Drones are fantastic pieces of kit. Not only are they a ton of fun to fly, but they can accomplish all sorts of awesome things e.g. allow you to take stunning photographs and videos from the sky. Of course, drones are limited in their range. All drones will have a physical range on them. However, there may also be a legal maximum range in place. On this page, we are going to answer the question ‘how far away can a drone fly from its controller? We will also giving you a bit of advice on some of the best long-range drones on the market.
How far away can a drone fly from its controller?
This is going to be dependent on the drone that you are purchasing. Typically an average drone can only fly a few meters away from it’s controller, but more expensive drones can fly up to 5 miles and have a flight time of over 31 minutes.
If you are purchasing a drone down the lower end of the spectrum (basically a toy drone) then you would be lucky to get more than 10-minutes life from the battery, and it will barely go a few feet beyond the controller. These are not made for long-range at all. In fact, they aren’t really designed for proper drone usage.
When you start moving into the ‘middle-priced’ drones, then the flight time and maximum range tend to get a little bit higher. The flight time will probably cap out at 30-40-minutes, but the range could be anywhere from 0.4-miles to a shade over 2-miles.
At the high-end of the market (when it comes to consumer drones), then you won’t go far beyond the 40minute flight time, but the drone may have a maximum range of about 5-miles.
Remember; the guidelines given by the drone manufacturer are only ‘maximum ranges’. There are a lot of factors that can influence the range of the drone. So, you should never expect to hit the ‘maximum range’ of the drone unless conditions are absolutely perfect.
How far can you legally fly a drone from a controller?
This is going to be completely dependent on where you are located. This means that it is up to you to determine what the maximum range regulations are where you live.
In most cases, the legal maximum operating range of the drone will be ‘withing line of sight’. With some of the larger drones on the market, this maximum can be fairly substantial. This is even true if you have a smaller drone and are operating it in a fairly desolate area. Generally speaking, as long as you have eyes on the drone at all times, and you are not breaking any other rules for your area, then you should be fine.
Your own real concern will be the maximum height that you fly the drone. In the United States, you are not allowed to fly the drone about 400-feet. If you are in the European Union, then it is illegal to fly the drone above 500-feet.
In some locations, you will find that there are certain ways to bypass the ‘maximum range’ regulations. For example; in the United States, if you are operating the drone commercially, then you may only be limited by the maximum range of the drone itself. Of course, this does mean that you will need to keep an eye on the ‘drone camera’ to ensure that you are not breaking any other rules related to drone usage. The camera will also ensure that you can see where the drone is actually flying, ensuring better control over it.
What happens if you fly a drone out of range?
This is going to be dependent on the drone that you have purchased. One of several things can happen:
The drone will keep flying. You may lose it. Drones can be incredibly tough to track down if this happens.
The drone will just ‘float’, which can make it easier to find where your drone is located.
The drone will plummet to the ground. Although, to be honest, it is very rare that this will happen. This only happens with the cheaper drones.
The drone will ‘return to base’ i.e. if it goes out of range, then it will make a beeline back in your direction.
The drone will attempt to get within controller distance again. This will give you control over it.
Remember; with many drones, you may find that you lose the camera feed of the drone way before you will lose control over the drone. This means that your drone becomes dangerous to operate as it becomes way more difficult to see what you are doing.
Related: Best Drones For The Money
The Best Long Range Drones
The following is a list of what we believe are the best long-range drones around. There is a drone to suit all budgets here, so we are positive that you can find something that you like.
The DJU Maric 2 Zoom comes equipped with one of the highest-quality cameras we have ever seen on a drone. If you are looking to take photographs or videos professionally, then the Maric 2 Zoom will have you covered ‘out of the box’.
The camera clocks in at offering 48 MP photos in probably one of the best resolutions you have ever feasted your eyes upon, The video quality is 4x Lossless FHD. The tech included in this drone ensure that you get perfectly stable shots each and every time.
The flight time of this drone will be somewhere around the 25-minute mark, although DJI claim that it can go up to 31-minutes in ideal conditions. In ideal conditions, you should be able to get a maximum distance range of 11-miles, although if you are pushing it out this far, then you will need to ensure that it isn’t out for too long. While it is fast, at this range, it can be difficult to get it back within the maximum flight time.
If you really love your panoramic shots, then the DJI Maric Air may be just the ticket. It offers sophisticated technology that will allow you to string several photographs together, seamlessly, to create some of the most beautiful panoramic shots that you have ever seen.
In terms of video quality, the DJI Maric Air will enable you to shoot up to 4k 100 Mbps. This mean full UHD in a glistening 30fps. If you want, you can knock the video quality down to 1080p and boost the fps up to 120. This will allow you to film some fantastic slow-motion videos too. Perfect if you are capturing sporting events from the sky.
The maximum flight time caps in at about 21-minutes. Although, you will probably get closer to 15-minutes if the conditions are less-than-ideal. With this drone, you aren’t so much as limited by the capabilities of the drone when it comes to the maximum range. It is more the video. You will be able to continue to stream video content from the DJI Maric Air to your device for a shade under 2.5-miles. The video feed will then
If you want a drone that isn’t over-the-top when it comes to price but also doesn’t sit at the budget end of the market, then the DII Spark may be perfect for you. In our opinion, it is the perfect drone to bridge the gap between professional and amateur drone use.
The DII Spark has made it as simple as possible to operate your drone. In fact, if you have never operated a drone before, you will find the intuitive controller and video feed makes it an absolute breeze. You really will be able to take awesome videos, and despite the lower price than the more-professional drones, the DII Spark still offers stunning videos and images.
The maximum flight time of the DII Spark sits at around 16-minutes in perfect conditions. You should be able to retain a video feed up to 1.2-miles. The drone comes equipped with a ‘return to base’ feature, which minimizes the risk of losing your drone. This, once again, makes it the perfect drone for amateurs.
Altai-Ae E Outlaw SE (Best Budget)
The Altai-Ae Outlaw may sit at the budget end of the market, but it is certainly a worthy drone for amateur usage. In fact, it has clearly been designed for amateurs. There are several intuitive features that offer waypoint flying and ‘follow-me’ modes. It also operates on a ‘one-touch’ takeoff and landing feature. It will even return to home, something which is incredibly rare at this price range. This is all due to the incorporated GPS in the unit.
The camera isn’t lacking either. While you are not going to be getting 4K videos from the Altai-Ae E Outlaw, you should be able to get 1080p, which is going to be perfect for all but the most professional of applications.
You can get up to 15-minutes flight time with your Altai-Ae Outlaw, with a maximum range of about 0.35miles.
Holystone HS 720 (Best Budget)
Once again, despite the Holystone HS720 being down at the budget end of the market, it is packed to the
brim with features.
The Holystone HS 720 comes equipped with a 2K FHD camera. The image stabilization built into the unit means that you are able to shoot 2048 x 1152P videos with ease.
The Holystone HS720 even makes it difficult for you to lose the drone. As with all of the other drones on this list, it is going to be easy to control. Nothing complicated. An amateur can easily do it. If the battery is starting to get drained, or the signal has become interrupted, then the drone will automatically return to you. It does this through the in-built GPS.
On a good day, you should be able to get 26-minutes of flight time from your drone. The maximum distance range is a shade under 0.5-miles. This means that it is going to be perfect for the vast majority of amateur uses.