How Loud Are Drones?

Flying drone

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Flying drones is a popular and enjoyable hobby, but they can tend to be on the noisy side when flying through the air or hovering. Drones may not sound exactly like a swarm of bees, but the noise emitted can be annoying to others. You won’t necessarily need to wear noise-canceling headphones or stuff your ears with plugs, but you cut down on the noise factor.

How loud are drones? Most drone types are unable to fly about stealthily and with a whisper-quiet operation, especially if it has a lot of propellers and more than one battery. Military drones are some of the loudest around, making a deafening roar compared to the noise of consumer drones.

Although most drones are loud, it doesn’t mean you cannot find ways to make things more pleasant. There are drone models available that have a quieter operation, and won’t let everyone know they are around with a constant buzzing. Customizing your drone can help reduce noise levels too.

A noisy drone is caused by the rotation of its rotors as they turn in the air. The higher the number of propellers, the noisier the UAV. A drone with an electric motor tends to be a lot quieter than a gas-powered drone, and once a drone is high enough in the air, you aren’t likely to hear it so well.

What Makes Drones Quieter?

Drone flying over an open field.

Image via flickr

Air is excellent at bouncing sound waves and is the reason why drones sound so noisy on take-off or when hovering nearby. Drones that only have a single motor and more aerodynamic propellers are quieter. A fixed wing on a drone helps it to glide in the air and cuts down on any noisy buzzing.

Drones are typically the noisiest when they need to generate lift, as the propellers beat at the air. Noise is still going to be a significant part of flying a drone until engineering and technology can find a way to overcome the physics of sound.

How Can I Reduce The Noise Level In My Drone?

If you are willing to reduce the number of motors used in your drone and can switch over to a fixed wing, you can drastically reduce the noise level. Shaving down propellers won’t do much to reduce noise, but making your drone as light as possible does help.

One of the quieter drones worth flying is a DJ Mavic Platinum which is lightweight, quiet, and can handle itself well in the air. Overall, if you choose a drone that has a lower RPM, a minimal number of propellers, and little to no add-ons, it’s better. Also, smoother blades will create less turbulence, which helps tame noise.

When your drone is being flown high enough, it shouldn’t disturb you or anyone else. However, if the noise on your drone was reduced too much, it could be difficult to hear it if it was dangerously close.

Should I Just Put Up With The Noise?

Black and blue drone

Image via flickr

If a drone’s propellers are imbalanced, it might cause it to be noisier during flights because of increased vibrations. Blades that have a thin profile are going to sound a lot more screechy and high-pitched, than lower, slower, fat blades. If you don’t feel like switching out propellers and tinkering around with customization, you can put some earplugs in or wear headphones.

What Are The Loudest Parts Of A Drone?

When you are trying to figure out how loud are drones, you need to understand their parts and functions. The engines that help power drones and the moving rotors are what makes a drone so loud. When a drone is in flight or taking off, it creates a lot of vibrations when generating lift and to maintain its maneuverability in the air.

What Makes The Noise From Drones So Annoying?

Flying drone

Image via flickr

Noisy drones are such a big deal that NASA decided to conduct a study. When NASA exposed 38 people to different recorded audio samples from a car, truck, vans, and drones, the buzz of drones was found to be more annoying. One reason people suspect that drones are so irritating to others is that the noise pollution from automobiles and transit like airplanes is familiar. 

The increase in drone’s popularity, and the advent of companies like Amazon using drones for deliveries, pose the threat of increased noise pollution and resulting annoyance. The cost of noise pollution is great, as it can lead to sleep disturbances, heart health problems, and poor academic performance.

The need for quieter drones for consumer recreational use and military purposes is essential, as the technology is here to stay. Some enthusiasts have complained about the noise from their drone at levels of 300 feet into the air. Depending on your sensitivity to a loud drone, make adjustments to your hearing protection and where you fly. Sending your drone over water, or in areas that are apt to echo and amplify sounds can make the buzzing worse.

Don’t let anyone tell you that drones aren’t that noisy and annoying, as many humans and animals react to these flying contraptions. As companies try to figure out how to use drones for delivery services and other uses, finding ways to bring down the noise level is a serious issue.

Similar to why scientists haven’t unveiled too many flying cars, there has yet to be widespread use of drones taking to the air en masse. Anything flying at lower heights in the air is going to be noisy and annoying, unlike commercial aircraft which is high enough that most people and animals aren’t too upset.

Air loves to vibrate sound which travels readily to our ears, so there is a lot of room for improvement to make quieter drones.

What Are Some Models Of Loud Drones?

As technology improves, there are more models of drones that are a lot quieter when they are flying about in the air or lifting off. Looking into models like the DJI Phantom 4, or the DJI Inspire 2, these bad boys are the noisiest compared to stealthily silent models like the DJI Mavic Platinum. When you are evaluating drones for noise, you want to look at the level of decibels produced.

The DJI Phantom 4 tops out at 95.9 decibels, but the DJI Inspire 2 is even louder with a roaring decibel level of 97.7 decibels. When comparing to the DJI Mavic Platinum, it is a lot softer with a decibel level of 83 decibels.

In all honesty, it’s still a challenge to get drones to turn down the noise, but with some adjustments to the blades and motor, it is possible to lower the decibel levels emitted. Drones are going to be a bit noisy by their very nature, but when flown at high enough of distances you won’t hear much of that annoying buzz.

Will Exposure To Drones Harm My Hearing?

Black and white photo of a man

Image via flickr

Exposing yourself to loud noises continuously over a long enough period can cause damage to the ears. If you were to hang around an airfield, up close to the roaring of military drones, your hearing might be in for a hurt session without substantial hearing protection. You will want to know how loud are drones, because of the risks of lengthy exposure to noise pollution. 

It might be best to err on the side of caution and wear hearing protection like headphones or earplugs if you are worried. Most drones used for recreational flying and photography are not so loud that they would cause too much damage when close to you.

What Decibel Levels Are Damaging to My Hearing

Keep in mind, long exposure to sounds under 75 decibels is not likely to cause any hearing loss. However, as many drones do reach over 85 decibels of sound, be wary of keeping your drone very close by without any hearing protection. Prolonged exposure to sounds over 85 decibels has the potential to do some damage to your hearing. Also, the louder a sound is the less time it takes to impact your ears.

How Are Quieter Drones Helpful?

Aside from using drones for taking photographs overhead, drones may be used to survey areas by the military and hobbyists. It would be a lot more helpful for drone operators if the drone they are flying isn’t noisily letting the whole world know about their presence.

The military wants quieter drones for various uses. Members of the public have fussed about drones that are deafeningly loud, have an annoying buzz, or are disturbing their peace of mind because of unwanted noise pollution.

Final Thoughts

Part of the reason people hate noisy drones is because it is a new sound added to the cacophony of noise pollution from more familiar sources like cars, vans, trucks, motorcycles, planes, and other technology.

If you want to fly a drone, prepare to deal with the noise it emits. Thankfully, there are some quieter models available, but most drones for enthusiastic operators are going to bring on the buzz. Fly safe!

​Featured photo via Pixabay


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