How to Spot a Drone at Night? A Detailed Guide

Are you scared by the interruption that drones make to the flow of your usual lifestyle? The machines that were made with the mere intention of the progress of military and aerospace missions are now invading the privacy of the common public. Accordingly, how to spot a drone at night is the next question you come up with when in such insecurity.

The use of drones to spy on people and capture photos of them secretly and cause a threat to cyber security is a rising issue. We all do not like to be watched by a stranger unless it is a police or military drone. Therefore, it is important that the public must have sound knowledge of finding the owner of a drone that was flying over their roofs.

There are several modern technologies and instruments introduced taking this considering the security of people. Let’s check them one by one.

The lights and the sounds a drone emit is a good way to detect it. Sending a signal to the direction where you suspect the drone is flying or located and analysing the signals that bounce back is also a method of identifying unknown, non-commercial drones at night.

Detecting the presence of such with its own lights and sound does not need special equipment. For sending signals, you must get the help of special equipment. It is a relief that the light, sound, or radio signals coming out from the drone can be detected by the naked eye, hearing, or simple devices that do not need any academic knowledge to operate.

The Light Emitted by a Drone

All the drones process lighting. Some blink, and some stay in the same brightness. Red, Green, and White are the usual colors of the lights, but there may be some of any other colors too. There are two types of lights working in a drone.

Navigation Lights

One light on the front and the second on the back is the way most commercial and hobby drones are manufactured.

Anti-collision lights

FAA (Federal Aviation Association) has announced that all drones must be equipped with anti-collision lights. These bright lights allow the drone operator to identify the drone easily if the environment is darker. These lights come in red or white. Strobe lights can be seen in some drones to avoid collisions, such as police drones.

How to Spot a Drone at Night?

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Apart from the light indicators of a drone, you can notice on the below-mentioned things to identify a drone at night.

Listening to the sounds around you

All drones produce a sound when their propellers rotate. This bussing sound could be easily identified if the area has no other loud noises. Sound amplifiers will do a better job if the drone is too far to hear within the normal listening range.

Tracking the radio waves

Radio frequencies not only have the ability to identify the location of a drone but also it’s pilot. This is a more fruitful method than the previous two. All you need is a scanner. It will detect the signals that the object emits when in communication with the pilot who is controlling it.

Related: How Far Can a Drone Fly and Factors that Decide Drone Range?

Using acoustic sensors

The mandatory thing to do when you use this method is to place the sensor in a place where it can detect the sound from the drones. Do a before search about the area you place this because if there are any interrupts from other sounds like vehicles or animal shouting. This mechanism is being used in the military to identify non-permitted entries of drones to restricted areas.

These are a step forward from other devices. Acoustic sensors can identify a drone even in a case in which the drone does not release radio waves and does not reflect waves. This device also can identify other sounds from the distinctive noise of the drone’s motor. Thus, the chance of giving false information is low. Acoustic sensors are an adequate answer for How to spot a drone at night.  

When a signal is caught, the sensors convert it to an electric signal, and then it will be identified by the computer connected. An alarm will be ringing, and all you have to do is inform the police. 

Motion detection cameras

The process is very quick here. The camera identifies any suspicious moving objects and will send a notification to your mobile phone. The identification is done by capturing a raw of pictures. A microwave or Infrared light is used in this appliance. High usage power and false positives can be pointed out as a weakness in this tool.

Motion detection cameras that use Infrared light beams will show you an image similar to white light, although the environment is dark. It is necessary to know that the colors of the image may vary.

Microwave motion sensors

A microwave motion sensor emits electromagnetic waves. These can identify a drone by the reflecting waves that bounce back when it collides with the unknown flyer. You can pick out which direction does the suspected drone flying and the speed too.

Drone detector app

Unencrypted wifi signals can be checked via an app you install on your smartphone. The app can differentiate the detected signals with a database, whether those signals are drone-owned or not.

What if you see a drone flying near your house at night?

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If you have any equipment, try to find the owner and details. Give it a try to jam the signals of the drone to make an obstacle to transferring the videos or pictures taken by them secretly. Ring the police immediately. It is more efficient if you can report the incident to FAA.

Here comes the most important precaution,

Take necessary measures to protect your privacy. Close the open windows and blinds, especially in the shower rooms. 


Parallel to the development of drone technology, the risk to privacy has also increased. 

If you are unsure that you can identify a drone from the naked eye or normal hearing sense, you have there are plenty of ways of doing it. Some from the group are Amplifiers, Scanners, Acoustic sensors, and Motion detection cameras. We have discussed the ways of detecting prohibited entrances to your area, breaking privacy.

If you are using a drone for commercial purposes or for photography, you must avoid the chances of interrupting other’s personal life.

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