Best Thermal Drones [Buying Guide]

Thermal Drones

While drones are surging in popularity among recreational users, others are finding ways to use their capabilities to achieve practical goals and solve real world problems. It seemed almost inevitable that manufacturers would develop drones capable of supporting infrared cameras, and finally the technology has caught up.

Thermal imagery allows us to see the world in a whole new way. Heat signatures that are emitted by human bodies, fires, and other sources of warmth stand out from cooler backgrounds, which allow us to identify subjects we would not otherwise be able to see.

Search and Rescue drones equipped with thermal imaging help first responders identify the location of people lost in chaotic scenes, and police departments have started using drones with thermal capabilities to identify the location of suspects while keeping an infrared eye on their officers.

Fire departments have started to use thermal drones to identify patches of fire that are obscured behind clouds of dark smoke, and the use of infrared has increased hose efficiency while lowering the chances that people are left behind in fire zones.

There are also numerous commercial uses, like checking homes or buildings for sources of excess heat, or scanning solar panels for malfunctioning units. In these cases, thermography has helped save businesses and individuals thousands upon thousands of dollars.

There are other creative uses for thermal drones and infrared cameras yet to be discovered. Luckily, the market has become flush with great options for interested buyers. Searching for the best Black Friday deals drones have become a go-to item for consumers, which is why we’ve assembled the top infrared drones currently available on the market.


DJI Inspire 1 V2.0 with Zenmuse XT

DJI Inspire 1 V2.0 with Zenmuse XT

DJI consistently manufactures the most popular drones on the market, and models like the Inspire 1 V2.0 explain why. Re-engineered with a powerful new propulsion system, the Inspire 1 V2.0 is a highly intelligent, dual-operator equipped quadcopter, integrated with smart flight modes and a 3-axis stabilizing gimbal.

With such elite craftsmanship, it’s only fitting that the Inspire 1 V2.0 should be compatible with the Zenmuse XT, perhaps the best thermal imaging camera at its price point. It’s offered in the Performance Model, designed with emergency responders in mind, or the Radiometric Model, designed for the needs of inspectors.

Features and Specs:

  • 18 Minute Flight Time
  • 49mph (79kph) max speed (!)
  • 3-axis stabilizing gimbal
  • 360-degree camera rotation
  • Ready-to-fly aerial system
  • Dual-operator mode
  • Zenmuse XT Thermal Performance Model estimates temperature surrounding the camera focus point, allowing users to spot salient differences
  • Zenmuse XT Thermal Radiometric Model allows users to isolate pixels and sections of the display while giving average, highest, and lowest temperatures for that area
  • Ideal for analytics and telemetry


Yuneec Typhoon H with CGOET Thermal Imaging and Low-Ligh Camera

Yuneec Typhoon H with CGOET Thermal Imaging and Low-Ligh Camera

The Typhoon H is a beautifully crafted UAV with 6 brushless motors and a range of advanced features.  It was designed to bring professional features to a drone priced for consumers.

Equipped with the CGOET Thermal Imaging and Low-Light Camera, the Typhoon H has become one of the most sought after camera drones for sale. It offers a generous 25-minute max flight time, which allows the CGOET gather information with a lens that offers 20x higher sensitivity than the human eye, and thermal imaging capabilities that selectively measures temperature differences between objects.

Features and Specs:

  • 25 Minute Flight Time
  • Point of Interest mode instructs drone to circle objects of interest
  • Curve Cable Cam instructs drone to follow preset coordinates
  • Follow Me/Watch Me mode instructs drone to keep camera focused on user
  • Foldable arms make travel easy
  • 1080p Thermal Imaging and Low-Light Camera
  • 3-axis gimbal
  • 360-degree gimbal rotation
  • Dual lens


OnyxStar Xena with Optris PI 640

OnyxStar Xena with Optris PI 640

The OnyxStar Xena is a foldable, weather resistant octocopter, designed for professional grade performance and loaded with a variety of advanced features. It’s versatility and smart flight modes have made it one of the most talked about RC copters on the market, especially when loaded with a drone infrared camera.

When strapped with the Optris PI 640, the Xena becomes an engineering marvel. The Optris PI drone infrared camera measures temperatures from -4 °F to a devilish 1652 °F. It delivers pin-sharp radiometric pictures and videos, and is perhaps the best mini thermal camera available.

Features and Specs:

  • 37 Minute Flight Time
  • 2kg (4.4lb) payload
  • 16,400ft Altitude Range
  • Octocopter foldable frame, made with high quality, lightweight carbon
  • Drone operates from -5 °F to 104 °F
  • Infrared Camera Weighs mere 320g
  • 125Hz frame rate
  • Pin-sharp radiometric features


DJI Phantom 3 SE with FLIR Vue Pro

DJI Phantom 3 SE with FLIR Vue Pro

It’s almost possible to call the DJI Phantom 3 a cult classic; words like “iconic” have been used to describe it, and with good reason. Designed with a slick white and yellow finish, the Phantom boasts a 25-minute max flight time and can reach speeds of 35mph. It’s regard by industry professionals as one of the best quadcopter drones.

Onboard GPS ensures that the Phantom 3 never gets too far out of range, and if the pilot’s connection with the quadcopter starts to fade, the Phantom 3’s Return Home functions ensures that it will never get lost. Video position systems guarantee steady flight, and when equipped with the FLIR Vue Pro thermal camera, the Phantom 3 becomes a premier night vision drone.

Features and Specs:

  • 25 Minute Flight Time
  • 35mph
  • 4km range
  • Connects to DJI GO app, which greatly simplifies photographic capabilities
  • Return Home function recalls the Phantom 3 when batteries are low or connection is lost
  • FLIR Vue Pro adds professional grade, easy to configure thermal hardware
  • Vue Pro provides optional color palettes, image optimization features, and offers MAVLink compatibility for geo-tagging


Aerialtronics Altura Zenith Drone with PENSAR

Aerialtronics Altura Zenith Drone with PENSAR

For its price-point, the Aerialtronics Altura Zenith is perhaps the best RC drone on the market. It comes with a state of the art multirotor system that permits a massive 3kg payload; GPS allows the drone to fly up to 18km away. It’s also one of the best agricultural drones for surveying land and making detailed maps.

The incredibly dynamic PENSAR camera system, also developed by Aerialtronics, is the world’s first dual spectrum computer vision platform. The integrated FLIR Boson camera is capable of detecting remote heat signatures by using a 30x optical zoom, which help distinguish tiny details on a large landscape.

Features and Specs:

  • 40 Minutes Flight Time
  • 3kg (6.6lbs) payload
  • 18km (11 miles) max flight distance
  • Octocopter with carbon fiber design
  • Withstand inclement weather and 35mph winds
  • Tablet Control
  • GPS Assisted Flights
  • Complex Mission Planning
  • FLIR Boson Camera with Thermal and Sensor fusion
  • 30x HD optical zoom
  • Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity


Flyability Elios Drone

Flyability Elios Drone

At first glance, the Elios Drone might appear like something it’s not.  Wrapped in a spherical, collision-tolerant frame, the Elios Drone was designed to operate in confined spaces where other drones wouldn’t dare fly. It’s quirky, but within its niche industry professionals have fallen in love with its seemingly endless drone uses.

Equipped with full HD and thermal imagery recording, the Elios Drone can be piloted from a distance using the Elios Ground Station, while its state-of-the-art wireless communication system provides live feedback from the onboard camera.

Features and Specs

  • 10 Minute Flight Time
  • Batteries charge in seconds
  • Carbon fiber protective frame
  • Powerful LED lighting for navigating in the dark
  • Full HD and thermal imagery
  • Live video feedback and wireless communication
  • Operates from 32 °F – 122 °F (0 °C – 50 °C)
  • Elios Ground Station reports live telemetry data, and comes with a remote controller and a tablet


Thermal Drones

For peace of mind, it might be wise to check out the FAA’s drone rules before piloting your new aircraft. Thermal drones are typically commercial units, so a host of rules apply to them.