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Re: Solar Panel Drains Battery

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I've seen multiple threads about this here, but none seem to have solutions.

 

I have two panels and two cameras.  One works fine and typically keeps the battery fully charged/does not discharge the camera overnight.  The other will keep the camera charged to 100% during the day, but once out of the sunlight, will drain the battery down to zero overnight.

 

The impacted camera is able to maintain a charge for >1 month if it's not plugged into the solar panel, so it has nothing to do with signal strength or activity levels.

 

I contacted support to exchange the now destroyed battery, but the same panel seems to have the same effect on the replacement battery that was sent to me.  Support wants to charge me shipping for the replacement panel, so I'm waiting to talk to a support supervisor about that.

 

In the mean time, are there any thoughts about what might cause this beyond a defective panel?

Model: VMC5040 | Arlo Ultra Wire-Free Camera
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Sounds like the panel just may be defective...

 

Have you swapped the two yet to test if it's the panel  or cable ?

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I see a number of people have reported the solar panel discharging their batteries. I have this issue too, let me add some detail.

 

One of my VMA4600 panels panel works and the other doesn't. I've tried swapping, the solar panel really is the problem. The good one mostly keeps the battery charged, with the annoyances that it requires a lot of sunlight to do so, and charging stops below 32 F. When the trees have their summer foliage I end up swapping in fresh batteries now and then. During a cold winter a battery swap is needed too.

 

The odd thing about the defective one is that the app indicates the battery is charging (green symbol), yet the battery is actually discharging. And I mean discharging quickly: instead of the usual 3% drop every day, it goes down 3% about every 20 minutes. The solar panel is probably heating up with the energy it is sucking out of the camera battery.

 

So when you first get one of these, don't assume the green symbol means all is well. And don't let it drain your battery completely, that may kill it for good.

 

This is a strange problem that NETGEAR needs to fix.

Model: VMC4030P | Arlo Pro 2 Wire-Free Camera
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The only way to solve hardware issues is to use the Contact Support link at the bottom here. You have a warranty - why aren't you using it?

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Why not just use the warranty?  Maybe because the tech support on the phone isn't really all that helpful?  I've contacted them numerous times about the exact same issue -- cumulatively spending many hours on the phone or chat.

 

They've had me do very basic things (like pulling the battery, resetting the base, etc.) -- they've sent me replacement batteries and solar panels.. none of which seem to help the problem.  I purchased a new base station to make sure the signal strength was super strong at the location... nothing helped.

 

Finally, after 2 months of dealing with this, they're sending me a whole replacement camera.  Hopefully that works and it's not a software bug.

 

Anyway.. people are at their wits end after buying a 'high-end' product for a 'high-end' price and then spending hours with customer service.  I totally understand them wanting to see if there is an answer that someone might have other than the scripted "did you turn it off and on again" of the tech support line.

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Exactly. The reason we go to this forum is to help each other, because the support people, while pleasant, clearly are instructed to send replacements only as a last resort. Everything takes months.

Does anyone know the solar panel output voltage? Being a USB connection it should be 5V, but I read somewhere that the power adapters put out 9V.
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The warranty is there for a reason - if there's faulty hardware, get it replaced. Would you buy a car, have engine problems, and decide to just live with it and complain to others rather than getting it fixed? 

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A little more info: I measured the solar panel voltage and found that it provides a regulated 5.3V. Once fired up that voltage goes to zero for a bit and then comes back, possibly to force a renegotiation with the camera. All four USB signals are present in the wire, maybe it must identify the camera before it will provide power for more than some short period of time, just enough to communicate. The panel provides voltage for a short time after sunlight is completely removed, so I suspect it has a battery and circuit board inside near the bottom, which is thicker.

 

The round feature on the bottom of the panel might be the temperature sensor that gives it another excuse to not charge the camera. If so, then that information is being communicated by USB to the camera, which then passes the info along to the base, which is why we know on our apps what is happening. Apparently the freeze shutoff is not to protect the camera nor the battery, because I have a camera outside with hardwired power, and that always charges even below zero. The camera probably has no temperature sensor.

 

I thought I had tried all of my cameras with the panel, but I was wrong. I just found one that it will charge, so I'm in business now after swapping cameras around. After that I suspected the panel would only charge H14 cameras, not H3. But I also have both an H3 and H14 at another house, and a panel there is charging the H3. At the end of the day I deem the panel not exactly defective, but rather a less than robust design. It took a few tries to make it work.

 

So I would advise trying to plug the panel into the camera multiple times if it doesn't work the first time, to make sure you get a good USB connection on all four wires. This isn't trivial because the plug has a gasket that might introduce side forces, and that funny angled tab that contacts the camera case to provide extra support for the plug. And of course if you're using a screw-on mount, make sure you remove the plastic locking wheel that is supposed to tighten the camera attachment, but interferes with the plug.

 

This all reminds me of the troubles people had with Dell laptop chargers that would refuse to charge the laptop until the two had communicated and identified each other. No doubt the intention was to make knock-off chargers harder to design, but in the end they mostly ended up with angry users.

Model: VMC4030 | Arlo Pro Wire-Free Camera , VMC4030P | Arlo Pro 2 Wire-Free Camera
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Thanks mrlabonte -- had no idea there was an interrogation of the panel going on.  For what it's worth, I have had arlo pro 2's not charge from a hard wire due to low temp, so I would imagine this low temp protection is also built into the ultra cameras.

 

Also, jgeurdat -- not helpful... did you even read what I said re: hours with customer service?  This situation is more like buying a car (a Ferrari at that), getting a lemon, going back to the dealer a dozen times and getting everything in the car besides the engine replaced... then getting on a web forum in desperation to seek a remedy because you cant get a refund... only to find out a bunch of other people have the same issues.

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