Roof inspections have never been easy to perform. The multiple angles and edges make certain areas of the roof hard to reach and inspect properly. And let’s not forget the inherent danger of walking on steep and slanted surfaces.
Inspecting a roof from the ground is also not ideal as a lot of the problems with the roof can be easily missed.
This is why roof inspections are expensive, tricky, and time-consuming. This, however, considering the growing popularity of drones and the constant improvement in technology recently, is slowly about to change.
Drones can be used for roof inspections. In fact, they can be used for detailed, in-depth inspection of the entire structure of the building. The right drone can provide you with highly detailed and close-up videos or photos of even the most inaccessible areas of a roof.
Best Drones For Roof Inspections
Here are the best drones for roof inspection you can get at a glance:
|Drone Model||Camera||Drone Weight||Flight Time||Transmission Distance|
|Autel Robotics VOOCO X-Star Premium Drone||4K / 30 FPS||1420 g||Up to 25 minutes||Up to 1.24 miles|
|DJI Mavic Pro||4K / 30 FPS||743 g||Up to 27 minutes||Up to 4.3 miles|
|DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone||2.7k/ 30 FPS||1216 g||Up to 25 minutes||Up to 0.62 miles|
|DJI Phantom 4 Drone||4K / 30 FPS||1380 g||Up to 28 minutes||Up to 3.1 miles|
|Yuneec Q500 4K Quadcopter Drone||4K / 30 FPS||1700 g||Up to 25 minutes||Up to 0.49 miles|
|Parrot – Thermal Drone||4K||315 g||Up to 26 minutes||Up to 2.79 miles|
Autel Robotics VOOCO X-Star Premium Drone
This little fellow right here is easily one of the best consumer-oriented drones that can also be used for roof inspections.
This drone comes with a built-in 4K camera, which will provide you with high-quality and crisp imagery.
The camera is mounted on a 3-axis gimbal, which will keep the video smooth and stable. There will be no significant shaking and jitteriness, and you will be able to see and inspect the condition of the roof a lot easier.
The drone has a very long range of operation. You can control it from a tad over 1.2 miles away. This almost surely guarantees that you will be able to inspect both small and large roofs easily.
The next thing that will make you love this drone is that it has a ton of autonomous features making its use a breeze.
DJI Mavic Pro Bundle
The DJI Mavic Pro is easily one of the best drones in this category.
This bundle comes with everything you will need to start flying your drone right away.
The drone offers exceptionally stable video footage. This will allow you to inspect a roof and get close to it with ease. You can get it to any points of interest, leave it there, and it will stay steady in the air giving you enough time to take a good look at the condition of the shingles, flashing, gutters, and everything else.
Even bringing the drone with you is as easy as it can get. The shoulder bag is easy to carry, and it can accommodate everything you will need, including your drone.
What makes it so easy to carry is the fact that it is incredibly small (comparable to a bottle of water when folded) and that it is also super lightweight. It is almost half the weight of other comparable drones.
For the prices it sells at this drone bundle is a steal.
DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone
DJI is a well-known brand in the drone industry.
The standard Phantom 3 is an outstanding drone that can be used for roof inspections, too.
The flight time is amazing – about 25 minutes – and it will give you enough time to carry out a proper roof inspection.
It features a magnificent camera capable of capturing video at 2.7k at 30 fps. The video feed that is transmitted to your controller is 720p.
It has an average transmission distance. The range at which the video can be transmitted to your controllers is about half a mile, which is generally speaking more than enough to cover the area of a standard house.
The Standard Edition of the DJI Phantom 3 is an excellent drone for beginners, so you will not have to worry about complicated controls or crashes.
DJI Phantom 4 Drone
DJI is a leading manufacturer of high-quality drones that can offer something to almost everyone.
The camera on the DJI Phantom 4 provides outstanding and crisp images. It is capable of shooting videos in 4K at 30 FPS.
The video which will be transmitted to your controller device, be it an iPhone or an iPad, is going to be in 720p. And the drone can be used at distances up to 3.1 miles away from you, which is giving you a lot of freedom.
The video image will be super smooth and shake-free thanks to the 3-axis stabilization system, which is built-in right into the drone. The DJI Phantom 4 has one of the best stabilization systems you can ask for.
It has several features that make it extremely useful for even complete beginners. Using the GPS, it can follow the same path back to you, and it has an auto take-off capability.
Yuneec Q500 Typhoon 4K Quadcopter Drone
Yuneec is another well-known manufacturer of drones. The Yuneec Q500 Typhoon is one of their best models that can be used for roof inspections.
This drone is suitable for both beginners and more experienced users.
The included camera is capable of capturing videos in 4K, and it is mounted on a 3-axis gimbal, which will keep your footage steady and smooth, giving you the necessary stability to inspect any roof.
It features all of the advanced features that you will find on other high-end drones like follow me and dynamic return home.
While with some drone controllers you would need to use some kind of a mobile device like a smartphone or a tablet the Yuneec Q500 Typhoon comes with a controller that has a built-in screen.
Parrot – Thermal Drone
The high-quality 4K camera of the Parrot drone is built for visual inspections. It provides steady and detailed video footage, and best of all, it has thermal capabilities.
This is where this drone really shines.
With the thermal capabilities of this drone, you will be able to not just visually inspect a roof but also take a closer in-depth look. You can search for any cold spots, wet spots, or thermal leaks.
Little details like this matter but are extremely hard to spot. The thermal view takes much of the guessing work away.
Overall the drone is easy to use and operate. It has some of the neat features that many drone owners have grown used to, like an automatic return to base and more. It also comes with three batteries in total, which means that you will not have to worry about buying more batteries any time soon.
The drone is extremely lightweight, and the convenient travel bag makes it easy to carry.
What to Look for in a Drone That Will Be Used for Roof Inspections
The battery lifespan is a factor that will significantly impact how well you will be able to do your job. The overall drone flight time will affect how much time you have to do the roofing inspection.
On average, you can expect drones to be able to fly for no more than 20 to 30 minutes. Cheaper models can limit your flight time to as low as 5 to 10 minutes. Five minutes is definitely not going to be enough to carry out a full roof inspection.
When doing a roof inspection, time is of the essence. You cannot, or rather, should not feel under pressure while doing your inspection. You want to be able to take your time and conduct the inspection properly—ideally, the more flight time you have at your disposal, the better.
Usually, drones should all have their maximum flight time specified; however, keep in mind that this time can and will vary a lot depending on the weather and atmospheric conditions.
There is no point in using a drone that is not able to capture high-quality images with high levels of details and resolution. Gone are the days of those 0.3 MP cameras that captured low-resolution video, but what camera should you look for?
I recommend going with the best quality camera you can get. Ideally, a 4K Ultra-HD camera will provide you with excellent high-quality and very detailed video footage and photos.
Depending on your budget, you can also go with a cheaper 1080p FullHD camera.
Just because the camera can capture and record videos at 4K does not mean that the video feed which is transmitted live to your controlling device is going to be in 4K as well. This is an important detail worth taking a more in-depth look into and giving it some consideration before buying.
Most drones will transmit at 720p, which is a decent level of quality to go for.
The next feature that you may want to look for is a thermal camera. Most drones do not come with thermal cameras, but it may be possible to buy and attach one to them later.
Thermal cameras are useful for spotting potential problematic areas that may be otherwise invisible to the naked eye. The thermal view will allow you to look for thermal losses and water leaks.
A thermal camera will provide for a very detailed and complete inspection of the roof – you can quite literally leave no stone unturned.
If you are interested in what exactly you can expect to check out this neat video about performing a roof inspection with a thermal camera drone.
First Person View
The first person view (or FPV) feature allows you to see exactly what the drone sees. As if you are inside the drone.
FPV kits can be installed on many cameras and allow for an unparalleled and immersive experience when flying your drone. The FPV is frequently used in drone racing.
However, is an FPV absolutely necessary when conducting a roof inspection? I feel like it is a cool feature that is not necessary. As long as you have a controller device that has a screen on it and your drone can transmit good high-quality live video directly to it, you are good to go.
However, if you really want that immersive experience and you have the money to spend on an FPV drone, that is perfectly okay too.
Maximum Transmission Range
The ideal transmission range you would need may vary depending on what type of roofs and building you inspect.
Although you may not need to go with drones that can be operated a few miles away from you, you will still need to be able to safely operate your drone for at least up to several hundreds of meters.
You can find the transmission ranges specs on most drones. However, it is worth mentioning that the environmental conditions and other obstacles can limit and bring down these ranges significantly.
Longer flight time and being able to see the roof are vital aspects of the drone and deserve most of your attention. But to be able to do the inspection effectively and in a timely manner, you will also need a drone that will provide you with a stable image.
For the best footage stabilization, look for a drone with a 3-axis gimbal. Two-axis gimbals are also effective at providing good stabilization, although they may not be able to smoothen out some of the horizontal movements very well.
For a good hands-on example of what you can expect from a 3-axis and 2-axis gimbal compared to having no stabilization whatsoever, check out this short video below:
Smart Flight Features
Depending on your personal preferences, you may want to look for drones that pack different smart or automated flight features like:
- Automated take-off, return to the take-off point, and landing;
- Built-in GPS;
- Obstacle sensing and avoiding;
- Customizable geo-barrier;
- Adjustable height control and altitude hold;
- Adjustable waypoints;
What You Need to Know Before Using a Drone for Roof Inspections
Before using your drone commercially, you need to make sure you are code compliant and part 107 certified. There are also other limitations and rules like not flying a drone over congested areas and over and near other people and crowds.
Make sure that you will be following the laws regarding drone usage, as this is one of the most frequent mistakes drone users make. If the laws are not followed, you may suffer a prosecution.