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Understanding Drone Wind Resistance Levels (Explained)

It’s chilly outdoors, and it’s started to be a bit windy. You’ve looked into your drone manual, and you know it can withstand some moderate winds.

Understanding Drone Wind Resistance Levels (Explained)
Image credit: Gabriel Mihalcea

You will often see wind resistance levels, such as Level 5 or Level 7, in the product description categories. 

What are those, and why does it matter to have a bit of knowledge about them? 

Well, let’s explore this topic together, and I promise that by the end of it, you’ll have a much better understanding of drone wind resistance levels and how these impact our drones.

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What are drone wind resistance levels?

Drones have become more intelligent nowadays. From the moment we had the first prototypes to the present moment, each drone should have a classification for wind resistance.

This classification lets you know how well the drone can technically fly in winds up to that speed without affecting its performance, hovering stability, and filming capabilities.

At least, not by much, anyway.

The idea of wind resistance level for drones is merely a guideline, and most drones are able to fly in much stronger winds than advertised. But the number is there for safety only.

However, this means you shouldn’t take your drone out and fly it in intense hurricane weather or any other storm.

It’s simply too dangerous, and we have to take a conscious approach to deciding when to fly our drones, especially if it’s windy outside.

On the Beaufort Wind Scale, wind levels range between 0 and 12, with zero being the calmest winds and 12 reaching hurricane-level winds. 

Now, drones use this classification to show you where they land on a scale in terms of their limit in wind resistance.

This information is provided by drone manufacturers.

As we mentioned, these drone wind resistance levels are merely guidelines to follow and not hard and fast rules.

» MORE: DJI Mini 3 in Wind (Explained for Beginners)

Drone wind resistance scale, in detail

To better understand the drone wind resistance levels, we must comprehend the Beaufort Wind Scale and see how powerful winds can get and how drone flights can be affected.

ForceSpeed (in mph)Speed (in m/s)Description
Level 00-1 mph0 – 0.45 m/sVery Calm
Level 11-3 mph0.45 – 1.34 m/sLight Air
Level 24-7 mph1.79 – 3.13 m/sLight Breeze
Level 38-12 mph3.58 – 5.36 m/sGentle Breeze
Level 413-18 mph5.81 – 8.05 m/sModerate Breeze
Level 519-24 mph8.49 – 10.73 m/sFresh Breeze
Level 625-31 mph11.18 – 13.86 m/sStrong Breeze
Level 732-38 mph14.31 – 16.99 m/sNear Gale
Level 839-46 mph17.43 – 20.56 m/sGale
Level 947-54 mph21.01 – 24.14 m/sSevere Gale
Level 1055-63 mph24.59 – 28.16 m/sStorm
Level 1164-72 mph28.61 – 32.19 m/sViolent Storm
Level 1273-83 mph32.63 – 37.10 m/sHurricane (Cat. 1)
Beaufort Wind Scale

Note: The below graphic elements were licensed from Canva Pro, and the images were created in Canva by Gabriel Mihalcea.

Wind speed scale explained (in detail)

With level 0 winds, the wind speed can basically be between 0 and 1 mile per hour. In this instance, the lakes look like mirrors, and during heat, no wind is stirring to cool you off, and it can be irritating.

As for drones, this is the perfect environment to obtain perfect hovering stability and fly without being affected.

The level 1 winds are also called “light air” because they can barely be felt as the lightest breeze and are barely strong enough to move a few leaves in a tree.

The wind speed of 1-3 miles an hour does not affect drones flying at all, and should not cause any drone to drift.

The leaves in the trees rustle, and you can feel the breeze on your face. You can see the direction of the breeze in the smoke and also feel it on your skin.

The wind speed is about 4 to 7 miles per hour and should not affect drone flights, except maybe slightly micro drones’ ability to hover.

A wind speed of around 8 to 12 miles per hour is now enough to extend light flags. Leaves and branches are moving in the trees.

Drones start to detect the wind speed but self-stabilize without an issue. Microdrones will struggle to fly in a gentle breeze, but a skilled pilot can manage it.

A moderate breeze now creates waves that start to become larger. The wind speed is 13-18 miles per hour, which will start to affect drone flights.

Some drones have only level 4 max wind resistance, but the majority of drones are able to fly just fine and can self-stabilize when hovering. However, flying long-range is contraindicated.

The level 5 wind resistance, also called a “fresh breeze,” is strong enough to limit some drone flights. Wind speed is between 19 and 24 mph.

Most drones on the market have a max level 5 wind resistance, and you’ll definitely see the drone starting to struggle to hover stably.

But drones with a 3-axis mechanical gimbal should still offer smooth footage, despite this being a limitation on most drones.

A strong breeze is powerful enough to form large waves and is between 25 and 31 miles an hour. Drones can still fly at this level, but it is beyond the recommended value set by manufacturers.

If you fly a drone in level 6 winds, you do it at your own risk. Be aware that smaller drones are unable to fly now.

The near-gale wind now brings speeds between 32 and 38 miles per hour. It’s a strong wind, and most drones cannot fly. A few can, such as some Autel drones, which have max level 7 wind resistance.

Most drones will fly erratically and come with a risk of crashing. Heavy drones can still fly at this wind speed, but it is not recommended.

The “gale” will bring powerful winds between 39 to 46 miles per hour. Moderately high waves are formed and are strong enough to break twigs and dead branches off trees.

Drones cannot fly in this wind, and most will crash. Heavy FPV drones can still fly but are difficult to control. Some very heavy drones can face gale winds but are still not recommended to fly.

The severe gale winds that are between 47 and 54 miles an hour are too strong to fly nearly any drone. Very few drones exist that are able to fly at such gales.

With these wind speeds, high waves are formed and even have the strength for slight structural damage.

With stormy winds between 55 and 63 miles an hour, no drones are able to fly without the severe risk of crashing.

The waves formed are very high, and the wind is strong enough to produce considerable structural damage.

Weaker trees can be uprooted.

With winds between 64 and 72 miles an hour, the level 11 wind, classified as a violent storm, is strong enough to disrupt navigation with small and medium-sized ships.

Airplanes face difficulties flying through and landing. No drone can fly during a violent storm and will face an imminent crash.

The level 12 winds, which are between 72 and 83 miles an hour, are classified at this point as Cat. 1 Hurricane and are extremely strong, enough to do considerable structural damage and uproot trees.

Aircraft, ships, and transportation are severely disrupted. Lives can be put at risk if walking through hurricane-level winds. No drone is able to fly during this time, and visibility is seriously affected.

Note: We have created a simple tool you can use to convert wind speed from m/s to mph and vice-versa.

Wind Speed Conversion

Wind Speed Conversion

» MORE: DJI Mini 2 SE Wind Resistance (Explained)

Can drones fly in high wind?

Most drones are smart enough to fly in moderately high winds that can even affect other environmental elements.

If we’re looking at most drones’ wind resistance, we would think that they are recommended to fly at up to Level 5 wind resistance. 

I have personally flown in winds higher than this, around level 7, with drones categorized as level 5, and still had no issues even in smooth filming.

But the drones were observably balancing and over-forcing their motors to stabilize and hover without drifting. 

Poorly made drones (a.k.a. cheap ones) cannot handle these winds as they will start drifting from much lower-level winds. The technology behind those drones is simply not good enough.

But if you’re flying an FPV drone, that’s another story.

» MORE: Can a Drone Fly in Strong Winds? (With Flight Tips)

How to know the wind level before flying a drone

One of the best ways to predict the wind speed level is to use dedicated weather apps, but even these can be relatively limited.

What I personally love to do is use drone weather apps like UAV Forecast, which are a bit more than weather apps, giving you enough information to plan your drone flight.

One of the pieces of information included is a complex wind pattern with graphics, wind speed, gusts, and direction. Moreover, the app offers information about wind speed at higher altitudes above ground, as well as how strong the wind is at 400ft above ground level if you’re looking to fly your drone at the maximum legal height.

But this is only a way to know the wind level and calculate the wind on the Beaufort wind scale.

I would recommend using the above tool to translate from miles per hour to meters per second and compare with your drone wind resistance (see tool and table below)

Now, for the most accurate data for observing the wind speed on location before you take off your drone, use an anemometer. This is a simple device that will calculate and give the exact wind speed level with accurate measurements to know if it’s safe to fly the drone or not.

Handheld Anemometer, Digital Wind Speed CFM Meter
$35.99 $30.99

BTMETER BT-100 Handheld Anemometer, Digital Wind Speed CFM Meter Gauge Air Flow Velocity Tester for HVAC Shooting Drone, Wind Chill, 14℉-113℉ Wind Temperature

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03/06/2024 07:46 pm GMT

Wind resistance levels in drones

If you’re looking to buy a specific drone and you’re wondering if it’ll fly well in windy conditions, here is an extended list with many drones’ wind resistance levels as specified by their manufacturers.

DroneWind Resistance LevelWind Speed in m/s
DJI Mini 2Level 58.5 – 10.5 m/s
DJI Mini 2 SELevel 510.7 m/s
DJI Mini 3Level 510.7 m/s
DJI Mini 3 ProLevel 510.7 m/s
DJI Mini 4 ProLevel 510.7 m/s
DJI Air 2SLevel 510.7 m/s
DJI Air 3Level 612 m/s
DJI Mavic 2Level 4 to 58.05 – 10.55 m/s
DJI Mavic 3 (line)Level 612 m/s
DJI AvataLevel 510.7 m/s
DJI FPVLevel 611.18 – 13.86 m/s
DJI Inspire 2Level 510 m/s
DJI Inspire 3Level 614 m/s (in flight)
Autel EVO Nano+Level 58.5 – 10.5 m/s
Autel EVO Lite+Level 714 – 16.5m/s
Autel EVO 2 Pro (V3)Level 6 (takeoff/land)
Level 8 in flight
12 m/s
No additional data

» MORE: Flight Time of All DJI Drones (Explained)