The Solar Camera, Its Conveniences and Inconveniencies

A solar camera it's a surveillance camera that's able to convert sunlight into electricity during the day through a solar panel. Thus, the harvested electricity powers the camera instead of needing a cable connect to an outlet. The existence of solar cameras provides a neat little workaround to the difficulties of deploying surveillance in remote places.

The labor costs of deploying cabling or providing power for remote, unaccommodating places or structures regularly pose a challenge. However, the solar camera, which is as easy to install as any IP camera, presents an advantage. As long as the panel is facing the open sky, it will be able to collect sunlight to power the camera and save some to keep it on the entire night.

How Does a Solar Camera Work?

The solar panel aside, a solar camera is capable of working exactly like an IP camera. 

Some models of the solar camera have an internal SD memory for locally storing the footage recorded. Moreover, some models also have SIM card slots.

Thus, it's possible to insert a mobile carrier-activated SIM card with mobile data enabled, which will use to communicate with the APP wirelessly. With the device's wireless features, it allows users to retrieve their recorded footage on any internet-connected device from anywhere in the world.

How Does the Solar Camera's Solar Panel Work?

The solar panel attached to the solar camera comprises many photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Speaking in the technical sense, it does this by separating photons, the light particles, from the electrons which carry electricity.

The panel is able to do this due to it generating an electrical field. The panel creates the field by sandwiching over two slices of semiconductive materials, one with a positive charge and with one negative.

When passing through the top layer in this field, the photon of the sunlight can 'knock' an electron free from it. When this happens, metallic conductive plates located beneath the 'sandwich' absorb said electron and transfer it to electrical wires attached to it.

The free electrons then feed into a current to produce electricity. This is how the solar panel can convert sunlight into electricity to power the solar camera.

During the day, an attached photovoltaic panel, better known as a solar panel, collects sunlight to power the camera as well as charge its power cells. At night, the camera will use the electric power collected during the day, becoming a solar battery-powered device. Based on the size of the solar panel and the number of photovoltaic cells in it, the more charge it can harvest and hold.

What Happens to A Solar Camera on A Cloudy Day?

Contrary to what regular intuition would dictate, a solar camera does not stop collecting solar energy because some clouds get in the way. The fact it's that even though we can not see it or barely feel it, if anything at all, waves of ultraviolet light still radiate through.

That's right; they are even capable of cutting through thick clouds. However, the intensity of the ultraviolet light diminishes somewhat depending on how thick the cloud’s blockage stands.

As such, the panel would be collecting less energy during those times than it would if it fully basked under the sun. The same applies during rainy days. The only time when the solar panel would not be getting absolutely any solar energy at all would be, of course, during the night. No sun definitively means no sunlight, thus, zero solar energy.

So, what happens to the solar camera when night comes? Worry not; it will not cower and hide when night falls. Rather, as stated before, the internal battery kicks in. Charged by the excess power collected during the daylight hours. The battery will be more than enough to keep the solar camera running throughout the night.

Economic models of solar cameras are often able to only provide monochrome video surveillance during the night. Higher quality ones, however, do not have this issue and are able to provide you with quality color night vision.

Common Features of a Solar Camera

Depending on the model, your camera will have a different set of features. The more upscale models are likely to have most if not all of the following listed features.

  • App Remote Access: A proprietary app for mobile devices will be able to access the camera. Through there, you can review the captured footage, watch the video stream, and access other features.
  • Movement Remote Control: Through the app, some models allow you to move the camera up and down and to the sides. Some also allow you to tilt the camera’s head to a certain degree.
  • Speaker Function: Models that have built-in speakers allow you to use your mobile device's microphone to 'speak' through the camera. It's a nice way to communicate with people located in the camera's field of view. In these models, you can toggle the audio function to be two-way.
  • Motion Detection: Like a lot of IP cameras, some solar cameras do have motion sensors. When these pick up activity, it will capture the footage of the activity. The camera’s recording remains on standby when not picking up movement as a way to save energy and storage space.
  • Push Notification: Synced devices receive an alert push notification when the motion sensor picks activity in the area.

Where To Deploy a Solar Camera At?

You want to put a solar camera in places that would be very, very hard to get cabling up and running. Think of a construction site; for example, even before the steel framing or concrete body is ready, it would be good to have surveillance. There are valuable materials on-site, temporary installations, and all sorts of things that would be annoying to lose.

Normally, generators are necessary to provide energy to the operations inside the construction site. However, leaving a generator running to give power to a set of cameras would stack up a high cost in fuel. Thus, it's unpractical.

However, placing a solar camera out with its own solar panel out in the open makes for a nice workaround. A set of them strategically placed where they are unlikely to both sustain damage or get in the way of the work.

Not only construction sites but rather remote locations like rural locations, farms, and barns are great fits for a solar camera. Parks and plazas are also places that could benefit from them that could efficiently cut deployment times.

Nonetheless, the climate of the area you are thinking of deploying the solar camera is a deciding factor. Though light cloud presence does not disrupt the charging of the solar panel's cells, it does lessen it.

Thus, a place that is regularly cloudy would risk interruptions in their surveillance due to power supply issues. In that case, traditional CCTV or non-solar IP camera setups are the way to go.


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1 comment

Notifications do not work. The app’s “housekeeping” shown captured events but the app never issues a notification.

Adam Felson

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