What are the Best drones under $500?
Buying a new drone can be a pain in the ass, especially with so many drone manufacturers and models currently available. Luckily for you, we tested hundreds of drones and made this list with our top recommendations of drones under 500.
Every year we review this list and make changes if we think new models deserve a spot in our recommendations.
If you’re serious about drone flying and you’re willing to invest in a high-quality drone, you need to do our own research before purchasing a drone. The drones which we will discuss in this review are in our opinion the best of the best and won’t disappoint you.
Well, there you have our top 7 options for your the best drone under $500.
Which is best for you will depend on the features that are most important to you.
If this is your first drone purchase you may want to consider something less expensive to get your wings under you before taking one of these awesome quads out.
They have more tech to help you fly but when that tech fails it helps to know how to really fly a drone.
What To Look For in the best drone under $500?
Drones have one thing in common, they are all an unmanned aerial vehicle that functions in accordance with the pilot’s command through a transmitter.
But, when planning to buy a new drone for you or for your kid, you need to know the basic factors that make up a great drone. Below are 5 of the most important things that you need to know before jumping into the decision of buying one right away.
1. There are numerous types of drones
Just like any buying guide, you first need to know what you are buying.
First, you need to know that there are different types of drones so if you’re an entry-level pilot, you need to choose an RTF drone for easier navigation and less confusing start-up process. To give you a clearer picture, I’ve listed below the common types of drones and their meaning.
RTF/Ready to Fly- These are factory preset and tuned drone that requires no assembly. You may need to charge the batteries or unfold the wings (if you buy a foldable drone). Needless to say, this is the perfect drone for entry-level pilots.
BNF/Bind and Fly- Same as RTF drones, these are factory pre-assembled and pre-tuned drones. But it differs from the latter because it doesn’t come with a receiver. But you may use your old transmitter or make a separate purchase for a new compatible receiver.
Note that things are a bit different from the analog days. Even if your drone and transmitter are on the same channel and frequency, there’s no assurance that it ill perfectly work together.
So, before buying and BNF drone, make sure that your transmitter will work unanimously and simultaneously with the drone.
ARF/Almost Ready to Fly-These are drones that require assembly and you might need to add motors, ESCs, flight controller or battery.
But each ARF drone is different from the other depending on the “parts” requirement. This is only suitable for pro fliers. So before you buy an ARF drone, make sure to read the description and labels carefully.
2. Drone flying is not easy as it looks
Yes, drone flying is more complicated than it looks. You need to get a hold of its navigation system first and familiarize the buttons and throttle sticks. Plus, you need to know that not all drones are easy to fly because their navigation system and pre-flight requirements vary from each and every model.
DJI Phantom 3 for instance, it requires calibration before takeoff so the GPS could lock in with the drone’s originating point’s coordinates. Other drones, however, has one key takeoff/landing thus calibration is not necessary.
3. Drones are expensive toys
Drones are expensive toys and this factor is a great game changer. Other people don’t like the idea of paying a hefty upfront fee before enjoying it. But when you get to experience the excitement and hype, you’d definitely say that it’s all worth it.
Other people use drones for their business like in photography and event coverage. In this scenario, it’s a win-win situation. You get to enjoy the fun while earning for your business.
4. Drone shops are everywhere
Actual drone shops may be extinct but online shops are very vast that you could literally find a seller almost anywhere. This adds to the confusion as to where to buy a perfect drone for you or for your kid.
But, I would suggest that you buy from a reputable and trusted seller like Amazon.
5. Drone owners need to get social
If you’re a drone owner, you know exactly what I meant by being social. You need to be a part of a drone community because you will learn a lot from your co-pilots such as tricks, maintenance, and updates.
Drone Safety Tips
Drone pilots should be aware of guidelines set by Congress for small Unmanned Aircraft System or model aircraft. This set of guidelines aims to ensure the safety of the pilot, people within the flight range, property, and the drone.
The use of drones is classified into two, recreational purpose or commercial operation. Recreational purposes refer to drone flying as a hobby or a source of fun while Commercial Operation refers to using drones as a means of income such as event coverage and photography wherein compensation is involved.
SUAS Safety Guidelines for Recreational Pilots
- Strictly follow the community-based guideline set and developed by drone safety organization such as AMA or Academy of Model Aeronautics.
- Do not fly above the 400 feet above the ground limit and hover stably
- Below potential obstacles.
- Maintain visual of your SUAS at all times and ask someone to assist you in observing your drone’s performance.
- Steer clear and do not interfere with manned aircraft operation. Avoid other aircraft and other obstacles at all times.
- Maintain 25 feet distance away from individuals and other vulnerable property. Prevent from flying over unprotected individuals and vehicles in transit.
- When planning to fly your drone within the 5 miles radius of a heliport or airport, make sure to inform the control tower and the airport.
- Avoid flying in extreme weather conditions.
- Do not pilot a drone when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Ensure your competency in piloting your drone and always check the safety of the operating environment.
- Avoid flying your drone over or near vulnerable environments such as power plants/stations, water treatment facilities, government buildings etc.
- Be informed of the current local policies, laws, and ordinances before piloting your drone in private properties.
- Maintain every person’s right to privacy by avoiding conducting surveillance or capturing images of a person or property without consent.
Are Drones Under $500 Good For Beginners or Kids?
My top recommendation of drones below $500 is perfect for entry-level fliers such as kids. Each has a drone protection feature such as RTH which will help get the drone back to its takeoff coordinates. Just switch the corresponding feature on and your drone will be back safely in no time.
It’s usual for entry-level fliers such as kids to get confused on how to fly their drones. But with the help of Headless mode, you could simply push/pull the right throttle and your drone will follow your every command.
Aside from protection, these drones also have great camera quality which is good for your kids so they will develop their photography skills.
Drones is a sure fun way of creating a memorable and quality bonding with your kids. Plus, it will enhance your kid’s critical thinking skills.