Solar Powered IR Illuminator

archedraft

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I am considering adding a small IR Illuminator at my mailbox to help add some additional light. Has anyone run into a way to power them from a solar battery?
 
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iYou'll need to know the power or current consumption of the IR. From that you can calculate how much power,/amp hours of battery are required. That will tell you how big the solar array needs to be. Note I said array given that a normal, small, IR illuminator uses 7 watts. 7 watts for 12 hours is 84 watt hours per day (winter time). 84 watt hours at 12 volts means a 7 amp hour battery if you're willing to drain it completely on a daily basis (not a good idea). That also means you need a solar array capable of producing 84 watt hours to charge that battery. In the case of the battery, I'd use something in the neighborhood of 15 amp hour capacity with a solar array capable of at least 200 watts. It's not really very practical or economical, IMHO.
 

archedraft

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Yeah, doable vs realistic. In my mind the idea was this small IR light with a small solar panel that would attach to the mailbox. In reality it sounds like it would be much bigger. Also, I conveniently overlooked some sort of battery to store the power.

Honestly, it would look nicer to just run electric out to the mailbox, ditch the wooden post, make a custom brick mailbox that hides a couple LPR cameras. Maybe one day.
 

samplenhold

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Member @TRLcam has a few posts where he uses solar to power cams. Some of the posts really get into the guts of the hardware.



 

biggen

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Yeah, doable vs realistic. In my mind the idea was this small IR light with a small solar panel that would attach to the mailbox. In reality it sounds like it would be much bigger. Also, I conveniently overlooked some sort of battery to store the power.

Honestly, it would look nicer to just run electric out to the mailbox, ditch the wooden post, make a custom brick mailbox that hides a couple LPR cameras. Maybe one day.
@sebastiantombs nails it. The IR illuminator you linked draws 12Wh. 12Wh x 12 hours = 144Wh/day power draw. Your next step would be to see how much solar power lands in your area on average per year. You can use this site. Its extremely accurate as it also takes into account historical weather data to produce its output. For me in north Florida, a 100w panel only produces 10kWh of energy over the entire month for the month of December (this is the month you plan your load for since its the month that produces the least solar enery) or 333Wh/day averaged. If you are at a higher latitude then you will get even less solar energy collected for the same panel.

So if I you need 144Wh/day and can produce 333Wh/day then that is enough to run the equipment and dump another ~190Wh/day into the battery. That illuminator draws 1Ah or 12Ah/day. You generally want to plan for 3 days of cloudy rainy days so you would need a minimum of ~40Ah battery. Then you have to figure out what kind of battery. The ~120Ah deep cycle lead acid batteries at Wal-Mart work great, are easy to get, and cheap. But you can only drain them to 50% so you can only expect 50-60Ah/day out of them and are heavy as hell to lug around. You can go AGM but then costs go up with those but they are small and easy to work with.

Depending on how far you need to go it would probably be cheaper just to have an electrician come up and run the wire for you.
 
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