Drones are a lot of fun outside, but have you ever considered using one for buying or inspecting a house? Think about it: a bird’s-eye view from an excellent camera could provide all the photography your Zillow listing needs. Or you could use a drone with a thermal camera to see insulation gaps inside someone’s house. So what are the best drones for home inspectors? I have a few thoughts.
And my first thought is that it depends on what kind of imaging you need and how experienced you are with drones. If you want a drone that can do thermal imaging, you want the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced—that name sounds right out of Star Trek, so it’s already got a few points in my book. But it’s also got other handy features like excellent zoom and the ability to switch between thermal and RGB modes. This versatility makes it my top pick for home inspectors.
If that went over your head because you’re new to drones, don’t worry. I’ve picked a bunch of drones for home inspectors of all stripes (yes, even if you’re doing it yourself), so let’s strike while the iron’s hot!
The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced means business. It’s the best for thermal imaging. That means this kind of drone has a lot of utility outside the home.
The main uses of drones with thermal imaging center around firefighting, search and rescue, and other emergency services. But it can also provide cool video effects and be very useful for your business.
If you’re not a serious home inspector, you may wonder why your home inspection requires thermal imaging. The answer is simpler than you think: sometimes you can only detect heat loss in your home with an infrared camera. With its 32x digital zoom, 48MP camera, and ability to switch between thermal and non-thermal modes, this is one of the best drones for home inspectors. Now you can see everything!
To see this in action on the InterNACHI’s “House of Horrors,” check out this YouTube video. You haven’t seen a house until you’ve seen it via infrared!
But everything has a downside, and the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced is no exception. At first glance, the biggest drawback to the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced is its price: almost $6,000! The site itself advertises it for serious operations like firefighting or search and rescue. As I said: this drone is serious business.
The biggest drawback to this drone comes from buying extra batteries. Batteries have been a problem with DJIs in the past. Some Amazon reviews report that the extra battery does not work or charge. Once your drone’s battery dies, you may never get it back!
The words “wholesome beginner drone” sum up the HS720G nicely. Its 4K camera with a 2-axis gimbal allows for some excellent aerial footage.
If you want to have fun flying your drone, Holy Stones are acrobatic drones, so don’t be afraid to play around in the sky!
I’ve talked about the Holy Stone HS720G before. It’s a solid beginner drone and the best for a tight budget. If you’re just experimenting with some of the best drones for home inspectors, the HS720G will make a good first impression.
That said, the HS720G is still pretty basic. Its 4K video and basic controls are nothing to write home about. Sometimes, the wi-fi drops out, but never fear—if the drone thinks it is losing power or loses its signal, you can tell it to fly back home!
The Holy Stone HS720G is basic but by no means bad. Should Murphy’s Law somehow make your drone’s ability to phone home irrelevant, you will not be crying all the way to the bank. This is an excellent drone for home inspectors to experiment with.
If you aren’t a super-serious home inspector and want a drone that you can also have fun with, the Holy Stone HS720 might be for you. Just bear in mind that it’s firmly a beginner and budget drone. You aren’t going to get anything too fancy, but it’s still one of the best drones for home inspectors.
The biggest asset is its 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad camera. This camera offers exquisite color, light filtering, and resolution.
If safety is a concern, the DJI 3 has you covered with its omnidirectional obstacle sensing. You won’t need to worry about bumping into any hard surfaces, as the aircraft is more than capable of planning a safe flight route.
But let’s get serious for a moment again. A good home inspector will want to see every detail of a house, and the DJI Mavic 3 is the best for image quality.
The DJI Mavic 3 is also really compact; note that I’m not saying light. It has been touted as a step forward for folding drones due to its camera quality and safety features. But it doesn’t hit the magic number of 250 grams/.55 lb., so you still have to register it.
To max that resolution, however, you’ll have to get all the accessories. Specifically, you’ll have to get the Cine Premium Combo at over twice the base price of the drone. It also seems like DJI has battery problems in general; the Mavic 3 doesn’t deliver on its advertised 46-minute runtime. This is still one of the best drones for home inspectors due to its camera—especially if you’re on the go!
There is more to this durable drone than meets the eye! It is advertised as a drone which is able to “take back the night.”
Its excellent camera boasts a special moonlight-detecting algorithm that allows for night photography at high ISOs. This is also good in areas that have low light.
One glance should tell you that the Autel EVO Lite+ is best for durability. Its carbon fiber propellers mean it can take a few hits. One reviewer crashed it several times without any repercussions. It may have only three-way obstacle sensing, but don’t worry too much about it!
There is more to this durable drone than meets the eye! The official site advertises this drone’s ability to “take back the night.” Its excellent camera boasts a special moonlight-detecting algorithm that allows for night photography at high ISOs. This is also good in areas that have low light. Come to think of it, that’s pretty good if you think a house has bats, isn’t it?
The list of cool features goes on. Like other Autel models, the EVO Lite+ has an amazing camera that takes crystal-clear shots with an adjustable aperture. And, like the HS720, it can return home. Neat!
But the problem with the EVO Lite+ is that it’s a “jack of all trades, master of none.” Other drones in the same price range do individual things better. The EVO Lite+’s durability, GPS capabilities, and night vision camera nonetheless make it one of the best drones for home inspectors. (Note, however, that Part 107 prohibits people from flying drones at night. Night vision is still a useful feature!)
If you ever get called to inspect a celebrity’s mansion, you will need a drone like this!
However, if you also need thermal capabilities, you need the DJI Matrice 30T instead. The Matrice 30T contains everything the Matrice 30 has to offer with some of the thermal capabilities of the DJI Mavic Enterprise Advanced mentioned earlier. And it shows in the price tag. If you want the best that the DJI Matrice 30 has to offer, you might have to sell one of the houses you want to photograph with it! It’s rare to see a drone show itself up, but here we are.
In other words, the DJI Matrice 30 is a “serious business” drone like the Mavic Enterprise Advanced. It is designed and marketed for work. That said, it’s one of the best drones for house inspectors. The good news is, you’ll get what you pay for.
Are you ready to get serious about drone home inspection? Great! Here’s what you need to know before investing in a drone and using it to inspect a home—especially if you plan on making money off of the service.
How Can a Drone Help with Home Inspections?
To answer how drones can help with home inspections, we should talk briefly about what a home inspector does. A home inspector’s job boils down to giving your house a checkup. The main reasons house inspectors may want a drone are for thermal imaging and roof photography. One of these is easier with a drone; the other may be the difference between getting up on a ladder and staying safe with both feet on the ground!
What to Look for in a Home Inspection Drone
Here are some advanced features that you can look for if you are looking into the best drones for home inspectors. Most of these functions fall under “not essential, but nice,” so don’t worry too much if a drone in your price range doesn’t have them all. Some home inspectors even have custom drones!
Thermal Imaging Camera
We already covered thermal imaging above, but just to reiterate: thermal imaging is useful so that you can see any unusually hot or cold spots in a house. (This is why certain hardware stores rent out thermal cameras.) Those hot and cold spots may require further attention. They may indicate moisture, a puncture in insulation, or a hole that animals could come into a house through!
The ability to zoom in and out is common on many digital cameras. The better your zoom, the more details you can catch with your drone. You might even see things that flew up on your roof ages ago!
Pre-Planned Flight Options
Most of the time, inspectors operate the drone from the ground, taking pictures from high above. If you can program your drone to fly along a pre-planned course (a function that many drones have by default), you will not have to steer your drone and can take as many aerial shots of a house as needed.
Do I Need to Follow Any Regulations During Home Inspections?
Check for Restricted Airspace
Before you fly your drone, be careful that you are not flying over restricted airspace. Additionally, please let the neighbors know that you intend to fly a drone so that you do not accidentally get arrested!
Part 107 Required if Inspecting Commercially
As of 2016, all commercial uses of drones require pilots to register. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)’s webpage, anyone who wishes to fly a drone for commercial use must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate (RPC). This requires passing a 60-question exam. You must also register your drone with the FAA here.
So, if you’re just using a drone to inspect your own home, you’re fine. Go get that stuck frisbee! But if someone is paying you to inspect their house with a drone that costs thousands of dollars, you’d better have the paperwork.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need Special Software to Inspect a Home with My Drone?
No, you should not need any special software to inspect a home with your drone. Thermal imaging is a camera capability (hardware), not something you can install. Check what capabilities your drone comes with before buying!
Do I Need a License to Inspect a Home with My Drone?
The short answer is yes, you need paperwork to inspect a home with a drone. Technically, you need both the RPC and an online inspection certification to legally inspect houses. Don’t forget to let the neighbors know why you’re flying a drone!
Can I Use Any Drone for Home Inspections?
In theory, you can use any drone for home inspections. You should not expect to do home inspections on a whim, nor should home inspectors buy a drone and immediately start working with it. Please get your paperwork in order before attempting home inspections with a drone.
The best drone for home inspectors will depend on what the individual needs and how much they’re willing to pay for it. The thermal imaging features on the DJI Mavic Enterprise Advanced and Matrice 30T can be immensely useful to home inspectors, but they’re also extremely expensive, making them hard for new home inspectors to justify.
If you are a home inspector who is curious about what a drone might offer your service, do all the paperwork, then try a Holy Stone HS720G. If you’re feeling ambitious, move up to the Autel EVO Lite+; it has a better camera and can take novice damage. But whatever drone you pick, please mind all the legal paperwork, and let neighbors know you are not spying on them.