Drones are gaining popularity at a fast pace, and many companies use drones regularly for multiple purposes. Because of how useful they are, the price can vary between $20 and $1000, depending on the drone’s quality and features. If you are looking for a good drone at affordable prices, buying a used one might be a good option. However, a word of caution before you spend your money! Preowned drones might be faulty, so here are a couple of things to check when buying a used drone.
What to check when buying a used drone?
Checking the batteries
All drones run on batteries, and this is one of the main components you need to inspect. With that in mind, always check:
- used and remaining battery cycles
- battery condition
Higher quality drones have a capacity of 200 charges before the battery starts showing performance failure. If you are purchasing a DJI system, you can use their DJI Go software app to check how many battery cycles remain. If around 50 or fewer charges are remaining, make sure to include that in the price agreement. You will most likely need to purchase a new battery in a few weeks or days after the purchase.
A drone with a camera will cost more.
Alt: A drone with a camera in flight.
You also need to check the battery condition. Even if there are plenty of charges left, batteries can usually puff in size if not charged properly. This happens if the drone is left on the charger longer than needed or was not charged for weeks. When you buy a drone, make sure it is always charged between 30-50%. That’s the best way to prolong battery life.
Cracked or damaged airframe? No thanks!
Any issues with the airframe will affect the aerodynamic capabilities of a drone. With that said, closely inspect it and look for any cracks, damaged parts, or poorly fixed frames.
If a drone breaks, people often use glue to remedy the issue, which is not always the best solution. Furthermore, some models like Phantom 4 had cracks in the motor mount after just a few uses. That should not be fixed with glue, and it will certainly not prevent drone crashes in the future.
However, keep in mind that some repaired drones could actually be much better than the original. If they were reinforced with wood spars or carbon fiber, that might turn out to be a good purchase.
How to know if a drone crashed before
Among many things to check when buying a used drone, it is also vital to learn how to recognize a drone that crashed before. The first indicator should be the difference in the color of the parts. If they don’t match, the chances are that the previous owner replaced a part.
Replaced drone parts are a sign of damage.
Alt: A white drone with spare parts and tools to fix it.
Furthermore, check the stickers that indicate humidity and liquid damage. If they come in contact with water, the stickers will turn pink. This is a good indicator that the drone had probably crashed in the water.
Buying a drone with this issue is a risk because the electronic parts inside might be partially or fully damaged.
Potential propeller problems
While you are checking the airframe, inspect the propellers, and look for similar issues. A cracked frame might last for some time, but a broken propeller will only cause the drone to crash, damaging it even more.
The best way to inspect if the drone is acting properly is to ask for a test flight. If it flies steadily, lands, and lifts off without any issues, and the motor runs smoothly, you could start considering the purchase.
Check the range
A test flight is an ideal opportunity to check the range of the drone. Some more advanced models have a range check mode, but you can also verify that manually.
Check the range of the drone on the ground before you do a test flight.
Alt: A drone and a remote on the ground.
Turn on both the controller and the drone, and start walking away. If the signal significantly drops in the first 100 feet, there might be some issues with the antenna or RF shielding. If you verify that the signal strength is good, you can ask the seller to perform the test flight.
Some drones may still be under warranty, while on others, it is probably expired. Don’t forget to check this because it may help in repairing a few things on the drone. In some cases, there is even an option to extend the warranty that is expiring soon or to renew it entirely.
Check if the purchase includes the original packaging
Having the original packaging and manuals for the drone does not have that much impact on the quality of the piece. However, it can indicate a few things. First of all, if the previous owner still has the packaging, it is likely they maintained and stored it properly. People often use storage units to keep the drones safe while not in use, since electronics need special attention. If the drone was kept inside the original box, it is probably in good condition.
The other benefit of having the original packaging is that it can raise the resale value if you decide to sell the drone in the future.
A list of things to check when buying a used drone – delivered!
Hopefully, you now have enough information about all the things to check when buying a used drone. Nevertheless, if you feel like you need more info, it is a good idea to speak with people who have drones. You can easily find them on forums online, and you can ask for any advice you can think of. Good luck with finding the best drone for you!
About the author – Alexander Anderson
Drone Photography Bible would like to thank Alexander Anderson for submitting this guest article. Alexander Anderson is an amateur photographer and hiker, as well as a digital marketing enthusiast and a copywriter by profession. When he doesn’t write on matters of SEO, PPC, and digital marketing, he enjoys the great outdoors with his trusty drone.
Join the Drone Photography Bible community on Instagram
Do you love drone photography? Click through and follow us on Instagram for drone photographs from some of the best drone pilots at the moment.
As always, if you want to have your drone photography featured on the Drone Photography Bible Instagram feed, tag @dronephotographybible and hashtag #dronephotographybible. Your photos will feature on our Instagram as well as on the drone photography galley on our website.
Want your images to feature on our articles? We dont pay for images but do give shout outs, promotion and praise. Reach out to us on our Instagram to show us the photo you want to feature!
Finally… Do you want write for Drone Photography Bible? We are accepting guest and featured writers now. Check out the write for us page for more details.
The images used are found on the following links: