Security cameras play a vital role in helping secure a home or building and keep intruders at bay. However, there are situations that (especially for corded security cameras) may affect their operation or even render them useless, like during a power outage. Apart from that, installing a corded security camera system in a large building or space can prove to be quite costly because of all the cabling involved.
A good alternative to corded systems is a battery-powered camera system. However, these systems can still be problematic considering that their batteries need to be charged regularly or replaced. This can prove to be a major hassle, especially if the cameras are in a remote place or placed far apart. Fortunately, there is a solution that could help alleviate these issues. That solution is solar-powered security cameras.
If you are thinking of buying a solar security camera and would like to learn more how they work, and what to consider when shopping for a solar-powered security system, then this guide is for you.
What’s a Solar-Powered Security Camera?
Solar-powered security cameras are like any other security cameras except that they are powered by the sun or solar energy. The good thing about using these cameras is that you don’t have to pay a monthly subscription fee to an SSP or security service provider or install electric and data cables.
Solar-powered security cameras come with small solar power management systems that include solar panels, a small capacity solar inverter, and rechargeable batteries. Other features on some solar-powered cameras include WiFi connectivity, a spotlight, SD card, and SIM card support.
How Do Solar-Powered Security Cameras Work?
The mini solar panels that come with these cameras are often made of high-quality PV or photovoltaic cells that are designed to capture the sun’s energy to create DC or direct current. A solar inverter then converts the direct current to AC or alternating current, which is needed to charge the batteries and power the security camera system. Thanks to the internal rechargeable batteries, solar-powered cameras can continue to operate even when there’s little-to-no sunshine.
Advantages of Using Solar-Powered Security Cameras
1. They are flexible
Since solar-powered cameras do not need cables or to be connected to mains power to operate, they are the perfect solution for use in geographically-challenging environments, off-grid buildings, and remote locations where pulling the lengths of cable needed to power a traditional security camera system is either too expensive or simply impossible.
2. They’re easy to install
Solar-powered security camera systems are self-sustained units, meaning they do not need to be connected to the power grid. Installation of these systems is as simple as finding the perfect location for your cameras and screwing them in place.
3. They’re friendly to the environment
Since the sun provides free and renewable energy, that means that running your cameras doesn’t contribute to pollution as they don’t source their power from the power grid. The batteries are continuously charged by this free source of energy.
4. They’re scalable
Since each unit is standalone, it’s easy to add or work with as many cameras as you want without having to add new infrastructure.
5. They last a very long time
Most of the companies that make solar panels offer their products with a 25-year warranty. The interesting thing is that even after the 25 years have passed, the panels should still, in most cases, produce about 80 percent of the power the security cameras need to operate.
Factors to Consider When Searching for Solar-Powered Security Cameras
Solar Panel Capacity
When shopping for a solar-powered security camera, one of the main things you need to consider is how much power the system’s solar panel produces. You need to make sure that the panels produce enough energy to power the system for at least eight hours a day and charge the system’s batteries.
Make sure that the batteries in your solar-powered camera are rechargeable and can hold enough power to keep the camera operational even when there is no sunlight. Furthermore, you need to ensure that their storage capacity is at least 10x that of the panel’s max output. This is essential as it’ll help ensure the batteries aren’t damaged by overcharging.
Most solar-powered cameras take about 6 to 8 hours to fully charge their batteries. The power stored should last anywhere from 1 week to 3 months without requiring a recharge. However, this will only be possible if the cameras only record when you connect to them or when their motion sensor is triggered.
Battery storage capacity is measured in mAh or milliamperes per hour. The more features a camera has (e.g., night vision, WiFi, two-way audio, etc.) the bigger the battery capacity should be.
Some solar-powered security cameras offer a cloud service for the storage of captured footage while others use SD cards. If you simply want to record and store videos locally, then consider going for a solar security camera with an SD card slot. However, if you’d like to access recorded footage from anywhere using an internet-connected device, then consider getting a camera that supports cloud service. The good thing about wireless solar security cameras is that they can notify you whenever movement is detected and also allow you to save recorded footage on your phone or any other connected device.
Consider what type of communication network the camera system you are thinking of uses to transmit data. When looking at different options, make sure the camera you get supports a 3G/4G network in addition to WiFi. That way, when WiFi is unreliable or unavailable, you can still connect to the camera using the mobile network.
When shopping for a solar-powered security camera system, make sure you consider its image resolution. For clear and discernable videos and images, ensure that the system you get has either a 720p or 1080p resolution. 720p resolution is quite common among cheaper, lower-end models but should still get the job done. 1080p resolution, however, comes as standard on most solar-powered models.
Compatibility with Existing Infrastructure
Make sure the solar-powered camera you get is compatible with your 4G services provider, existing WiFi, or smart home. While most cameras support WiFi connectivity, not all have the features needed to connect through a built-in 3G/4G network or integrate with a smart home. As such, make sure you check to see if your camera has all the functions you need.
Night-Vision and Motion-Detection Capabilities
Passive Infrared motion detection is a sophisticated feature that uses algorithms to differentiate between humans and non-human things. If whatever’s detected isn’t human, the system doesn’t send an alarm. Night vision can be useful if you intend to use your cameras in dark places or throughout the night.
Solar-powered security cameras are an excellent addition to your premises or home as they offer a practical solution to keeping your belongings safe. These cameras can be especially useful to people who live in areas or locations where installing a conventional security system is either not feasible or too expensive. Since they use solar power rather than electricity from your local power grid, you should expect to start paying lower electricity bills.