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Best Drone Anti-collision Lights (FAA compatible strobes)

And why you need a strobe light in the first place
best-drone-anti-collision-lights-strobe-lights-and-navigational-lights-difference

One of the most overlooked accessories for drones is drone lights, which are more than a way for you to see the drone in the air but are required by the FAA in certain instances. These types of flashing lights are called strobe lights, but what are they?

Strobe lights are external devices you can attach to any drone that make it much easier to see from afar, and they are obligatory according to the FAA if you want to fly your drone commercially.

I went into much more detail about if you can fly a drone at night and what lights you need to fly a drone at night in other articles. There I cover what you need to know both as a recreational flier as well as a commercial pilot.

Are drones required to have lights?

If you plan to fly at night, you might be wondering if the lights on your drone are all necessary or just for good measure.

As a recreational pilot, you are required to have navigational lights on your drone, which are usually red and green. If you fly commercially, you need to have an additional anti-collision light installed.

Top 3 Best Drone strobe lights

If you're in a hurry and don't have time to read the entire article, here are my best picks for strobe lights, depending on what you're looking for.

Best Overall Strobe Light for drones

firehouse-arc-v-best-strobelight-for-drones-thumb

Firehouse Arc V

  • Brightest Strobe
  • 4+ mile range
  • 5 LEDs
  • IP 64 waterproof
  • 6h battery
  • 12 grams
Check The Price

Best Ligthweight Strobe Light

topsun-CREE-Strobe-light-for-drones-thumb

Topsun CREE

  • 6 grams
  • 3 miles range
  • 3 hour battery
  • No enclosure
  • 5 LEDs
Check The Price

Great All around Strobe Light

lume-cube-stroobelight-thumb

Lume Cube

  • 11 grams
  • 3 mile visibility
  • 6 hours battery
  • 3 flash modes
Check The Price

Difference between anti-collision and navigational drone lights

You may be wondering what's the difference between anti-collision and navigational drone lights and which ones you currently have on your drone.

Navigational lights - Do all drones have green and red lights?

Unless you build your drone from scratch, most drones you can buy (including toy quadcopters) come with installed lights.

The default green and red lights come by default with all drones and are known as navigational lights. The FAA requires these to fly at night as a hobbyist.

They are typically red in front and green in the back and can be static (without blinking), and are used mainly for helping with the pilot orientation when having the drone in the line of sight.

What are Drone Anti-Collision Lights?

The next step up from the standard red and green lights that come with any drone are anti-collision lights. But what are they?

Drone Anti-collision lights are very bright strobe lights, usually white or red, mounted on a drone to prevent collisions with other aircraft during nighttime flights.

These are also known as strobe lights, as they flash at regular intervals, just like you see in normal planes.

According to the FAA, anti-collision strobe lights are mandatory to have on your drone as a commercial operator, and they need to have the following properties:

  1. They must be blinking lights (strobe lights, not fixed)
  2. Color must be White or Red
  3. They must be seen at a minimum of 3 statute miles ( much farther than navigation lights)

 

Are anti-collision lights necessary?

Anti-collision lights are recommended to be mounted on your drone even as a recreational user, as long as you fly after sunset, as they can avoid accidents and help manned aircraft pilots detect and avoid your drone in exceptional cases.

They also make it much easier to see your drone in the air if you fly it further compared to standard navigation lights that can barely be seen 200 feet away in some cases.

While navigational lights are used for maintaining a sense of orientation, you can have both types of lights installed on your drone to ensure maximum visibility.

What are the best anti-collision drone strobe lights?

best-drones-podium-arm

Let's see the best strobe lights for drones judging by the criteria we've mentioned above and a few more things.

What to look for in a drone strobe light?

1.Number of LEDs - If you want to match the 3-mile radius that the FAA requires in terms of brightness, a larger number of LEDs will help a lot.

2.CREE vs. Standard LED - The CREE LED is considerably brighter than standard LED's, as you can see in this video here, and if you want your drone to be seen as far as you can, this is an important distinction.

3.Weight - Most strobe lights made for drones are as lightweight as they can get, but if, for example, you want to keep a drone like the Mini 2 under 250 grams, you need to take into account the weight of that strobe light to the last gram.

4.Casing - Just like a drone, these strobe lights can be affected by the elements, including humidity, condensation, and more. If you want to save weight, choose one with no casing, but if you want more protection, you guessed it.

5.Mounting options - You don't want to cause an accident BECAUSE of a falling strobe light, do you? The best anti-collision lights have a simple yet durable mounting system, like a solid adhesive tape that can withstand outside exposure.

6.Battery life - Just like drones, strobe lights have their separate source of power, and just like willpower, the more, the better, as you won't have to worry about charging the strobe light that frequently.

1.Firehouse arc V - Best Drone Strobe Light (winner)

strobelight-visibility-on-a-drone
4+ Miles
number-of-LEDs-on-a-strobe-icon
5 LEDs
types-of-LEDs-on-a-strobe-light-for-drones-icon
CREE led
weight-icon
12 g
PROS
  • 6 grams
  • 1" by 1.5"
  • 4 LEDs
  • 3 modes Strobe, Flash, and Fixed (solid)
  • 6 hour battery life
  • White, Red, Green Or Blue or Tri-Color
  • 4 miles visible
CONS
  • Weight can get the DJI Mini 2 over 250 g

If you're looking for a very lightweight strobe light weighing just 6 grams, but you're not willing to buy a completely stripped one and expose it to the elements, a more conservative solution is the Firehouse ARC CREE.
It also comes with CREE lights, but only 4 LEDs, making it still strong enough for the FAA 3 mile range, but not the strongest for sure.

However, the plastic film on top can help a lot if you get your drone through humidity or a light shower so the motherboard is not completely exposed.

2.TOPSUN CREE - The best lightweight Strobe light for drones

strobelight-visibility-on-a-drone
3 miles
number-of-LEDs-on-a-strobe-icon
5 LED
types-of-LEDs-on-a-strobe-light-for-drones-icon
CREE LED
weight-icon
6 grams
PROS
  • 5 LEDs CREE
  • 3 hours
  • 6 grams
  • 1 mode slow strobe
  • No bulky plastic enclosure
  • 3 miles away
CONS
  • Sensitive to water damage because it has no enclosure

Most strobe lights made for drones are very lightweight, usually well under 20 grams, but what if you have a tiny drone like the DJI Mini 2 that you want to keep under 250 grams?

Considering the DJI Mini 2 weighs about 241 grams, you have about a 9-gram weight you can add to it and keep it still under the registration limit.

The Topsun Cree is the best lightweight strobe light for drones like the DJI Mini 2 if you want to keep the total weight under 250 grams, mainly because it weighs only 6 grams in total.

However, a few others weigh just the same, so why is this one special?

Like the one on the top spot, it uses CREE lights, an LED technology that significantly amplifies the light and makes it considerably more visible. It also comes with 5 LEDs, amplifying the light even more.

One downside of this is the fact that it comes naked, so it's very vulnerable against water droplets and the weather in general.

3. Lume cube - A great all-around strobe light

strobelight-visibility-on-a-drone
3 miles
number-of-LEDs-on-a-strobe-icon
4 LED
types-of-LEDs-on-a-strobe-light-for-drones-icon
Standard LED
weight-icon
11 grams
PROS
  • 1.5"
  • 11 grams
  • Flashes 60 times per second
  • 3+mile visibility
  • 6+hours battery
  • White LED (red, gree caps included)
  • 3 modes - fast, slow, continuous light
CONS
  • Colored caps can reduce visibility

Probably the most popular option on this list, the Lume Cube is still a great choice if you want to correspond to the FAA standards for drone night flying. It can be seen at 3 miles and weighs just 11 grams, making it possible to add on the Mini 2 without getting it over 250 grams (depends on the weight of the mini itself).

If you want to change the colors with the Lume cube, you need to change the protective caps, but changing from the standard white will inevitably reduce the amount of light received by quite a bit.

It comes with 3 operating modes: fast, slow, and continuous light making it quite versatile.

4.Firehouse ARC CREE - Best lightweight, protected Strobe

strobelight-visibility-on-a-drone
3.5 miles
number-of-LEDs-on-a-strobe-icon
4 LED
types-of-LEDs-on-a-strobe-light-for-drones-icon
CREE LED
weight-icon
6 grams
PROS
  • 1" by 1.5"
  • 3 modes Strobe, Flash, and Fixed (solid)
  • 6 hour battery life
  • White, Red, Green Or Blue or Tri-Color
  • FAA 107.29 compliant 
  • 3+ miles visible
CONS
  • Can be slightly pricier

If you're looking for a very lightweight strobe light weighing just 6 grams, but you're not willing to buy a completely stripped one and expose it to the elements, a more conservative solution is the Firehouse ARC CREE.
It also comes with CREE lights, but only 4 LEDs, making it still strong enough for the FAA 3 mile range, but not the strongest for sure.

However, the plastic film on top can help a lot if you get your drone through humidity or a light shower so the motherboard is not completely exposed.

5.ULANZI DR-01 - Easy light color switch strobe light for drones

strobelight-visibility-on-a-drone
- 3 miles
number-of-LEDs-on-a-strobe-icon
6 LED
types-of-LEDs-on-a-strobe-light-for-drones-icon
RGB LED
weight-icon
14 grams
PROS
  • 6 RGB style LEDs
  • 3 hour battery
  • 3 Settings
  • RGB light can change to white red and green color 3 lights directly, no need to change the cover
  • 14 grams
CONS
  • Not very bright because of RGB lights

The Ulanzi DR-01 is another popular strobe light that comes with the advantage of being able to change the color on the go, without needing to change covers or buying a separate strobe light for that.

It is useful if you know you'll be changing light colors frequently and it can still do its job as a white strobe light for nighttime flying, however, since it has diluted power in the LEDs because of the multicolor RGB scheme, it makes it harder to notice compared to some of the others on the list.

BONUS: INSYOO strobe and navigational lights

strobelight-visibility-on-a-drone
Navigational
number-of-LEDs-on-a-strobe-icon
4 led
types-of-LEDs-on-a-strobe-light-for-drones-icon
LED
weight-icon
-
PROS
  • 2 red and 2 green
  • 2 hour flashing battery and 30 minutes always on
  • 3 gram weight per piece
  • Quick flash, slow flash and constant
CONS
  • Needs new battery changed after use.

What if you want to add some easier-to-see red and green navigational lights on your drone and don't care about the FAA or the 3-mile strobe light thing?
The INSYOO navigational lights can be mounted on the legs of your drone (especially a DJI Mini 2) and considerably increase the visibility of the quadcopter's orientation, which helps a lot with navigation at night.

The downside is that they have one-time-use batteries that must be replaced after a few flights. However, it's good enough since nighttime flights don't happen that often anyway.

Frequently asked questions

Let's see a few more details you should know about lights for drones before you head out and buy one.

Does Mavic air 2 have anti-collision lights?

I had to answer these questions because these are some really popular drones and people want to know if they need to buy some anti-collision strobe lights for their Mavic Air 2.

The Mavic Air 2 and Air 2s don't come with anti-collision lights, but they have navigational lights that can help you fly at night and allow you to fly safely, according to the FAA.

Does DJI Mini 2 have anti-collision lights?

You're wondering if the lights on the DJI Mini 2 count as anti-collision lights because you don't want to add anything else on the drone.

The DJI mini 2 doesn't have anti-collision lights or navigational lights, except for a flashing low power LED strip in the front.


paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.

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