Drones are surprisingly fast, and one of the more recent drones to come out of DJI is the Mavic Air 2, which has a maximum speed of 42.5 mph. This is quite fast, and it means they can easily keep up with cars and other fast-moving objects. Sometimes, however, you may want to fly your drone faster than you have before, or even faster than the listed top speed of your drone. So how can you go about making your drone faster?
You can make your drone faster by using sport mode, reducing the weight of your drone, upgrading to a new or more powerful battery, changing your drone’s propeller size, and flying with a tailwind.
In this article, we will discuss some tips on how you can increase the top speed of your drone, for faster flights than you might have thought you could achieve with your drone. So sit back, relax, and read on to get the inside scoop.
How fast can I expect my drone fly?
I completely relate to your need to fly your drone at top speeds and the related desire to increase your drone’s speed. Every drone on the market has an advertised top speed, and getting them to surpass this speed is quite hard since they are designed with that top speed pretty much set. Some drones even have speed limiters built in to the drones, due to the motor size and power output, and to make sure the drones don’t tilt out of balance by going too fast.
Based on my own experience, the average toy-class machine can fly at speeds of about 12 mph, which isn’t very fast at all. The majority of drones you’ll find under $1000 can clock speeds of about 30 mph (just like the Mavic Pro). If you move up the scale, you’ll find drones like the DJI Inspire 2, which clocks speeds of about 60 mph.
Even if you have the need for speed, your device will only clock about 50-70 mph if you follow these simple steps. True, some racing quads can break the 100 mph mark, so don’t rule out your drone just yet.
Tips to improve your drone’s top speed
At times, there isn’t really an option other than to upgrade your drone and get a more powerful one with higher speeds. But before you part with more money, you can try the simple tips we will discuss in this section to make your machine faster.
1. Reduce the weight of your drone
It should go without saying that one of the easiest ways to increase your drone’s top speed is to reduce its weight. Out of the box, your drone comes with loads of components. The truth is that some of these components may be unnecessary in some circumstances, and as such, getting rid of them can reduce the weight of your drone. This is one way to effectively increase the top speed of your drone, making it fly faster.
Firstly, if you are an experienced pilot, you can get rid of the prop guards. Prop guards serve the role of protecting your drone (and your fingers!) during a flight, but they also increase the weight, sometimes unnecessarily. Obviously, getting rid of them poses some risks to your drone, so you should only take them off if you are absolutely comfortable flying without them attached.
You can also remove the camera if your flight doesn’t require it. A camera adds a significant amount of weight when you don’t plan on taking any photos or videos with your drone.
Some more expensive drones have removable cameras. So if you absolutely have to use a camera while flying, you’ll be glad to know that you can swap out the camera that comes with your drone for a lighter version. The only downside is that the lighter version will certainly not be equal in quality. But if you are willing to sacrifice quality photos and videos for top speeds, get a lighter camera for your drone.
Also, if your drone has any attached accessories, for example, a GPS tracker, these accessories can increase the overall weight of your machine and reduce your drone’s top speed.
Some pilots also like to add details such as vinyl stickers to their drones which add additional weight to their drones, even if just a small amount. If you’d like to increase the top speed of your drone, you should get rid of such accessories.
2. Upgrade to a healthier battery
Your drone’s top speed is limited by the amount of charge it can get from its battery. Without a healthy battery, there’s a huge chance that your drone will have reduced speeds. So making sure that the battery is healthy will make sure your drone can achieve it’s best speeds.
You have the option of either investing some cash in getting a healthier battery (or even an upgraded, more powerful one) for your drone if you feel the current one isn’t giving you top performance. Better yet, you can keep your current battery healthy if it’s still in good working condition, to give you the best speeds possible for a longer time.
To keep your battery healthy, follow these tips:
- Charge your battery only when you are going to fly – Only charge your battery when you’re about to fly. This is because if you charge beforehand, the batteries will automatically discharge over time. Charging too often, or letting the battery self-discharge can negatively impact your battery’s health and lifespan.
- Store the battery at room temperature – Drone batteries have lithium-polymer internal components that are quite sensitive to temperature fluctuations. You should therefore make sure the batteries are stored at room temperature.
- Don’t charge the battery if it’s hot or cold – If the battery itself is particularly hot or cold, then you shouldn’t charge it up. For example, after completing a flight, the drone battery will be relatively warm, and you should therefore wait for it to cool down before charging.
- Never let the battery reach 0% – Batteries are made up of cells, each of which is rated at 3.7V, and if you let the voltage drop below this, you will damage the battery. So never let the battery discharge to 0%.
- Store your battery at 50% – If storing the drone battery for long periods of time, like a month or so, never leave it fully charged. A fully charged battery is more unstable than one that is stored at 50%. So if you are storing the drone battery for long, it’s best to keep it at 50%.
Keeping up with these simple tips will ensure the health of your battery is top-notch. This will also ensure that your drone can attain the highest speeds possible.
At times, the battery that you buy with your drone isn’t just the best one you can get. If yours doesn’t make the cut, you can buy a new one (that is compatible with your drone) and has a higher mAh. You should make sure that the new battery has the same voltage as the other battery. Check your drone for the maximum battery mAh you can use, and don’t forget to keep the battery weight in mind. If the battery is heavier than the previous one, you could actually decrease speed.
It’s a good idea to charge your drone’s battery fully before flying. This will ensure it has a maximum charge that the propellers can utilize to enable the drone to fly faster.
3. Use Sports Mode
Using sports mode or other expert modes on your drone will remove any top speed limitations that may be on your drone. This will make your drone much more agile, and it will be able to accelerate faster in response to the controller. For example, my DJI Mavic Air has a sports mode switch on the front of the controller, which makes the drone very responsive so I can fly the drone faster.
You can try this out with your drone. Measure the top speed without sports mode and then turn the sports mode on and measure the top speed. You’ll find that the drone is faster with the drone in sports mode.
Often, flying in sports mode will drain the battery faster resulting in a shorter overall flight time, but this can definitely be worth it for the exhilarating speeds you can achieve, even if it’s for a shorter time.
Note that some manufacturers will call sports mode something different, and you may have to access it via a hardware switch or a software button in the app.
4. Change your drone’s propeller size
Most of the drones you’ll find come with mid-size propellers, which you can change out for new ones. A large propeller creates more lift meaning your drone will fly much slower, while a smaller propeller usually means you can fly faster. So to get the fastest speed on your drone, consider switching out the propellers for smaller-sized ones.
It’s important to do some research to see if other people have had success using smaller propellers because, in the end, every setup is unique. Ultimately, you may have to experiment beforehand to find what works best for you and gives you top speeds.
Check out our article on The Best Propellers for Every Purpose to get an idea of which propellers might work best for you.
5. Fly with a tailwind
As your drone is flying, it’s constantly trying to maintain its direction of flight. If your drone is flying against the wind (with a headwind), a lot of energy put out through the motors will be used to counteract the wind blowing in the opposite direction.
If you want to fly faster, and also get a longer flight time by the way, you should fly with a tailwind (with the wind blowing in the same direction as the drone’s movement). This will give your drone that little extra boost that will allow it to surpass the fastest speeds. Just remember that you will have to fly the drone against the wind to get back to the starting point.
All in all, making your drone fly faster can involve several approaches, as we have discussed above. Follow these tips and see which ones work for you.