6 Tips on How To Spot a Drone at Night

David Lemay26 Jan 2022

Drones are used for many different purposes. From simply observing the world from a bird's eye view to shooting action-packed videos, drones are used across all industries and by numerous hobbyists. However, although drones are a great technology, we understand that some people may use them for malicious purposes. Of course, no one wants to think about someone spying on them at night - it's an uncomfortable thought - which is why people get worried whenever they suspect a drone is flying above their property or so close to their home.

Drones are invisible in the night, but people can see the lights displayed on top of them as they hover above. A drone (Acts like a UFO) hovers above you and shines a light in your eyes when it is at night time. And this is why anyone who has ever been spied on by a drone would have never heard or seen the drone flying above their heads but only remembered seeing bright flashing lights that were hovering over them. In reality, though, there are ways you can ensure the safety of yourself and your family by checking whether someone is using a drone to spy on you during the dark & vulnerable hours.

How do you spot a drone at night?

1. The light is the first clue

Trust me, it won’t take you long at all to realize if you’re dealing with a drone at night. All of the drones that I know for sure have lights or beacons attached leading the way into the night sky. Drones come with various kinds of flashing and non-blinking lights, which will help you in spotting the drone as it approaches your position.

2. Drones can make sound, listen to it!

Although UAVs are generally very quiet when they fly, no matter how quiet it is out there in the air, some may still be able to detect their presence. Drones make different kinds of sounds but the major source of sound usually comes from their propellers, which buzz as they fly through the air. For instance, Parrot drones are known to have a loud buzzing noise which makes it easier to spot at night because people will be able to see and or hear them coming before they see them coming!

3. Use an anti-drone radio frequency detector to track it

If you want to detect drones with your smartphone, all you have to do is download an application that will scan the airwaves for a specific signature drone ID. There are various apps online that are designed specifically for this sort of thing and are easy to locate via web search. These applications have been developed for capturing unencrypted WiFi signals that drones use to communicate with their pilot. The apps can then be programmed to start searching through the crowdsourced databases where collected user data is submitted to compare the signature against records on file for you to verify whether or not the signal belongs to an active drone.

4. Use motion detection cameras

Another way to spot drones and other objects flying at night time is by using a special kind of observation camera. These cameras rely on infrared lights that can pick up motion in the dark, detecting activity that might otherwise be undetected as its low light environment. Many motion-detection surveillance systems are installed with their motion detectors and are programmed to send notifications right to your mobile device when they capture any activity in regards to movement. Note that these detection cameras are best placed in specific locations where they can detect objects even if the time of day makes it difficult because they rely heavily on darkness being present.

5. Try acoustic sensors

Acoustic sensors are used by anti-drone systems to detect drones. This technology is more precise than other 'noise' sensors as they monitor drone sounds that do not have signals and their way of movement. The major advantage of acoustic sensors will be being able to detect the model of the drone after analyzing the sound reaching them. Some drones use signal masking or encryption to avoid acoustic detection, but the signal can still be detected soon by using this system with pre-training.

6. Try microwave motion sensors

Microwave motion sensors can help you detect a drone in your vicinity. Microwave motion sensors will send out electromagnetic waves in the direction of the space around it and bounce those waves off the surrounding area. These microwaves will then return to their source, letting the microwave motion sensors know when there are drones or other objects present in their direct line of sight. The microwaves will determine the speed at which this object is travelling and its direction, letting you as a user be aware of what exactly is in your environment without actually having to see it with your own eyes!

Police Drones

Police use drones for surveillance missions, not spying. One drone looks like another to us so we don’t worry when they arrive in the sky. Police drones are just commercial drones. You should note that the police won’t send them over without a good reason and would only do so if one is suspected of a crime or disorder on the streets.

What do police drones look like at night?

One of the many things that set a police drone apart from other civilian drones is its strobe light. Police drone lights usually have blue and red colours, which are very easy to spot. When you're a few meters away from a police drone at night, you can see that one side of the drone has red lights whilst the other has blue ones. Though if you're far away from it, its colours appear to be joined together but you can still tell them apart.

Hey hobbyists! So, be aware that it’s not cool to copy police drones and you certainly shouldn’t use the same lights simply because if someone happens to see a drone and a cop car on the highway at night, they might think that it’s the cops. By all means, fly your hobby drone, just don't make things harder for us when people call in a potential criminal act because they are confused by seeing one of our actual craft.


 If you suspect a drone is flying over your property, you can use the tips above to identify it. Remember that drones are not allowed to be flown above 400 feet without a permit, so if you hear a buzzing noise and see a light flying above your property, it's likely a drone. If you find that a drone is flying over your property, you can contact the police, or you can take a picture of the drone with your phone.

David Lemay

David Lemay

I'm David Lemay, a lover of tech and have had an interest in drones for years. Bought my first few drones, before I started building my own. I want to share my passion with others, so I started this site to help others who want to get into the hobby.

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