Megapixel Solar Wireless (Micropower) Examined

By Ethan Ace, Published May 12, 2015, 12:00am EDT

A fully wireless professional surveillance offering, no networking cables, no power lines.

That has been the goal of Micropower for 5 years. However, low resolution and framerate have limited its appeal.

Now, they have improved resolution, framerate, and other features aimed at these limitations.

In this note, we examine this new release, how it relates to old models and other solar options, and its potential impact on MicroPower's positioning.

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Potential ******

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Comments (13)

From my perspective, the biggest drawback to the Micropower system is that it appears to require 110V AC power at the head end/hub location which means only the cameras/transmitters are solar powered, the AC powered hub location and internet connection needs to be relatively close to the cameras (1/2 mile).

Most of the solar powered camera projects that I’ve done for remote locations have required a 100% Off-Grid power solution as there was no AC power available within miles of the project location.

Agreed. Even if there is power 1/2 mile away, what benefit does the head-end provide as opposed to using 4G directly? Is the idea that the hub is a super-sensitive receiver which saves the camera transmission power?

But if they can power IR illuminators now, you would think that you could take that power and apply to instead to a higher power transmitter, as an option.

Jeff, how do you protect those panels from theft, being that they are out in the middle of nowhere and likely to fetch over $1000 for just the solar cells?

If the Micropower hub is connected to a VMS/server like Milestone this would be useful for a situation like a school campus that might want 1 or more solar powered cameras up to 1/2 mile from the main facility, with wireless links back to the head end. Using 4G cellular for this type of situation might not be as efficient as the MicoPower system and may not integrate as well as the MicroPower system.

The IR illumination built into cameras/housings are likely to have a somewhat limited useful distance/angle, example: in order to deliver LED light 100' at a 45 degree FOV usually requires a standalone lighting system, with greater power requirements resulting in larger solar electric plant.

Assuming there's zero light at night, if a client wants to take measures to protect their property and the camera system from theft at a remote location, a solar powered camera system can be equipped with PIR motion sensors that will fire off LED white lighting upon detected event (or strobe lights if LED lighting is infrared), play recorded warning messages or talk live to intruders through loudspeakers. This tactic usually chases any intruders away before they do any damage. We usually use Mobotix cameras for these type of projects due to low power requirements of cameras (5w) and most all the functionality of a VMS/DVR/NVR is embedded into each camera, just add a 128GB SD card to the camera for storage.

An alternative to using PIRs and LED lighting for zero light conditions could be to use thermal cameras.

The 10-1 rule is a good solar array estimate to maintain the 5 days of battery bank for the operational load demand.

Remote site deployment costs are usually modest against operational outage expenses. Pickup truck thieves with battery operated saws are the recent modus operandi for customer reported stolen solar plants. As in many thefts, the mugs likely don't know what they've stolen or it's value.

Jeff,

Based on your past solar power camera projects can you recommend some good options for an off grid solar set-up?

On a single tower will be a long range thermal/color PTZ (100W average) camera and an  Axis Q8685-LE PTZ(80W) into a a switch and to a Bridegwave microwave link (50W). Peak consumption should be 250W max, average probably little over 100W

It's in the middle east in a desert so sun light is abundant but at the same time temperature and conditions (frequent sand storms to coat the panels) are brutal and definitely not ideal conditions for battery life longevity. Although I believe burying the battery in a suitable cabinet might also be an option. 

Any info available on the new platform loads?

I was a big proponent of this system last year but I just found out that Micropower has terminated all sales and marketing personnel. Looks like they are exiting the market. Can you look into this?

They just raised ~5 million less than a year ago. Sounds like 34 people might be less than happy.

Confirmed from Micropower's CEO:

"While we have seen strong sales growth doubling year over year the level of sales does not support the investment in sales and marketing we were making. We will continue to support our existing customers, ship product and work with our manufacturing representatives on new projects.

Based on input from both existing and prospective customers we are focussing our resources on the development of our next generation platform. We are not yet discussing the specifics of this – more details will follow as get closer to release."

Evidently, the 'strong sales' growth was not enough strong. We'll see what they do with their next generation.

In the meantime, the CEO said they "will coordinate with independent rep firms as needed for in the field sales support. We continue to have a resource to support existing installations."

Micropower has stated that their 720p cameras operate on less than 1 watt of power. They may have some intellectual property related to low power consumption cameras that is useful and valuable. If they have a low power technology that could be applied to 1080p or higher resolution cameras, that could be ideal.

IMO, this would be a winner: a solar powered wireless camera system that includes a 1 watt camera and a 2 watt 4G/LTE cellular router powered by a relatively small, solar electric plant.

FWIW, I don't think they stopped sales, just salespeople. I am still getting banner ads for them.

"I don't think they stopped sales, just salespeople"

Yes, see my statement from Micropower above. I am sure they will continue to take customer money but not having any sales people will put a dent in that.

Yes, maybe just online sales campaigns.

I think I was subconsciously reacting to Jeff's declaration of their 'valuable intellectual property' as if he were eyeballing the company for liquidation, though he may not have intended that impression.

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