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Drones have rapidly increased in popularity since they were first released and that is unlikely to subside anytime soon. This is especially true since there are so many more companies manufacturing them now so while they used to cost thousands now an excellent quality drone can be purchased for a few hundred.
With this increase in popularity there are more and more people trying to learn about drones and one common question that people ask is what is the furthest that a drone can go.
Unfortunately the answer is… it depends.
How far a drone can go depends on what type of drone it is, recreational, commercial, or military drones. Recreational drones can typically go three quarters of a mile away from the controller, commercial drones can typically go a few miles from the controller (with some larger ones able to go hundreds of miles), and military drones can go thousands of miles.
Obviously that is a large range but when talking about drones there are a wide variety of UAVs on the market for a wide variety of purposes. Recreational drones will obviously have a much shorter range than a military drone as a recreation drone is a few hundred dollars and a military drone is a few hundred MILLION dollars!
I’m going to assume that you don’t have a few hundred million dollars lying around so you likely aren’t going to be buying those but is there anything that you can do to get a longer range out of a more reasonably priced item recreational drone?
How to increase the range of your drone
If you have a recreational drone your range will likely be half of a mile up to three fourths of a mile depending on the model, what obstacles there are etc. but thankfully there is a way to increase that range which will allow you to fly it quite a bit further away from the controller.
The easiest way to increase the range of a drone is by purchasing drone range extenders or simply making your own from aluminum foil. Many people have reported getting 30-50% longer range with both the range extenders as well as the aluminum foil method.
There are a variety of different range extenders on the market (found here) but all of them work based on a similar principle. That is that the extenders help focus the signal to the drone and from the drone to the controller.
It obviously makes sense that having something that focuses the signal extends the range but many people are surprised with how well it works and how reasonable the price is on the range extenders.
If you don’t necessarily care how the range extender works you can easily make your own using aluminum foil over the controllers antennas. These are obviously much more flimsy than the ones you would buy but they often work just as good as buying them and in some people’s opinion the aluminum foil actually works better!
You can watch the video below and see a test of these drone range extenders (found here) to decide for yourself if it’s worth adding to your drone.
What happens if you fly a drone out of range?
If you’ve ever flown your drone a long ways away from you and the controller you’ve likely experienced a warning that your drone was starting to lose signal. To most drone operators that is a sign that you should turn around but some people like to test the limits.
So what happens if you continue flying your drone until it has. completely lost the connection with your controller?
When a drone flew out of range that used to mean a crash was imminent and you could easily damage your drone or even hurt someone or something, however in recent years that has changed. Most drones made today come with a return to home feature so if the signal with the controller is lost they will immediately return to the spot where they took off from.
This feature is a must have for any drone my user but especially those who often fly in bad weather or around obstacles that could easily interrupt the signal. This return to home feature will save your drone over and over again in these circumstances so if you like taking your drone even close to the maximum range you will want to make sure you have this feature.
Drone features continue to advance and its likely in the future the range will be such that you will rarely ever fly the drone out of range but for now this feature is literally a drone saver!
How far can a DJI drone fly?
DJI is one of the most popular drone manufacturers around and will likely stay that way for a long time to come. They continuously come out with innovative features that propel the drone works forward and they are always on the cutting edge of any new technology that can help make drones easier, faster, or better.
Of course no drone is without limits and DJI is not an exception to that rule. You can only fly a DJI drone so far before it will lose signal as well, but how far is that?
How far a DJI drone can fly depends on the model, the batteries, the weather conditions, and whether you use range extenders. Most DJI models will get 1-2 miles away from the controller while using a range extender but without one it will typically be right around a mile.
However if you are keeping up with the drone and just want it to fly as far as possible while keeping up with it then you should be able to get approximately 10-15 miles before the drone’s batteries will die. This is of course dependent on whether there is a headwind or tailwind, how far away from the controller the drone gets, whether you are shooting footage or simply flying, and other variables.
DJI drones certainly have the longest range of any recreational drone and with constant advancements this is unlikely to change anytime soon.
A little bit of drone history
Drones actually originated way back to 1849 when Venice was attacked by Austria using unmanned balloons that were stuffed with explosives. Though, as the advent of technology, it is not exactly how we would describe a drone today. Long ago, around the 1920s, a drone was actually used for firing battleships’ guns and even used to target other aircraft. In those times, it was more commonly called an unmanned aerial vehicle but now it’s more often called a drone.
Drones are now mostly used for recreation however they can also be used for commercial purposes like spraying crops, moving packages, and some larger drones are even used for reconissence and bombings by militaries all over the world.
In recent years the usages of drones has continued to evolve with many larger companies testing out drones for deliveries right to your door and some even using giant drones to deliver cargo instead of a typical train or truck!
Drones are incredibly powerful and complex machines that can range in size from one that can fit in the palm of your hand to being the size of an airplane. Just like a drone can vary in size so too does the range of each drone.
Typically you can expect recreational drones to work approximately one mile away from the controller but some more expensive drones can easily get double of that while cheaper drones would be lucky to get half of a mile.
Ultimately all drones have a different range so the only way to know what your drone’s range is is to simply test it out!