Winter weather has finally arrived in the Ozarks of Arkansas. With temperatures falling below freezing and small amounts of snowfall popping up, we often get asked “what affects this can have on aerial drone flights?” (If any?) Well the short answer is that “yes, winter weather does affect drone flights.” The Why and How are the more important questions however.
The first effect winter weather has on drones has to do with the LiPo batteries that are often used to power them. LiPo batteries have an operating temperature range from 14° to 104° F. Anything above or below those temperatures can begin to impact the battery cells in the LiPo battery, which can drastically reduce flight time and add in unwanted flight dangers. With regards to colder temperatures, there is a very easy safety precaution operations can follow in order to help prevent any issues. That safety precaution is preheating any batteries you are going to be using during colder temp flights. You can do this a few different ways, either with an individual batter heater or by having a small heating unit inside of your travel vehicle, which is what we do at Ozark Drones. This helps the cells in the battery to expand and insure they stay warm throughout the cold flight, avoiding any problems.
Other issues that come with winter weather is less dense air due to the fact that it so cold. This causes the drone to handle a little differently than it would on a normal 70° sunny day. However, we have discovered that in some cases you can actually get more precise control, because even though the air is colder, it can often be more stable than it would be in the summer months and there is often lower humidity. You also want to be cautious with fog during the winter months because not only can it limit your visibility during the flight, but moisture from fog can begin to accumulate on the drone and freeze to the props. It is always best to avoid fog and any moisture during flights.