Costs of Owning a Personal Drone

Almost any aspiring hobbyist can own a personal drone and use it for a variety of purposes such as professional photography, commercial purposes or racing adventures. Actually, there are lots of these drones on the market today, from quadcopters to hexacopters to octocopters, but do you have an idea towards the actual costs? There are actually many considerations to take into account in determining the total cost and these include the purchase price as well as the maintenance costs. Some popular brands, such as the DJI, come with complete packages with every accessory included, so it’s easy to determine the total purchase price. Still, on the long term, the purchase price may be quite small compared to what you have to pay. You have to do a lot of research to find the best drone under $500, it is mostly a question of how much drone you actually need, in that price category.

Now, let’s take a look at how much will you have to pay to buy the drone, and how much money you will have to add down the road.

Drone Price vs Drone Costs

The drone price can be influenced by the type of drone you want or need. As highlighted above, there are myriad of purposes that one can own a drone for. If you’ve ventured into professional photography, for example, you can consider drones such the DJI Matrice 100, DJI Phantom 3 Professional, Walkera Tali H500, DJI Inspire 1, or Yuneec Typhoon H. All these are capable of holding expensive and high-end cameras. Let’s break down some of their costs below:

Yuneec Typhoon H

This is a hexacopter and costs around $1300. The price includes all the components such as the 4K camera and the ST16 all-in-one controller. You do not need any accessory for flying this high-end multirotor. However, consider the replacement parts, should it collide with objects and get damaged inevitably. There are no maintenance costs involved, but, after a while, you will need new batteries. So, the total price could easily escalate over $1500 with replacement parts purchased.

DJI Matrice 100

This one costs around $4300 and includes all components. The spare battery is also included. The drone can hold advanced cameras for professional photography. It has advanced features and a powerful battery that endorses it for professional cinematography. The expensive price is justified. But, add to this total the replacement parts costs, should it need repairs, and the price of a high-quality camera, and the overall price can easily go over $5000.

DJI Phantom 3

Expect to pay close to $800 for this drone. It also comes with all the needed components for flying and filming. But, you will need spare batteries, propellers, and memory cards, if you tend to keep it in the air and make awesome aerial footage. So, the price will go over $1000 in total. If you need additional accessories for replacement, have a look at an article that talks about the DJI Phantom accessories.

Walkera Tali H500

With this hexacopter, expect to spend close to a $1000. It comes complete with the advanced features such as the high-quality camera and the brushless gimbal. Add to that the costs for repairs, spare batteries and propellers, and the price goes near to $1200 easily.

Spare Parts

Common replacement parts include the propellers (from $2 to $80) and batteries (from $10 to $100). Beginner pilots are strongly encouraged to buy replacement parts in advance because of the likelihood of crashing their drones within a few flights.

Word of advice: Do not attempt to fly a high end and expensive drone such as the DJI Matrice 100 without extensive experience! Fixing the drone thereafter could impose more costs.

For mini-drones with a camera, you can consider owning the Hubsan for about $40, the Syma X5C for about $50 and the Parrot Mini Drone for about $100. All these are initial prices. Expect to pay more if you consider replacement costs of propellers and batteries. These are mini drones, so they can be affected by strong winds to crash into trees. So, you need blade guards and other spare accessories. Either way, you won’t pay that much. For propellers, you may pay around $10.

If you can’t stand the stress of purchasing expensive drones, then build your own, although it will be time-consuming. Unfortunately, the gigantic drones like the DJI S1000+ and Inspire 1 do not have kits. They are RTF models. Smaller drone kits, grant you the option to build your customized drone.

Top 3 High Budget Accessories

The jaw-dropping moment of owning a drone could be the expensive price tags of indispensable accessories such as the Gimbal, a GoPro Camera, and the FPV goggles. These accessories are needed to make your flight experience quite enjoyable.

Gimbal

This accessory helps stabilize your camera for smooth and silk aerial footage. Other drones come equipped with the gimbal whereas some do not. Even if your drone comes with this accessory, you will need to consider having spare parts for in case the inevitable occurs. You can spend close to $100 just for the gimbal, depending on the model and the drone on which you will attach it. The gimbal needs to be compatible with both the drone model and the type of the camera you intend to mount.

GoPro Camera

These are popular high-end cameras to mount onto your drone. They are the best tools for professional aerial photography. The models you can buy include the Hero 3, 3+, 4 or 5. GoPro Hero 5, for example, can cost around $400. Obviously it comes with superb features that will take your camera needs to another level.

FPV system

This is an accessory that puts you in the pilot’s cockpit and fills you with adrenaline. FPV is short for First Person View, and these systems include an onboard camera and transmitter, and goggles with a receiver. It allows you to have a live feed of where your drone is going, and some models even allow you to move the camera as your head moves, as if you were really on board your drone. The price range for this awesome accessory goes from some $150 to even $500, but believe us, it is totally worth every dollar.

Final thoughts

It turns out that owning a personal drone can cost more, when considering the purchase of indispensable accessories. The purchase price is explicit for all the models. The only variance arises when you have to take into account the expensive accessories as we discussed above, or the replacement parts. In fact, drones do not have maintenance costs, but parts replacement costs. Most of these are RTF (Ready to Fly), so everything is included.

Your intended use of the drone is the determining factor of how much will you spend on the total costs. If you plan to indulge in professional work with them, then you must be prepared to incur more costs of the high-end UAVs.