Drones have become an indispensable technology when it comes to filming, land surveying, deliveries, and other industries. With the latest updates and features implemented each year, drones are becoming more and more in-demand for both hobbyists and pros. But to get the best bang out of your every buck, your device should be able to stay aloft for as long a period as possible.
A drone’s flight time is a significant factor to consider when buying a new drone. It affects all aspects of your drone’s performance, including route planning, mission types, and additional factors. If you’re working in a large area, getting a drone with an extended flight time is a must. Let’s learn more about the top five commercial and consumer drones with the longest flight time.
Factors that affect drone flight time
A number of different factors can affect the flight time of your drone, including the handler’s own experience and the drone’s physical capabilities. If you’re a new shopper or someone who wants to upgrade, you might want to consider the following factors when you’re making a new purchase.
Battery capacity and discharge rate
Just like other battery-powered devices, any drone with a larger battery capacity can be expected to have a longer in-flight time. With higher battery capacity, the user doesn’t have to land the drone and recharge before taking another flight. But keep in mind that feature-rich drones tend to have a faster discharge rate as well.
Drone size and weight
As much as you might think so, bigger batteries might not be ideal due to their additional weight. Heavier drones require more power to take flight. The rule of thumb is you have to balance your battery usage and device weight to get the longest flight time possible. Most drone users are drawn to LiPo technology due to its lightweight characteristics.
When it comes to aerial coverage, a more powerful motor will typically give you an advantage. You can cover more territory in a shorter period. But if you’re looking for a longer flight time, it might serve you well to get a less powerful motor type. Although you will be sacrificing speed and area coverage, a less-powerful motor will extend your flight time.
And last but not least, expect that flight time will be affected by other external factors such as the weather. Clear weather will make the flight a bit smoother and longer. However, batteries tend to not function well during cold weather. In addition, an experienced flier will likely get more out of the battery juice with experience and skilled techniques compared to a novice flier.
Top 5 drones with the longest flight times
Your average off-the-shelf drone can only last in-flight for around 10 minutes. The best consumer products with the longest flights can get up to around 30 minutes of flight time and are usually equipped with decent cameras and anti-collision features. Here are five consumer drones with the best flight time that you can get on the market right now.
1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro (31 minutes)
DJI is known as one of the best manufacturers of consumer-grade drones. One of its cream of the crop products is the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, which some drone fliers consider to be on par with entry-level commercial products. As of now, the Mavic 2 Pro can last in the air for up to 31 minutes at max.
With a 20 MP camera that can record 4K, the Mavic 2 Pro is great for filmmaking and aerial photography. Its omnidirectional sensors also make it great for construction projects. What makes this product popular for creators is its compact and foldable form and its maximum of 72 kph speed in sport mode.
2. Potensic Dreamer 4K (30 minutes)
For hobbyists who are just starting their drone journey, the Potensic Dreamer 4K might be an interesting option. It has a great build similar to DJI’s Phantom drones, which makes it look and feel a bit more premium. It also has a 4K camera that allows 4K image capturing, but not video recording.
What Potensic Dreamer 4K lacks in the recording department, it compensates for with great battery life and easy navigation features. Its responsive controls and decent battery life give it 30 minutes’ worth of flight time. Even beginners can enjoy a decent amount of flight time, enough to accustom themselves to the mechanics of drone flying.
3. DJI Mini 2 (31 minutes)
A pricier beginner alternative for Potensic Dreamer 4K is the DJI Mini 2. This device allows video recording in 4K while featuring a simple control system and a compact build. So if you want to be able to capture and record video and imagery in 4K, the Mini 2 is a better but more expensive option.
One of its beginner-friendly features is the QuickShot mode, which helps beginners get a compelling shot by using AI optimizations. Its stabilization features can resist up to 28 kph wind, even at an altitude of 4,000 meters.
Filmmakers love the OcuSync 2.0 video transmission, with support for HD video transmission at a range of up to 10km. And its 31-minute flight time gives you more time to get the best shot and perfect angles.
4. DJI Mavic Air 2 (34 minutes)
For most people, the Mavic 2 Pro is enough to keep them invested in this hobby, while not lacking on main features and breaking the bank. But if you need more battery life without sacrificing quality and features, the DJI Mavic Air 2 is a better option. It has an advertised maximum flight time of 34 minutes.
Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic Air 2 are quite similar in performance. But because of efficiency upgrades and better battery, the Air 2 can outlive the Mavic 2 Pro in the air. The Air 2 is also a decent cheaper alternative to the Mavic 2 Pro for users with a tight budget. Its 42.5mph top-speed is also decent as well, especially for its price.
5. DJI Air 2S (31 minutes)
The DJI Air 2S is considered a decent product with balanced features and flight time. Whether you’re into filmmaking, surveying, construction, or other industry, you can get a lot of value with this product. It takes all the best features of the Mavic Air 2 and the Mavic Pro to give the best sensors, best features, and best flight time money can buy in the consumer drone category.
With its stellar camera capability, you can shoot 5.4K video at 30 fps. There is also a zoom function that can give up to 2x zoom to get more flexibility in shots. Users can also enjoy exceptional capture angles without a lot of effort by using the MasterShots feature. With a 31-minute flight time, it holds up well in comparison with other top consumer drone products.
Enterprise drones with longer flight times
Most consumer drones are machine enough for hobbyist projects. Bringing extra batteries is the standard go-to remedy for bigger projects. However, this approach is not optimal for a lot of situations. If the project needs a longer, uninterrupted flight time, the best option to consider is getting an enterprise drone that can get you some seriously long lasting flight time.
1. DJI Matrice 300 RTK (55 minutes)
DJI is known for its feature-rich consumer drones, such as the Mavic and Air product lines. However, they also offer a good selection of high-quality industry-grade drones, such as the DJI Matrice 300 RTK. This drone is advertised to have a maximum flight time of 55 minutes.
With Matrice 300 RTK’s flight time, it is perfectly designed to function as a public safety, inspection, and construction drone. This device is also loaded with advanced anti-collision beacons and various sensors. For users who need a bit more utility out of their drones, the Matrice 300 RTK is a good starting point to try industry-grade products.
2. senseFly eBee Classic (50 minutes)
Another drone device with almost an hour of flight time is the Sensefly Ebee Classic. This drone is known for its mapping and surveying capability. Equipped with a 20 MP camera, this product is ideal for capturing images to produce 3D maps and can fair well even in strong winds (up to 56 mph or 90 kph).
As a surveillance device, the eBee Classic has tons of other features included in its kit. For instance, it has various cameras that serve various purposes (e.g. for mapping, for getting stills, etc.) Additionally, this drone has a thermal infrared camera for tasks such as assessing a mine’s water distribution.
3. senseFly eBeeX (90 minutes)
The eBeeX is an update for the classic senseFly eBee, which is already sporting an impressive 50-minute flight time. With a more efficient aerodynamics property, the eBeeX can cover up to 1,200 acres of area in just one flight. Additionally, it also packs a high-resolution camera perfect for efficient 3D map modeling.
As of now, the maximum flight time for the eBeeX is at 90 minutes, with a maximum flight speed of 68 mph or 109 kph. It also has everything that you would ever need if you’re working on an aerial surveying project. In fact, even users with no flight experience in drones can use this product effectively by utilizing the planned flight parameters.
4. Autel Evo II Series (40 minutes)
Although the Autel Evo II doesn’t have as much flight time compare to senseFly’s drones, the 48MP camera compensates for its shorter flight time. It is one of the best options for people who need a packed camera for filmmaking. The 12 omnidirectional collision sensor makes this drone a good fit for construction surveillance as well.
With a 40-minute flight time, this industrial-grade drone is quite a bit better than top consumer-grade products. Depending on your budget, you can get three buying options: 8K, 6K Pro, or the Evo II Dual (which both have 8K and Thermal cameras). It has interchangeable gimbals and thermal sensor options, giving the user more flexibility based on the project.
5. Skydio X2 (35 minutes)
Automated drone flights such as the eBeeX can give you have more efficient fuel management facilities, which is one of the reasons why they have a longer drone flight time. However, it is worthwhile to note that surveying drones usually travel in areas without obstacles. If you factor in obstacle detection, even the best drones would need a bit more battery juice to stay afloat to run their advanced sensors.
Fortunately, Skydio X2 has both the long-flight time and outstanding advanced collision sensors all in one package. Although it can only run for 35 minutes, it can fly unmanned without any major problems. This is the reason why many professionals use Skydio products for search and rescue and public safety inspections.
Other types of drones
All of the products mentioned above are using battery packs to operate. And so far, the average flight time of battery-operated drones is at half an hour. If you want a longer flight time, here are some of the options available in the market right now.
A hybrid drone is a product that utilizes diesel to keep the battery charge for an extended time. As of now, one of the best hybrid drones is the Hybrix 2.0, sporting an impressive 4 hours and 40 minutes of maximum flight time.
If you want to ditch the battery part, you can also go full-diesel power. The Vanilla Aircraft VA001 uses diesel to successfully achieve a flight time of five days, one hour, and 24 minutes. This model is more of a miniature plane instead of a traditional drone.
A solar-powered drone has the potential of staying in the air for as long as it can due to its fuel coming directly from the sun’s energy. One such product is the Zephyr S, with a whopping flight time of 25 days, 23 hours, and 57 minutes.
While most drones are designed to cover a wide area, plugged drones (also called tethered drones) are designed to stay within a limited space. These drones draw power directly from an electric power outlet, allowing them to stay afloat 24/7 indefinitely. Most types of plugged drones are utilized as anti-drone products. These drones will shoot nets on passing drones if you wish to preserve your privacy.
The drone industry has seen tons of recent innovative changes in recent years. Industrial drones are getting better in a lot of aspects, including flight time and camera quality. And luckily, there is a consistent improvement when it comes to power sources. Hopefully, drone manufacturers would be able to offer consumer-type products with above 1-hour flight in the future.