If you purchase a modern remote-controlled aircraft, it is probably powered by Li-Po batteries. This is because electric motors are far simpler and considerably more efficient than combustion engines. However, they also have their own set of problems – you can only pack so many pounds of battery into an aircraft before you hit diminishing returns. The high weight and low energy density of a battery means that even big industrial drones like the Matrice 600 Pro top out at 35 minutes of flight time.
This is a problem if you need a drone in the air for hours, not minutes or want to use them for long-distance work. Right now modern remote-controlled aircrafts that run on batteries simply can’t live up to those demands.
However, there are also gas-powered drones out there that are typically much more powerful than their battery counterparts, which is what makes them so attractive to RC flyers. Gas powered drones are built with small and efficient engines, which are designed to deliver the same functionality as a traditional electric drone.
Most models use common forms of gasoline easily available in the market and only a few high-end models use nitro- based fuels. However, these are easily available in the market if you look in the right places. If you don’t want to have a problem with finding fuel for your drone then go for one that uses the ordinary gasoline such as unleaded gasoline or even the two stroke motor oils.
Unfortunately, gas-powered drones are quite rare on the market and most of them are DIY projects built for a specific job or as a proof of concept. These drones are mainly designed, so we can’t discuss about a special producer or special features.
Advantages of Gas Powered Drones
A gas-powered drone has more moving parts, which means that it will usually weigh more than a traditional battery-powered drone. This added weight helps in keeping the drone steady in windy conditions, making it great for aerial photography.
Another great reason to choose a gas-powered drone is that it offers a relatively long flight time, which means that you can your drone for longer and gain a better perspective on how best to operate it so that you can achieve your desired results. There are some gas-powered drones that can stay airborne for sixty minutes or longer before needing to be refueled.
Also, the fueling only takes a couple of seconds as opposed to the hours needed to recharge a battery.
Disadvantages of Gasoline Drones
It’s important to note that these types of drones aren’t perfect. A potential drawback is their size, which can result in less maneuverability. Also, since they are big and heavy, the control of a gas powered drone can be more challenging to an average flyer, especially when compared to the traditional RC drone. The stronger engine and heavier body of a gas-powered drone might make this a little tougher for some people to work with when they are looking to squeeze through narrow spaces quickly.
Also, a drone that uses gasoline behaves more like a motor vehicle, which means that you need to ignite the motor in order to start of the drone. This may cause interference because the ignition process requires relatively high voltage. This may not be a big problem. However, it can be challenging to beginner drone pilots. Most people solve the interference problem by using a PCM or 2.4GHz spread spectrum radio.
The reality with the gas powered-drones is that you need to check a lot of things regularly, such as fuel levels , the fuel system, the lubrication of the moving parts, etc, in order to ensure that your drone does not crush and get damaged.
Now that we’ve talked about the advantages and disadvantages, let’s talk about four gas-powered models that you can find right now when looking for something that is easy to pilot and can work at very long distances.
It’s important to note that each one of these drones is made differently and that each model has its own unique design and features which make it work well for the purpose it was intended. Some models come with all parts in a box just ready for assembling, while some even come with their own cameras to help you capture pictures of all sorts of things in the sky.
This quadcopter is still in the concept stage of design but has lots of promise as a gas powered drone. The drone is a strong model with a great gas engine and a small battery that will help to power up the unit. It will likely cost more than a thousand dollars, which makes it more expensive than its peers. However, it will be well worth every penny in my opinion.
The Yeair (they spell it yeair!, with an exclamation point) is designed for transporting parcels over longer distances in the shortest time possible. It’s expected to reach speeds of 60+ mph for long distances transporting a package weighing up to 12 pounds. It can also stay in the air for about 60 minutes on average before it is due for refueling.
The battery that comes with the quad is not rechargeable but will at least keep the emissions from the model from being more of an issue than necessary. The Yeair uses a two-stroke engine that should stand the test of time.
In case gas powered drones are not for you, here is a list of conventional, battery drones that you might like
The drone is efficient, fast, quite rigid and built durably so there’s little risk that it will fall apart after just a few uses. The Yeair is also designed with a series of strong borders that are around the rotors as well, which helps shelter it from possible damage during strong winds.
2. Nitro Stingray
The Nitro Stingray is another gas-powered model that features a two-stroke Scorpion motor that works alongside 110mm blades on all of its corners. The drone uses the TG-Multi flight controller that gives the pilot full control over the drone. The controller is set to make adjusting speeds and direction as easy as possible.
The quad’s “variable pitch” feature increases mobility, allowing you to move it up or down rather quickly. The Nitro Stingray is also known for its stability and can maintain a steady position for much longer when compared to other drones, which ensures that the drone will stay active and strong without being at risk of slipping or falling. This drone is relatively stable, even in strong winds, which makes it a great option for aerial photographers.
This drone not only handles the normal drone flight movements but also a wide variety of 3D flight movements, including moves where the model can move up and down or even in a diagonal manner. Another benefit to this gas-powered drone is that it’s capable of performing barrel rolls and other acrobatic moves, which make flying the drone such a great experience.
Note: If you are interested in aerial stunts, but gas powered drones are maybe too complicated for you, then check out the Syma X5C.
The Incredible HLQ actually has its own Kickstarter campaign and was designed by a team of engineering students from the San Jose State University in California.
As the name suggests (the “HLQ” in the drone’s name stands for “Heavy Lifting Quadcopter”), the drone was designed to help in lifting and delivery of loads of about 50 pounds to preset destinations. The quadcopter is intended to be used widely in the e-commerce, delivery parcels.
The reason why it’s so powerful is that it comes with 2 gasoline two-stroke engines, each being capable of producing 12.5 HP, which, while it doesn’t sound like a lot, gives the drone a massive amount of power. The drone is not small, and as you can see, requires more space for it to operate efficiently.
For lifting the desired weight, the drone is equipped with 4 commercial helicopter rotor heads with 435 mm blades, which are propelled by the engines to produce the required thrust to lift its heavy weight plus the loads.
The frame is designed with aluminum tubes in order to make drone lighter. The Incredible HLQ employs the Ardupilot module flight controller, which is open source and can be configured according to necessities.
Although there has been a lot of buzz about this commercial drone, keep in mind that this is just a project and the drone is still in its testing stage.
The final gas-powered drone that we’re going to talk about is the Goliath Quadcopter, which is one of the best DIY products you can get in the market. It was constructed for the Hackaday Prize competition and it looks (and sounds) quite scary.
The power is provided by a single 30 HP gasoline engine which controls the propellers via control cables attached to it, eliminating the need for rotors.
Just like the Incredible HLQ we discussed earlier, the Goliath is designed in a way that allows the average consumer to purchase the materials locally and assemble the quad with a little assistance. The parts can easily be bought in local stores across the world, which makes the assembly of the body structure of Goliath very affordable. This allows the owners some change to purchase a quality engine and propellers.
Also, due to the use of wood and aluminum the frame is lightweight, which is an advantage, as it does not demand that the engine produces extra power for its flight.
The Goliath uses the Ardupilot for its flight control system, which gives the drone a lot of flexibility regarding flying as you can easily customize the software to fit your flight requirements. This is further made easy by the fact that both the flight controller and the software are open source and can be easily customized.
As its name implies, the Goliath Quadcopter is a nice project that could prove useful for delivering large payloads. However, it will take a while until we can see it on the market because there are still lots of issues to figure out with the system.
Gas-Powered vs. Battery-Powered Drones: Which Are Better?
Some drone pilots prefer gas-powered models while others prefer battery-powered drones. But which are better?
It depends. In the following few sections, we’ll compare both types of drones to see which one is right for you.
Both sides have quads capable of staying in the air for a long time, but the gasoline-powered models have the longer average flight time.
On average, they can stay in the air continuously for up to an hour before refueling. A battery-powered drone, like the Syma X5C for example, only has about 7 minutes of flight time when put to heavy use. Also, the fueling only takes a couple of seconds. On the other hand, several hours are required to recharge a battery.
However, with battery-powered models you don’t have to pay anything extra to recharge, while with gasoline-powered models, you’ll need to pay for fuel each time that you fly, which can add up over time.
Winner: Gas-Powered Drones
The gas-powered models by far have the most amount of power and they can reach speeds up to 60 MPH and carry payloads up to 50 pounds.
There’s more stored energy in the gasoline compared to the battery, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that a gasoline-powered drones produces more power than a battery-powered models. This might change in the future. However, for now, the gas models are the most powerful of the two.
Winner: Gas-Powered Drones
The Incredible HQL could lift a payload of about 50 pounds (it’s like lifting a dry bag of cement), which is very impressive.
This is only possible with gasoline and it would be incredibly difficult for a battery-powered drone to lift such a heavy load.
Gas-powered drones are perfect for those who need a drone that’s capable of lifting heavy payloads across long distances. A battery-powered drone won’t be able to get the job done.
Winner: Gas-Powered Drones
Surviving a Crash
Since battery-operated drones are lighter, they may not have a lot of complication during a minor crash. If we take the Blade Nano QX as an example, everybody knows that even a fall from a relatively high distance won’t break it (unless you land it in the water).
That’s not the case with gas-powered drones. If you crash one of these models, it will be extensively damaged and if it fell from a higher height may burst into flames. That’s because these drones weigh a lot, and the additional weight presents an additional risk in case of a crash.
So, if you’re not an experienced flyer, then it’s recommended that you stay away from gas-powered drones, or you could be flushing a lot of money down the toilet.
Winner: Battery -Powered Drones
If you’re looking to save money, then go with battery-powered models because they are simply cheaper than their gas-powered counterparts.
However, this doesn’t mean that battery-powered drones can’t be powerful, because they can. For example, the DJI Phantom 4 runs off a battery and has an amazing flight time of about 30 minutes.
Other models like the DJI Inspire 2 and the Parrot Bebop 2 have equally impressive stats. On the very low end, expect to pay about $20 for a mini battery-powered quad. On the other hand, on the high end, you have to pay several thousand dollars.
Winner: Battery -Powered Drones
Important Features to Consider
A gas-powered quadcopter can be put to great use such as delivery of parcels or surveillance. In addition, these drones can be powerful tools for the hobbyists who want something more powerful to play with. However, you must look carefully to see if a model you are interested in is worthwhile because gas-powered quads have many features each designed to perform a specific function.
These features are important in that there are many different points around the drone which can directly influence its handling and general use. However, to ensure that you will actually take advantage of whatever you are going to use while out in the field, you have to understand how everything can work.
How Do the Parts Work?
The working of individual parts of a gas-powered quad may have several features that influence how the quad functions, so you need to consider each part and how it works before you purchase a gas-powered quad.
For example the blades rotate to provide the required up thrust. However, you need to consider a number of important blade features such as the material used to make the blades, the size of the blades in relation to space you have for flying the drone, and if the blades can easily be replaced in case they are damaged.
You have to do the same for all the other parts such as the fuel system, the exhaust, and the motor. This is important to ensure that you know how your quad works, how easy you can replace any damaged part, and how the parts can be improved.
How to Start a Gas-Powered Drone?
Some gas-powered drones have a “choke button” that plays a role in starting the drone while others use a pull cord. Since each drone is different, you’ll need to know which of the two starting methods your drone has and know how you can start it.
Some gas-powered drones come with a battery that is used to send a signal to get your motor to start up properly. The battery that comes with a gas-powered drone should be checked on a regular basis so that you have an idea of the workload on the battery and the best time to replace it. The sizes of the battery vary depending on the model. This should be able to tell a lot in regards to how the battery is used and how and when it needs to be replaced.
Do Gas-Powered Drones Come with Cameras?
Well, it depends. Some models are equipped with cameras while others require you purchase your own cameras. The good news is that mounting a camera on a drone isn’t that difficult, and all you need to do is find a flat surface on the drone and attach it there while also ensuring that the camera will not slip off or vibrate far too much while it is in the air.
You should also check on the memory and recording capacity of the drone because this will help you prepare well for the use of your drone. Some drones have large hard disks for storage of information while others only have a port where you are supposed to attach a memory card or other device that can be inserted and then removed.
How Is It Assembled?
Whether you are purchasing parts to assemble yourself or a RTF drone, you must look carefully to see that your drone is assembled properly so it won’t be too hard for you to maintain it or fix any parts on it as needed.
If you purchase an already assembled drone, make sure it is well assembled so you will not struggle all that much when trying to make it fly up in the air just fine.
The assembly can be detailed within your particular instruction book, which will help you know how the parts are put together and how the drone is set up ready for flying.
This is an important step in learning how to handle your quad because once you know how different parts work and how it is put together you can easily manipulate it to achieve the desired goals.
You should not try to take apart a drone on your own unless you are absolutely sure how to assemble it.
Is It Ready to Fly?
When you go shopping for a drone, you might notice the letter RTF on some gas-powered drone models. What this means is that these models are already assembled for flying, provided that you have enough fuel ready for it. This is a special feature that makes it easier for you to get the drone up in the air because all you need to do is just set it up by checking the systems and fueling it, and it is ready for takeoff.
It is always important to check if the drone is ready to fly out of the box or if you have to assemble it. Usually, the one to be assembled has all the parts in the box alongside the tools that are needed to get it all set up. All you have to do is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions in assembling it. If you are going for high tech models, it is always important you get it ready for flying because some may have delicate parts that need to be machine fixed and it may be too complicated for you to assemble the parts without the right tools.
Know the Controls
You need to study and understand the user manuals in order to know how different control works. It’s very important that you read the instruction manuals carefully before you get started on the mission you intend to use the drone.
You will be surprised to learn that the controls even for the most sophisticated gas-powered quad are typically the same as what you might get out of a smaller model. You will have control features that are based on how you can move the gas-powered drone up and down or move it rather quickly or slowly. Also, make sure to learn about the throttle features and how to maneuver a drone through different flying positions.
Don’t fly your drone if you are not certain you can control it effectively.
Don’t Forget the Noise
Some gas-powered engines will produce far too much noise that may bother people if used near settlements. For drones intended to use in populated areas, for surveillance or filming purposes, they need to have minimum noise.
Make sure to check the sound levels of all the models you are interested in and purchase one that produces the least noise.
Who Should Use These Drones?
Due to their unique features, gas-powered quadcopters work best for specialized operations, such as surveillance, rescue services, delivery services, and filming live events.
The battery-powered drones are often used for surveillance. However, their main disadvantage is that they need to be recharged after every few minutes.
The gas-powered quads eliminate the problem because they can fly for a longer period of time without having to be recharged. Also, refueling takes a short time than recharging the battery. This makes gas-powered drones better equipped to provide continuous surveillance when compared to the ordinary electric quadcopters.
Gas-powered quads are made of strong materials and can fly in windy conditions much better than battery-powered drones, which makes them perfect for emergency services such as rescue teams. For example, fire departments may fly the drones fitted cameras in difficult conditions to get images of spots in a fire to where it will be easier to target what spots are in the most trouble and what entrance points may be used when attempting to rescue people from inside a fire if necessary.
Gas-powered quads are designed to travel longer distances at higher speed and lift and deliver loads. Their powerful engines and large size mean that these drones can be used by online businesses or delivery companies to deliver parcels and goods to other businesses and homes. Gas-powered quads may also find greater applications in the delivery of emergency medical supplies to doctors or patients where it is difficult to access easily or on call in case of an emergency.
Filming Live Events
Live events that last longer may require continuous filming from vantage points that will give a clear picture of the happenings. The use of gas-powered quads, which are able to fly longer and have quick refuelling, is more viable then the use of battery-powered quads that require frequent stopping in order to recharge their batteries.
Gas-powered drones are strong and powerful. They also work effectively in a wide range of situations and come in a wide range of models, which gives you lots of choices. There are many great models out there that can fly for about 60 minutes and can go for miles without having to be refueled.
No matter what you choose, make sure you check on the controls, motor and how far a gas-powered quad can fly before being refueled. This is important to ensure that you get a better overall experience when flying.
To get the most out of your drone, make sure to see that the choice you have is designed properly and that it will be easy for you to get it up in the air. This is the only way to ensure that you can fly your drone fast and get a better overall experience when flying.
Also, remember to check on the controls. The controls of many drone models may appear to be similar. However, there are some distinctive differences that may affect how you fly your drone and how to get the best out of it. With this in mind, it’s important you feel comfortable with the controls before you buy any gas-powered drone model.
It is also essential to consider the intended uses of any models before you buy them. A typical drone can be modified and used for lots of purposes. However, it is always important that you know how best to use a particular model. Always check on this to ensure that you get a drone suitable for your purpose, because some models are designed to do certain tasks and may not be best fit for what you want a drone for. The user manual in a typical kit should help you understand what you can get out of a great model. However, it’s important to at least know what you can get out of such a model before you start using it.
Gas Powered Drones Pros and Cons
- The gas powered drones do not require recharging like a typical battery-powered model would.
- These drones use the same principles as other gasoline engines which make it easy for you to learn how to tune an engine and other mechanical points about using a drone.
- A gas powered model can go for further distances and fly much faster than similar electric-powered drones.
- You can also use these drones for a longer time of up to an hour before refueling is required.
- If you have no experience working with engines, you might struggle to try and get these drones to work.
- The fumes that are generated by a drone like this may be a concern for your particular work.
- Some gas powered engines produce too much noise and are unfit for use in populated areas, but may be fine in a noisy factory.
- If a crash or wreck occurs, a gas powered drone may experience considerable damage.