How Much Does A Drone Cost – What Affects Cost of A Drone?

Have you ever wondered why some drones are very expensive while some others are quite cheap? That brings us down to asking, “how much does a drone cost?”

how much does a drone cost
Photo Credits: George Espinosa, Flickr.com

The cost of a drone is relative. This is because it is dependent on what you want to achieve with the drone. Before buying a drone, you need to decide on why you actually need it. It could be that you are a hobbyist or a business-oriented person who wants to make money with drones.

Currently, people are utilizing drones to carry out various tasks. These include roof inspection, advertising, aerial cinematography, wedding coverage, find and rescue of lost people, and creating 3d maps of sites that are under construction.

Furthermore, drone hobbyists are having more fun with their drones. They engage in drone racing in order to capture high quality pictures and records of aerial footages. All these are done for fun unlike the group of people who are on the side of making money from their drones.

It is important to know that if you are flying a drone for fun, it doesn’t have to be sophisticated. Except if you need to earn money from flying a drone. Since hobbyists are usually DIYers, they may want to build their drones from scratch. This will help to reduce the cost.

Let’s explore the cost of purchasing a drone according to price range.

Drones Costing Less Than 100 USD

The drones in this range are usually toy drones but they could offer a lot more than fun. If it is your first time, this category is best for introducing you to the world of flight.

It is important to note that drones within this category are usually of miniature size. They are better off flown indoors because their size cannot withstand the pressure from wind.

In addition to their mini size, they are light in weight. This implies that each time they crash, they do so with less damage. Now you can see why it is a good start for a first timer.

They have a short battery life which is usually about 5 to 15 minutes. So, you need to have spare batteries to enjoy your flight time.

Due to the lightness of these drones, if there is a dent on one of the propellers, it will impede flight. Hence the need for a propeller guard. You may also consider getting extra pairs of propellers.

Some drones within this category include:

  1. Holy Stone HS110D FPV RC Drone with 1080P HD Camera. This drone has a 3.7V 1000mAh high capacity battery that can support flight for 10 minutes. This makes it easy to replace battery and safe to charge.
  2. SNAPTAIN SP650 1080P Drone with Camera. This drone offers 12 minutes flight time and if you can double the battery, you are sure to have up to 24 minutes.
  3. AKASO A31 Drone with Camera
  4. MIXI WiFi FPV Drones with Camera. It has a battery of 1100mA.
  5. SIMREX X900 Drone. This drone offers 12 to 15 minutes of flight and the batteries can be charged for about 90 minutes.
  6. SIMREX X300C Mini Drone. You can enjoy up to 10 minutes of flight with this drone. The battery takes up to one hour to charge.
  7. Jettime JT63 Mini Foldable Drone. This comes with two batteries that can last longer than 20 minutes.

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Drones Costing Around 500 USD

The drones in this range are also considered to be toys but some brands are now offering us more value for cheap. We discovered that these drones have some improvements that make them superior to the first category.

For instance, the camera quality is better than the previous category, and features that make for intelligent flight are added. These features include altitude control.

These drones are expected to weigh more than the first type. This weight is needed to withstand the wind. Some drones within this price range include:

  1. HOBBYTIGER H301S Ranger Drone
  2. Contixo F24 Pro Drone
  3. DJI Phantom 3 which offers up to 25 minutes of flight.
  4. Ruko F11 Pro Drone. This drone offers 30 minutes of flight and comes with an extra battery. When you put both batteries, you can have more than 60 minutes of flight.
  5. (Renewed) Parrot PF728000 ANAFI Drone

Drones Costing Around 2,000 USD

The drones in this range are used majorly by professionals or drone enthusiasts. These drones have very high-quality camera for professional purposes. If you are looking towards aerial photography or cinematography, this range of drones is for you.

Examples of drones costing around 2,000 USD are:

  1. DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone with 2.7K HD Video Camera
  2. DJI Mavic Air Quadcopter with Remote Controller
  3. DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Drone Quadcopter
  4. DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone Quadcopter
  5. DJI Mavic 2 Pro Fly Farther 

Drones Costing 2,000 USD and Above

This may sound huge and you may even wonder why anyone would need such an expensive drone. The fact is that you can customize your drone to suit your desired taste if you are willing to spend more. Expensive drones offer more features and add-ons compared to cheaper drones.

When you buy a drone costing as much as 10k USD, some companies will send a staff to meet with you. The aim is to train you on how to utilize its features. The cost of this training is already factored into the price of the drone. But some companies still charge a little extra for it.

Some drones in this range are:

  1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone Quadcopter with smart controller and fly more kit
  2. 150M Tether Titan Professional Underwater Drone
  3. DJI Matrice 210 V2 Pro RTK Quadcopter integrated with RTK Modules and D-RTK 2 Mobile Station Compatibility
  4. DJI Inspire 2.0 Quadcopter
  5. Freefly Systems ALTA UAV
  6. DJI Agras T16 New Model Precision Spraying Custom Drone

In addition to the information above, we need to know the other things that make up the actual cost of drones. Before you can tell the real cost of one drone, you need to factor in the cost of maintenance.

You can buy an expensive drone with good camera quality, a case for your drone, and some extra features. Meanwhile, for some other drones, you need to have a mount for your camera. This means that the camera will be attached separately.

Your drone may cost more depending on its accessories.

Some Accessories for Your Drone

Propeller Guard

drone price
Photo Credits: Wearinasia Indonesian Wearable, Flickr.com

This is very important for outdoor drone flight. When flying a drone in an open space, the fans may hit an object. This can damage the propellers and send the object flying towards your direction.

Hence, getting a guard for your drone’s propellers is of utmost importance. It will not only protect the propellers; you will also be safe from danger.

DJICP.PT.00000222.01 Ryze Tech Tello Propeller Guards costs around 9 USD.

Dacorda Propellers Holder Guard Prop Blade Stabilizer costs around 5 USD.

DJI Mavic Mini 360° Propeller Guard Protection Drone Accessory costs around 19 USD.

DJI Mavic 2 Propeller Guard costs around 29 USD.

Additional Propellers

Sometimes, your propeller may go bad or have dents. This can make flight impossible as propellers are quite fragile. Hence the need to have additional propellers.

Buy Anbee Propellers on Amazon

Anbee 4 Colors Propellers Props Combo for Parrot Mini drones cost 10 USD. It is also compatible with Rolling Spider, Airborne Cargo, Night Drone, Hydrofoil Drone, Mambo FPV, and Swing Drone.

Helistar Propellers 4 Pairs Blades Accessories for GoPro Karma Drone cost 20 USD.

Fytoo Propeller for DJI Tello RC Quadcopter cost 8 USD.

DJI Mavic 2 Low-Noise Propellers for Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro Drone Quadcopter cost 20 USD.

Spare Batteries

Your drone needs a good battery to be powered. You do not want to run out of juice when flying. Therefore, spare batteries are necessary. Most drone batteries take a long time to complete charging. Some charge for up to one hour.

In order to skip the time for charging, you can get spare batteries for flight while the other set keeps charging. The price of the battery will depend on the brand of your drone.

DJI Mavic 2 Battery for Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro Drone Quadcopter costs 135 USD.

Faironly 2 pieces 3.7V 1000mAh Lithium Battery costs 40 USD.

A Case for Your Drone

If you will be taking your drone outside, you will definitely need a case to carry it. If you spend 10k USD on a drone, why don’t you spend as low as 30 USD to get a good case? A drone case helps to protect your drone from damage.

An SD Card

If you enjoy aerial photography, you definitely need a good camera in your drone. But all that high-quality video will make no meaning without a storage disk.

You can get a good Sandisk memory card of 64GB on Amazon. It works well with DJI Mavic Pro, Spark, Phantom 4, and Phantom 3 Quadcopter.

A Footage Recorder

Adding this to your list of drone accessories, makes flying more fun. This recorder stores your previous flight tracks in 3d. You can get a Parrot AR. DRONE 2.0 Recorder at 70 USD.

LED Light

drone price
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Attaching LED lights to a drone makes it shine beautifully when it is up there in the sky. At night, those lights can help you track the movement of your drone.

Usmile RC Night Flying LED Head Lights for Carbon Fiber Quadcopter Frame costs about 12 USD.

RC Plane Navigational LED Lights for Heli Drone Multi Propeller and Navi DJI Phantom costs around 13 USD.

Camera Gimbals

Some drones come with good gimbals affixed to them. For some others, you need to buy this very important accessory. The gimbal ensures that your drone camera is firmly placed to capture clear and quality images. If you need to buy a gimbal for your camera, ensure that it is the right fit for your drone.

Tarot TL3T05 3D IV Metal FPV Brushless Gimbal for GOPRO 5 RC Quadcopter Multicopters costs about 180 USD.

Tarot TL2D01 T2-2D 2-Axis Brushless Gimbal PTZ for Hero 4/3+/3 TL2D01 FPV Gimbal costs 91 USD.

If you think buying a drone is really expensive, you can check out our article on how to build a drone from scratch. However, if you are not much of a Do It Yourself (DIY) kind of person, you can opt for a drone kit.

A drone kit is very simple to fix and if you follow the instructions, in no time, you will be flying your drone.

Categories of Drones According to Usage

There are various types of drones which are categorized according to usage. They include:

Video or Camera Drones

This category is very broad. Every drone that is designed to take good images and videos when in flight falls under this category.

Racing Drones

This category of drones is very common among drone hobbyists and enthusiasts. The FPV drones are best used for drone race. They are fast, light, and durable.

Marine or Underwater Drones

This category of drones is quite expensive and not yet popular. It is used by professionals and serious business owners. These drones are utilized in areas of surveillance under water and aquatic biology research.

A cable is usually tethered to the drone to aid live video coverage. As a result, the drone has a certain range it can cover. But it still goes as far as a depth of several hundred meters.

Mini, Micro or Nano Drones

These drones are miniature in size. They are majorly used indoors.

A micro drone is about 150 millimeters.

A mini drone is between 150 millimeters and 300 millimeters.

A nano drone is the smallest. It is between 100 millimeters and 150 millimeters.

Toy Drones

Toy drones are used mostly by kids and beginners in drone flying. Piloting such drones is very easy and thy are fun to operate. They can perform stunts such as roll and flip. Toy drones are affordable.