Wondering how much to spend on a professional drone? Check out our article here that will teach you all about the different types of drones and how much they cost. You’ll be able to find the perfect one for your needs!
Drones have evolved over time and today, the drone market has seen the proliferation of drone makers and drone models under different categories.
How much to spend on a professional drone is a question that can’t be answered in a few lines. You must know how to choose the right drone for your purpose and what is the right amount of investment to make in the category of drone you wish to purchase.
When you want to consider buying a drone, the first thing you must ask yourself is what you are buying the drone for.
Never go by the assumption that higher price tags will guarantee a better drone for the mission in front of you. Though this is a reasonable expectation to go with, the price must be considered only within a particular drone type which you want to consider.
In this write up, my goal is to make sure you know how to make the right amount of investment in buying a drone for your intended purpose.
How Much To Spend On A Professional Drone?
About Your Drone Buying Decision
Drone operators who have received their Part 107 certification and those that are in the drone business for some time might want to invest in a good professional drone.
If any of these categories describes your situation, you may want to know how much to invest in a professional drone. The answer to this question depends on the kind of work you do with your drone and the type of drone company you run.
A survey targeting professional drone operators has revealed how much they are spending on their professional drone models.
The prices for professional drones can range between $2,000 and $270,000. Some pointers on professional drone buying will help you decide the reasonable investment you will need to make in your drone.
What You Are Buying Your Drone For
The first question on drone buying is about the application. Choosing the right drone in the right price range will entirely depend on your area of expertise and your target customers.
Even with a given drone application, there are variations based on which area you want to specialize in your profession.
Some drone operators whose niche area is videography or photography find amazing results with prosumer quadcopters costing between $2,000 and $3,000.
Other operators working on professional filmmaking need a specialty drone that can cost more than $25,000. So, the purpose of drone justifies the price tag you must expect in your drone in this category.
Inspection missions and some topline industrial applications will need a different kind of sensors like thermographic apparatus connected to prosumer quads.
However, if you are to fly in challenging environmental situations or will have to engage in works like power-line stringing that will need a typical kind of payload system, you must go for the industrial-grade drone to have adequate support with your mission.
These drones will require fixed-wing aircraft to accomplish long-range and to endure tough working conditions.
Before investing in a drone, drone operators must consider what features they actually need before making the investment like rain or wind resistance, payload weight, flight endurance, ease of use, and others.
An academic research project in mapping and environmental monitoring revealed an estimate that the setup featuring thermal, hyperspectral, and DSLR cameras fitted to an industrial range drone with front-end enterprise features costs more than $200k.
On top of this, they also had to go for thermal or hyperspectral accessory on a 3DR Solo, adding $10k more to the budget.
Embry-Riddle has published this guide that reviews drones for aspects like cost-effectiveness and performance. This will give you some idea about prosumer drones.
The Drone Price Is Not The Only Cost You Must Consider
While trying to allocate the budget for their professional drone, drone operators must also include the estimates of which payload system they want.
This is because when it is the question of professional drones, the drone alone is not the total investment you will be making.
For instance, with an Inspire Pro or Raw drone, the payload system that has to go for professional applications will include zoom, thermal, a dropping system, and some other accessories. Therefore, the total cost will range from $8,000 to $70,000.
There are also other accessories to go for in addition to drones and sensors. A drone operator who specializes in real estate and is also engaged in mapping and surveying work will have to invest in a kit that will include iPads, duel control, batteries that will last for a day, LiPO battery bags, sun shapes, quad charging station and cases to carry them on the move.
More Than One Drone Is Advised As A Backup
While depending on your drone for professional applications, it is an almost universal practice that drone operators have an additional drone as a backup arrangement.
This is due to the need to face any emergency situations so that a problematic drone does not impact your business continuity.
Most operators however use an economically priced prosumer drone for backup purposes. The most common option for such needs is a DJI drone model like Mavic or Phantom. In fact, the second set is a very valuable piece of the kit.
If your job needs any data at any given time, you must be ready to face any potential problems with your drone or the instruments.
Quite many drone applications such as monitoring the environment can happen in remote locations where it is never a viable option to phone for a backup.
Also, some professional drone operators depend on a lesser expensive second drone to manage risks that carry higher chances of suffering equipment damage.
Some professional drone operators have invested in very expensive kits. Whereas, some who are working with more economical drone models are making incredible profits.
We can say the drone is a long-term investment. You can add to your tool kit in a gradual fashion as you move along. Commercial drone operators always use the innovations happening with drones to their favor.
Drone upgrades are happening at a fast pace and professionals have a chance to score less using drones that are only a few months old.
Those new drone operators keen to build their kit must resort to a long-term approach. Therefore, it pays to research carefully to ascertain your true needs in the first place.
It is sensible to go for upgrades only when your drone is old and cannot do the job any longer.
To give you a broad idea, here are the average price lines of drone models under different categories.
|Drone Type||Low-end model||High-end model||Average Price line|
|Drones for beginners||KETEP ($17.99)||Mavic Mini ($399.00)||$218|
|Commercial drones||Anafi Parrot ($642)||DJI Mavic Pro ($1,500)||$1,392|
|Professional drones||Phantom 4 ($2,059)||Freefly Alta 8 ($17,500)||$10,809|
So, on top of this, take into account the accessories you will need and the back-up drone you will need to consider as you develop in your career.
How Much To Spend On A Professional Drone: FAQs
How much should I spend on a professional drone?
There is a slight difference between professional drones and commercial drones.
Though most high-end drones can handle both of these purposes, the main difference lies in the payload.
Commercial drones are made for mapping, inspection services, and product delivery and in some cases, passenger flight also.
An infrared camera is the most distinguishing feature of commercial drones. In tasks like search and rescue missions and site inspections, thermal imaging is a very useful tool.
The crucial features you must look in a commercial drone are safety features and payload capacity in addition to extra lights and parachutes.
Best-in-class professional drones can cost you above $2,000.
Is a license necessary to pilot any of these drone models?
In the US, drone pilot license is required for operating any drone. Irrespective of the drone model you own, you will need a license to be able to fly a drone legally.
If you are a hobbyist, you will have to acquire the TRUST certificate before you start flying your drone.
If you have plans to monetize your drone flights on some commercial operations or by selling the pictures shot by the drone on the internet, you will have to get a Part 107 certification.
Is it a smart idea to buy a used drone?
Buying a used drone is not a bad idea. However, you must make sure to shop intelligently. Most drones carry a warranty that is only limited from the date of initial purchase.
Some insurance plans accompanying drones are non-transferable between owners. Therefore, in the majority cases, you might not get warranty coverage while buying a used drone.
Therefore, it is important that you inspect the machine very well before buying one.
Though most sellers will disclose any defects or damage in the drone they sell, it is your responsibility to make sure of the condition of the drone before you buy.