Solar power camera systems: Be sure you get what you need.

I’m an integrator who has purchased several all-in-one solar powered camera poles only to find it is impossible to expand the generation and storage capabilities of these devices to support an additional camera without installing yet another pole in series with the first.

The solution can support a single camera in ideal conditions but if the weather is cloudy over a couple of days, then it will fail. More than anything, I want to alert other integraters to the challenges of these sorts of systems. You need to be sure of your overall equation when you choose solar and you need to be certain the solution you recommend to your client has the capacity to expand the size of solar panels, as well as batteries, to cover those times when weather is inclement.

In Queensland, that’s not going to be so often, but in places like Victoria, Tasmania, New Zealand – you need to make thoughtful choices and have the support of a supplier prepared to stand by its performance claims.

A: Solar applications can be difficult. Over specifying in all directions is likely to be the key to best performance 365 days a year but you need clear communication from your provider in order to get an idea of potential. You want the ability to expand the capacity of the system, enabling it to carry more or larger batteries offering more amp hours, you need the ability to grow panel numbers, or to upgrade to a larger panel size whenever required. You want panels with standard weatherproof screw in connections and junction boxes rated to IP65 at a minimum.

Small scale solar is not rocket science and once the core of the system is installed, including an appropriate regulator, things like battery and panel capacity should be malleable on the fly. Something else worth mentioning is that solar panels are becoming more efficient, less expensive and more compact for a given output all the time. You want to be able to offer your client these performance enhancements moving forward.

As you point out, should you go with a customised solution that has less flexibility in this regard – some street furniture has an emphasis on form – then you need to be aware of all your options in advance for the sake of your client and your reputation as a solutions provider.

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