We all know that FPV drones have shorter flight times than standard DJI drones, and for good reasons, because there are differences and reasons why the flight time differs. But how long can an FPV drone fly?
Typically, an FPV drone can fly between 3 and 10 minutes with an average of 5 minutes, unless we are talking about DJI FPV, DJI Avata, or some specific FPV drones, where their flight times can exceed 15 minutes. The type of FPV drone, battery, and how you fly it are the main reasons to influence the FPV drone flight time.
But many factors can influence an FPV drone battery, how long it lasts, its power and discharge rate, etc. For now, let’s explore everything we know about FPV batteries and how these affect an FPV drone’s flight time.
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How long can an FPV drone fly? A detailed overview
From the motor’s power, VTX, and ESC to the camera and other components, an FPV drone will always discharge a battery at different rates than other drones.
There are many batteries for all FPV drones, which tend to be LiPo batteries, commonly known to be from 1s to 6s and beyond, from a few hundred mAh to many Amps per hour.
But an FPV drone only uses specific types of batteries with high discharge rates, typically under 6s but with different amps.
As a specific battery cell has an average voltage of 3.7 volts and a maximum of 4.2 volts when charged, a multi-cell battery will add the voltage to each other but keep the same amps per hour.
For instance, a 4s battery does have four cells, which translates into having 4x 3.7 volts equals 14.8 volts as nominal charge.
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Different voltage for LiPO batteries used in FPV drones means that you must have all your FPV drone components, including the ESC, motors power, FC, and so on, to work under that specific voltage range.
Higher voltage batteries tend to feed higher power motors of an FPV drone.
But this adds up to the drone’s power, and also how much it can fly.
For that, we have to look into amps hour (Ah) or mAh, which is the total battery capacity.
The higher the mAh of a LiPo battery, the heavier and bulkier it is; therefore, the more thrust the motors need to lift the FPV drone.
It is essential always to find a balance when using different batteries. In contrast, lightweight LiPo batteries are often used for racing FPV quads (but offering lower flight time, on average, around 3 minutes), average weight ones to freestyle and heavier to long-range flights, etc.
Having weaker motors on an FPV drone with a higher (heavier) mAh battery can stress the motor and ESC, which may lead to low throttle on the drone, over forcing the battery, and even a chance of burning the internal parts, on top of lower flight time.
The discharge rate also plays a vital role in the FPV drone’s maximum output power from the battery, which may little influence the total flight time.
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What does fly longer? FPV or Standard drones?
Always standard drones will fly longer as these are optimized for specific motors with specific components and have lower discharge rates.
These batteries, alongside the standard drones, were developed to promote longer flight times.
Always remember that FPV drones have power and thrust many times more than a standard drone, which always impacts having less flight time.
How to extend the flight time of an FPV drone?
There are many ways you can improve the flight time of an FPV drone, and I feel that I should create a long list of what can impact and how you can improve the flight time of an FPV drone:
- The FPV drone load (e.g., GoPro) and weight will always have the most significant impact on how long an FPV drone can fly. Because LiPo batteries used by FPV drones have even 100c or more maximum discharge rate, these should be strong enough to compensate for carrying extra weight if other parts will allow this kind of discharge rate.
- FPV Drone motors can also significantly impact how long an FPV drone can fly because these are the primary consumers.
- The LiPO battery model and make will also greatly affect the FPV drone’s total flight time. Imagine two different brands, same 6s 1200mAh battery. They have distinct weights, discharge rates, realistic capacity, lifespan, etc.
- The frame size, where larger drones (e.g., 6″ frame) can be built to sustain longer flight time in addition to other components (motor, ESC, etc.)
- The drone props can have an impact on the FPV quad flight time. There are no “best props,” but always look and experiment with different ones for your drone. What works for others may not work so well for you.
- Additional consumers can also affect the flight time of an FPV drone, such as lights, active cooling, GPS module, camera record, etc.
- The aerodynamics of the drone does impact the FPV drone flight time.
- Weather conditions, such as wind, can always have an impact on how long an FPV drone can fly.
- One important factor is as well your flight style. If you freestyle and throttle up a lot, you will consume your battery juice quicker than on longer-range cinematic flights.
- High-speed flying will have shorter flight times, whereas slow-speed long cruising will have longer FPV flight times.
- Keep your batteries in good shape and take care of them, as they will offer you flight time.
- Racing drones will always have less flight time than cruising FPV drones.
You can watch the following video if you are interested about how to choose a LiPo battery for your FPV drone
Does using higher voltage batteries increases the FPV drone flight time?
Yes. Using LiPo batteries with multiple cells (such as 4s, 6s, and so on) does have an impact on how long an FPV drone can fly.
But beware because you cannot simply change your FPV drone battery with a higher cell one, not unless you are absolutely sure that each component, including the capacitor, will support that voltage and discharge rate.
Even like that, pushing towards maximum voltage can risk motor, ESC, or capacitor burning.
It is good to keep in mind before you buy or build an FPV drone to go for 6s if you aim for longer flight times and go for such drones or builds.
But if you want something from the factory with decent flight time, then DJI FPV and/or DJI Avata are fantastic choices to keep you longer in the air.
Does using higher Ah batteries increases the FPV drone flight time?
Using higher milliamp hour batteries will have more juice for longer flight times, but you need to make sure that you will find a balance because if you use a lightweight battery, you will have less flight time, but too heavy batteries will burn the juice on the extra weight.
Moreover, heavier LiPo batteries will impact the FPV drone throttle.
Each FPV drone build will always have different flight times with different batteries.
Remember that many factors impact how long an FPV drone can fly, ranging from the battery voltage and mAh to drone motors and flight style.
But if you are just getting into flying FPV drones, expect to fly only a few minutes per pack, and make sure you have multiple batteries with you to enjoy this fantastic FPV experience.
Finally, please reflect that even a few minutes flying an FPV drone seems like much more.