Surveillance Solutions Go Solar

SentryPOSTWhile many surveillance companies were advertising the tiny size of their products at ISC West this year – Axis Communications' palm-size “mini-camera” comes to mind here – several companies were attracting attention because their products towered over nearby booths.

These towers also sported wind turbines or solar panels, which their owners said amounted to more than a trendy attempt to be “green.”

The flexibility of self-powered solutions, said Tom Weis of SentryView Systems, is what makes them attractive. Solar and wind power, and generators in some installations that require high capabilities, can allow surveillance units to be placed in areas where electrical power is not typically available – deserts, the proverbial water pump 200 miles from any sort of town, or anywhere where digging trenches for electrical power would be prohibitively expensive.

“When digging trenches, not only is there the cost of getting a permit, but often you have to work to get an environmental variance, too,” Weis said. “If there’s any kind of wetlands, you’re not going to get a permit to dig any kind of trench. This device solves the problems involved with running electrical.”

The company’s SentryPOST is designed to be a self-powered installation for surveillance of areas where it’s hard to get grid power, such as remote infrastructure installations.

Weis said that the company’s engineers usually build these units to suit the characteristics of each installation, based both on customers’ wants and the climate of the area. Customers can put pretty much anything on the towers, including varying powers of IP or analog surveillance cameras, encoders, heaters and blowers, DVRs or NVRs, wireless networks and proximity sensors.

“It can be a blank canvas that you can paint any type of security device on,” Weis said

Based on the power requirements of these systems and the weather conditions at the installation site, they vary the number of solar panels and turbine units, as well as the amount of battery storage installed at each location. The typical installation includes a single solar panel and wind turbine configuration, and a pair of AGM battery packs. More battery packs shore up the reliability of the system, though Weis said that a properly engineered standalone system is as reliable as grid power, which can sometimes go offline due to stormy weather or construction errors.

Though Weis said the interest in the technology at ISC West was “tremendous,” he and his team are realistic about the technology’s capabilities.

“We don’t think that people are going to take down all the systems that they have, or tear the wires out of the ground just to put our systems in,” he said. “Where our sweet spot is is in augmenting surveillance, in getting to remote areas.”

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