Solar Camera

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  #1  
Old 02-21-12, 11:41 AM
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Solar Camera

I have a security camera that is DC 5v/2A with a 5 watt max power consumption.

What I would like to do is connect it to a solar pannel/battery to make it a simple stand alone system, not requiring power from the home. Able to run on battery backup power on cloudy days/nights. I've seen 9v batteries in similar apps, but I believe I will need more than that.

I don't know where to start as what size solar pannel (5w?) what kind of battery, regulators, stepodowns ect to keep from over charging and get the volts right. I would love to keep size to a minimum but that is a far sceond to functionality.

I really want to get started on this project. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks
 
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Old 02-21-12, 02:12 PM
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What is your budget and where are you located? If you live in the sunny southwest you can get by with a much smaller solar panel than if you live in a cloud prone location in the north.
 
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Old 02-21-12, 08:29 PM
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Cloud prone New York

As far as budget, its more of value for money. Something that can be relied on, but as cheap as possible. Im pretty good at sourcing parts cheap, problem is I don't know what I need to buy. looking to do a single battery and pannel per camera, not a linked system.

I've seen a chinease version for about 100, but that looked like a roll up laptop solar charger and a 9v that wouldn't last a week. My cameras alone cost more than that.

My first venture into solar energy if you couldnt tell...
 
  #4  
Old 02-22-12, 05:12 AM
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First, get used to the idea that solar is expensive and requires routine maintenance & expense.

If your camera draws 5 watts I would go with a solar panel rated to produce at least four times that at the minimum. You will also need a battery, deep cycle would be better and a charge controller. The size of solar panel and battery depends on how reliably you want the camera powered. Basically bigger is better but more expensive.

When looking at items consider that solar panels are rated for the absolute best conditions, something you will never achieve especially if you do not have a tracker for the panel. Because of your latitude a 50 watt panel may only produce at max 40 watts due to your latitude and it's output will slowly diminish as the panel ages. You also have to account for your panel not being optimally positioned to catch the sun's rays. You will mount it for the best average but the sun is constantly moving through the sky so except for a brief instant twice a year the panel is not aimed optimally causing a further reduction in it's output.
 
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Old 02-22-12, 07:31 AM
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Would a deep cycle marine battery do the trick?

whats the average lifespan for a solar pannel? are we talking new one every 5 years or every 6 months? I figured on regular maintnence.

pannel -> charge controller -> battery -> camera?

As far as matching volts, would I need to use a battery with a matching volatge or could a 12v battery or any other size battery with a stepdown do the trick?
 
  #6  
Old 02-22-12, 07:44 AM
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As far as matching volts, would I need to use a battery with a matching volatge or could a 12v battery or any other size battery with a stepdown do the trick?
You would use a DC to DC converter to reduce the voltage. DC-to-DC converter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gate openers are often powered from a 12v battery and the gate opener companies sell solar chargers for them. That and a DC to DC converter might be a solution for you. While gates are not continuous use devices like a camera they do use far more current when the gate is opened then a camera. My guess is a solar panel to keep their battery charged would provide enough for a continuous use like a camera.
 
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Old 02-22-12, 07:54 AM
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Yes, a deep cycle marine battery will work well. 12 volts is the most common voltage for everything. The panel will be producing a voltage higher than that, sometimes as high as 17 volts, but it's still referred to as a 12 volt. When the sun is out and you are charging you send about 14.5 volts to the battery. When not charging the battery should have a voltage of about 12.5 volts. Double check, but your cameras power supply should be able to work with that variation in input voltage without much trouble.

Odd things can happen but I've heard 20 years mentioned for the life of a high quality panel. I have a solar powered boat and I think it's on it's sixth year. There is a large array in my town and they had a few panels go bad within the first year so you never know. There are no moving parts so they good ones are pretty durable as long as you keep baseballs or large hail away from them.

What bites with a system like you are doing is that the camera will draw 5 watts 24 hours a day. During winter the sun is above the horizon for as little as 9+ hours so you may only get 6 hours of useful charging time, and that's at a reduced power output because the sun is so low in the sky. So, those 6+ charging hours at reduced output have to be able to make enough power for 24 hours consumption. Get a few cloudy days in a row and you have to have a panel big enough to generate the power to make up for the cloudy days' reduced output.
 
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Old 02-22-12, 01:52 PM
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You might want to add in a small circuit so if the battery goes too low to power the camera it switches to grid power and maybe flashes a led.
 
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