We all want to be protected 24/7. While some people lock their doors three times, others hire guards and install a wifi camera with battery everywhere. While not everyone can afford some expensive high-tech security system, almost everyone can afford this DIY solar-powered wireless security camera.
I remember when I bought my first house. I was perfectly happy until the first electricity bill arrived and left me in shock. Then, I quickly realized that I would not be able to keep up with such high bills and that I had to think of a better solution. Finally, a friend suggested solar panels to me, to which I laughed at first. However, my life was forever changed once I started using them.
Not only does using solar power save energy and money, but it also helps preserve our planet for future generations. Solar energy is renewable, and its production does not pollute the water or the air. And thanks to today’s technology, everything is possible, including a solar-powered security system.
That being said, if you’d like to give solar energy a go, a solar-powered security camera is a good place to start. Surprisingly, it’s not that difficult to make yourself, either.
Important Thing to Note
As far as security cameras are concerned, you can either choose to buy one that already has the solar charging option or install a solar power system into a regular wireless camera.
In my opinion, if you can afford it, it’s better to buy a ready-made solar-powered camera. Obviously, you don’t have to go through the trouble of making it yourself. Besides, even though this technology is relatively new, it’s slowly starting to become more available and affordable. There are many options to choose from nowadays.
For instance, one of my personal favorites is Reolink Argus 2. It’s a small HD wireless security camera that has both the battery power and solar power option. For the solar charging, you’ll need to get the Reolink Solar Panel, which you can connect to the camera with a 4m cable. Argus 2 is also IP65-certified, which means that it can withstand extreme weather conditions. In addition, it has motion detection, intelligent alerts, as well as night vision up to 33 feet.
The Reolink Solar Panel is compatible with some of its other products too. So in case you already own a Reolink Go, Argus 2, or Eco, you can easily upgrade to solar. Simply purchase the panel and connect it to your existing camera, and that’s it.
Things You’ll Need for This Tutorial
Here’s what you’ll need to make your wireless security camera run on solar power:
- a battery pack
- a solar panel (or multiple)
- two charge controllers
- a screwdriver
- wiring, tubing
- electrical tape, glue
- some kind of casing for the batteries
- basic knowledge of electronics
How to Make a Solar-Powered Wireless Security Camera At Home
Step 1. Check the power supply voltage on your camera.
If you aren’t familiar with electronics, you should know a few things. First of all, you should be able to differentiate between voltage and amperage (or current). The voltage is measured in volts (V) and the current in amperes (A).
For this tutorial, we’re building a big battery to charge the camera and a solar panel to charge the battery. That way, the camera will have a consistent power feed as long as there’s juice left in the battery.
You should find out what kind of power input your camera needs to charge up.
To put it simply — you need to match the input voltage of your camera to the output voltage of your battery. For instance, a USB power supply is at 5 V, and most cameras operate at a voltage of 5–18 V.
As far as amperage is concerned, you only need to set a top limit. Going below your camera’s amperage level is OK. In fact, it’s unavoidable when battery levels are low. In most cases, the amperage is around 2 A, but you’ll need to check with your particular camera model.
Step 2. Choose the battery.
Once you determine the camera’s input power, you’ll know what kind of battery pack to look for. Depending on your skill level, you can go with ready-made power bricks or a custom battery pack. I’ll tell you how to make it with the custom battery pack option, which is the harder way.
For starters, you’ll need to choose what kind of batteries you want to use. My recommendation is to use 18650 Lithium-Ion batteries from a reputable manufacturer. They’re widely available and pretty reasonably priced for their power. In addition, they’re about the same size as a regular AA battery, and you can find lots of accessories for them.
You’ll also need to determine how many batteries you need in a series, which depends on your camera’s power input. A series of batteries just means you’ve hooked up enough of them in a row to your desired output voltage. Then, you can add as many rows as you want to increase the overall capacity.
Step 3. Put it all together.
In addition to the battery pack and solar panels, you also have to get two charge controllers for your battery. The first one takes the uneven power output from the solar cell and smooths it out so that it doesn’t damage your battery. The second one limits the battery output voltage and current so that it doesn’t damage your camera.
As far as the battery pack is concerned, I’d recommend you make a plan first. Calculate how many batteries you need in a row and how many rows you want. Then, go to an electronics shop and ask them to weld the pack together. Welding batteries is dangerous, and it takes a lot of skill, so you should let the professionals do it. Besides, it doesn’t cost much, and it doesn’t require too much time when you have the proper tools.
Then, you can wire the camera to the battery, and the battery to the solar panel. Keep in mind — you need to install a charge controller between each connection and set the controller up properly.
Step 4. Make sure it can withstand all kinds of weather conditions.
Once you’re finished with the wiring, isolate all solder joints as best as you can. Start with heat-shrink tubing, then wrap it up with electrical tape.
Then, you need to design a casing for your solar-powered camera. Try and find a 3D print shop nearby and let them design a casing for you. Of course, if you own a 3D printer, you can print your own casing. ABS plastic is water-resistant, durable, flexible, and cheap.
On the other hand, if 3D printing is not an option, go with plywood. Measure out your device’s dimensions and cut out a rough outline. Then, using sandpaper, a router, and a drill, get all sides ready with their appropriate holes. Finally, glue the casing together with wood glue and give it a few coats of wood primer.
After the primer dries, you can add a few more coats of color and clearcoat to ensure that the casing is water-resistant. Of course, the wireless security camera you chose for this project should be waterproof too.
Benefits of Using a Solar-Powered Security Camera
Reducing Your Energy Bill
Among other things, using a wireless security camera that runs on solar power can make your energy bill slightly less frightening.
No Wires Necessary
As most solar-powered cameras are wireless, you don’t have to deal with all the connection and extension cables. That’s why they’re perfect for the outdoors, as well as any hard-to-reach, remote places.
Solar-powered security cameras are far less likely to be affected during blackouts. Keep in mind that wouldn’t be possible without the batteries. It also depends on the area you live in.
Saving the Environment
As I mentioned already, solar energy doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment. It doesn’t pollute the water or release any greenhouse gases. According to the latest U.S. Environment Protection Agency’s overview, almost 28% percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity production. However, if all of us were to switch to solar energy at home, that could greatly reduce the overall greenhouse gas emission.
A solar-powered camera is just an example. It’s an excellent place to start, but if you truly want to contribute, you should try switching to solar power completely.
About 25 years ago, you were lucky to have a landline phone and a PC in your brother’s room. Today, tech is available and accessible to almost everyone in the world. On top of that, we can customize every gadget to fit our exact needs.
Among other things, we now have wireless, solar-powered security cameras, which can create crisp 1080p videos, detect motion, automatically upload everything to a cloud, and many more things.
In my opinion, we should make use of this new solar technology that we have available. Not only is it cost-effective but also harmless in terms of environmental pollution. And with this global warming issue that’s been hanging over our heads, switching to a milder alternative is a pretty good idea if you ask me.
And for those who can’t afford a solar-powered camera, making your own is always an option.
If you found this article helpful, make sure to share it with your friends. Also, do you have any experience with solar panels? Tell us all about it in the comments below.
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