drone roof inspections

What’s the best drone for roof inspections?

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.

autel x-star

I did a mock roof inspection for my mom using this Autel X-Star drone.

  • 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.

See Drone Girl’s entire Yuneec Q500 review here.

  • 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.

See Drone Girl’s entire Autel X-Star review here.

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.

See Drone Girl’s review of the Yuneec Typhoon H here.


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