As a drone enthusiast, I love asking questions, and one question I asked was is Phantom 4 waterproof, after contacting DJI and after doing a couple of experiments here is what I have found-
Phantom 4 is not waterproof, water can easily enter through the venting system and mess up the electronics. DJI recommends avoiding flying in rain, fog, and high humidity as precipitation might cause a short circuit making the drone inoperable and causing it to crash.
However, Phantom 4 is one of the high-end drones on the market so it is hard for me to believe this drone can’t at least resist a light shower so I set it out to the test
Is Phantom 4 waterproof
For something to be classified as a waterproof product it has to be completely submerged in water for a long period of time and stay intact after, so technically speaking this drone is not waterproof. However- no one is trying to swim with their drone, most people are asking this question to understand if it is possible to fly while it is raining.
So, to answer this question we have to understand some things first, the first one is what are parts of a drone can be water damaged, and understanding what IP ratings are can also help, so let us start with that-
DJI decided not to include IP rating for almost every drone in their lineup to avoid potential complications with customers. now don’t take me wrong some DJI drones such as Mavic mini can easily get water damaged because they lack many essential parts.
However, phantom 4 is a more advanced drone. If you were to ask me to guess the IP rating for it I would say it is ip43 or more, however I urge you to not take this because it can get me in trouble, it is just an opinion
So that being said, what are the components of this drone that can be water damaged?
- Every Drone’s main components are a motor, motherboard, Battery, and transmitter. of these parts, the latter 3 meaning the motherboard, Battery, and transmitter are likely to get water damage.
- For the Phantom 4, the motherboard and the transmitter are inside the drone safer than the battery. However, the battery is not sealed it is a clip-on battery and so water can find its way in a long period of time.
- If water finds its way to the motherboard it can short a circuit which can make the drone a piece of brick on the sky
Can You Fly Phantom 4 in Rain- my experiments
So when I talk about the phantom 4 I think I should be more careful because this thing is expensive and I don’t want to make someone’s life hard.
So, I have been able to fly this drone in a light shower few times without using a wet suit or any waterproofing product, but now I didn’t want to take this risk so I waterproof it I will talk about how I did that in a minute, but just before I wrote this article I contacted DJI support team and asked them if I can fly the Phantom 4 while raining and this Is what they said-
According to DJI, Phantom 4 can not fly in the rain. If moisture finds its way into the drone it can blow the electronic speed controllers(ESCs) or the motherboard and cause a system failure. Rain can also cause corrosion in the long term which can decrease the drone’s performance.
Most manufacturers like to play safe and tell their customer far below what their product is capable of, now I am not telling you to go out and fly this drone in heavy rain but here are the thing I have learned by doing that-
- This drone has a lot of obstacle avoidance and landing sensors and many different directions, when these sensors are covered with water droplets, they might not function properly so you have to be extra cautious.
- The controller shouldn’t by any means come in contact with water.
- Rain covered my camera lens and I just couldnt get any decent shot.
- The angle at which the rain contacts your drone has a major effect. The steeper the angle at which the rain contacts the drone the better because the vent is located on the bottom of the drone
Waterproofing and water damage
There are 2 ways to waterproof your phantom 4. The first and the easiest is by using a wetsuit and the second one is by using a silicone conformal coating. you can also combine these two to get the ultimate waterproof drone.
This is my take on wetsuits, they are a great idea but I haven’t seen a great product and they are expensive. This on amazon is what I see people using on their Phantom 4 and Phantom 4 pro V2. 0, but I am skeptical about it because it doesn’t have great reviews and it is expensive and all this if it works properly so I prefer silicone coating.
Using a silicone conformal coating
Using silicone conformal coating is my favorite way to waterproof electronics, for drones what you do is remove the battery then open the frame then apply a thin layer of the product on every circuit board then you are good to go for months.
This on amazon is the product he used in the video above.
If you get water damage the best place to get your drone fixed is by the manufacturer themselves, so if you have DJI care, good for you they will fix it for you, if not you might have to send your drone to a 3rd party professional.
However if you think you can fix it yourself there are many youtube videos that will guide you through, just understand by trying to fix the drone by yourself you can void your warranty.
Also fixing a drone is not as simple as it sounds, it has many fine wires that can break easily so be really careful.
- Reduced visibility- When operating sUAS (small unmanned aircraft system) F.A.A suggests to keep them in sight at all times, however, distant objects seem dimmer or more difficult to see in harsh conditions such as in thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, and hail, which can make your drone hard to operate
- If Precipitation gets inside a drone mid-flight it can ruin electrical components, making the drone inoperable and causing it to crash, which can cause property damage, physical damage and/or complicated legal issues.
- You might void your warranty by flying your drone in rain