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
DJI Inspire 1 – Test / Comparison / Review
DJI Inspire 2: Test / Comparison / Review
DJI Phantom 4 – Test / Review / Rating
Check out head to head comparisons of some of the best models: Drone vs Drone
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.
Check out the latest DJI machine – DJI Mavic Air 2.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is a great leap forward in comparison to Mavic Mini (and first generation of Mavic Air) in nearly every measurable respect:
✔️image and video quality
✔️transmission and controller
Click here to see the full specs!
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.