Arlo|Smart Home Security|Wireless HD Security Cameras

Solar panel power for cameras

It would be great to be able to attach solar panels to the cameras for more perment installs to charge the batterys.
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Arlo Employee Retired
Status changed to: New Ideas
 
Community Manager
Status changed to: Implemented
 
Community Manager
Status changed to: Archived - Not Enough Votes
 
Follower

You guys should make a solar solution for the original Arlo smart system. Just include a new battery cap cover with a garment, that has battery leads to connect into to the solar panel. Fast and easy...

Onlooker

Well, folks, I'm new to the Arlo system but I and many others here have considerable interest in alternative solutions to powering these cameras.  Yes, it's nice that they have rechargeable batteries and, depending upon the activity and trip settings, the batteries may last between a few days to as long as a few weeks between charges.  But if you are mounting the camera so that it's safely out of reach of vandals or thieves, you probably are going to find it inconvenient to keep changing the battery out for a freshly charged one.  So there are two attractive solutions:

a) Solar power 

b) Continuous Power using an AC source

 

Now, before I get into the details of each of these options, I think it's very important to realize that the power needed to operate the camera depends upon whether or not the battery is installed!  You do NOT need the battery installed to operate the camera.  If you take the battery out, you will find that a standard 5V USB charger (like the one I use to charge my iphones) will operate the camera just fine.  So this is actually the simplest answer to item B above.

 

Thus, if you have a weatherproof housing for a standard USB 5V switching power supply (the type of power that is used to charge almost all portable phones these days), running a cable from that power supply to the camera with the BATTERY REMOVED FROM THE CAMERA is all that you need.  And if you have spare USB cables with the same connector shape, just shave off the extra rubber carefully so the plug that connects to the camera will fit into the narrower opening and that will work just fine.

 

Now, as to the Solar Power option: Of course you can purchase the Netgear Arlo Solar Power system.  IF you can find it (so many places report out of stock) that is one solution.  Some users have reported reliability issues with this charging system.  I have no personal experience with it yet and I'm considering buying it IF it becomes reliably available and with good reviews.  But there ARE ways to supply your own solar system, notwithstanding the usual manufacturer warnings about warranty violation, etc.  But here's the important catch:

 

Solar Power cannot be relied upon unless you also have the rechargeable battery installed in the camera so that the camera will operate at night or when the solar cells themselves are generating to little power (cloudy days, etc.)  Here the key point is that ONCE THE BATTERIES ARE INSTALLED IN THE CAMERA IT REQUIRES 8.4V INPUT TO CHARGE THE BATTERY.  This is because the battery (a 7.2v li-ion cell) must be seeing an input voltage higher than 7.2V in order to charge the batteries. 

 

Netgear has sensibly designed the system to indicate that your input voltage is too low if you try to use the same USB charger I reported above (which works just fine when the battery is removed!)  You actually need a 9v DC intput to operate the camera when the battery is installed.  If you look at the Netgear charger you will see that its output is 9v at 1.1 A.  This is what the solar cell you'd design yourself must be capable of supplying.  And because it's charging a li-ion battery, you must use a suitable CONTROLLER to connect the solar cell to the camera/battery.  I am still researching the design of the suitable complete alternative solar power system.  I will say that so far I've found both the required CONTROLLER and solar panel that I think can be put together very simply for something of the order $40-50.  Not a huge savings from the Netgear system, but perhaps more reliably because it will be using well designed components.  More on this later.

 

So now you must realize that the solar power system must be designed to deliver the same voltage and current that the Netgear charger delivers when it's charging the batteries inside the camera. 

 

 

Initiate

And so where, inside the camera, do you plug in the charger to operate the camera? I see no female plug in port....for the 5V USB charger...

Onlooker

You do not do anything INSIDE the camera to connect the power.  Just Remove the battery, close the battery cover and plug in the USB power cable just as you would to power the camera with the battery inside!  When there's no battery inside, the charger/power supply will automatically supply the 5v output.  This is the same voltage used by ubiquitious USB chargers for phones.  It's the standard USB output from a pc as well.  So all you really need to do is get a standard 10W usb power source, plug one end of the usb cable into the power source and the other end into the back of the camera.  In other words, the power connection is the same as if you had the Netgear battery installed in the camera, but the difference is that you can use virtually any standard USB power source.  You don't need the Netgear power supply unless you are charging the Netgear battery.

Onlooker

I have commented elsewhere in this community a few days ago about how to very simply supply external power to your arlo cameras without modifying the camera or otherwise impairing its warranty.  This can be done WITHOUT using the lithium ion rechargeable battery inserted in the camera!

 

When the Arlo lithium-ion battery is removed from the camera, I can tell you that a conventional charger used to charge an iphone will work just fine.  These types of charges are ubiquitious.  You'll need one capable of 5v at about 1.8A output.

 

Note: If you try to use this same power source plugged into the camera with the Li-Ion battery inserted into the camera, you will get an error message!  That's because when the battery is in the camera the supply voltage must exceed 7.2V.  The battery requires 8.4v at about 1A to charge and with the Netgear power supply, that power supply automatically detects the battery presence and increases its output to 9v at 1A.  There is a built-in charging regulator that keeps the LI-ion battery properly charged.  None of that matters if you remove the battery and supply the power through the same type of USB connector to the camera.  Now here's another point regarding the USB power cord.

 

You are supplied only a short 6 foot USB power cord with the Arlo unit.  You can find a 20 foot cord on the web made to work with the Arlo Pro cameras

There really is nothing special about these cords other than the fact that the arlo camera connection point for the cord has a narrower-than-normal access hole.  You can use any other USB cord with the same end connector type if you trim the excess rubber insulation carefully.  But here's the point:

 

You need wire suitable to cary about 2A so that you do not experience a significant voltage drop between the output of the charger and the input to the camera.  So if your 110VAC outlet for the power supply is going to be more than 6 feet from the camera, you can either purchase the Wasserstein 20 foot USB cable or even make your own cable for longer lengths using suitable wire.  For example, the type of outdoor electrical wire used for 12 V outdoor lighting can be purchased in 100 foot lenghts at hardware stores.  You can simply cut any standard short USB cable that has the proper end types and solder it to each end of the long running cable.  There will be negligible power loss or voltage drop on that outdoor lighting cable.  Just remember to observe the polarity when you solder the original segments of the USB cable to the long lamp cable. Red is positive and black is negative when you strip the outer insulation carefully off the standard USB cable.  If you see more than two wires in the standard USB cable, just safely cut them.  You need only the red and black wires.