your drone higher and for longer distances without any trouble. Such materials provide propellers with extended longevity.
Usage is another factor. The strain exerted on a drone can wear out its propellers. Flights where the drone is tearing through the sky as it makes swift turns, and sudden breaks affect the service lifespan of propellers.
The propellers can also get damaged or scratched. If that happens, it doesn’t matter if they’re a week old. Replacement is a must.
If you suspect that the drone propellers aren’t fit for a flight, don’t hesitate to change them. It’s easier to replace propellers than your whole drone. You may need to spend just $10 or so to buy a new propeller. That cost is nowhere near the price of a new drone.
In a nutshell, the lifespan of a propeller stops when you start seeing faults. It could be a week, a month, or even a year.
What are drone propellers made of?
How a drone propeller is constructed is vital to its purpose. Mostly, drone propellers are made of high-performance plastic materials like nylon reinforced with fiberglass or carbon.
You can term this a hybrid propeller because it combines plastic and carbon or fiberglass. The result is an improved, high-impact propeller with great strength.
Even so, you can get drone propellers crafted exclusively from soft and flexible plastic. These propellers are cheap and readily available. However, the lifespan of plastic propellers is limited to a few months.
Some high-end propellers have carbon fiber as the primary component in their structure. Carbon fiber is very rigid and lightweight. Propellers from this material produce efficient and effective spinning since they aren’t prone to vibrations.
Carbon fiber propellers make drone flight quiet and stable. Thankfully, the propellers can last for a long time, as long as you don’t crash your drone.
Carbon fiber propellers are easily damaged if the drone crashes due to their rigid build. They’re also expensive, which has become a turn-off to many enthusiasts.
How often should you replace drone propellers?
At some point, you’re going to have to replace your drone propellers. But, how often should that be? Is there a hard and fast service schedule for replacing propellers?
Some drone manufacturing companies such as DJI recommend the replacement of drone propellers after every 200 flights. Nonetheless, this schedule isn’t mandatory, especially if the propellers on your drone are still in perfect shape beyond 200 flight hours. At the very least, replace your drone propellers when the drone completes 300-500 flight hours.
Usually, you want to inspect your every other time before flying it. This gives you a solid picture of its condition. You want to replace a drone propeller as soon as it shows any signs of wear, weakness, or damage.
If you aren’t a regular drone user, propellers can stay intact for many years. Of course, that’s assuming they don’t bear even slight signs of damage.
Generally, wear and tear on different propellers vary greatly. The trend means that there’s no blanket timeframe for replacing these components. However, if the props are damaged, you need to change them immediately.
When should you replace your drone propellers?
A timely change of the propellers on your drone can save you big time. Yet, this can only be possible with regular checks and inspections to look for any wear and tear symptoms.
To do this, check for bends, warping, fractures, or scratches. If you also notice a change in the propeller’s sound while cutting in the air, that’s a critical sign that you need to change it.
In addition, sometimes you may be unsure whether the propellers are suitable or not. If you’ve got such doubts, it’s recommended that you change the propellers immediately.
As you fly your drone, make sure you carry an extra pair of propellers. The spare propellers can be handy in case you damage the current ones. Having spare ones also boosts your confidence while on the mission field.
6 Signs that a Propeller Needs to Be Replaced
Drone propellers are built with a specific configuration for an easy lift into the air. If this shape is interfered with, a drone may not achieve proper lift. Warping is a common issue on propellers. It happens all the time due to heat, UV rays, poor storage, or old age.
When blades warp, they don’t look the same in terms of shape. You can run your fingers along individual blades to feel the shape. If you find a warp or bend anywhere on the blades, change the propellers immediately.
Drone propellers rapidly cut through air columns. As they spin, air particles exert some forces on them, at times causing tiny cracks to form on blade surfaces.
To notice these microcracks, you need to feel the blades with your fingertips. The cracks are small, but they enlarge with time as the propeller blades continue to spin.
Don’t hesitate to upgrade the propellers if you find these cracks. They can be the undoing of your expensive drone sooner than later.
3. Damaged leading edge
This is the edge of the propeller located in the spinning direction. The leading edge is critical to a smooth flight.
When the drone takes off or lands, the edge can get damaged. This is because it can come in contact with grass, sand particles, or other debris.
Furthermore, small insects like bees can get attracted to the drone. As they follow the drone, if they get caught in the updraft, they can make chips on the leading edge. If the leading edge of the propeller is damaged or chipped, it’s due for replacement.
4. Damaged trailing edge
Another super-important part of the drone is the trailing edge. This lower and curved edge faces the opposite direction of the propeller spin.
If the trailing edge develops dents and chips, it should be replaced as quickly as possible. For the record, a damaged trailing end can cause a propeller to make a lot of noise as it takes off from the ground.
5. Discoloration of the propeller
Pay close attention to the color of the propeller. Sometimes drones are used in harsh weather conditions. Usually, the blades are made of hardened plastic — this plastic can discolor fast if exposed to UV light, high temperatures, and rain.
Once discoloration occurs, it’s a tell-tale sign that the propeller is getting weakened. A discolored propeller is also fragile and brittle. It may not withstand the pressures of rapid spinning.
6. Unusual noise
It’s entirely normal for a propeller to produce sound as it spins. However, different models have varying noise levels, determined by the motor size.
Typically, you always know the kind of noise your drone can make. If you notice a significant change in the noise level — probably something high-pitched and unfamiliar — it’s time to change the propellers.
Do drone propellers wear out?
As time goes by, your drone propellers also become less effective. This shows that drone propellers wear out just under normal use.
Even if your drone doesn’t encounter collisions, they don’t just click at some point. Remember that other than crashes, weather elements can affect the longevity of propellers.
Drone propellers also encounter other things of nature in the air, like insects and debris. These elements constantly generate forces that may chip or dent the blades.
Notably, propellers may not wear out evenly. What causes uneven wear and tear is the position of these propellers on the drone. You can rotate them around in the best position to correct the anomaly.
You want to inspect the propellers regularly to note any signs of wear. Keep the device clean and free of foreign material for an extended lifespan.
How to fix a drone propeller that won’t spin
If the propeller on the drone isn’t spinning correctly, it can hurt your flying exploits or keep you grounded altogether. The most likely causes for a propeller that won’t spin include debris, loose wiring, damaged propellers, battery issues, and more.
Fortunately, this is an issue that you can fix. Here are quick steps to follow.
- Check if there are any obstructions like debris in the propeller path and shafts. It’s not easy to notice them if you don’t look carefully. Debris can affect the overall flight performance of the propeller. Remove this debris or any other objects causing the obstruction.
- Check the wiring system. It happens that wires connecting the motor to propellers are fragile and can easily disconnect when the drone crashes. Internal wires can rupture and go unnoticed. Make sure that you identify the torn wire and replace it.
- Check the motor. If the motor isn’t in proper condition, it can transmit issues to the propellers. Remove the propellers and get rid of any foreign debris in the engine. If you’re not skilled enough to work this out, find an expert to help you.
- Inspect the batteries to see if they’re fully charged before you fly the drone. An inadequate power supply can cause the propellers not to spin correctly. If it’s a bad battery, you’d still experience the same problems.
- Make sure that the battery is charged to optimum capacity before you start flying. Replace bad batteries with newer ones.
Is a bigger drone propeller more efficient?
You could be wondering whether the size of a drone propeller matters. Well, in general, a bigger drone propeller is more efficient. A big drone propeller with larger diameter blades that spin better in the air increases flight efficiency.
All the same, the size of the propeller must match that of the drone. The motor can overheat and fail to work properly if the propeller is too big.
Bigger propellers also tend to be quieter. Smaller ones can be extremely noisy due to the many turns (revolutions) they make in a minute. For this reason, the former can be handy when you’re carrying out your missions in public spaces where quiet is needed.
1. Can I fly with a chipped drone propeller?
No. Flying with a chipped propeller isn’t a good idea. Never try to do that as your drone could fall from the sky. If propellers are chipped, remove them and fit them with new high-quality propellers. A chipped propeller must be replaced.
2. What happens when a drone propeller breaks in flight?
If a quad drone propeller breaks while the drone is still in flight, the drone will lose its balance and come crashing down to the ground. It can’t fly with only three props.
For Hex and Octocopters, they would still keep flying without one propeller since they’ve got six or eight propellers to stabilize the drone. You would still want to land immediately and replace the broken propeller.
3. Can a bent prop be repaired?
If the propeller is bent on any blade of a quadcopter, you can’t repair it for reuse. Replace the entire prop. However, for hexacopters and octocopters, you can fix the bent blade and continue using the propeller if necessary. It’s still a better option to replace the blade rather than try to repair it.
How long drone propellers last depends on many factors. These include the build materials, the frequency of flying, where you fly your drone, whether your drone crashes or not, among others.
If you take good care of your drone, the propellers can last 300-500 flight hours. Nevertheless, this lifespan can drop significantly when the drone is used in less than ideal conditions.
You cannot fly a drone with damaged, scratched, or warped propellers. It’s not safe for the drone and the public, especially if it were to come crashing down.
Before you get out to start flying a drone, be sure that the propellers are in good condition. If you have any doubt, replace them immediately.