Can Drones Fly in the Rain?

While drones are often marketed as “all-weather” machines, it’s not true for most of them. Yes, you read that right. If I talk about regular drones, like those for recreation, their flight takes a huge hit by adverse weather conditions, particularly rain. 

This is mainly because not “all” UAVs are made waterproof or provided with enough protection to defy pouring rain, leaving drone enthusiasts wondering: Can drones fly in the rain? 

Drones can fly in the rain, but with great risks—for example, short circuits in the electrical components, poor visibility, lower motor power, and, worst, high chances of crashing. Hence, it’s crucial to fly drones in the rain with the utmost care and at your own risk. 

Continue reading as I clear all your doubts regarding flying drones in the rain in detail and share with you some of my personal experiences as drone enthusiast.  

How to Tell if Your Drone Can Fly in the Rain?

Can Drones Fly in the Rain?

Let’s kickstart our discussion with understanding how to tell if your drone can fly in the rain. 

The simplest way to tell if your drone can fly in the rain or not is by looking at its IP Rating. An acronym for Ingress Protection Rating or International Protection Rating, it’s a coding system developed by the IEC to grade an electronic device’s resistance to foreign substances like dust or liquids. 

As an example, consider IP43. This is the minimum rating your drone needs to fly in the rain (although you must still exercise caution.) Here, the digit 4 means the drone is protected against water splashes from any direction, and the last numeral 3 signifies that it’s resistant to water sprays at an angle of up to 60°. 

There are other IP ratings, too. For instance, weather-resistant UAVs from DJI’s Matrice 30 series come with a rating of IP55, which means these UAVs can withstand low-pressure water jets from any direction. 

But how do I find my drone’s IP Rating? I’m pretty sure you may be wondering about this! So, here’s the answer. 

You can find your drone’s IP Rating from its user manual, the manufacturer’s website, the site from which you purchased it (like Amazon), or by dialing customer support.   

8 Best Waterproof Drones For Flying in the Rain

As I already said, not all drones are made waterproof. This is true for the leading manufacturer, DJI, too. That’s why here’s a summary of the eight best waterproof quadcopters suitable for flying in wet conditions without worries:

Reasons to Buy: IP67 rating, made out of industrial-grade ABS, waterproof 740kV motors, anti-corrosion coating on the electronics, power flip, 4K camera stabilized by a 3-axis gimbal, 5.8GHz digital image transmitter, and adjustable antennas 

Reasons to Buy: IP67 rating, up to 30 minutes flight time, high-capacity LiPo flight battery, operating range of up to 1.6 km, strong propulsion system, anti-corrosion coating on the electronics, power flip, several sensors to increase stability during flight, and marine-grade ABS body. 

Reasons to Buy: IP68 rating, SyncVoice technology, camera with a field of view up to 170°, multi-gesture intelligent recognition, battery life worth 3.5 hours, front and bottom binocular depth measurement, and 3-axis mechanical stability. 

Reasons to Buy: 3-in-1 hybrid stunt drone, rechargeable LiPo 3.7V 800 mAh battery, multi-axis gyroscope for stability and control, single-button stunts, and flies up to 130 feet away. 

Reasons to Buy: IP55 rating, perfect balance of power and portability, 41 minutes flight time, can withstand adverse weather and temperatures ranging from -20° C~50° C, dual-vision and ToF sensors, built-in ADS-B receiver, advanced redundancy systems, enhanced transmissions, and multiple cameras. 

Reasons to Buy: IP45 rating, massive 55 minutes of flight time, transmission up to 15 km away, refined airframe and propulsion system design, maximum payload capacity of 2.7 kg, live mission recording, automatic routine inspections with AI, and advanced dual control. 

Reasons to Buy: IP43 rating, laser rangefinder, 720° obstacle avoidance, multi-channel projection screen, 3D map planning, 12.4 miles transmission range, 42 minutes flight time, and 16x digital zoom thermal camera. 

Reasons to Buy: IP68 rating, 6X zoom underwater camera, massive 5-hour battery life, 4-wheel drive, can dive as far as 100 meters, 360° free rotation, auto depth calculation, and stable signal transmission. 

Risks of Flying a Drone in Rain

Rain and drone performance are directly linked to each other. Your decision to take out your flying beauty in the rain comes with the following risks:

Electrical Damage 

Your drone has various openings or areas from where water can potentially enter—for example, the battery compartment, ventilation holes, seams, joints, propeller attachment points, etc. 

Whatever the entry point is, this water can lead to short circuits in your drone’s electronic system, which can further escalate to quick system failure, permanent damage, or even a crash. 

Poor Visibility 

Poor visibility is another major problem associated with flying drones in the sky. You can’t see the obstacles in your way or maintain a clear line of sight. And the result? Collisions! 

Poor Images/Videography

Raindrops falling on the lens of the camera attached to the drone distorts the image quality and video footage, ruining your efforts.  

Impact on Stability 

Drones aren’t that heavy to continue their stable flight even under a downpour. If I talk about small or mini drones, their weight (including the maximum payload) falls in the 200g to 1000g range. So, you can just imagine what impact the rain can have on your drone’s stability. 

Reduced Flight Time

Rain puts extra weight on your drone, causing it to consume more power from the small battery and, thus, reducing its flight time. 

Signs Your Drone Has Been Damaged by Rain

Look out for the following signs on your drone to confirm whether the rain has damaged it: 

Unusual Odor

Is an unusual odor, like that of a burning wire, coming from your drone? If so, there’s a high chance that the rain has short-circuited your drone’s electrical components, damaging it. As the next step, turn OFF your drone immediately and seek professional help. 

Strange Sounds

Strange sounds, other than the standard high-pitched buzzing or humming, coming off your drone also indicate that the rain has damaged it from the inside. 

Unresponsive Controls

I’ve personally experienced this! In my case, the drone was unable to establish a stable connection with the RC, and even if it did, it wasn’t responding to my inputs as expected.  

Erratic Flight Behavior 

An erratic flight behavior also means water-induced damage to your drone. Confirming this are uncontrolled drifting, sudden drops, and difficulty in maintaining a stable hover. 

Rusting or Corrosion

Modern drones aren’t entirely made of plastic, with metal being the second-most widely used element. That’s why any visible rusting or corrosion to these metal parts, motor shafts, or other components is a clear indicator of moisture damage. 

Tips for Safe Drone Flights in the Rain

Ensure safe drone flights in rain through these simple wet weather drone tips:  

Waterproof Your Drone

I highly recommend you guys waterproof your drone before flying it in the rain, and this is very easy. You simply need to install a compatible skin or cover to your drone’s outer body and coat the circuit boards, connectors, and electronic components with the conformal coating. That’s it. 

Mind the Weather

Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before flying. It’s always the best decision to avoid days when a heavy downpour has a high probability. This is because, on such days, even the best waterproof drone may struggle to operate. 

Irrespective of the rainy day drone precautions you adopt, hostile weather conditions and moisture will definitely damage your drone to some extent. 

Thoroughly Dry Your Drone After Flying

After landing your drone on a suitable surface, make sure to dry it thoroughly before anything else! Take a piece of paper or cloth to wipe off the excess water, and remove the moisture from inside using any regular hair dryer. 

Pro Tip: If you’ve got a mini drone, you can even leave it in a container of raw rice overnight for better moisture absorption. 

Protect the Battery

Battery is a critical component of your drone, and thus, you should protect it, too! For this, cover it using a silicone or rubber cover. 

Don’t Fly Too High and Fast

This goes without saying, but still, avoid flying your drone too high and fast. This will minimize the impact of heavy rain and strong winds that accompany it on your drone. 

If you want to learn more about what happens when you fly your drone above 400 feet and regulations associated with it then make sure to read our full guide here.

Maintain Line Of Sight (LOS)

Lastly, poor visibility is very common in wet weather conditions. As a result, controlling your drone becomes a tough challenge. To overcome this, it’s always recommended to keep the drone within your line of sight (LOS). 

Maintenance and Care of Drones in Wet Weather Conditions

Below are some of my tried and tested maintenance and after-flight care tips for drones in wet weather conditions: 

Quickly Land Your Drone Post Flying

When you’re done flying your drone in the rain, quickly land it on a dry surface, such as any landing pad. This is essential to minimize its exposure to excess moisture, which can seep into its electric components if not taken care of.  

Turn OFF Your Drone

As the next step, immediately turn OFF your drone. Doing so will prevent short circuits and other electrical problems.

Once shut, safely take out its batteries and wipe them off using a tissue or soft cloth. Don’t insert these batteries yet! Keep them aside. 

Get Water Out, If Any

If you doubt that rainwater has already made its way into your drone, gently shake it for a few seconds to get this water out. When no more water is left, dry your drone inside out. For this, you can either use a dry cloth or your regular hair dryer. But a container of raw rice will also work here. 

Tip: Whatever you choose, make sure your drone is completely dried before powering it ON.  

Inspect the Drone

Inspect your drone now. 

First, examine its outside for any visible damage, like rusting. If there’s any, you would need to repair it before proceeding. In case everything is alright with your drone, insert the batteries after wiping them off for the second time, and finally, turn ON your drone. 

Get close to your UAV and observe any unusual sounds or behavior. In some cases, I’ve found the drone going off after a quick start. If that’s the scene with you, contact your drone’s customer support team for further assistance. 

Store in a Dry Place/Case

Hoping that your drone is perfectly fine and in a working state, store it in a dry place, preferably a hard carrying case. This will keep it in an optimal condition for the next flight. 

5 Must-Have Wet Weather Drone Accessories

Invest in these five wet weather accessories for your drone for a safe flight: 

All-Season Hard Carrying Case

An all-season hard carrying case is undoubtedly the best accessory you can get for your drone. For example, I use the GAGITERVR Hard Carrying Case for my DJI Air 2S, although Mavic Air 2 owners can also check this out! 

Made from high-strength ABS material, the case is not just waterproof but also dustproof and shockproof. This gives you a sigh of relief while flying your drone in wet weather conditions or while traveling to difficult locations. 

Remote Controller Cover

Not just your drone but its remote controller also needs protection from the rain. Otherwise, it’ll just take a few raindrops to make it malfunction. That’s why a waterproof cover like the STARTRC RC 2 Silicone Protective Cover Case is a must. 

This cover comes under $20 but is solid enough to safeguard the RC from water, dust, and even shocks. Coming to compatibility, DJI Mini 4 Pro and Air 3 owners can consider this product. 

Propeller Guards

Many drone users often consider propeller guards optional, but you shouldn’t. 

Let me tell you why. 

These guards provide safety to your drone’s propellers from raindrops, direct contact with which significantly impacts their performance.

Moreover, have you ever noticed debris like wet leaves and small twigs stuck to the propellers after flying in the rain? Propeller guards help keep these items away from your drone, ensuring a smooth and safe flight. 

If you own DJI’s FPV drone, the HeiyRC Propeller Guard is an ideal choice for you.  

Floatation Device

If you like flying your drone over puddles, I recommend adding a flotation device to it. This will prevent your UAV from sinking if it crashes.   

Water-Resistant Landing Pad

Landing your drone safely on a dry surface after a wet flight is also important. For this, a water-resistant landing pad is a good choice. I often use the Skyreat Drone Landing Pad, and it’s pretty awesome. 

Conclusion 

To conclude, I hope it’s now clear to you that not all drones can fly in the rain. And even if they do, you must be aware of the limitations when it comes to flying in a downpour. For example, potential damage to your UAV’s electric components, reduced visibility, stability issues, etc.

If you still decide to take out your drone in the rain, make sure to follow the above safety and after-flight tips for drone maintenance in rainy weather. Doing so will surely prolong your quadcopter’s lifespan. If your budget allows, investing in some wet-weather accessories for your UAV will go a long way. 

In case of any other questions regarding flying drones in the rain, feel free to reach out to me. I’ll be glad to help you out. Until then, happy flying! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Are Drones Waterproof?

A: There isn’t any direct answer to this question, to be frank. This is because most drones are non-waterproof. Even a small amount of water is enough to keep them from flying. 

On the other hand, I’ve also come across some rainproof drones, like the SwellPro SplashDrone 4, which has an amazing IP67 rating. 

Q: Is Mavic 3 Rain Proof?

A: I once flew DJI’s Mavic 3 in the rain, and I can say that this drone isn’t completely rainproof! However, it does have some protection from moisture, though. 

Q: Can Military Drones Fly in Rain?

A: Yes, military drones can easily fly in the rain. They are designed from waterproof materials, with sufficient protection available to the electrical components from rainwater. 

Q: Can Police Drones Fly in the Rain? 

A: Most police drones are just like your regular drones, with their high-tech camera(s) being the difference. Thus, not all of them can fly in the air. One waterproof model is the Anduril Ghost 4, an intelligent VTOL sUAS.

Author
Diptesh Das

Diptesh Das is your friendly ‘content maniac’ and drone enthusiastic! Being passionate about content writing. He is a firm believer of the power of words and thereby ended up leveraging them to create an impact by sharing his drone knowledge and experiences.

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