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Why Can Drone Signals Go for Miles? (While My Home Wi-Fi Can’t)

Nowadays, drones perform many tasks, and, as is the case with all other devices that rely on electronic communications, drones send and receive transmissions across a particular frequency. To perform their tasks effectively, drones rely on long-range communication. That’s why drones require either a radio or WiFi signal to communicate with a connected network. 

If you’ve flown a drone that can get a signal up to several miles away from the controller, you may be wondering why your home Wi-Fi signal can’t do the same? If you’ve been pondering over this, then we have an answer for you.

The WiFi signal in your home has to go through walls, floors, and ceilings, which may have metal reinforcement (especially walls), interfering with its ability to travel very far. On the other hand, drones are flown outdoors where there are few obstructions, allowing the WiFi and radio signals to go much further.

In this article, we will discuss all that relates to drone signals and much more. So if this piques your interest, read on to find out more.

How far can a drone go without losing signal?

Drones come in different sizes and shapes, and for this reason, they come with a wide variation in terms of how far their signal can go before dropping. You can’t expect to go very far with a toy drone, certainly not more than a football field or even less than that.

If you invest in a mid-level consumer drone, you can get a bit more range. A drone costing anywhere between $150-$500 will go for about a quarter-mile to a mile and a half before you start losing the signal.

Higher-end drones that are usually high quality can get you some serious long-range signal capabilities. For a drone that costs $800-$1500, you can sustain a signal for about 2.5 miles to 5 miles before the signal starts dropping.

However, we should mention that as drone technology and battery life improves, it isn’t uncommon for some drones to achieve a range of up to 6 miles or more. For example, the DJI Mavic Air 2 has the potential of flying for up to 11 miles before it begins losing the signal.

Several factors determine how far a drone can fly before the signal starts dropping. These include:

  • The drone size – Larger drones will drain the battery much quicker than smaller drones because the propellers of a large drone have to work twice as hard. With the increased battery energy consumption of larger drones comes a significant drop in the signal being transmitted. This is why smaller drones can fly for longer distances before the signal starts dropping.
  • Battery life – Most commonly, the battery life for most drones is about 10-15 minutes. The better the battery life of a drone, the longer the distance it will be able to go before losing the signal.
  • The quality/price – There’s a connection between how far drones can fly and how expensive they are. Most high-end drones can fly for longer distances than their cheaper counterparts. For example, the DJI Mavic Mini ($399) can fly up to 2.5 miles, while the Autel EVO ($1195) can fly for up to 4.3 miles before losing its signal.

You could push your drone to its limits to see how far it can really go without losing the signal, but is it worth the risk of never being able to find it again? All in all, we recommend looking at the specifications if you want to buy a drone with a longer flight range.

Do WiFi signals interfere with drones?

If you experience a sudden loss of control while flying your drone, you should know that this isn’t uncommon. If your drone doesn’t respond to your instructions, then the chances are that there’s signal interference between the transmitter and the receiver. 

If the controller system checks out okay, then most likely you have an issue with signal interference. Finding out exactly where the source of signal interference is coming from will make sure that you don’t lose control of your drone. 

Most drone transmitters usually operate on the 2.4GHz band of the radio spectrum. The bad news is that cellular network towers and WiFi routers also use the 2.4GHz frequency. Therefore, any WiFi signals in the area you are flying your drone may interfere with the signal between your controller and your drone.

So, to definitively answer the question, other WiFi signals can interfere with your drone. Other common sources of signal interference include microwave antennas and high voltage lines. These can affect your drone transmission and lead to flyaway drone situations.

Why does my drone keep losing signal?

Your drone and remote controller are connected by an invisible tether that prevents your drone from flying away. There’s always a slight moment of panic when you see the signal strength start decreasing and ultimately being lost completely. Sometimes this may happen without a clear reason, while in most cases, something may be behind the situation. Some of the reasons the drone signal may drop include:

  • Flying out of range – Drone signals tend to get weaker the further the drone flies. If your drone flies out of range, the signal will drop, and you may end up losing your drone.
  • Obstructions – Radio waves can penetrate most non-conductive materials like wood, concrete, and bricks. They are, however, reflected when they hit conductive materials such as metal and water. So if you fly your drone close to buildings and cars, electrical pylons, and communication towers, you risk losing your drone’s signal.
  • Interference from some devices – Drones share the same radio frequency as many other wireless devices. Flying your drone in an area with many smartphones, cordless phones, and other wireless devices may cause you to drop the signal. Flying in a place with several active WiFi hotspots can be problematic too.
  • Weather conditions – Extreme temperatures and humidity can cause a drop in the signal from your drone.
  • Interference from power lines – Electromagnetic interference from power lines can disrupt the radio waves transmitted between your drone and controller, causing a drop in the signal.

Drone signals can go for long distances because there are far fewer obstructions in outdoor flight scenarios than is the case with WiFi signals in a home. In indoor settings, the WiFi signals are disrupted by the walls, floors, and ceilings.