What is the best drone to use for roof inspections?
You really don’t need to do anything fancy! I was thinking about the use case for drones in roof inspections when I was at my mom’s house in Missouri over the weekend. (I live in a condo building in San Francisco, so no need for me to do my own roof inspections here!)
Roof inspections can get fancy. You could add a thermal camera (particularly if you have solar panels on your roof). If you had a huge roof and needed to fly the exact same route every time, you might want to use Skycatch, which could even generate a map for you.
But for most roof inspectors, all you want is a relatively small drone that is stable, easy to fly, can get close to the roof, is safe, and offers both a live video feed and generates high qualities images or video that can be saved.
Often, all you need to see is a clip something like this, which I took when my mom asked me to drone-photograph her house for her:
I shot the following clip on the Autel X-Star.
So what drone should you use for roof inspections?
There are really 3 drones I would recommend, all of which cost less than $800 including camera, and offer at least 20 minutes of flight time. Each of these drones also
If you need to do more advanced roof inspections — such as needing a dual controller, scroll down for more recommendations.
- Yuneec Q500 ($785): This drone is light and easy to transport (including a carrying case). It has a 4K camera for high quality video, and is smooth and easy to fly. This drone is awesome because it has a live video feed directly in the RC transmitter, allowing you to see your roof in real-time using nothing more than the drone and controller.
This drone also comes with a sun shield/hood to make it easier to see the screen.
- DJI Phantom 3 Standard ($491.98): This drone is incredibly wallet friendly. The camera quality here is 2.7K quality, so while it’s not quite as good as 4K (and wouldn’t necessarily be Hollywood-film ready), it’s more than high quality enough to see details in your roof. The video streams through your smartphone or tablet, which you can use to get real-time video.
You might also want to buy DJI’s transmitter hood to better see your screen.
- Autel X-Star ($699): The X-Star looks a lot like an orange DJI Phantom. But, there are actually quite a few differences. For about $700, you’ll get higher quality video (4K) than DJI’s Phantom 3 Standard. It also has a removable gimbal meaning you’ll potentially be able to update the camera or drone in future models from Autel.
All of these drones can hover and maintain their position, so in theory you could get a good look at the roof while also controlling the drone (with a spotter of course).
But there may be instances where it is significantly safer and easier to have a dual-controller for your drone.
Here are some (slightly more expensive) options if you need a dual controller:
- DJI’s Inspire 1 ($2,299) has a dual controller option — allowing one person to control the drone and another to control just the camera.
- Yuneec’s Typhoon H ($1,299) offers a neat option called Team Mode. With Team Mode, you can bind one Ground Station to Typhoon H and another Ground Station to the CGO3+ camera simultaneously. Capturing truly creative content is vastly more practical with cooperation between pilot and camera operator.