The purpose of this tutorial is to show you how to provide solar power for your IP Camera in areas where no power is available.
There are two primary methods for sending data from a Solar Powered IP Camera to an Access Point: A Point to Point Network and a Cellular Gateway. Both allow you to view stored and live footage remotely.
You can also use a Solar Powered IP Camera with Local Storage.
Step one in creating a solar IP Camera Kit would be to identify the Power Requirements of your surveillance equipment. The Spec Sheet will identify the total power draw of the equipment in Watts, and whether the equipment runs on 12 Volt DC, 24 Volt DC, or Power over Ethernet (PoE).
Your Battery is the heart of your solar powered IP Camera system and provides consistent power day and night despite weather conditions. The Solar Panel serves to keep the Battery charged on a daily basis.
The most common type of battery you will use for your Solar Powered IP Camera is a Deep Cycle AGM Sealed Lead Acid Battery (SLA). However, various other battery technologies are available including Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePo4). Click here to learn about the differences between SLA and LiFePo4 batteries.
If your equipment operates on 12 VDC you would use a 12V Battery. If your equipment operates on 24 VDC you would use a 24V Battery. You can also create a 24 Volt Battery Array by using two 12 Volt Batteries Wired in Series. If your equipment operates on PoE most PoE Injectors convert both 12V and 24V DC to the appropriate PoE output.
You will want to size your Battery Array for your solar IP Camera Kit so as to only operate on the top 50% of its cycle. This will help extend the lifespan of the batteries. Again, you will want to refer to the equipment manufacturer’s Spec Sheet to see how many Amps your equipment draws. A smart battery and power monitoring & control system, like the Vorp Energy Prodigy 48, will send you alerts when battery levels get too low, avoiding expensive battery damage.
If your IP Camera draws a total of 6 Watts and operates on 12 VDC, it will draw 0.5 Amps (500 mA). If your Wireless Antenna draws 8 Watts and operates on 12 VDC it will draw .67 Amps (670 mA). You can determine this by using the formula Volts x Amps = Watts or in this example Watts ÷ Volts = Amps. If your goal is to power your solar IP Camera equipment with a 50 Amp hour Battery you would perform the following calculations:
50 ÷ 2 = 25: Dividing the Amp hours by 2 ensures that you are operating on the top 50% of the Battery’s cycle, giving you 25 Amp hours available to use.
.5 + .67 = 1.17: This is the combined amperage of your two pieces of equipment.
25 ÷ 1.17 = 21.37: Dividing the available Amp hours by the total Amperage of the equipment tells you how many hours your Battery will be able to provide that output.
In this example a 50 Amp hour Battery will power your solar IP Camera equipment for 21.37 hours before becoming over-discharged. This scenario works because an appropriately sized Solar Panel will be recharging the battery daily.
Solar Panel Size
Once you have identified the Power Requirements of your IP Camera and the appropriate Battery size, you can turn your attention to sizing the Solar Panel for your solar IP Camera Kit. You will need to identify the average Peak Sun Hours your area receives. This information can be found using Vorp Energy’s Solar Zone Radiation Map shown below. For a more detailed explanation of this step click here.
To adequately charge your Battery Array you would use a Solar Panel with equal or greater Voltage output. If you have created a 24V Battery Array by wiring two 12V Batteries in Series you would need a 24V Solar Panel. Another option is to use two 12V Solar Panels wired in Series.
If your goal was to charge the same 50 Amp hour Battery mentioned above you would need to replace around 20 hours of Battery Life in the few short Peak Sun Hours your area receives. In December Zone 1 only receives an average of 2.93 Peak Sun Hours. This would be the number to use for your calculations unless you want to resize your solar IP Camera system at the change of each season.
This means that for 2.93 hours your Solar Array will be producing close to its Max Power Voltage (Vpm) at close to its Max Power Current (Imp). A 12V, 100 Watt Solar Panel will send 13.8 Volts into your Battery at 5.75 Amps (Imp) and will replace 16.85 hours of Battery Life. (5.75 Amps x 2.93 Peak Sun Hours). This is adequate considering that the sun will only be down for 12 to 14 hours, and your Solar Panel will be producing some amount of electricity during Non-Peak Sun Hours. If you wanted to provide Solar Power for your IP Camera, but lived in Zone 4 which, in December only receives 1.4 Peak Sun Hours you would need a larger system.
Solar Charge Controller
If your Battery is the heart of your solar IP Camera system, the Solar Charge Controller is the brains, and ensures that your Battery is not over-charged or over dis-charged.
To select the proper Charge Controller you will use the voltage of your solar IP Camera system, as well as the Short Circuit Current (Isc) of your Solar Panel. A 100 Watt Solar Panel will have an ISC of around 6.3 Amps. You would need a Solar Charge Controller that can handle the max current of 6.3 Amps. A 12 Volt, 10 Amp Solar Charge Controller would be appropriate for the above example.
There are two primary types of solar charge controller; Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) and Max Power Point Tracking (MPPT). Learn about the differences here.
Finally, you will want to find a weather proof enclosure to house your Solar Charge Controller and your Battery array. Many enclosures, as well as Solar Panel Mounting Systems are designed to attach to a schedule 40 Pole along with your solar powered IP Camera equipment.
In almost every surveillance situation, having anything less than 100% up-time is unacceptable. Each element we have mentioned needs to be carefully considered when designing a solar surveillance system. Here at Vorp Energy we manufacture solar powered systems for IP cameras in bulk, which means that not only have we ironed out all the kinks in the road, but more often than not we can offer a well polished solution at a lower price than can be patched together for a “one-off” job. Let our expert team make you look like a PRO on your next install! Call us at (208)-904-0424, or click here to leave us a message.