Solar Power for Surveillance Systems – Is it practical?

The use of solar power as an alternate power source is getting a lot of attention these days, and rightfully so. Its ability to provide electricity in remote locations where running cable would be overly expensive makes solar power a feasible alternate power source – especially for CCTV and other surveillance applications.

Some Important Considerations:

Current draw – The amount of electricity required to provide power to an object. Current draw is measured in milliamps (mA) or amps (A).

Peak hours of sunlight –People are often mistaken about the actual amount of sunlight they have during the day. Depending on the location in the hemisphere and the time of year, most people only receive between 3 and 5 hours of direct sunlight per day. This is why solar power is so popular in Arizona, Texas, Florida and other southern states.

Amperage required (solar panels and battery reserve) – A solar power system is made up of panels, a charge controller and a large special battery. It is very important that the battery is designed to withstand numerous charges and discharges.

The battery also needs to be sized appropriately. At a minimum, the battery needs to be 10 times the capacity of the maximum output of the solar panel; less than this can cause damage to the battery due to over charging by the panels.

Standard car batteries are not ideal for solar systems; however, deep cycle marine and trolling motor batteries are acceptable. Absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries are another great choice.

It is important to remember that the power of the battery needs to be greater than what is required for the surveillance system so that it can provide backup power in the event of bad weather and to reduce the risk of overcharging. Also remember that as the current requirements of the system increase, so will the size of the solar panels and battery back up required to operate the system.

Solar energy can be a cost-effective source of power for video surveillance equipment in remote locations that lack an electrical infrastructure. However, when considering solar as an option, there are a number of factors to consider and calculations to make in order to ensure you will have sufficient power to reliably support your surveillance application.

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