Many drone enthusiasts are confused when they first start looking for their drones, wondering if they have any lights to help fly with.
All hobby drones have lights to indicate what condition the system is currently in, with additional lights on the machine to indicate the position at night. The lights serve several purposes for the person flying the drone and those around the drone to track it accurately.
There are many meanings to the lights attached to your drones, with most people learning what they are when they read the regulations for their country. Each drone has a set of lights that need to be understood, with most manufacturers trying to use their own set of lights to deliver a different message.
What Do the Different Lights on A Drone Mean?
When you start up the drone for the first time or see one flying through the night sky, you can see various lights. This confuses many people who assume the drones’ lights will all be the same when in reality, the lights are different from country to country and for each drone type.
However, for hobby drones, the sets of lights have become more or less standardized to ensure that everything is understandable. We can look at the basic lights that all drones have will mean and how you should interpret them when your drone is flying or when you see one flying around.
Flashing Red, Green, Or White Lights
Flashing red lights usually mean that the battery needs to be charged or work as part of the anti-collision lighting systems. White or green lights flashing will almost always be for anti-collision, drawing attention to the drone and its current location.
The reason for these lights flashing is to ensure that others can know where the drone is at all times, usually once the sun has started to set. It is important to note that most countries have drone-specific laws requiring that these lights be installed, no matter how low or high the drones can fly.
Solid White, Green, Or Red Lights
Solid green and white lights are navigation lights that work in tandem with the onboard cameras to help you as the drone flyer navigate the drone. Solid red lights can mean that the drone has entered a specific mode or that the battery is about to fail while flying critically.
A few select drones use solid lights to indicate whether or not it is in return home mode or that it is in a type of sport mode. Solid lights on a drone can all mean different things, heavily depending on how the owner has modified the drone or the manufacturer has set them up.
What Do the Lights in Different Positions Mean?
When you start up your drone for the first time, the first thing that will confuse you is the millions of lights flashing. A few drone lovers get frustrated with their drones because they are unaware of which lights indicate that the machine is connected correctly.
We have learned what most drones mean when they have flashing lights in certain positions, with most major drone manufacturers using similar systems. Before you start flying your drone through the mountains and buildings around you, it is best to know exactly where the warning lights are.
Lights Near the Propellers
The lights Near the propellers are there for navigation, anti-collision, and mode settings, so they are a combination of lights. The front lights of the drone will be green and white, with the rear two lights usually being green with flashing red.
Depending on your drone’s overall size and quality, these lights will be slightly varied, with DJI having different types of lights on each of their drones. The baste standard of all drones will have light next to the propellers to make them extremely visible when flying at night.
The Lights on The Body and Battery
These indicate the actual state the drone is currently in and how much charge the battery has, allowing you to see how long you can fly. These lights are not as bright as the other lights and will need you to land the drone for you to check on, which is why you need to ensure they indicate the drone is ready before flying.
There are modules that you can add to your drone that will work as miniature spotlights that allow you to see in front of the camera. However, to help indicate when the battery is lower, the other lights on the drone can change, and there might be notifications sent to your phone.
Why is there so much confusion about the lights?
Hobby drones are made by different manufacturers, with each country in the world having different regulations. A drone that is safe to fly in Japan will have different lighting behavior from drones sold in the United States or the United Kingdom.
Further, the size of your drone heavily affects the types of lighting it can have, with many lights being less defined as the drone shrinks down. Drones that are as small as your hand may only have two lights on the entire body, while some larger drones can have well over ten lights.
Usually, this is why you need to read the rules for how drones are allowed in whichever country you are going to when traveling. Countries like South Africa require extensive licensing for drones to fly around houses, with a different license to fly above a certain height.
What drones have different lights?
Two types of drones will have drastically different lights from the standard lights you may be familiar with. Racing drones and small hive mind drones, each of these are specialized drones that enthusiasts build for specific tasks.
Racing drones generally have bright lights for the show, making it look a lot more fascinating when the drone speeds through a course. These drones are controlled by experienced flyers that rarely need to look at the drone instead of relying on the feedback from the camera to know where the drone is.
Drones connected as a hivemind will usually have very bright RGB lights used to create a show in the sky. These drones are becoming popular to use instead of fireworks that create some of the world’s most incredible light shows with current technology.
Do the lights affect the battery life?
No, the LED lights used on drones do not draw enough power to affect the overall battery life of the drone significantly. The batteries used on modern drones are usually highly specialized and can comfortably handle the low power draw from the lights.