Carrington Research Extension Center


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Flying a Drone During Cold Weather


Just as a reminder, those who wish to fly a drone for business purposes are required to comply with the FAA small UAS rule (14 CFR part 107) and to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate. You can find more information about becoming a certified remote pilot here

For ranchers who own a drone, as the weather gets colder and colder, it sounds like a very good idea to fly your drone over the yard or pasture to check on the cattle. Drone makers in general have a recommended temperature range for operation. For example, the operating temperature range for both DJI Phantom 4 and DJI Mavic drone series is between 32oF and 104oF. So, if you are flying at temperatures below 32, you are flying at your own risk. Know that cold temperatures increase the risk of something going wrong with your drone and it is very unlikely that the drone maker will cover any damage resulting from flights carried out under unsuitable conditions.

One thing to keep in mind when flying under cold conditions is that your flight time will be shorter than normal due to the effects of low temperature on the lithium-polymer (LiPo) batteries. Cold weather temperatures slow down the chemical reactions in LiPo batteries, which lowers their capacity. Under those conditions, typical flight time (20-25 minutes) may be shortened to 10-15 minutes.

Low temperatures can cause sudden large drops in power levels, which can compromise your ability to bring the drone back “home”, and in extreme cases it can cause the drone to crash. Low temperatures can also impact the performance of the drone’s sensors, which can cause it to drift and to be less responsive to the pilot’s control inputs. This may be a big issue when flying closer to obstacles, such as buildings and trees, and can result in a crash due to poor control of the drone. In addition, adverse temperature condition might make very hard for one to keep steady control of a drone.

If you feel like flying your drone during the coming months, I would encourage you to take a look on some tips provided in this link and on this video The tips provided may improve your chances of having a successful flight under cold conditions.

As always, please keep safety as a top priority when flying. Drone crashes happen all the time. Flying at low temperature weather will increase the odds of one of those happening to you. Remember that flying a drone below drone maker recommended temperatures means that you are flying at your own risk, and it is unlikely that the company will cover any damage resulting from such flight. Be safe out there!!!

Photos captured around the Carrington REC headquarters. DJI Phantom 4 Pro. Date 11/12/2017.


Paulo Flores
Precision Ag Specialist

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