Member Discussion

Does A Camera With Built-In Battery And Recording Exist?

I am always being asked for a good BATTERY operated CCTV camera with built in storage that can be readily deployed. What are everyone's thoughts on what is the best solutions out there?

Related: Brian Karas Lives ... And He Has A Huge Battery Backpack

Beyond using a separate battery pack to power cameras, I cannot think of a professional grade unit designed exclusively for battery power.

Do you mean a camera with a built in battery or adding one's own battery?

The former is super rare (a few home cameras do this). The later is feasible but is a minor assembly / integration project.

Built-in is the request.

Sorry, cannot think of any real ones, certainly not with battery and storage.

Maybe there is something out there. Hopefully someone has a suggestion.

Btw, for this magic battery, how long will they like it to power the camera? 1 hour? 1 day? 1 week? 1 year?

You're not going to find what you're looking for.

From your description ("CCTV" and "built-in storage"), I'm assuming the desire is for something with near-continuous recording capability (eg: record full time, or record on motion).

A decent CCTV camera with onboard recording is going to have a power budget of around 5W, and a bare minimum requirement of 5Volts.

An alkaline "D" battery is rated around 10000 mAh in high draw applications. You'd need 4 batteries to get to 6V, and then at a 5W power budget (~.85 Amps at 6 volts) you'd get about 10 hours of runtime before the battery voltage dropped too low to power the camera.

You could get more runtime using a 12V "alarm panel" battery, a 7Ah unit would give you about 17 hours of runtime. You can step up to a small motorcycle battery and get about 30 hours of runtime.

But, you're left tending to the batteries 1-2 times a day minimum. You can see why this wouldn't be considered a desireable enough product to have a lot of market demand, which is why you won't find a fully-self contained battery-powered "CCTV" camera on the market.

If the relatively short-duration runtime isn't a problem, then you'll find many CCTV cameras can be powered by 12VDC, and you can fairly easily build something yourself.

Reference: PoE Power Consumption Test Report. Almost all cameras consumed power at less than their specified rate.

Also, there are ~170 claiming about ~3 watts or less and supporting on board storage.

Wattage can vary slightly based on scene variables, but even from your tests my 5W "typical" is not that far off.

You could cut the power draw to 2.5W, and you're still looking at relatively short-durations before you need to swap batteries out.

If you selected the right camera, and had a low activity well-lit scene, you might be able to get 4 days of runtime on a mid-sized battery.

This really depends on the application and expectations that OP had in mind. You're not going to find something that you can deploy and leave for long periods of time and expect continuous recording. You could use a trail cam and get motion snapshots, especially if its a remote area with little activity.

"but even from your tests my 5W "typical" is not that far off."

Typical is irrelevant.

My point is that there are many cameras that can deliver on board storage for ~50% your 5 watt estimate, which changes the power calculation.

Right, so then you go from 10-20 hours of runtime to 20-40 hours. Still not something that is likely to have wide market potential, which means it's unlikely you'll find an off-the-shelf solution.

Many times the manufacturer specs are worst-case scenarios, but power draw is not always constant. Power draw can go up with scene complexity (more work on the encoder).

I'm not sure that your brief indoor test of cameras is fully realistic of typical environments. When I did some longer-term tests (outdoor environment, power consumption measured over several days) with cameras similar to those you mentioned (granted, a couple years back, previous generation products), *average* power draw was around 7W. I derated that to 5W, and used that as an illustrative example above.

I don't think you're going to find a camera that delivers a good image and does on-board recording that is going to be low enough draw to be "battery operated". The run time would also vary with ambient temp, etc. Again, stuff that adds up to very low liklihood you find an off the shelf solution, and so it would make sense to investigate a DIY approach to solving this problem.

Comparing your tests to ours, without knowing the models of the cameras you tested, is impossible.

No idea what they are like or if it is suitable but I came across these once before. Have a look at remotecam

Those look more like the "trail cams" instead of "cctv cams". Motion actived short-duration recording.

Take a look at the SeSys Torch camera. It is a rapid deployable camera system with battery pack, wireless and or cell modem. It might be along the lines of what you are looking for.

Hi B, do you have any idea what the starting price of one of these cameras would be? I see they have various options, including dual lenses and thermal, so I'm just interested in the price of a single lens day/night version of this camera. Do you know if it can use the H.264 codec? I get the impression it uses Mobotix's MxPEG codec. Thank you!

Yes it is built around the Mobotix camera system and it does use the MxPEG codec. As for price, I am not familiar with the cost but I do know they are available here in the states. It is quite unique solution.

Thanks for this. Very interesting offering.

You could consider a GOPRO sports camera with an external battery. I believe the GOPRO uses about 2 watts and requires a 3.7V Li-Ion battery. Normally, the camera runs from a small internal battery but can be modified to run from a bigger battery. There are various ways to stream video from a GOPRO.

This method will require integration work bordering on development but starts with an inexpensive, robust and high quality camera.

Here are a couple I have used over the years.

Single Channel Mini DVR with Built-In Camera

Digital ID View Covert DVR

Please pardon the self promotion but we do have battery operated cameras that may fit your need. Our Camscura line of cameras are all self recording battery operated and can use a standard USB power bank to further extend the battery life as far as you like.

Feel free to ping me with any questions.

Are those much different from other things on the market, eg: Foscam: : Foscam FHC994 Megapixel HD 1280 x 720p H.264 Mini Video Camera and DVR (Black) : Camera & Photo ?

Also, FWIW, I wouldn't consider those "CCTV" cameras, they are more like mini camcorders. The primary difference being that you cannot view recorded video without physically going to the camera and removing the SD card (or, in some cases using the built-in mini LCD) and there is generally no option for LIVE viewing ever.

Those units are also typically not known for image quality, especially in low light. They've gotten better over the years but I would tend to put a current generation "CCTV" camera much higher in overall image quality to a current generation "mini camcorder".

If OP wants a battery-powered recorder there are literally hundreds of options under $100, with various limitations. If OP wants a battery-powered CCTV cameras, where live and recorded video can be retrieved remotely over a network, the options tend to be custom-build.

What I would like to see is a PoE powered IP camera with SD card and a rechargeable battery continually charged by PoE. If the network connection fails along with the PoE, you are still left with a operational camera that is recording locally. Is anyone aware of a camera like this out on the market?

Not directly, but it's fairly easy to build. You just need a camera that can be powered by 12VDC

PoE to 12VDC splitter: POE Splitter, 5V 12V volt IEEE 802.3af Power over Ethernet PD tap

Solar charge controller:

Battery: INTERSTATE ALL BATTERY CTR 12V 5A Lead Acid Internal Battery: 3-Boys Lighting

Run your PoE to the spliiter, 12VDC out of the splitter into the charge controller. Charge controller to battery and camera. PoE will charge the battery and run the camera, if the PoE drops out the charge controller handles switching over to battery power and ensuring the battery doesn't get drained below safe levels.

Less than $100 worth of stuff, plus your camera.

'Readily deployed' battery powered camera... trailer? They say battery lasts up to a month.

What form factor- dome, bullet, portable? What resolution? How much storage?

This is doable and there could be a camera that does it.. The question remains for how long? 1-~20 hours implies recharging the unit ... One is back to putting a UPS on the PoE switch and have an SD on the cameras... One can even use a 12 VDC power supply to power the cameras and back it up with batteries ... Again off-the-shelf available product/soltuion.I fail to see why I would need a camera with a built-in battery... Unless we are in a spying situation where the camera will have to beleft for some times and be retrieved later ..

Going to the extreme of assuming a 1 watt camera ( I have seen 2 w on some of our Hikvision at times with no SD and simple scene) at 12 VDC one is looking at around 100 mA per hour ... A regular 7 Amp Hour battery which is not an easy to conceal thing will give you 70 hours or roughly 3 days before you have to go remove or recharge it ... Doesn't seem to be a practical solution for long term then again it could be a (very) short term situation... And we have not taken the power conumption when the SD is inuse ...