Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
When you are thinking about getting into drone flying as a pastime or hobby, it’s natural to wonder what you might need as you begin your journey.
Which then gives way to an interesting question. How much does it cost to begin flying a drone?
A typical quadcopter for a beginner to fly will be around $400 to $700. With extra accessories like batteries, cases, spare propellers, memory cards, and car chargers you might look at around another $700. A beginner can start drone flying with around $1500 and get a good setup.
It may have been true that 20 years ago drones were huge, expensive, and pretty much exclusively used by the military that is simply no longer the case.
Long gone are the days when flying drones were simply not an option for your everyday Joe. Drones are now better, faster, easier to use, and much more affordable.
I assure you, the cost of buying, flying, and maintaining your drone is far more affordable than you would expect. The cost is dropping almost yearly, too, as their technology improves.
As a beginner we don’t need a fancy drone, we don’t need all the bells and whistles, we need the bare bones and an easy to use drone.
This article will cover all the costs of owning and maintaining a drone as well as offering a few suggestions for some great drones for beginners.
By the end, you will have a much clearer idea about whether or not buying a drone is something that is financially feasible for you. Hopefully, it is, because learning to fly drones is one of the most enjoyable things you can do!
Table of contents:
- What Is the Cost of a Drone?
- Top 10 Drones Available In the Market:
- Do You Need to Purchase a License to Fly a Drone?
- Do You Need to Insure Your Drone?
- What Might the Odd Crash Or Collision Cost You?
- Drone Costs For Repair And Maintenance:
- How Much Do the Necessary Accessories Cost?
What Is the Cost of a Drone?
A drone itself isn’t overly expensive, you would be surprised just how cheap they can be.
It usually depends on the quality and whether or not you want a camera mounted on board. Most drone pilots do make use of a camera, which jacks up the price a bit, but you get what you pay for.
If you want the very bare-bones toy drone you are probably looking at paying somewhere between $50-$250. The more you pay, the more you get, but toy drones are all going to be quite disappointing compared to a high-quality camera drone.
A camera drone is probably going to cost you upward for $350.
There isn’t a cap on the price as you can pretty much always find a more expensive and better drone. A really good drone will cost you in between $500-$1000, which isn’t an insignificant price.
You don’t need to be spending over 1000 bucks, you truly can get a fantastic drone for around that price point.
As a beginner, that’s probably the limit on what you will feel comfortable spending. As you improve at flying and become more confident in all aspects of its maintenance and use, you can perhaps start thinking about expanding your budget a little bit.
I recommend DJI MAVIC MINI 2 as your first drone. This drone is packed with all the advanced features and can match most of the drones above its range.
Moreover, it is pocket-friendly and will cost you around $450.
Top 10 Drones Available In the Market:
There are so many amazing drones on the market that singling out one or two that are the “best” isn’t really feasible.
So instead, we have a list of 10. Each drone excels in different areas. Though all will serve you well, it’s probably best to aim for the middle of the pack drone price-wise as a beginner.
Your risk of crashing is pretty low, but not zero. It’s better to learn on a drone that isn’t going to bankrupt you should you damage it.
Here are the 10 best drones available to you on the market and their prices:
|DJI MAVIC 2 PRO||$1500|
|DJI PHANTOM 4||$1400|
|Parrot Anafi 4K||$480|
|DJI MINI 2||$599|
|DJI AIR 2S||$1249|
|DJI INSPIRE 2||$3300|
|Syma X20 Mini Drone||$50|
|Propel Star Wars X-Wing Star Fighter||$100|
I added Syma X20 Mini Drone as it is the best super budget option.
Propel Star Wars X-Wing Star Fighter is the best gimmicky fun option.
Do You Need to Purchase a License to Fly a Drone?
The laws on drone use are fast changing as their usage increases. As the law passed on January 3, 2018, every recreational drone flyer in the US must register their drone.
You must also carry the proof, and have your drone in ‘line of sight; at all times.
Depending on where you are in the world and how strict they are about requiring a license at all and how much it costs. A license in the US can cost anywhere from $50 to a few hundred.
In the U.K. a license can cost almost 300 pounds.
Some governments are much more strict than others, but most if not all require some kind of license. If you do not have a license, you are at risk of being fined and perhaps even having your drone confiscated.
The reality is that most beginners will only need to register their drone and not apply for a remote pilots license so no extra cost will be needed.
Do You Need to Insure Your Drone?
It’s also a good idea to insure your drone.
This is not just recommended or sometimes required for commercial purposes but for private purposes too.
Drones are expensive, they are also at risk of being damaged or broken, it’s a good idea to insure it just so you are not left high and dry should the worst happen.
Most drone insurance policies also protect you from being sued if you damage someone else’s property, or god forbid someone else themself.
Insurance costs anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on the value of the drone and whereabouts you are.
Your property insurance may cover it, but not any specific liability insurance.
What Might the Odd Crash Or Collision Cost You?
You will crash your drone. I’m sorry, but it’s inevitable. There is no way around it, everyone does. It could be the wind, poor conditions or it could be your own clumsiness.
According to foxnomad.com
Here’s a general breakdown of the costs for the repair of DJI Drones after the crash.
- Gimbal Camera Component: $101
- Camera Flexible Flat Cable: $3
- Back Left Motor Arm: $19
- Gimbal Vibration Damping: $2
- Gimbal Mounting Bracket: $1
- Camera Co-axis Cable: $5
- Front Left Motor Arm: $22
The service costs $65 an hour – the total work took two hours, added $130 to the cost.
Total Repair Cost: $283
A drone repaired by DJI is essentially refurbished hence there won’t be any signs of previous damage, scratches, or dents.
The damaged parts are replaced and repairs are very thorough for the price, essentially 28% the cost of a new drone in this case.
Here is a video from foXnoMad–
Drone Costs For Repair And Maintenance:
Most of the drone maintenance is repairs. Cleaning your drone and keeping its batteries charged, software up to date and its propellers secure is easy to do but highly important.
It is also more or less free, software updates are free and cleaning can be done with a damp towel and some cotton buds.
The real cost comes from making repairs and you will end up making repairs. As a beginner, probably quite a lot of them.
What Do Replacement Propellers Cost?
The most common replacements you’ll end up making are propellers. These can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on what brand you need and which drone you have.
Typically a set might be only $30 dollars or so, but it’s worth purchasing a few more for the odd accident.
What Do Extra Batteries Cost?
You will also likely end up replacing your batteries fairly often, they wear out over time and tend to fall out when you crash. You should always have some spare batteries with you.
A battery will cost anywhere from $20 to $200 depending on which model of drone you are using.
A typical beginner drone battery will be around $50, and you will need a few of them to get a decent day’s flying in.
What Does the Motor Cost If It Breaks?
The most expensive and frustrating repair to have to make is the motor itself, which will cost you a few hundred dollars for the parts and a couple more to have it done professionally.
I would not recommend doing it yourself as a beginner.
Here is a great link about Routine Drone Maintenance Checklist from www.process.st-
How Much Do the Necessary Accessories Cost?
Some drones, like the DJI Mavic lines, come with all the accessories you could need included in the price.
That’s a big reason why I would recommend that particular drone, you are getting everything all in one.
It’s a very safe bet. Here are the accessories you will need no matter which drone you end up going with.
|HIGH CAPACITY MEMORY CARD||$50|
|NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS||$25|
Hopefully, this has helped open your eyes to both how little a drone can cost and how much it may end up costing to maintain.
The more you use your drone, the more it costs to maintain.The better maintenance you perform, the less you’ll end up paying overall for repairs, etc.
To summarise, a good drone will cost you about $1000. A license (if you want to fly it on a remote pilots license) and insurance many of these things are one-off purchases, they should be factored into the initial cost when deciding if flying drones is right for you!!!.
I would recommend coming into the hobby with around $1k-$3k if you really want to go all in.
Whatever you decide, good luck with your new drone and happy flying!