The entire Drone Rush team are passionate drone pilots, we enjoy all level of multi-rotor machines, and any other style of UAV. We understand that we live this stuff, immersing ourselves in the drones and technology every day, but you may not. Join us today to learn some basics and get a handle on which list of drones is best for you.
Across our site you’ll find dozens of lists of the best drones for a given approach to flight. No matter what type of drone you are looking for, you’ll find the appropriate list below.
Things to know before you fly
- You must register your drone with the FAA before you fly
- You must affix your drone registration number to your craft
- Coming soon: The FAA will require you to pass a test before you fly your drone
- You must acquire your Part 107 certificate if you are to receive any compensation for your flight
- You must follow all of the FAA’s airspace rules if you are flying outdoors
- Hobby flights have different requirements from commercial flights
- In the eye’s of the FAA, drones are aircraft. Period.
- You need to acquire authorization to fly in controlled airspace
- Almost all drones over 249 grams will need a Remote ID broadcast starting April 21, 2021
What is a Drone?
Before we dive in, I think it’s important to explain a few things, we need to define exactly what is a drone?
In terms of the consumer drones that we buy to fly at home or for commercial use, a drone refers to a flying machine. The definition of the word goes well beyond flying machines, however, as most robots or remote controlled machines, for land, sea or air, are accurately categorized as drones.
When we say UAV, we are limiting our scope within the drone market – an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is exactly what the name implies.
We have a dedicated post on the topic: What is a drone?
Bringing it all together, the FAA states that anything that weighs less than 55 lbs is considered a small UAV. Small UAV, or sUAV, best fits the scope of the majority of what we do here at Drone Rush. These are the drones that we can buy at the store and fly in our backyards.
The main reason we stick to this segment of drones is simple, the FAA, as with many aviation authorities around the globe, require special licensing to operate craft that are 55 lbs or heavier. They require even more certification to operate craft that carry people. In short, anyone can buy the drones in our lists, and with only a few rules to follow, head to their backyard to fly.
Learn more from our drone science of flight series:
- Drone propellers explained
- How many propellers do I need?
- How fast can my drone fly?
- Air density and drones
- Do I need a smartphone to fly my drone
- Drone fall safety
There are drone rules!
Update: February 2019 – You must affix your drone registration number to the outside of your drone.No matter where you live, no matter what licensing or registration is required of you and your aircraft, there are rules on what you can and cannot do with your drones. You need to know these rules and abide by them.
We focus on the rules in the United States. They are not the most restrictive in the world, but they have been largely adopted by many countries. Plus, we fly mostly in the United States, sometimes Canada, so these are the rules we are most familiar with.
For the most part, I’m happy to say, the flight rules imposed by the FAA are fairly common-sense and focused on safety. Almost all of the rules are based on the safety of others around you. The primary rule on that is that you cannot fly your drone where it can put passenger aircraft at risk. Then, you cannot fly over people. The remaining rules essentially stem from those.
In the United States, the FAA has authority over the air, but other departments may have rules on the ground. For example, you cannot fly in a National Park. Even if the FAA airspace is clear for you to fly, you will have to abide by the ground rules as well. These are serious as well, get caught flying somewhere that violates both ground and air no-fly rules and you could face large fines and even jail time.
Finally, never forget that even when flying by the rules, you may still be subject to civil lawsuit if your craft injures somebody.
I know what you’re thinking, this is just a toy, why so many rules? Those of you that have flown hobby RC aircraft before may especially feel the pain of all these new regulations. Thing is, these flying machines are capable of putting cameras in places they do not belong, which is another consideration altogether.
The most important reason for all these limitations, the FAA does not control the design of your drone, it is on you to stay below 55 lbs. The bottom end of that is 0.55 lbs as far as previous registration goes, but again, anything smaller than that still has to follow the rules. Now, while your palm sized drone would be sucked up and spit out of a large jet engine without notice, a 54 lb metal drone would decimate a smaller manned aircraft. Accidents happen with these things as well, a 54 lb drone dropping out of the sky from a couple hundred feet would kill a person on the ground.
To this end, the only other rule we will speak of here, you should never fly your drone above 400 feet above the ground. In the metric world, they usually limit you to 120 meters. This is to protect the upper airspace for other air traffic, and to assist in one of the most policed FAA rules, you must fly within line-of-sight at all times.
There are a hundred ways you can separate out drones into separate categories. We’re trying to keep things simple, after all, there are only a few hundred drones out there worth buying, and even then, we’d say less than a hundred drones make our best lists. We’re always excited to find new machines.
You will see the same drones on multiple lists on the site. Our approach is to let you know what we think are the best drones in a segment. We don’t pick segments in order to promote a drone. To this end, the best beginner drone may also be the best small drone and one of the best camera drones.
Our lists can be grouped in different segments themselves. We have lists based on price, lists based on your intended use, lists based on your skill level and more. I don’t believe there is anything more to say on the matter, let’s get into the lists.
Best drones overall
No matter what you are doing, what your price is, this is our list of the best drones across all sizes, costs and uses. No limitations, this is our list of the best drones on the market today.
Best drones by price
It’s always about the money, right?
- Best cheap drones, under $100
- Best drones under $200
- Best drones under $500
- Best drones under $800
- Best drones under $1000
For the most part, the drone photography market and DSLR market are fairly similar right now. $500 is a good starter machine, $1000 is a high-end consumer product, then $2000+ is where the professionals live. You know there are $300,000 drones out there, right?
Best drones by use-case
Your drone needs are different from my drone needs, so what do you need?
Best drones by size
The size of your drone will greatly determine what you can do with your machine. We’ve got a few lists of smaller machines, but the majority of drones fall into the use-case situations we’ve already noted in this article.
There is more to flying than just having a drone, you’ll need all manner of tools to enhance the experience. These tools include things like a lanyard to support your remote, a bag for transport and the best software to ensure safe and legal flight.
- Best accessories for drones
- Drone displays – AR, VR, mobile devices and more
- AR glasses vs VR goggles – what’s the difference?
- Best drone backpacks, bags and cases
- Best drone apps – enhance your flight experience
- The drone apps to control your drone
- Best DJI GO 4 app alternatives
Drones by manufacturer