Why do drones have red and green lights?

As a beginner, even the simplest elements on your drone like red or green lights can make you confused.

Buying your first drone as a beginner is an exciting moment, but it comes with a lot of questions.

These days drones are getting more and more popular.

In this guide, you can find out why drones have these lights.

Keep reading so we can find it out together.

Flying drones at night is under additional regulations.

These red and green lights are mandatory and also recommended for the safety of the pilot, the participants of the airspace, and the properties in the zone.

Do all drones have green and red lights?

In the majority of countries, the regulations about drones are fairly similar.

This fact by itself is almost forcing drone manufacturers to apply some equipment on each of their products.

drone red and green lights

In the US the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requires you to equip your drone with Anti-Collision lights if you are flying it at night.

In the daylight, these lights are not obligatory, but almost every drone is equipped with some kind of LEDs.

The colour of these lights can vary:

-> but the majority of drones have green, red, or white ones on their bottom.

What do green and red lights on a drone mean?

On almost every drone, these green and red lights have the same position. 

On the front of the device, you can find the red lights while the green ones are on the back of them.

The specific meaning of the green and red lights on a drone can vary depending on the drone model, but here are some common uses:

  • Green lights:

    Green lights are often used to indicate that the drone is powered on and ready to fly.

    They also help you to show the direction the drone is facing.
  • It also indicates that the drone is connected to a GPS signal.
  • Red lights:

    Red lights are often used to indicate that the drone is in danger or that there is a problem with the drone.

    They may also be used to show the direction the drone is facing or to indicate that the drone is not connected to a GPS signal.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the meaning of the different light patterns on your specific drone model.

This can help you understand the status of the drone and take appropriate action if needed.

Consult the user manual or the manufacturer’s website for more information on the meaning of the lights on your particular drone.

It seems that this is an unwritten standard and these have the following meaning:

  • The red lights on the front of the drone are for orientation
  • The green ones are taking place as simple status indicators for the aircraft

Why do drones have red and green lights?

These lights are mounted on almost every drone for good reasons:

Helping you in drone position tracking.

Some of these are forced by regulations while others are more practical ones.

In the daylight, these little LEDs are hard to notice.

In most cases, you won’t even notice them when the drone is flying.

These devices are offering the freedom of flying and seeing everything from height.

But for the majority of people, it is not enough to fly their aircraft during the day.

To see the roof of some houses, lakes, and nature is amazing, but there are even better opportunities.

Flying drones at night is opening new possibilities and a different view from the same location.

The night lights and the possibility of taking long exposure photos are making it so desirable to fly yours in the darkness.

  • This different circumstance is forcing you and the others around you to adapt to the situation.
  • One of the main reasons to use lights on drones is to prevent any possible accident, injury, and damage to property.
  • The possibility of causing any problem is reduced if the pilot of this small unmanned aircraft has clear visual contact with the drone.

    This should be maintained during the whole duration of the flight.
  • No matter how good the camera lens is on your drone, following the drone with your eyes will offer you more control over it

Top reasons why you should follow the drone with your eyes with the help of these red and green lights:

  • You need to know the location of the unmanned aircraft
  • If the lights are working properly, you can determine the direction of the flight (red lights on the front and green ones in the back
  • You can notice the altitude and also its basic attitude (if there is any wind gust or instability)
  • Will help you notice any aircraft or hazards around you.

    This is helping you to avoid endangering or damaging someone’s property or even health

These red and green lights should be used not only for controlling and not using your drone.

A big reason why these are necessary accessories is to notify other drone pilots and even manned aircraft about your location.
  • The safety of your aircraft is also an important factor.

    Good visibility with the help of these red and green lights will help you to avoid obstacles and find them after a safe landing.

Why should I put additional lights on my drone?

Flying drones at night is very fun, but we need to be more cautious.

You need to know the area to successfully evade every possible obstacle.

Even the best night photo is not worth crashing a 200$ – 500$ worth of “toy”.

Dedicated article: What to do when you crash your drone?

Some drones are not equipped well with these lights.

  • Using additional LEDs with small batteries might be a good project for better visibility.

    The stronger the LEDs are, the higher you can fly and it is harder to lose them from sight.

But it is important to keep in mind how long a drone battery lasts.

Additional weight can have a significant effect on flight duration.

The only thing to take into serious consideration is the weight of the additional lights and different drone battery types.

In the majority of countries, the weight limit for drones is 250 grams. 

Anything above it is under stricter regulations.

The drone manufacturers are trying to take advantage of these rules by making aircraft with a weight very close to 250 grams.

For example, a Mavic Mini has a weight of around 237 grams, which is letting you a gap of only 12 grams for additional equipment.

  • Stronger lights will help you to find the device if you crash it or lose it from the line of sight.
  • Flying in the fog requires additional visibility.

    Even a small upgrade with a plus white LED will help you to avoid collisions

FAA is requiring you to have anti-collision lights that can be seen from 3 international miles.

I strongly doubt that every drone is equipped with light sources that can be seen from that distance.

These rules were created to protect you, your device, and the other participant near you.

Flying your drones at night without these lights only to save 3$-5$ is not worth it.

I’m not saying everyone should buy stronger red and green lights.

But for more extreme heights and distances might be a wise idea.

What do drones at night look like?

At night, drones are difficult to see, especially if they do not have special lights.

However, many drones do have lights that are used for navigation and to indicate the status of the drone.

The specific appearance of a drone at night will depend on the model of the drone and the configuration of the lights.

Here are a few examples of what drones at night might look like:

  • Some drones have bright, flashing lights that are visible from a distance.

    These lights may be red, green, white, or a combination of colours, and they may flash in a specific pattern to indicate the status of the drone.
  • Other drones have dimmer, steady-burning lights that are used for navigation.

    These lights may be:

    -> red, green, white, or a combination of colours, and they may be positioned on different parts of the drone to show the direction the drone is facing.
  • Some drones have no lights at all, making them almost invisible at night.

    These drones may be difficult to see, especially if they are flying at a distance or against a dark background.

Summary: why do drones have lights?

There are primarily two reasons and types of lights on drones:

  1. Navigation Lights on drones:
    These are typically white, red, and green lights that help to determine the orientation of the drone when it is flying.

    It is especially needed in low-light conditions or at night.

    They follow similar principles to aviation lighting;

    red lights usually signify the left side of the drone, green on the right, and white on the rear.
  2. Anti-collision Lights on drones:
    These are usually bright, flashing lights designed to make the drone visible to other aircraft in the vicinity.

    This is particularly important when flying in areas where other aircraft may be present, such as near airports.


-> Some drone operators add specialized lighting systems to their drones for specific tasks.

These can be useful for such as night photography or search and rescue operations.

Both of these drones require a decent amount of storage for files.

Check out my article on drones with sd card slots for more info 😉

It’s important to note that the use of drones, especially at night, is regulated in many places around the world.

Always check and adhere to local laws and regulations before flying a drone.

Relevant article:

How do drones fly? – basic physics behind the process


Why do drones have red and green lights?

The lights on drones are helping you to follow your drones at night. But they have another useful role too.

What do green and red lights on a drone mean?

Green and red lights on a drone have different meanings, but they are essential for flying at night. With their help, you can easily spot the front of your aircraft even from a bigger distance.

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