Solar for Security and Surveillance Applications

“Continuous Coverage Surveillance System Tracks Poachers and Saves African Wildlife,” a case study in using solar to power a remote infrared surveillance “curtain” in the world’s second largest wildlife refuge, in Zambia. > Case Study
Building Surveillance & Lighting system using solar power in Caracas, Venezuela—providing security in a very volatile and challenging region without a stable source of electricity, using Morningstar ProStar solar controllers > Project
Video Surveillance systems using Morningstar SunSaver solar controllers in various U.S. locations, courtesy of SSIG (Surveillance Security Intelligence Group) and SunWize Technologies > Project

Security and Surveillance is now one of the leading applications for solar electricity. With security stations typically at the edge of perimeters and far from any source of grid electricity—and often in very high locations where changing batteries frequently isn’t practical—solar PV systems are often both first and only choice in security deployments incorporating video, sensors, infra-red imaging and more.

Morningstar charging technology is eminently suitable and flexible for Power over Ethernet (PoE,) internet protocol (IP) video, internet-of-things (IoT) devices, pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras, and all the other tools comprising the portfolios of today’s security professionals. Morningstar components incorporate all required certifications, provide layers of on-board protection for sensitive electronic components, and are engineered for extremely long life and trouble-free operation in remote, inaccessible locations and enclosures—the ideal powering safety net for the most sensitive and critical security systems conceivable today and ready for the future.

Morningstar’s proprietary TrakStar solar harvesting technology and fanless design make for inherently more efficient systems. And with over four million Morningstars installed in the field since 1993, there’s no brand in the solar industry that’s more proven or accepted in terms of reliability.

Monitoring Security and Surveillance with SNMP

Select charge controller models have:

  • Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology to extract every bit of electricity possible from the solar source, by converting extra voltage into useful amperage. Morningstar MPPT controllers have industry-leading TrackStar technology on-board for that purpose
  • Industry-leading technical support from a US-based company
  • Easy system integration with generator control
  • Standard serial and optional Ethernet capabilities provide data integration into existing IP based security networks for remote monitoring and control
  • Remote access and control
  • Selected models support industrial-standard networking, monitoring and communications protocols including MODBUS, MQTT and SNMP, when used with Morningstar’s Ethernet MeterBus Converter (EMC) accessory
  • Data logging to record charging/load Amp-hours and alarm/fault notifications
  • Full programming to enable a high-level of system customization
  • Built-in communications and diagnostics capabilities
  • Temperature charging protection and advanced charging algorithms to protect expensive storage batteries, both lead-acid and advanced types including lithium. Dead battery recovery feature helps reduce system down-time
  • Designed for trouble-free operation in extreme temperature and weather conditions. Epoxy-encapsulated circuit boards and 60C ambient temperature ratings to handle harsh environments including tropical, coastal and arid regions. Weatherized construction; no cooling fans to fail
  • Simple, out-of-the-box operation and easy installation
  • UL and IEC listing on most models; FCC Class B certification
  • Low noise operation
  • Safety features built-in, including alarm/fault notifications, mis-wiring protection, lightning protection
  • 24V and 48V (Positive Ground) system capability

How It Works

During the day:

  1. Sunlight is converted into DC electricity in the solar modules or panels.
  2. The DC electricity from the panels flows into a charge controller, which both provides perfect battery charging and powers DC-operated loads.
  3. Smaller systems and systems with consistent sunlight (little shading or seasonal variation) usually feature PWM (pulse-width modulation) charge controllers, which are simple and reliable. Larger systems and systems where there is variation in sunlight due to seasonal changes or shading often use MPPT (maximum power point tracking) charge controllers, which are more complex but also are more effective at harvesting solar electricity.

During the night:

The solar charge controller keeps working—by preventing any “reverse current” flowing from the batteries to the PV modules, and (if equipped with load control) disconnect power to the loads if the battery voltage dips too far, which can quickly kill batteries.

How do I know if I need MPPT or PWM-type solar controllers?

It’s not a quality difference, but a function of prevalent solar conditions and location considerations.

  • Because MPPT (maximum power point tracking) controllers convert extra solar electricity voltage into useable electricity, they are ideal for areas where seasonal, weather and shading conditions cause wide variations in solar “harvesting.” Morningstar’s proprietary TrakStar™ MPPT technology is considered the industry’s performance standard. Because of their additional circuitry on-boaad, MPPT controllers are also more complex and expensive.
  • PWM (pulse-width modulation) controllers are the right choice for systems using 36 or 72-cell solar-panels in locations with consistent sunlight, minimal shading and no physical space limitations—such as at the top of light poles, for example. PWM controllers are simpler and cost effective as a result.

All Morningstar charge controllers, regardless of their technology or design, built to one industry-leading quality standard. They all have “over-spec’d” components, incorporate advanced electronic design and thermal engineering, and have no cooling fans to fail—unlike all the in-kind competition. Because of this, over four million Morningstars have been sold since 1993 and are the first choice for leading solar installers in mission-critical installations around the globe.

Typical Security and Surveillance solar electricity applications

  • Powering cameras of all types—P/T/Z, IP enabled, PoE
  • Powering network video recorders and DVRs, network switches
  • Powering PoE injectors and extenders
  • Powering WiFi access points and bridges
  • Back-up systems
  • Two-way radio communications

Monitoring Security and Surveillance Systems with SNMP

Security and surveillance applications increasingly depend on equipment that is also found in other IT environments, making SNMP a desirable means to retrieve data from the many IP-enabled devices involved in monitoring site activity and threat detection. Surveillance and monitoring systems with PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) cameras, motion and IR sensors, and IR cameras are typically mounted on top of tall structures or poles away from electrical power, and solar electricity is increasingly used to power them (often with PoE) along with wireless/mesh network infrastructure, lighting, and other IoT-enabled sensors or devices. Monitoring these devices through private Local Area Networks (LAN) with SNMP, users can combine network and power system management to ensure their security assets remain operational and connected for uninterrupted site visibility.

This is why Morningstar has integrated Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) into its products. An open standard IP-based protocol, SNMP works with selected Morningstar products in conjunction with Morningstar’s Ethernet MeterBus Converter (EMC-1) communication gateway. As security professionals increasingly turn to solar electricity for powering various systems, Morningstar solar components are better equipped to meet their needs. Click here to learn more about SNMP and Morningstar Products.