When you purchase a drone, the manufacturers often state a wind resistance level. This value is independent of the drone’s top speed and indicates the level of wind you will fly your drone in safely.
Level 5 is the most common wind resistance for drones. It means that you can fly your drone at wind speeds up to 10.7 m/s (24 mph) safely. Flying in winds above this will result in unpredictable drone movements and a greater risk of accidents.
Drone manufacturers often state the wind resistance for a drone in terms of metres per second or a level. The level is known as the Beaufort scale, and it is an empirical measure that relates wind speed to the observed conditions, whether at sea or on land.
The wind level scale
The Beaufort scale was derived in 1805 by a rear admiral on an Irish Royal Navy vessel.
Here, in the table below, we have the levels of the Beaufort scale and the wind speed in metres per second which each level refers to. If your drone manufacturer quotes levels, use this table to determine whether or not a drone would be suitable for the wind conditions you experience in your local area.
Levels of wind
|0||< 0.5 m/s|
|12||≥ 32.7 m/s|
If you live in a particularly windy area, you should check your local weather information for the maximum wind gusts you experience during a typical season. This top speed will inform you about the type of drone you need to purchase.
In my experience, flying a drone in very windy conditions results in warnings from the drone and that you should land as soon as possible. As I have become more comfortable flying my drone, I have dismissed these warnings and continued with my flight whilst exercising increased caution and care.
Many drones come with a level 5 wind resistance because the manufacturers use motors with a power output to resist a 10.5 m/s wind. Higher quality motors start pushing up the drone price, and most people will not need a drone to combat severe winds.
Drones with level 5 wind resistance
Level 5 wind resistance in a drone is very common. Manufacturers have determined that a level 5 wind resistance is required for most users. A level V wind resistance means the drone can withstand common wind velocities encountered during casual use.
The weight of the drone, the power output of the motors, and the battery capacity or play a role in the manufacturer’s decisions to make the drone affordable whilst retaining high performance.
In the table below, I share the drones with a level 5 wind resistance.
|Mavic Mini||8 m/s|
|Mini 2||10.5 m/s|
|Mavic Air 2||10.5 m/s|
|DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0||10 m/s|
The wind resistance of the drones in the table above is only loosely correlated with the drone’s top speed. The wind resistance depends on the drone’s ability to respond to sideways forces from the wind. This resistance depends on other factors, including the sensors’ quality and the software programming that interprets the data and can respond to the sideways forces.
If you want a drone with higher wind resistance, you’ll have to look at the higher end of consumer-level drones.
Drones with higher wind resistance
As drone technology becomes cheaper and the miniaturised electronics required for keeping a drone in a stable flight also becomes more affordable, we can expect higher wind resistance from each drone release.
For example, the recent release of the DJI Mavic three comes with a higher wind resistance than its predecessors, and my assumption and expectation for the future is a continual increase in these wind resistance levels.
Here are three drones with levels six through eight when resistance.
- Mavic 3 – Level 6
- Parrot Anafi – Level 7
- Autel Evo 2 Pro – Level 8
if you want to know more about the best drone for high winds, check out my other article, click here, where I go through all of the drones that have very high wind resistance and makes it perfect for people requiring high-quality footage in particularly challenging weather conditions.
The best drone for high winds
The Autel Evo 2 Pro is the perfect drone for heavy winds. This drone has the fastest top speed of all the drones we evaluated in this article, 20 m/s, and can withstand wind speeds of 17 to 20 m/s (which is a level 8 wind force).
The drone’s maximum flight speed of 45 mph (or 20 m/s) allows it to easily adapt to changing wind conditions while still getting to and from your launch site fast.
Another feature I like about this drone is that it can avoid obstacles from all sides. It has 19 sensor groups, including 12 visual sensors, the primary front-facing camera, ultrasound, and other sensors that allow it to create a three-dimensional map that it uses to plan its journey.
This, along with the extraordinarily quick processing power, means that your drone will be able to follow you around in real-time in a variety of challenging conditions.
What will happen if you fly above the stated wind resistance?
Flying your drone in wind speeds above the stated wind resistance can result in various issues that can increase the chance of you crashing your drone or having a serious accident.
In my experience, the drone’s wind resistance stated by the manufacturer is often very conservative.
Still, it is always best to err on caution and never fly above the wind speed stated in the specifications.
Here are all the issues you can expect to encounter if you decide to fly in particularly windy conditions.
Much more drone movement
the drones wind resistance depends very much on the ability of the drone to put out enough power from its motors. Not only does there have to be enough power generated, but the drone has to respond quickly. The cheaper and less powerful the drone, the more movement you can expect during the flight.
As the wind pushes the drone from side to side, it will spool up the motors in different combinations to ensure it stays at a fixed GPS location. If the drone does not have enough power to overcome the force acting on it from the wind, it will drift and take a moment to find its way back to the GPS location it started at.
The high wind isn’t necessarily a problem if it is gusty because the drone will return to the GPS location and height once the gust is over. A continuous wind higher than the wind resistance would cause the drone to drift continually.
It was a little bit of a panicked moment, but I managed to return my drone safely before it was blown away into the ocean.
You can expect your drone to struggle to collect photographs at higher wind speeds. Drones have been programmed for the gimbal to counteract relatively low wind speeds. If you fly your drone outside these parameters, the camera and drone will not compensate for the extra instability while taking a drone photo.
Videos will also become much less stable, and the gimbal will struggle to create smooth footage whilst flying against strong winds.
Higher risk of accidents
At higher winds, there is a much greater chance that your drone will move erratically and encounter different errors such as high motor speeds, quick battery drain, high wind warnings and more.
Many drone pilots ignore these warnings, but in high wind conditions, these warnings should be taken seriously, and in most instances, it is better to return to your takeoff spot and land your drone as quickly as possible. Unless you have a mission that needs to be completed during your flight, it is always better to come back at a different time.
I have found that returning to complete a mission on a day with much more favourable wind conditions have resulted in a better outcome for the drone and client.
Higher heat generated
Drones get hot while flying, and flying at high wind speeds means that the electronics and motors work extra hard to keep the drone stable.
Increased heat could potentially cause damage to the internal components, and if it tells you that the maximum motor speed has been reached, your drone will likely overheat very soon.
The battery will also get very hot as the power is required much quicker. The exchange of energy from the battery to the drone releases heat. Make sure that the battery has completely cooled down before you attempt to recharge it. Lithium polymer batteries are particularly vulnerable to high heat damage.
Luckily, flying in a high wind that is cool can dissipate some of the energy generated during the flight. However, if it is a hot and windy day, your drone is more likely to become dangerously overheated.
More gimbal errors
The gimbal is an important part of your drone and is always trying to overcome flight instability.
I’m sure I’ve flown my drone when the wind was exceptionally strong, and I’ve ignored the high wind warnings to keep flying. When looking at the first-person view of the flight, this is typically clear.
The drone will be bouncing around and struggling to combat the wind as I change directions, resulting in shakes, bumps, and jerky movement in the film.
If you’re flying in especially windy circumstances frequently, you’re likely to get notifications regarding gimbal overload as well.
Owners of some DJI Mavic series drones have also reported that if they pick up the drone after it has landed and manoeuvre it swiftly and erratically, they may receive a drone overload warning.
Tips for flying in high winds
Here are some simple tips for ensuring that your drone returns safely and that you do not risk injury.
Stay away from updrafts
Drones are particularly good at counteracting sideways movements, but they are not very good with up and down acceleration. Stay away from updraughts at the edge of cliffs and other vertical surfaces because your drone will become fitted up and down and will struggle to counteract the force.
Winds are easily forced into a vertical movement when they encounter geological features and other vertical surfaces.
Turn off restrictive modes
Some drones come with restrictive modes, such as beginner mode. These often restrict the top speeds and the drone’s ability to respond to sideways forces.
Ensure that you do not fly with any restrictive mode enabled, as it will limit your ability to respond quickly to the unpredictable movements caused by flying a drone in high wind.
Give trees extra space
A drone is continually attempting to maintain a steady flying path.
This means it reacts as rapidly as the software can identify abnormalities in the sensors, spooling up the motors to counteract the movement. Check out my other post, Why Do I Need to Calibrate My Drone, for additional information on sensor calibration. Click here to get to the article on little-known concerns.
As a result, when flying in heavy winds, you should give a wide berth of obstructions in the flight area. I recommend staying at least 5 metres away from any trees, walls, or other barriers.
Be mindful of debris
It is normal for the downdraught of the propellers to shift some of the trash and light things in the nearby vicinity during taking off or landing.
A landing pad will be one of the most effective methods to safeguard your drone while also protecting yourself as it takes off and lands.
If in doubt, remember to land your drone as soon as possible, as this will ensure that your drone is protected and able to fly another day.
Summary – Level 5 wind resistance
This article has been through everything you need to know about level V friend resistance and why it is one of the drones’ most common wind resistances on the market.
Level V wind resistance will protect you from commonly encountered wind speeds, and if you want a drone with a higher wind speed, you should look at a drone with a higher top speed and power output.
Be sure not to fly your drone in winds that exceed the manufacturers wind resistance numbers as various issues may occur and increase the chance of you having an accident.