It seems nowadays that everyone is “Going Green” or becoming more environmentally conscious with hybrid cars, increasing recycling awareness, and using alternative energy sources. One of the alternative energy sources that the security industry utilizes to help efficiently power CCTV cameras is solar energy. With solar CCTV cameras in a security system, you receive an environmentally safe system with a self-renewing power source for 24-hour surveillance.
How does Solar CCTV work?
Solar security cameras utilize solar panels to capture the sun’s rays using photovoltaic cells, or solar cells, which convert the light into electricity to power the security cameras. The solar cells produce direct current (DC) power which then passes through an inverter to change the power to the desired voltage and frequency, such as AC current and 12 volt. After the power is converted into a usable power source, the solar camera uses this power for a green energy power source. (Read more on power supply for CCTV)
The size and number of panels needed to power a camera are determined by the location and amount of sun available where you are planning to mount the camera. Solar cameras generally come in a system with the necessary solar panels and a pole to mount the cameras.
Amount of solar power available to different regions
Solar power is an intermittent energy source due to the unavailability of the sun at night. This is not an issue if you are using solar cameras connected to a power grid, which offers an energy saving security solution. If a power line is not near the area you need to monitor, a critical issue occurs with the need for continuous power at night. With that in mind, the solar cameras can come equipped with a storage battery that will save the excess energy during the day in a battery bank that will power the camera at night and during periods when the sun is not visible.
Wireless Solar CCTV Cameras
Along with power storage, solar security cameras can also be employed wirelessly for areas far from power lines. Mounted on the solar panel pole, the solar camera connects to a wireless transmitter which sends the video feed to a receiver. The receiver will be located in a monitoring station closer to power lines to monitor and record the footage. Depending on the transmitter utilized, the monitoring station can be located as far as 2 miles away from the cameras themselves. At the monitoring station, a solar camera system can be connected to a network, allowing you to watch your camera from virtually anywhere, to view a place you would have assumed to be impossible due to power issues.
Solar CCTV Applications
With the power of the sun, the most common use for solar cameras is when you do not have a viable power source, but want to secure an area such as fields on a farm. The camera can be mounted with solar panel poles in virtually any area where cabling is not an option. Solar cameras are great in applications that require remote surveillance such as perimeter security for facilities, railway, parks, construction yards, and parking lots.
Recently, we sold some solar cameras to a DC based company (www.evergreensolarservices.com) that installs solar panels for perimeter security of a field of solar panels. The solar panel field is in an area which is far away from power lines.
Here is what their solar panel field looks like!
- Eco-Friendly power source
- Used in areas with lack of power lines
- Self-sustaining power source
- Weatherproof design
- Solar panels usually last 10+ years
- Wireless capability
- Initial cost of installation
- Initial cost of parts
- Requires energy storage
- Useless in limited lighting area
The main disadvantage to buying a solar camera is the heavy initial cost of the camera, accessories, and installation. After the initial cost, a solar camera system will pay for itself with a renewable, environmentally safe, self-sustaining power supply which requires little maintenance. Also, the initial cost of solar panels will continue to decrease with the increased availability of solar panels and the installation of more solar systems. Plus, solar CCTV cameras allow you to monitor areas that normally would be impossible with lack of power lines. With the decreasing cost, solar cameras offer future benefits that will outweigh the initial cost of the cameras.