Solar Surveillance Guide

Author: John Grocke, Published on Feb 25, 2012

Off-grid solar power is gaining attention for video surveillance. In this article, we examine what video surveillance applications are typically used with solar power, examine what key factors affect the design and cost of solar power systems, and look at example installations in different geographic locations to compare pricing and aesthetics.

Applications

What video surveillance applications is solar power commonly used for?

  • Remote locations where other power sources are not available.
  • Locations where power may be available but is not physically or economically feasible to be installed as compared to the cost of solar power.
  • Installations where fast deployment is critical.
  • Temporary or portable cameras that need to be moved to different locations.
  • Environmentally-sensitive locations or communities which are willing to absorb the additional cost of solar power in an effort to be environmentally friendly.

The Need for Detailed Estimation

Although some manufacturers are selling prepackaged fixed and mobile solar powered platforms for video surveillance, there is no “one size fits all” solution for solar power systems for video surveillance, which we will illustrate. There are simply too many critical elements that vary widely across geographies and application types.

Key Factors

We see 3 key factors impacting the use of solar in surveillance:

  • The cost of adding in solar: Solar can be quite expensive and be easily more expensive than the surveillance equipment itself.
  • The aesthetics of adding in solar: Between solar panels and enclosures for panels, many users may object to the aesthetics or logistics of adding a significant amount of equipment.
  • The variation of cost and aesthetics: Depending on the type of camera and the location deployed, the severity of cost and the aesthetic impact can range significantly.

Scenarios Examined

Given these factors and their variance, inside we examine a range of scenarios:

  • "Enterprise' Example - A professional D/N camera with a wireless mesh node
  • 'Critical Infrastructure' Example - Same as above but with IR illuminators for surveilling a pitch black environment
  • 'Low Power' Example - An IP camera with low power requirements.

We break down costs and aesthetic impacts for each. We also look at the variances of using solar surveillance in sunny places like Tucson vs rainy locations like Seattle.

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