Perhaps you’ve got your eye on a drone brand and would like to test it out before deciding to buy. After all, what better way to know if you’re getting value for your money than to actually test out the product.
On average, renting a drone costs from $25 to $75 per day, all the way up to $100 per day in certain cities in the U.S. There are many factors that influence drone rent cost like the brand, the renting duration and whether the drone is insured or not.
You may be new to the drone world and planning to dip your toes first to see if you’ll actually like flying drones before deciding to pull the trigger and buy one. Or, maybe you’re just in need of extra drones for your project.
Whatever it is, in this article we’ll go in full detail about the costs of renting drones, and the factors at play.
You’re probably wondering whether it’s possible to rent a drone in the first place. The short answer is yes, but there is more to it.
You can absolutely rent a drone. Flying it however is a different question, it depends on whether the drone is registered, whether you can actually fly drones in your area and the type of flying you’re going to conduct.
For instance, a drone must absolutely be registered with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). And furthermore, the registration number needs to be shown on the outside of the drone.
You must make sure that the registration number is labeled on the drone before renting it, because if anything were to happen you’d be the one at fault, not the drone owner.
I’ve gone in-depth on drone laws in this article, but basically there are two things you should keep in mind:
Now that we’ve looked at the technicalities of renting a drone, how much does it actually cost?
The cost of drone rentals in the U.S varies depending on the rental duration and on the brand you’re going to rent.
Since the DJI drone product line is the most popular, and perhaps the only brand you’ll see when renting a drone, I’ve based my research on it.
Here is an average daily rent cost for different models of the DJI drones (based on popular drone renting sites):
|PRICE / DAY
|DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone
|DJI Phantom 4
|DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
|DJI Mavic Mini
|DJI Mavic Mini 2
|DJI Matrice 300 RTK
|DJI Mavic Pro 1
|DJI Mavic Air
|DJI Inspire 1 v2
|DJI Mavic 3
Data pulled from Fatllama, a popular rental website.
Note that these are the average renting costs, they may be lower or higher depending on who’s renting you their drone. One thing to keep in mind is that if you rent for a week or more, the price decreases significantly.
Let’s go even deeper and look at how the cost of renting a drone varies depending on the state you’re in.
According to data pulled from Sharegrid, here are the average drone renting costs in the top 10 states:
|PRICE / DAY
Most of the listings that led to these averages have been those of DJI drones, with most of them being on the medium-end of the product line.
You should also note that there are drones that cost up to $2000/day to rent, if not more. I didn’t include those in my calculations since they’re usually reserved for film making or inspection pros.
It should be simple, pay the drone company or owner their dues upfront and you’ve got yourself a drone for a couple of days… Except, it’s not really that simple.
There are NO drone renting companies that will give out their drones without some guarantees and without doing background checks on you. We’ll cover said companies in the next section…
But first, let’s look at the things you need to keep in mind when renting a drone.
It’s almost never a good idea to rent out a drone for only a few days. Unless money’s not an issue for you, renting by weeks instead of days is usually the better option, finance-wise.
For example, most drone rental companies will have the same price per week (7 days) as they do for 2 or 3 days of rent.
Keep in mind that you’ll be held liable for any damage that happens to the drone, intentional or unintentional. Some companies will give you the option to pay extra and be free of the liability, to a certain extent.
Most however won’t. So make sure you at least know the basics of dorne flying before taking it for a flight, or have someone with you that knows what they’re doing.
Acquiring the drone you want to rent can be a real hassle. Remember what we said about background checks? Well, most drone rental companies will require you to come get the drone yourself.
So if you aren't in the same city as the company, it’s not a viable option. There are some peer-to-peer websites that are basically like craigslist for drone renting, and technically you can get the drone owner to send you the drone by mail. But I wouldn’t count on that though.
What most people get wrong is that insurance means insurance for the drone you’re flying… That’s simply not true.
When I say insurance what I mean is insurance for any damage that you could do with the drone, not to it.
Few companies will have their drones insured, so if you want to fly with peace of mind you can easily get insurance coverage. There are multiple websites that let you do that online, my personal recommendation is DroneInsurance.
Whether you think it’s worth getting insurance for the rental drone or not is entirely up to you.
So far we’ve covered a lot of ground in this article. I hope that by now you’ve gotten a clear idea on what to expect in terms of the costs of renting drones.
Below are some websites that allow you to rent drones and that I think are the top 3 when it comes to that. Some are companies that rent out their own drones, others are peer-to-peer websites (like craigslist).
I’ve used this website to pull up the data we discussed above, and that’s because this is the biggest drone rental website to date. It’s a peer-to-peer website that allows you to connect and rent drones from drone owners nearby.
Their CEO Tim Slater describes the company as “a peer-to-peer marketplace – a kind of ‘Airbnb for stuff’. So on the ‘lender’ side, people are making some serious passive income from renting out their own drones; on the ‘borrower’ side, people save a lot of money because of the competitive rental rates our lenders can offer.”
They also offer some liability coverage for their lenders, so they’re completely legit.
These guys have been around since 2013, and according to their CEO they’ve been the first company to do online drone rentals.
They’re more geared towards pros as they have a variety of high-end gear available for rent, but you can still find good beginner drones there.
Also, they’re 100% legit. Their CEO Barry Jackson says: “We have created our own video tutorials that walk you through each step from opening up the box, to closing it back up for return. All of our drones are registered with the FAA, so that gives peace of mind to our customers if they are using it for commercial purposes. We have rented to everyone from major news networks, all the way to the amateur wanting to use one for vacation.”
ShareGrid is a new website that’s also peer-to-peer like FatLlama, they’ve made a name for themselves by carefully vetting their lenders as well as borrowers. Most of the drones available for renting there are DJI drones.