Tips on powering a security camera with solar/battery?

Thread Starter

cranberrysky

Joined Feb 15, 2022
33
I'm thinking of buying a Wifi Camera and hooking it up to a solar panel and battery, to use as a wireless security/nature camera with 24/7 streaming.

I'm looking at 12V camera from Reolink or a 5V camera from Wyze. And I was recommended this solar kit.

I've never done anything with solar or rechargeable batteries before, so I want to make sure I know what I'm doing. Would I need to choose a 12V or 5V battery depending on which camera I get? Does the controller in the solar kit allow you to adjust output voltage depending on which battery I'm charging? Should the battery be lithium ion?

Is there a cheaper way to do a solar setup, i.e. just a solar panel hooked up to a battery without the controller, or is that necessary? Would it be cheaper to buy a solar panel and controller separately?

Is the 20W solar panel more power than needed?
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
30,102
I'm looking at 12V camera from Reolink or a 5V camera from Wyze
Don't know why you the think the Reolink is 12V.
They are both listed as using a 5V, 1A supply.
Is the 20W solar panel more power than needed?
Assuming there is some margin on the power and that they both require about 1/2A @ 5V, which is 2.5W, that would be 2.5W X 24 hours = 52.5 watt-hours of power in a day.
Assuming maybe 8 hours @ 10W of during sunlight (20W peak), would give 80 watt-hours, so no, it does not appear to be appreciably more power than you need.

But you should use a 6V lead-acid sealed battery with a 6V high efficiency charger from the panel.
 

Thread Starter

cranberrysky

Joined Feb 15, 2022
33
Don't know why you the think the Reolink is 12V.
They are both listed as using a 5V, 1A supply.
Oh ok, I thought someone had said it was 12V and I couldn't find the specs on the site, but now I see them.

But you should use a 6V lead-acid sealed battery with a 6V high efficiency charger from the panel.
It's okay for the battery to provide 6V to a 5V camera?

Is the "intelligent charge controller" in the Amazon solar kit the high efficiency charger you're talking about? Do you mean that's what I'd need if I bought a solar panel by itself? Something like this? That charger says 1.25A, and I calculate the panel to output 20W/12V= 1.67A, so I would want a slightly better charger than that, right?

Edit: I see now that the controller is just for charging 12V batteries. I had thought maybe the buttons let you adjust for different batteries.
 
Last edited:

Audioguru again

Joined Oct 21, 2019
4,793
Many people use a camera designed to be powered by the doorbell power.
The solar kit is designed to charge an antique lead-acid car or motorcycle battery at 13.8V. The voltage and charging current are too high for a little battery needed for the outdoors 5V camera.
The math for the solar is wrong. They say 10A and 12V but that is 120W, not 20W. The solar controller is rated for 10A, that much is not needed.

You need to decide how many cloudy days will the battery still power the camera before the charge is gone.
 

Audioguru again

Joined Oct 21, 2019
4,793
The solar panel produces 20W only at noon on a sunny day in summer when pointing directly at the sun.
Do cars and motorcycles use a 6V battery anymore?
Are you going to put a car or motorcycle lead-acid battery on your porch?
 

Audioguru again

Joined Oct 21, 2019
4,793
Got it. Why do you recommend lead-acid battery?
The solar kit says it is designed for "12 volt batteries in car, RVs, cabins, boats, marine, battery operated gates, back-up power and remote power use". It will explode and set on fire other types of batteries that need a complicated charger circuit.
 

Dodgydave

Joined Jun 22, 2012
10,361
The majority of these stand alone wi-fi cameras are 5V , so of you need a solar panel to charge the battery get a 6V one and use a 6V Sla battery as said earlier.
 

Thread Starter

cranberrysky

Joined Feb 15, 2022
33
Because they are relatively cheap for the required capacity, and they are easier to charge than Lithium-ion batteries.
If you aren't concerned about weight/size than I would go with lead-acid.
Oh ok.

I'm looking around for 6V ~20W solar panels, and they seem much more expensive than 12V 20W panels. Would it maybe be cheaper to use a 12V panel with a regulator for a 6V battery?
 

Audioguru again

Joined Oct 21, 2019
4,793
The "12V" panel will produce 13.8V to charge a "12V" battery. It needs a series diode to prevent the battery from discharging into the solar panel at night then the solar panel must be 14.5V.

The solar panel with a diode produces 13.8V into a 6V regulator then the regulator heats with (13.8V - 6V) x 1A (for the charger)= 7.8W of heat that must be cooled with a pretty large heatsink.
Can you buy a fairly large 6V lead-acid battery?
 

Thread Starter

cranberrysky

Joined Feb 15, 2022
33
The solar panel with a diode produces 13.8V into a 6V regulator then the regulator heats with (13.8V - 6V) x 1A (for the charger)= 7.8W of heat that must be cooled with a pretty large heatsink.
So it'd be wasting half the power from the panel as heat?

Can you buy a fairly large 6V lead-acid battery?
Probably the smaller the better, as it has to be mounted up in a tree or on the roof.
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
5,227
So it'd be wasting half the power from the panel as heat?



Probably the smaller the better, as it has to be mounted up in a tree or on the roof.
You would only lose half the power using a linear regulator. A switching regulator can be 90+% efficient.
If you want small, a lithium battery is the way to go. You can get solar charging / lithium battery products already built that output the 5V you need. They call them solar phone chargers. But the beware, most are not sufficient for to run a 1A load continuously.

Bob
 
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