Consumer drones for the most part are some type of investment as they typically don't come cheap. High-end drones can cost thousands of dollars but even decent-quality drones will run you several hundred dollars. This is why it is extremely vital to maintain your drone or any remote-control aircraft to its best shape possible at all times. Unless you have hundreds of dollars to throw around whenever you run into a sight issue with your drone but let's assume this is not the norm for most people.
How to Maintain Your Drone
The better you take care of your drone, the longer you can extend the life of the drone. Just like a physical every year to make sure we are healthy, we should be doing the same with our drones only a lot more frequently. Everyone is bound to run into small issues here and there but without caring for your drone, you may run into larger problems or have to replace your drone sooner than you should. The well known drone manufacturer DJI launched an aircraft maintenance program in 2020. On their website, you can find the recommended drone maintenance cycle based on the service level you need.
Drone maintenance is especially important for those who have entire drone fleets and need multiple drones at one time. There are many different things you can do and inspect that can help you maintain your drone and dodge accidents. Take a look below at our drone safety checklist on a flight-by-flight basis.
This one might seem like a no-brainer to most people which is great however, doing a visual inspection of your drone for any signs of damage before take-off can help reduce issues right on the spot. Pick up and hold your drone and do a thorough inspection of the outer parts of your drone. If you spot any damage, now would not be a good time to fly your drone.
Another part to make sure you spend some time looking over is the propellers. Check each one and make sure they are rotating properly and not bent or cracked. Usually, drones come with a few replacement propellers in the event they get damaged during the flight. There are tons of videos online explaining how to replace them yourself too which is a great money saver.
If your drone has a camera onboard, be sure to check that as well. Most commonly, drone cameras are attached using a gimbal for image stabilization. Make sure you check that the gimbal is functioning properly and even use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the lens so you can take the best actual images and footage your drone can offer.
Another step in the inspection process of your drone you need to check on a regular basis is the battery. If you notice that the battery isn't holding up well during a flight, then you'll want to land your drone and change it out before something bad happens. You also want to make sure that you have enough power left in the battery so that you aren't running low when flying. Be sure to check the battery pack for any dirt or damage that may impact the charge of the batteries.
If you haven't read your drone's manual, you should read it. Something that is recommended is to always fly on a fully charged battery. Flying on a partially charged battery especially if it hasn't been used in a while can impact the performance of your drone.
Important tips about your drone battery health:
- Keep it away from all liquids to avoid irreparable damage
- Don't take out the battery when the drone is on
- Disconnect the battery after it is fully charged
One last important point for safe operation of your batteries is temperature. Be sure you are using and storing your batteries at appropriate temperatures. To avoid damage and because they may be too hot, don't charge the batteries right after flying. If you are flying in very cold temperatures, it may be a good idea to get a battery warmer to properly heat up your batteries before take-off.
How you transport your drone can have an impact on the longevity of your drone. If you have extra batteries or a battery charging pack that travels in your kit, be sure to have a secure place for them so they aren't loose while traveling. It's also important to ensure your batteries are being transported near other metal objects.
Another tip when transporting your drone and kit is to make sure the gimbal has the cover locked in place. There would be nothing worse than getting to your destination only to find out your camera lens was damaged or the gimbal was broken due to rough transport.
The last few tips to assist in minimizing the damage on your drones are about propellers and the compass. If you are transporting your drone fairly long distances, it might be a good idea to remove the propellers for the journey. Upon arrival, it is also suggested to recalibrate your drone at the new flying location.
When you are not flying your drone, proper storage can go a long way in preventing any issues the next time you fly. Things to remember when storing your drone are to keep it in a nice dry place. The storage location should also be cool and not hot as well as not near any magnets or magnetized items. Being stored near magnets can interfere with the GPS and compass of your drone. Discharging the batteries before storage is also a recommended tip.
Post Flight Checklist
After your flight, it is recommended to do a quick inspection of your drone. This is beneficial because catching and repairing any minor issues right after a flight can help get you in the air again in a timely manner. Steps to take when doing your post-flight check:
- Turn off the controller
- Turn off the drone
- Take out the drone battery
- Visually check the exterior of the drone
- Wipe down with a microfiber cloth to prepare for the next flight
Are Drones Easy to Fix?
Drones can be easy and difficult to fix depending on the severity of the issue. With any luck, you won't have permanent damage to your drone and it can be repaired. The ease of the repair will likely depend on the brand and what is broken. Some repairs can be done at home by you and some helpful videos. Check your drone brand's website as they might have tutorials on how to repair smaller issues.
If you have a DJI drone, their maintenance program offers basic drone repair which is recommended after 6 months of flying. Basic repair typically gives your drone an external cleaning, a firmware upgrade, and an inspection of the hardware. It will also come with a report of the service that was performed. Many other drone brands will offer various resources in their drone manuals and on their websites.
How Much Does it Cost to Repair a Drone?
How much it costs to repair your drone will likely depend on the damage that was done and the brand of drone you have. I can say with certainty that damage to the camera and gimbal will likely cost a pretty penny to repair. If you have a higher quality drone, I would expect the parts and repairs to be higher in cost than other brands. Typically repair services are charged by the hour.
On average, you can expect to pay anywhere between $100-300 to repair your drone. Most of the parts for drones are fairly inexpensive but the maintenance technicians most likely charge by the hour. Now, depending on the model of drone you have, you should weigh the cost-benefit of repairing your drone and replacing it. If you are considering replacing your drone, I would also take into consideration the age of your drone. If there is a newer model available, it may be worth the extra money to get a newer drone with upgraded technology.
Where Can I Fix My Broken Drone?
If you need to repair your drone, you have many options when it comes to finding a place to do so. First, you have the option of looking at your drone brand's website. Many brands will offer information about repairs and even where to get them fixed by a repair technician. There are also service centers that can fix drones but aren't specific to the brand that they service. There are also mail-in repair shops that will let you create a service ticket online, send you a free shipping label, send you an estimate, and upon your approval, will repair your drone and send it straight to your door.
The above information is very valuable in maintaining your drone. You can most certainly use it as a pre-flight checklist for your drone. This inspection process will help save you money and issues as well as extend the life of your drone. If your drone does need repairing, finding a seasoned technician will be worth your time and money. By disciplined maintenance of your drone, you should be able to avoid major issues, save money, and extend the life of your drone.
If you are in need of finding a new drone, we have just the articles for you to check out. The Best Drones Under $500, Best Camera Drones, and Best Drones for Beginners are some of our most popular articles to our readers. You can rest easy because we have done the research and work for you to allow you to purchase the best drone for you.