5 Best Drones for Roof Inspections

Finding the best drone for roof inspections may not be as easy as you think. Even though drones are good for capturing sharp and professional images from the sky, not all drones are good for roof inspections. There are several important things you should look for, such as whether it’s easy to pilot, has a long controller to drone transmission range, and can take wide angle and clear photos.

Hello! My name is Lavelle and I am a licensed drone pilot and a long-time drone operator. Over the past 10 years, I have been using my drones for both recreational and professional use. In particular, since I live in the Gulf Coast Region of the U.S., I have used my drones extensively for roof inspections during and after the hurricane season in my region.

In this article, I will cover some of the aspects and features of drones that you should look for when choosing a drone to conduct roof inspections. I will also share with you my favorite drones for roof inspection work. 

Key Takeaways

  • If you want to go all in for roof inspections, the Mavic Air 3 is the best overall choice.
  • When choosing the best drone to use for roof inspections, look at camera quality, transmission range, and thermal imaging options.
  • If you want to expand your roof inspection options, choose a drone that offers surveying and/or mapping options.
  • Stability should be given a high priority when considering drone options as high winds are often an issue when hovering over roofs for a considerable amount of time.
Is roof inspection worth it?

Yes, roof inspection work is a good option for drone pilots. You can charge good rates for roof inspections and plenty of work is available. 

Drones that you can use for roof inspections vary in cost, ranging anywhere from approximately $800 to $5,000 or more depending on the features that you want. The investment is worthwhile and you can easily get a good return on your investment in a reasonable turnaround time.

You can find roof inspection jobs in classified ads online and on social media outlets. You can also advertise your services on online platforms and you can attend trade shows to promote your services.

What Makes the Best Drone for Roof Inspections

When looking to get the right drone to conduct roof inspections, there are some fundamental features that your drone should have. Here are the things that I must have in a roof inspection drone.

Transmission Range

One of the most frightening things that can happen when you are using your drone to inspect a roof, especially a large commercial roof, is to lose connectivity to your drone. Having a drone and remote controller with an extended transmission range is vital to your success and to your peace of mind. 

Wide Angle Camera

In many instances, you need to capture overhead shots of the complete roof without ascending above the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) limit of 400 feet. To do this, your drone’s camera needs to have a wide-angle lens that allows you to capture all the areas of the roof without having to rise too high. It is also helpful for capturing more detail from a lower altitude while still capturing the entire roof in one shot.

Extended Battery Life

Longer battery life is critical to keeping your drone in the air for longer periods of time. Doing this saves you time and money. On larger commercial roofs, it is much more efficient to be able to stay in the air long enough to get all of your shots while on one battery charge. I always like to have drones with at least 30-solid minutes of flying time.

Other Considerations

Some other features to consider include:

  • Precise hovering ability – a good drone needs to be able to hover in place without drifting. This gives you the ability to capture clear images and to not worry about the drone drifting into a nearby object.
  • Obstacle Avoidance – the obstacle avoidance feature is important when conducting roof inspections because of the possibility of not seeing something on your monitor while flying. 
  • Thermal Imaging – This optional upgrade is well worth the cost. Thermal imaging gives you the ability to see things that may not be captured by a naked camera eye i.e. water leaks under the roof, moisture build up, insulation failures, etc.

Top 5 Drones for Roof Inspections

Here’s my list of the best drones to use for roof inspections. I’ve based this ranking on my experiences, technical features, and overall stability of the drone.

1. DJI Mavic 3 (Best Overall)

  • Camera: 20MP; 28x Zoom Lens
  • Transmission Range: Up to 15 km
  • Flight Time: Up to 46 minutes
  • Flight Control: GPS; 6-direction Obstacle Avoidance; Automatic Return to Home
  • Thermal Capability: Option is available for this drone

When it comes to the DJI flagship drone, the Mavic 3 is the top of the line! This durable, stable and long-transmission range drone offers the most complete package for roof inspections. 

The 28x zoom lens allows you to take exceptional photos from a wide angle view. The lengthy flight time of 46 minutes is ample time to complete a roof inspection on one battery charge and the obstacle avoidance feature is very accurate. 

The lengthy transmission range is a key component of this drone’s ability. At 15 kilometers (9 miles), you can fly this drone with a certainty of not losing your connectivity.

There is also a thermal imaging upgrade available for this drone and is well worth the upgrade price. Additionally, DJI offers some excellent roof inspection software options that can be added to this drone.

It’s hard to find fault with this drone. The only improvement that I can see is that a 4k video option could be useful.

My Verdict: This drone is the best overall choice for conducting roof inspections. The camera is excellent, the flight time is top of its class, the flight control features are exceptional and the add-ons for this drone are superb. Its most noteworthy attribute is the long transmission range which stands atop its category.

2. DJI Phantom IV Pro 2.0 (Best Surveying Drone)

  • Camera: 20MP
  • Transmission Range: Up to 9 miles
  • Flight Time: Up to 30 minutes
  • Flight Control: GPS; 5-direction Obstacle Avoidance; Automatic Return to Home
  • Thermal Capability: not available unless you change the camera out completely

The DJI Phantom IV Pro 2.0 is a great choice for roof inspections. It comes in on my list at #2 because it is exceptional for conducting roofing surveys and for roof mapping. DJI also has several roofing inspection software options available for this drone.

The transmission range is a respectable 5-mile limit and the flying time of 30 minutes meets my standard for in-air flight time. While it does not have the 6-direction obstacle avoidance of the Mavic 3, it does offer a 5-direction obstacle avoidance feature and the same automatic return-to-home feature of the Mavic 3. 

There are a few areas of concern with this drone, which is why it fell to the number 2 spot on my list. The lack of a thermal imaging option is a big drawback for me. I like having the option to upgrade here without replacing the entire camera. Also, the 30-minute flying time is decent but not nearly as attractive as the 46-minute flight time for the Mavic 3. 

My Verdict: The Phantom IV Pro 2.0 is a big, stable drone that can withstand windy conditions exceptionally well. The surveying and mapping capabilities offer you the opportunity to get into a very niche market for roof inspections. Overall, this drone offers the second most comprehensive package for roof inspections.

3. Autel Evo 2 Pro (Best Value)

  • Camera: 20MP; 8x zoom
  • Transmission Range: 5.5 miles
  • Flight Time: Up to 40 minutes
  • Flight Control: GPS; 6-direction Obstacle Avoidance; Automatic Return to Home
  • Thermal Capability: not available

The Autel Robotics Evo 2 Pro drone is an exceptional value given its advanced features on it. It would easily be #2 on my list if it were not for the inability to conduct thermal imaging. 

The camera offers a strong 20MP resolution with an 8x zoom lens which is excellent for taking clear images. The transmission range is a bit longer than Phantom IV Pro 2.0, but still less than the Mavic 3. 

The flight time is also exceptional and is second in class among its competitors. The 6-direction obstacle avoidance also places it in the top tier of its category. 

With its high wind resistance design and the Autel support software to produce roof inspection reports, this drone is definitely a good value for conducting roof inspections.

My biggest concern is not being able to add the thermal imaging option. You have to purchase an entirely different drone model to have that option and that is why I have put it under the Phantom IV Pro 2.0 on my list.

My Verdict: The Autel Evo 2 Pro is the best choice if you’re looking to save money and still get a great drone for roof inspections. The cost of this drone is about half the cost of the DJI Mavic 3. It does have a major deficit since it does not have the thermal imaging option, however, for the cost, it’s a great value.

4. DJI Mavic Air 2S (Best Camera Options)

  • Camera: 20MP; f/2.8 lens with a 35-mm equivalent focal length of 22 mm
  • Transmission Range: 7.4 miles
  • Flight Time: Up to 31 minutes
  • Flight Control: GPS; 4-direction Obstacle Avoidance; Automatic Return to Home
  • Thermal Capability: not available

The DJI Mavic Air 2S is the second-tier level drone in the DJI family for roof inspections. It is a great option if you’re working with a smaller budget and want to stay in the DJI product family. 

The best attribute of this drone is the camera quality. With a 20MP resolution and f/2.8 lens and a 22mm focal length, this camera produces exceptional images that are crisp and clear. Additionally, the 7.4 miles transmission range is above all others in its class except for the Mavic 3. 

The flight time of up to 31 minutes is notable as are the 4-direction obstacle avoidance and automatic return to home features. The upgraded sensor allows it to take exceptional photos and provide excellent details for roof inspections. The software options available through DJI and other third-party applications, support roof inspections very well.

If you’re looking for a less expensive option in the DJI family, this drone fits that bill. However, without the thermal imaging option and a slightly less advanced flight control package, it falls below the Autel Evo Pro 2, to the #4 position on my list.

My verdict: The DJI Mavic Air 2S is a good option for roof inspections. Its upgraded image sensor is outstanding and there have been significant improvements from its predecessor, the Mavic Air 2. For its lower price point, it can perform solid roof inspections and comes in much less expensive than the top three options above on this list.

5. Parrot Anafi Work (Best Modeling Drone)

  • Camera: 21-megapixel images. 4K HDR with lossless zoom of 1.4x in 4K and 2.8x in full HD (1080p).
  • Transmission Range: 2.4 miles
  • Flight Time: Up to 25 minutes
  • Flight Control: GPS; Automatic Return to Home; High wind resistance design
  • Thermal Capability: not available

I’m usually not a big fan of the Parrot drones. However, the Parrot Anafi Work model (along with the thermal imaging model) makes my top list because of its great modeling capabilities.

For roof inspections, this drone’s 3D modeling capabilities place it on my list. You can also program this drone with automatic flight patterns which come in handy for doing repetitive roof inspections of similar size and dimension. 

The camera on this drone has a respectable 21MP resolution and its 1.4x zoom ability when shooting in 4K and 2.8x zoom ability when shooting in full high-definition is a nice feature. It also has a good transmission range of nearly 2 ½ miles and has flight control features that are similar to the others on my list. 

It is noteworthy to include that this drone is designed to withstand high winds of up to 50 km/h which makes it very sturdy given its relatively compact size.

As I have mentioned with others on my list, my biggest concern is the inability to have a thermal imaging option. Parrot does have another model that does have the thermal imaging option but it is a much more pricey option.

My verdict: This drone is a good option at a mid-level price point. It is somewhat comparable to the DJI Mavic Air and it looks like this drone was designed to primarily conduct roof inspections, given the 3D modeling capability. It is a good, solid drone priced well for entering the roof inspection industry on a smaller budget.

Final Thoughts

The roof inspection field is booming and drone operators and pilots are in high demand. Choosing the right drone for your roof inspection services is important. You should perform your due diligence before investing in a drone and then work within your given budget. The list of drones that I’ve shared in this article is a great place to start your information-gathering process.

Now I’d love to hear from you. Are you currently in the roof inspection field? What drone models do you suggest? Has this article been helpful to you? 

If so, please leave your comments and questions below and I will respond to you as soon as possible. Until next time, make some money and be safe.

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