Perhaps one of the primary limitations of drones, as cool as they are, is their battery life. As much as we’d all love to fully live our drone fantasy and take flight for hours on end… you know, like the movies, that’s simply not possible.
Most drones will barely be able to fly continuously for more than 30 minutes, so with that being said, how long do drone batteries take to charge?
On average, most consumer drones will fall between a 60 and 90 minutes charging time range. Depending on whether you use USB charging or hub charging, that duration can be even lower.
In this article we’ll go in depth on drone charging times and how long a battery will last, I’ll also give you some tips on how to extend your drone’s battery life so you can save money so stick around until the end.
Before we delve deeper into the technical stuff, it doesn’t hurt to get familiar with the kind of battery your drone has. It’s actually different from the one you have in, say, your mobile phone.
Most drones commonly use a Lithium Polymer battery (LiPo) which are composed of a lithium-based cathode and anode separated by a polymer electrolyte.
LiPo batteries are a god-send for drones and drone fans alike, because unlike traditional and common Li-Ion batteries, Lipo batteries have the same energy density as their counterpart but also have less of a risk of leaking.
The only downside is that LiPo batteries have a higher risk of bloating, even blowing up at times, because of their chemistry. It’s not a common thing to occur, but caution is in order. Make sure you don’t leave your drone charging when you can see it’s already past 90%.
LiPo Battery on fire, source: youtube video
So we went over the average charging time overall when it comes to drones as well as the kind of battery that’s sitting in your battery right this moment. But I think to give you a better idea on charging, it would be even better to go into the specific charging time of the 10 most popular drones right now in the market (hint: most of them are DJI).
Also, spoiler alert, they’re all between 30 and 40 minutes. That’s pretty standard and you won’t find something that lasts longer, unless it’s a really bad drone, features-wise. Or if it’s an enterprise drone, for which you should expect a 5 figure retail price.
|Drone||How long to charge|
|DJI Air 2S||100 minutes|
|DJI Mini 2||90 minutes|
|DJI Mavic 3||96 minutes|
|Autel Evo Lite +||90 minutes|
|DJI Mavic Air 2||100 minutes|
|DJI Mavic Mini||60 minutes|
|Ryze Tello||10 minutes|
|DJI Phantom 4 Pro||210 minutes|
|DJI FPV||55 minutes|
|FIMI X8 Mini||60 minutes|
As you can see, the charging times vary across these proclaimed “top drones in 2022”. The reason for that is because each drone is different. They have different features and size as well as weight, making their power consumption differ from one another and therefore demanding different types of batteries.
So what factors determine a battery’s charging time?
Batteries, specifically LiPo batteries come in all sizes and shapes and are used in different environments, all of these things can influence their charging time. The most important factors when it comes to battery charging are:
1. Battery health
LiPo batteries are considered fully charged when they reach 4.2v/cell though their “safe” charging range is about 3v/cell. What happens when you keep fully charging the battery, all the time, is that the individual cells are ruined. You’ll notice that “unhealthy” batteries usually take less time to charge but they only hold that charge for a short while.
You might have noticed that some drones have what is called self-heating when it comes to their batteries (notably DJI’s latest Matrice 30). The reason for that is simple, temperature does affect charging time. And not only that, it also plays a role in influencing the battery life.
Batteries work best in temperatures that are slightly above room temperature, that’s because prolonged exposure to cold temperatures has a big impact on battery performance and safety. When temperatures drop the internal resistance of the battery is increased. This means that it requires more effort by the battery to charge, in turn lowering the capacity, and shortening the lifespan of the battery (we’ll discuss this later in the article).
3. Battery size & Charging method
These are another two factors that determine a battery’s charging time. The first one, battery size, being evident. As you’ve already guessed, the bigger the battery the more battery cells it has, making it take longer to fully charge.
As for charging methods, since we’re talking primarily about drones, there are two methods: USB charging and Charging hub. The latter is known for charging a battery at a faster rate as it delivers up to 29 watts as opposed to the USB charging’s 18 watts.
After having covered a lot about drone batteries and how long they take to charge, I believe it’s a good transition to talk about how long a drone battery lasts.
On average, most consumer drones have a battery life of 20 to 30 minutes. It’s hard to give an exact overall value because each drone is different and has different features (i.e different power consumption).
Still, I think it’s best if I at least give you some idea about what to expect in terms of drone battery life, or what is more commonly known as flight-time. I’ll use the previous 10 drones we covered for that:
|DJI Air 2S||31 minutes|
|DJI Mini 2||30 minutes|
|DJI Mavic 3||An amazing 46 minutes!|
|Autel Evo Lite+||40 minutes|
|DJI Mavic Air 2||34 minutes|
|DJI Mavic Mini||30 minutes|
|Ryze Tello||Cheap drone but only has a 13 minutes battery life|
|DJI Phantom 4 Pro||Maximum 30 minutes, in good conditions|
|DJI FPV||20 minutes|
|FIMI X8 Mini||31 minutes|
If you’re main concern when buying a drone is the battery life, the I recommend these 5 drones:
If you’d like to read up on more drones that have long battery lives, I4ve already done a detailed article here.
Keep in mind that all of the drones I state are a little bit on the medium-end and aren’t accessible for most people, pricing-wise. Battery life is still a current hurdle for drone manufacturers, to get a 2kg drone to fly for 40 minutes is already an impressive feat, which kind of explains the price of these drones.
There is also another option: buy custom LiPo batteries for your drone. I’ll cover that in a separate article so stay on the lookout.
We all know that batteries degrade overtime, that’s a thing that’s bound to happen and it depends on how many charging cycles your drone’s battery can take before it’s worn out.
That’s a natural process, but are you doing all you can to ensure you get the max out of your battery? Probably not… But here are some two ways that are guaranteed to extend your drone battery’s lifetime.
1. Don’t overcharge your drone battery
Over charging can wear your battery out. On average, LiPo batteries are considered fully charged when they reach 4.2V / Cell. If you leave your battery charging even after it reaches 100%, thinking it’ll make the charge last longer, DON’T.
When you overcharge your drone’s battery, the pressure within the battery increases as more gas is made before the outer surface of the LiPo drops and vents gas. That’s actually the main reason for battery fires.
A good rule of thumb is to always keep your battery’s capacity between 20% and 90%.
2. Don’t OVER discharge your drone battery
What over discharging means is drawing out the battery’s power at a rapid rate. This usually happens when you’re racing your drone or suddenly get it to top speed and maintain that speed.
You’ll be squeezing your battery’s power dry at a fast rate which is not healthy for it in the long term. Even in the short term, using your drone like that can actually cause the LiPo battery to overheat and even blow up.
Not a bad question seeing as how there are videos online of drones blowing up or their LiPo batteries being on fire, like this one here. And yet the answer to that is: not really.
LiPo drone batteries aren’t dangerous as long as you don’t overcharge them or discharge them at a rapid rate. Sometimes some manufacturers may produce bad quality batteries that are more susceptible to overheat though.
I hope this article gave you a solid idea on drone batteries and how long they last. LiPo batteries are getting more and more popular, but we might actually see a new cutting-edge type of batteries that may even surpass them in the coming years. All I can see is I’m excited for whatever the engineers in the drone space have in store for us!