Any time you are making a major investment, you want to be sure that you are getting the best. Not just the best deal—and not just the best service—but the best overall experience. It can be overwhelming to shop for a big purchase, especially in tech, where gear evolves rapidly and can become obsolete quickly. If you do your research and shop wisely, though, you can make a good investment. Shopping for a drone is no exception. A quick internet search will reveal that there is no shortage of drones for sale, but as a conscientious shopper, you know to look at more than just price and shipping speed. You need to look at the whole package.
Navigating the drone marketplace is like navigating a drone itself. You can't go in blind—you will crash and burn. If you do your research, understand what to expect, and proceed with deliberation, you might have a shot at success. In fact, it's quite likely that this approach will lead you to great results with both buying and flying a drone. Where does a beginner—or a seasoned drone pro, for that matter—get started with drone shopping? All of the drones for sale can leave you feeling lost when you don't know what you want. Maybe you know what you want, but you don't know where to get it. Either way, there are some tips you should keep in mind during your drone search endeavor.
According to the New York Times, recent advancements in drone technology have made them widely more accessible to companies and to civilians, too. The results are complex. The Federal Aviation Administration is pushing for greater regulations on both commercial and non-commercial use. Hobbyists who simply enjoy drones' many uses can still do so with many freedoms, and the purchase of drones has not been heavily regulated. Still, some worry that the drones on the market today may be unavailable in a few years. If you are interested in investing in one, it is best to buy in now while the technology is still freely available.
What Criteria Should You Consider
Whether this will be the first or third drone you are purchasing, you should stop to carefully consider exactly what you are looking for. Do you want a drone with impressive photography and videography capabilities? Perhaps your priorities are more concerned with finding a model that is lightweight and equipped for racing. Identifying your goals and interests as it relates to a drone is the first step in finding one that meets all of your needs. Drones come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, designs, and functionalities. If you start shopping without an idea of what you want, you might pass right by it without knowing.
So what criteria should be on your shopping list to begin narrowing down your options? That depends on what exactly you plan to use your drone for, but one of the first features to consider is your level of expertise. Some drones are ideal for beginners who are just dipping their toes into the world of aerial excursions. You will see other drones for sale that are quite obviously intended for advanced and professional users who have specific needs for their device. This will often correlate to your budget, too.
The more advanced a drone is, the more expensive it is likely to be. Gauge the level you are looking for and start there.
Once you have determined what level of expertise you are comfortable entering the market at, take an inventory of the features you are looking for. The aforementioned activities such as drone racing or aerial photography might demand a device with certain specifications. If you want to pursue photography, for example, investing in a drone with a high-megapixel camera is a wise move. An interest in racing, similarly, means you should look for a drone with minimal vibration, a lightweight body, and a frame made for durability. Think about the wear and tear you will be subjecting your drone to, and shop accordingly.
Should I Buy New, Used, or Refurbished?
Even once you have narrowed down what kind of drone you are shopping for, there is a lot to consider before making your purchase. One of the biggest concerns people typically have is budget. You want to get the most bang for your buck, but you also don't want to fall prey to a deal that is too good to be true. Buying a drone brand new is typically the most expensive option, but many consider it to be the most reliable, too. If you want to know that you are the very first to enjoy your new device, buying new is the way to go. This option may also include a manufacturer's warranty to protect your investment.
There are plenty of refurbished drones for sale, too, that you might consider. Unlike buying a new device, buying refurbished means that somebody has previously owned the equipment and returned it for some reason. A manufacturer may inspect it, correct any defects, and sell it as refurbished. Some of the benefits a refurbished drone can offer include the following:
Less expensive than buying new
More reliable than buying used
Typically inspected by manufacturer
Protection plans available
Refurbished drones for sale are the right choice for many buyers. This is especially true if you are new to drones and looking for a user-friendly design to start off with. Many popular models are available refurbished for less. You will likely find the lowest prices if you stumble upon used drones. Like refurbished models, these have been previously owned, but unlike refurbished drones, they usually have not been inspected. They are also often sold by individuals rather than reputable sellers.
What Kinds of Drones Are Available
If you are still overwhelmed, it is understandable. There are many options and details to research when you are in the market to buy a drone. Uncertainty is to be expected, but the only cure for it is knowledge. Continue researching and educating yourself until you know what you want when you are looking at drones for sale. There are a few basic types of models to consider when you are browsing. Each functions differently and gives users a unique experience. If you thought that all drones worked the same way, think again. Learn about the following options so you can better understand what to look for.
One of the most common drone models is called an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV for short. Sometimes these are also referred to as an unmanned aerial system, or UAS for short. These are typically used in military operations, but when you are shopping, you might see some intended for civilian use, too. These function based on the controls of a pilot who remains on the ground and a communication system installed in the device. They vary in size and other function, but they are not usually ideal for use with activities such as photography or racing. They are more suited to covert operations, bomb strikes, espionage, and strategic maneuvers.
Drones owned and operated by civilians may simply be referred to as "private drones." According to PBS, over 9.4 million of these devices have been sold in the United States, and their popularity is only continuing to grow. These are the drones that are typically equipped with cameras, compatible with apps, and ready for racing. They are built to be used by people like you for general recreational and professional activities. These devices provide users with incredible freedom and the ability to explore with practically no limits. As long as you abide by local and federal regulations, you can use a private drone as you see fit. If drones are a hobby or a profession, this is likely the best option for you and your needs.
When Can My Budget Get Me?
Budget is understandably one of the biggest concerns buyers have. There is nothing worse than overpaying when you are trying to make a wise investment. Conversely, you do not want to get a great price and find you got less than what you paid for. Striking a balance and staying within your budget is essential, but when you are shopping for a drone, it can also be a challenge. With the right knowledge and tools, though, you can establish a reasonable budget and find a drone that won't break the bank. There are so many drones for sale that it is virtually impossible that you wouldn't find one that meets your needs.
At the low end of the spectrum, you can find a number of options ranging in price from $189.99 to $399.99. In this bracket, you will mostly find beginner drones with basic features such as a camera, radio, and sometimes special racing capabilities. The Walkera Rodeo 110, for example, boasts all of these features as well as a frame constructed from carbon fiber and an HD wide angle lens. If you are willing to splurge and head towards the higher end of this price range, the Wingsland S6 Rocket RC Quadcopter is an impressive offering as well. Its controls can be managed by an easy to use app, and it also features dual satellite navigation. In this case, spending a little more can get you a lot more.
Drones in the $200-$400 range are a good value, but they often won't include the premium features that dedicated and experienced users are looking for. If you want a drone that is equipped for professional use, you can expect to pay at least $499.99 and—if you are making a major investment—potentially as much as $14,999. Most mid-range drone models are priced somewhere between these two figures, though. At $1,499, for example, the DJI Phantom Phantom4 Advanced+ boasts capabilities that more affordable drones cannot. In addition to a stellar camera and a 30 meter sensing range, this model comes with a range of control spanning 4.3 miles.
What Kind of Seller Should I Trust?
Finding the right seller is just as important as finding the right drone. Buying the right model from the wrong dealer can be a major mistake if they fail to provide the service and support you need. This is one of the most important—if not the most important—parts of the process when you are buying a drone. How do you know who to trust when you are looking at drones for sale? Unfortunately, trustworthy sellers do not have a stamp of approval, and unreliable sellers won't be marked with red tape. As is the case with the rest of the process, though, doing some research and educating yourself will go a long way in helping you avoid a misstep.
One of the first risks to be aware of is the liability of buying from an individual seller. Plenty of people advertise drones for sale online, and you might even be able to find local listings, but purchasing from somebody who offers no customer support of follow-up service can easily put you in a bad situation. This is especially true if you happen to purchase a used drone from them and later find that it is not in the condition you were led to believe. An established outlet dedicated to selling drones can prevent situations like this from taking place and are generally safer to buy from than individual sellers.
If you have opted to buy a drone that is new or refurbished, a supplier like this is typically your best bet. You may believe that the difference in price is worth the risk of buying from a less reputable seller, but there are often drones for sale at a discount or on special if you take the time to research the available inventory and options. When you are shopping for your new drone, seek out sellers that offer more than just a product. Invest in training programs, customer service, and insurance so that you can be sure your investment is going to be cared for.