As a long time unmanned aircraft enthusiast I love trying out everything that the market has, and about 2 weeks ago I decided to try out prop guards and see how they can benefit or affect flights.
First, for those of you who are new to the subject, what are propellers guards?
A propeller guard is a piece of specially designed lightweight plastic that clips on the arm of unmanned air crafts, it provides a physical barrier between your drone propeller, and obstacles whilst providing a full range of motion to the drone.
Propeller guards have been used ever since people started flying drones, but just like phone covers they became more common as phones become more expensive prop guards are becoming more common as drones become more expensive beacuse people want to avoid damage to a piece of a thousand dollar electronic equipment.
So are propeller guards worth it?
Beginner drone pilots can significantly benefit from a propeller guard. They will reduce your chances of propeller damage and subsequent crashes, they can also decrease the chance of physical damage if the drone comes in contact with your skin.
More experienced pilots can also benefit from Prop guards, for instance if you are flying in tight spaces, in canyons, forests, or any place where the propeller can come in contact with an obstacle they can be extremely useful.
Pros of propeller guards
In two weeks of experiment I have found the benefit of propeller guards definitely outweigh their negative side so let me start of by that
Cheap price and easy to use
The first thing you will notice when buying a prop guard is how really inexpensive they are, I bought 3 propeller guards for my Mavic mini one from DJI and the other 2 from 3rd party manufacturers, they were all under $25 which is worth it if it saved a $600 piece of equipment, that is significantly more affordable than any repair fees from crashes.
Not only they are cheap but they are very easy to mount on your drone. almost all propeller guards feature a simple clip-on design making installation quick and easy
They provide a notable protection to your drone
The purpose of a propeller guard is to protect the propellers obviously, but what you should understand is if one of the propellers break during a flight it will lead to a subsequent crash, so by protecting the most fragile part of your drone, propeller guards significantly reduce your chances of a crash.
Especially if you plan on flying indoors the prop guards will allow you to simply bounce off walls.
To protect a person from coming in contact with the high-speed blades
Drone propellers are sharp enough to cut through human skin. Small drones don’t pose a great risk of injury because the propellers are small, soft, and don’t have enough inertia to cause major injury, however they can hurt your eyes or other soft tissues.
And that is why kids drones always have a propeller guard it reduces the risk of injury if the drone comes in contact with the skin.
You can google drone propeller injuries and take a look at the images and that will probably convince you to buy prop guards
However, i amnot trying to scare you i have been a drone pilot for 6 years and i haven’t had any issue of that kind.
Cons of propeller guards
Even though propeller guards have many benefits they also have some drawbacks too, for instance there will be added weight, a poor center of gravity, instability in the air, more prone to be stuck in trees etc.
So if you want to buy a prop guard i really recommend you buy it from DJI and not other 3rd party manufacture.
The main reason being some thrid party propeller gurds are reported to cover the visual positional system and obstacle avoidance sensors, or if you want to buy one made sure it is a highly rate product beacuse you can also void your garrenty if you use third party propeller guard
If you are a Mavic mini user you should understand you will pass 250-gram threshold which ever proppeler guard you use, that wouldn’t be problem if you are flying indoors but if you want to fly out doors the laws will change.
Poor center of gravity
You can notice a poor center of gravity after you installed a prop guard especially if it is a third party prop guard there is a chance the is a slight weight imbalance between the right and left side of the prop guard.
One thing you can do when using a propeller guard or any other accesecory is turn on payload mode in DJI go 4 which will put some software limitations on the drone to increase its safety.
To do that
- To turn on payload mode
- Open DJI GO 4
- Tap on the three dots on the top right corner
- Under safety tap on advanced safety settings
- Scroll to the bottom and tap payload mode
You can also calibrate the IMU and compass after you installed the prop guard.
Unfortunately, the many benefits of propeller guards do come at the cost of flight time. when the weight of propeller guards is added to your drone, it is likely that you will see a decrease in overall battery life and flight time. Propeller guards also increase drag, which can have an impact on flight speed and acceleration time.
I did a little experiment to see how much propeller guards affect the battery time of my drone.
First, I tried flying without prop guards and got 23 minutes flight time at 20% battery warning and landed, then with prop guards on, I had 18 minutes of flight time at 20% battery warning and landed.
That is about 4-5 minutes decrease in flight time and if you have other accessories you can go even lower.
So if you want want to buy a propeller guard for you DJI drone here
|DJI-recommended propeller guards
|DJI Mavic Mini
|DJI Mavic Mini 360 Propeller Guard
|DJI Mini 2
|DJI Mini 2 360 Propeller Guard
|DJI Mavic Air 2
|DJI Mavic Air 2 Propeller Guard
|DJI Mavic pro
|DJI Mavic Pro Propeller Guard
|DJI Phantom 4
|DJI Phantom 4 Propeller Guard
|DJI Mavic 2
|DJI Mavic 2 Propeller Guard
Their price range is from $15-$25