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How Much Weight Can a Drone Carry?

Humans have always been fascinated with flying. We've had traditional airborne vehicles like helicopters and planes for a while now but more recently we've developed drones.

Drone flying above forest

A drone is a functional remote-controlled gadget built like a miniature helicopter that can maneuver in smaller spaces. One important function that an average drone can do is deliver items back and forth.

However, there is a limit to how much these unmanned aerial vehicles can carry before it capitulates. Carrying capacity is something that we should consider before we buy a drone. This article will talk about how much weight a drone can carry and the factors that affect it.

Drone with two operators standing behind

How Much Weight Can a Drone Carry?

To answer the question simply, there is no set weight that drones in general can carry. To determine how much weight can a drone carry, we must determine the factors that affect it first. Multiple factors play a part in this, and every drone has a different maximum load capacity. Examples of these factors include:

  • the build of the drone
  • accessories attached
  • what kind of drone it is

We will be discussing these elements in-depth in the next section. It is also important to consider that environmental factors play a part as well such as air pressure and wind direction, however, this article will only cover the elements found on the drone itself.

Factors That Influence A Drone's Payload Capacity

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of factors that affect how much weight can a drone carry. It is important to note that these factors do not only affect a drone’s maximum payload but its price tag as well. Basically, the more weight a drone can carry, the more expensive that drone will be.

Drone size and self-weight

A drone's weight affects how it flies. Larger drones tend to be able to carry more weight than smaller drones. This is because, in order for a drone to carry heavy weights, it needs to have a larger energy source constructed from more durable parts. With this, the size and weight of your drone dictate how much weight it can carry.

Battery

A drone’s battery is the powerhouse that gives it enough energy to lift heavy things in the air. A battery with a larger capacity can support a bigger propeller and motor which can in turn drive more lift. So, if you have a weak battery, don’t expect your drone to be able to carry much weight.

Propeller

Propellers are one of the most important factors in terms of flight. They come in different numbers and sizes. Generally, you want your propellers to be big and strong enough to produce enough lift to carry heavy weights.

Drone Swarm

The number of propellers, on the other hand, signifies the number of props attached to the drone. Propellers generate lift. More propellers or larger propellers mean more lift, thereby giving additional ability to lift heavy weights. Generally, multiple propellers offer greater stability than a single large one.

Motor Power and strength

The drone's motor is an important factor in determining how much weight it can carry. Just like the battery, you would need a strong enough motor to provide enough power to lift both the drone and the weight of the package. When you exceed the provider's recommended weight limit of your drone, it may simply not take off, or crash!

Electronic speed controller rating

The Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) rating is something that brushless motor drones use to determine the amount of current flowing through their motors. Since the current is proportional to power, you would generally want a higher ESC rating in drones that you intend to use to carry items.

Different Types of Drones and their Specific Capacities

There are different drone types available out there, each with its own specific function. Of course, there are drones that specialize in carrying heavy weights while some are designed for rapid flight maneuvers. Let’s go over a few of them and discuss the carrying capacity of each drone type. Always check with the supplier for their official carrying capacity.

Hobby Drone / Consumer Drones

Hobby drones, sometimes called consumer or toy drones, are drones used for recreational purposes. A hobby drone is usually far cheaper than its professional counterparts. This is why they are usually bought by beginners and used for flying and video taking in a casual, recreational setting.

Hobby drones are not built to be durable and can easily break if the user isn’t careful. They do not have a maximum payload weight set as any weight could damage the drone.

Example:

DEERC D20 Mini Drone

Price: $39.99

Maximum payload capacity: N/A

Features:

  • 720P HD Wi-Fi camera
  • Kid-friendly controls
  • Emergency stop and low power alarm
  • Voice control and gesture selfie

Prosumer Drones

As the name suggests, this drone is somewhere between a professional and a consumer drone. These are the ones that actually have a set payload as they are designed to carry light to medium weights, depending on the design.

These types of drones are able to fly for longer periods of time and some models can carry up to three kilograms of load. Just like most drones, they are equipped with decent cameras that allow aerial photography. Designed for durability and made from quality materials, this drone will cost you much more than a toy drone. We have checked the manufacturer's site for their payload capacity and pricing but always double-check before purchasing.

Example:

Mavic Air 2 Drone

Price: $958.00

Maximum payload capacity: N/A

Features:

  • 1/2-inch CMOS sensor and 3-axis gimbal
  • 4K/60fps video quality and resolution
  • Flight time of up to 34 minutes
  • Low noise propellers

Professional Drones

Professional drones are top-of-the-line, designed for various uses, and sold to licensed professionals. A professional drone can carry even more weight compared to the other two types of drones. These are usually custom-made, so the price will vary depending on the materials used.

Example:

OnyxStar HYDRA-12

Price: Estimated $17,500

Maximum payload capacity: 12 kg

Features:

  • Real-Time Kinetik precision (RTK)
  • Carbon-made and easy-to-fly
  • Automatic take-off and landings
  • Flight time of up to 30 minutes

Specialized Drones

Last on the list are specialized drones that are designed specifically to carry heavy amounts of payload with ease. A heavy lifting drone is equipped with extremely durable frames, powerful motors, and propellers that enable them to carry such weights.

As special as these drones are, they are not commonly distributed commercially and therefore come with a heftier price tag. Usually, these drones are designated for search and rescue or companies like Amazon that intend to provide drone delivery to clients. Amazon drones carry quite heavy packages which is why they are designed to be stronger.

Example:

The Griff 300

Price: $265,000

Maximum payload capacity: ~200kg

Features:

  • Used for search and rescue operations
  • Eight propellers on powerful motors
  • Flight time of up to 45 minutes
  • Able to carry humans

With all these types and uses for drones mentioned, you could say that not all drones could do what other drones could. For example, toy drones can't carry payloads that a specialized drone can carry. The additional weight is too much for a toy drone as it's own weight cannot handle it. This is why most hobby drones are only used for selfies, drone shots, and the like.

What Are You Trying to Do with Your Drone?

Before you buy a drone, you first need to establish your plan on what to do with your drone. Is it for delivery services? Or is it simply for recreational use? Heavy-duty drones are expensive and you could save a ton of money by opting for a standard one instead, especially if you just want to use yours for fun.

On a different note, if you're thinking about opening up a delivery service that will be carried out by a drone, be sure to check out the drone laws in your area. These policies differ per state, so it's best to be aware of them to avoid getting into trouble and wasting your money. Some states require licenses and permits to fly drones, while others have designated “no-fly” zones most likely in military environments. Before you ask yourself how much can a drone carry, it is always better to be informed before taking to the sky.

Frequently Asked Questions

Usually, drones are unable to lift off if they try to carry weights that are too heavy for them to handle. But if forced, it's only a matter of time before parts may break off or the engine overheats causing serious damage. Always work within the limits of your drone to avoid any untoward accidents. This is why knowing your drone's carrying capacity is important.

Can drones carry a human?

It is possible for some drones to carry humans. These are usually heavy-duty drones that are large in size and equipped with special motors. However, such drones are not available commercially and can only be used by professionals.

How big should my drone be?

The size of your drone should depend on your intended use for it. Generally, bigger drones are more durable and strong enough to carry heavier weights. But as always, check the features of the product you are planning to purchase to be sure.

Can a drone lift 300 lbs?

Yes, it is possible for a drone to lift up to 300 lbs of items. There are even drones that can lift up to a whopping 500 lbs while flying at very fast speeds.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, drones have no set maximum weight or uniform payload capacity. Multiple factors affect the maximum payload of a drone, making it a variable that differs in every drone. There are a lot of different types of drones out there. There are simpler and cheaper ones available to the public such as small hobby drones, beginner drones, delivery drones carrying payloads, and more. These drones are able to carry out various tasks from taking pictures to carrying out search and rescue missions and drone deliveries.

There are heavy-duty drones built with powerful parts and durable frames that can easily lift heavy weights. But they are expensive and not sold commercially. So, think about what you want your drone to do first before buying it, and be informed about the drone rules and policies in your area.

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