Fuel Cells For Powering Video Surveillance?

A company is promoting a fuel cell solution for powering video surveillance, e.g., a wireless connected IP camera.

Here's their data sheet.

The 'mini' is ~$4k so it is not cheap and presumably you need to refill it periodically.

Anyone have any comments or thoughts on it?

I knew of 1 dealer who tried using fuel cells for some remote deployments of VideoIQ cameras. IMO you gotta really be out of options before the fuel cell makes sense.

In essence, they are a generator that runs on a non-standard fuel source. Like a generator you can get them in various output sizes, and like a generator their power output will likely be a multiple of what your equipment needs. With that in mind, it tends be common to have a battery bank that can "absorb" the excess power created when running, and then the device(s) run more off the batteries with the fuel cell topping up the battery bank every so often.

They have benefits over a generator of being "clean" (if that matters to you) and much quieter (but not completely silent). You pay for this both in the cost of the unit itself, and the operational cost.

This site puts the operational cost of a fuel cell at $16-$18 per Kwh, which is insanely expensive. It also touches on the point that you can't get fuel as readily as driving down to the local gas station when you need it. This generator would have an operational cost around $.50 per Kwh (depending on the price of gas). The fuel cell would use less fuel volume per amount of power produced than the generator, and is a little smaller, so your total equipment footprint is reduced a bit.

You could also do solar panels (high initial cost, free power), the tradeoff there being that you need sun and the panels would be fairly large. If you're trying to make the camera less obvious, solar might not be a good idea.

As far as surveillance applications go, I still see them as an option of last resort.

I'm aware of these guys and tested some of their early generation stuff that ran on compressed methane. I used to do a lot of work in remote, covert field surveillance law enforcement products and they always wanted longer run times. I was (and still am) concerned about the handling of those compressed tanks. Regardless of that, as noted above, the costs don't work out all that well, vs using solar and batteries. The advantage to the horizon system at the time, was it's size and weight.. (so, for military or backpacking). For a fixed application, the repetitive changing of the fuel cells (even every 10 days) is going to annoy your customer very quickly. Use Micropower or another solar device would be my suggestion....

They do seem like a last resort. If you needed the longest run time in the smallest package, is this it? How much smaller or longer is it? 2x?

I don't really know much about fuel cells but am sure is that it can't sell in western part of the world because we just coming up on video survelliance