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Solar Powered WiFi – Part 1

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Experimenting with running a NanoStation wireless bridge off of a small solar panel array. Amazon Links for this equipment:: Solar Panels (x2): …


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33 Comments on "Solar Powered WiFi – Part 1"

  1. Darrin White says:

    I have been investigating a battery powered setup for a couple months and have been testing with the following items. much more efficient that a inverter or USB converter.Passive POE adapter to 24v step-up converter

  2. What would be really valuable would be if you could detail out the charge/consumption.

    You made a comment earlier that you had 4 bars, and it basically never went below 3 bars (assuming 100% -> 75%). This to me means that you could use about half of the power that you have, and still have plenty to spare. Please make sure that you measure the power consumption, and the charge speed.

    Here is my problem: I love the idea, and I want to do something similar on my lands, but I need for it to be small and cheap. Looking at the components the battery is going to be the most expensive thing, and then I need to find a suitable solar panel. The solar panels, that are available are either like 15-20w or 100w. The 100w ones are 40"-50" in height, and that's just not reasonable to set up in a forest or in a yeard, but about half that would work fine.

    So the question is, could this be done with smaller panel, smaller battery?

  3. Hey Chris! Why you don't try the Ubiquiti Solar equipment? It will be really nice to combine sunMAX with airMAX and UniFi products for deployments like the one you talked in the video.

  4. This is a question not regarding your system I wanted to know if if it's possible to run Wi-Fi without hooking up to net. so I can run local systems at home. What systems would work two routers?

  5. kirkb4989 says:

    So you run a network connection wire to the wireless device to power the wireless network connection bridge. How about just running the network connection on the required network wire? You could eliminate a nanostation.

  6. KF5GXZ says:

    And yes. do not hook up an inverter to the power out side of the harbor freight charge controller. a 12 volt cigarette lighter plug and a USB converter plugged into that would most likely supply the amps needed. if not like I said in my previous comment. put a capacitor in line to keep the voltage from dropping.

  7. KF5GXZ says:

    I'm doing the same thing on my property in Central Texas were I hunt with old Linksys routers wrt54g and I just put a small capacitor in line to keep the voltage from dropping. I have multiple cameras on my deer blind that shoot a signal back to my cabin with directional antennas about 250 yards. works great. Ubiquiti is the future for sure but to rich for my blood. I get the old Linksys routers at Ham Radio festivals for $5 to $10 each. just running Solar for now at the deer blind but plan on putting a small wind turbine up soon for those cloudy days. hope this was useful for someone.

  8. JVONROCK says:

    Thanks Friend, you started a conversation that brought out some great minds. The comments are top notch. Stay Savvy !

  9. I'd be interested to know what the actual draw is from the nanostation; how much power is it actually using? I'm sure it'll vary slightly with network activity but the number should be fairly similar over a period of hours.
    I'm considering nanostations for my remote camera stations, which are will be solar powered. Interested to know how much more panel capacity I need for the nanostation in addition to my camera.

  10. Joe Martin says:

    gday. and thanks for video. which video presentation software are you using for your presentations?

  11. alma rigney says:

    Is this free WiFi??

  12. change the PoE, or combine the 2 usb output and hope the usb can provide 1 amp each. you cant powered the nano station and camera with 10watt source

  13. VK7HH says:

    Another good tip is to use a MPPT charge controller. A PWM controller like you've used brings the voltage of the panel down to your battery voltage. If you have a larger voltage panel (18V, 24V, 30V+) the MPPT controller can use that to increase your charge current to your battery which would otherwise be limited by the PWM controller.

  14. Eric Roth says:

    I don't want to be a downer, but for 50' you can do this a heck of lot cheaper with some bulk cat 5 cable and a couple of ends. That said, I've implemented this a couple of times for clients in a much simpler fashion. Set your solar up for 24v with a charge controller that has a 24v DC output. Connect the DC output to a passive POE injector and connect your UBNT gear. You are losing a lot of power in the USB to 24v conversion when a second battery would do the trick. All you need for battery is a couple of 12v 7.2AH batteries.

  15. The power requirements for your system.
    The charge controller USB port is 5 volts 3 amps, 15 watts.
    The Ubiquiti AirGateway Installer converts the 5 volts to 24 volts. Conversion efficiency is unknown. So estimate conversion rate 90%. So this gives us 13.5 watts of usable power.
    The Ubiquiti NanoStation M5 station uses 8 watts maximum.
    This leaves 5.5 watts of power for the camera.
    The camera will draw any were from 4 to 12 watts.
    Then the Ubiquiti AirGateway may only be able to supply 12 watts at most.

  16. tubular031 says:

    I have heard for a long time that the nanostations will run directly from 12vdc. I have never tried it myself, just read about it all over the ubnt forums. Or you can get an upcoverter and hook it to the battery that will take the 12vdc and up it to 24vdc. Please add some fuses to the circuit. One at the battery and any loads connected. A simple ato fuse holder from autozone will work.

    Can you do a video on the PI and cati setup?

  17. Andy Delgado says:

    Use a step up transformer instead of an inverter. Much more efficient.

    I second the fuses remark.

  18. Nice T-shirt. Phish? Now, this seems like way overkill. You should be able to run your bridge on 5V/1amp DC (that is only 5 watts DC!). You can buy a solar charger for like $20 that will charge a Li Ion batter that would power that for 24 hours. Everything you are running is very low power. What is going to suck up the power is things like an inverter (which has to physically create an AC phase) and anything that requires physical motion – like a compressor for an AC. There are some free or low cost books are solar you can learn about some of this stuff. I'm certainly not an expert (like you I was an IT – computer programmer) but I'd start with some basics about electricity and battery tech. Quick, easy reading with basic mathematics. It will take you far in this journey.

  19. A note about using the usb ports on the solar controller. I have what I believe to be an identical solar controller and when testing i found that when the usb port is connected to a continuous current draw it will drain the battery past the low voltage cutoff of the controller. So say the solar panels weren't charging the battery, the battery would continue to supply power to the usb causing the battery to fail and die. The solution is pretty simple, use something like this
    conected to the 12v output of the solar controller, that way the battery wont drain past 11v.

  20. Donald Smith says:

    First you are trying to power to much over a 24 GA wire in the Cat 5 cable. It may work better if you had a bigger wire for your power. You just can't run much power on the small wires.

  21. Kyle Heppler says:

    Chris, this could be done a lot better. Skip the gateway and the inverter. The nano station runs on PASSIVE 24v POE. That means you can run the nanostation off of the 12v battery directly. Take the cat5 cable, cut off the green and orange pairs, then connect the blue pairs direct to the positive post on the controller, then brown pairs to the negative. Run the full cat5 strait into the main port on the nanostation. Also, get a 60w solarpanel. The only reason it's working is because you're only running the nanostation, with the camera or an access point it wont charge fast enough, especially with only 6 hours of light. Buy a 60w solarpanel on Amazon from Windy City for 90 bucks, and it's a lot more quality, and obviously cheaper. I did a full tutorial on this posted on my site. My version is to bring free solar powered wifi to entire communities using the solar bridge/ap method. I also show you how to make a real mount for the whole thing so it's not just sitting on the floor and you can put it out on roofs and walls. The inverter and gateway is a huge waste.

  22. Chris W says:

    802.3af PoE standard is 15 watts at 44-57 volts DC, 350 ma. 802.3at or PoE+ is up to 25 watts, which would be less than 500 ma. Many manufacturers do not follow the standard, though, and Ubiquiti doesn't seem to publish how much power its PoE adapters are capable of supplying.

    While regular USB 2.0 is 5 v @ 1.5 A (7.5 watts) and special charger ports can go a little over 2.0 A, the ALLPOWER's USB port is actually capable of 3 A or 15 watts. Ubiquity does publish power consumption for a couple of their other PoE access points (The AirGateway Installer is pretty much the same, with the added USB power option) as being 4-6 watts. Its doubtful the AirGateway pulls the full 3 A from the USB port. Even so, subtract the power used by the AirGateway, then the NanoStation's 6.5 watts from the approx. 10 watts left, and that doesn't leave a lot for your camera.

  23. Chazz7555 says:

    Haven't even watched. Considering the reliability of Solar along with Wifi itself you have yourself a nightmare of unparalleled horror.

  24. dwC4u says:

    1. Inverters are a waste of power in setups like this. Why go from DC->AC->DC when you can run all DC.
    2. Measuring battery level by "bars" is lame. Try learning what voltages your battery can handle at full, half and a safe low mark.

  25. Also after watching another thing to test is to use a 12v car socket high output 2 amp output max usb charger to allow for the added power. It might be that the charge controller is using less than 1 amp to power the nano station and adding the extra will give the POE injector more power to draw from.

    USB Adaptor:

    12 Volt Car Female Power Adapter bare wires:

  26. Matt Yakel says:

    Great Video!! This is an excellent Idea. Also could you do a video over the Cacti setup? Monitoring the remote solar side is definitely important. Thanks for the great coverage.

  27. linagee says:

    Use a second PoE injector to go from the USB solar charge controller port #2 to another RJ45 cable going over to the camera. Then separate out the PoE wires and the signal wires so you can still have it going to the nanostation.
    Alternatively, if you have enough power available from the PoE converter, just splice out the voltage wires to the camera instead of trying "passthrough mode".

    The reason both solutions include having to splice is: Why do you have your solar panel and battery box so far from everything? Group them all together and then you won't have wires going everywhere, inefficiencies, and splicing to deal with.

    Also, the nanostation is not the most power efficient device, they sell point to point devices that take much less power.

  28. everest 333 says:

    for you ,getting a few simple "USB power banks" will take the fluctuating power and make it smoother for your kit, OC if your kit is 12v dc powered then it becomes easier as you can then use cheap 12v dc power splitters directly

  29. Look at this guys setup he is into solar and I believe he uses ubiquity stuff.

  30. teckdan says:

    To use PoE passthrough, we need to have a PoE+ source feeding max 30w to the nano station, where 15w max will be drawn by the extension port.

  31. I have been using the UBNT products for over 10 years love how easy they are to setup. They have such a wide array of options on what you can do with them as far as range. But you should know that these products are commercial quality and have up to 10 mile range on some of the larger ones!

  32. Alexander G says:

    Great video, keep up the good work. But at the beginning you sad it's powering the nanostation. You could try to hook a poe injector to the battery. Something like: ALFA APoE08.
    But there is then no protection for deep uncharging. So you should connect it to the charge controller load side that should output 12V.

    There are also some solarpanels and battery for 24V. Some ubiquiti devices need the 24V volts or what you can to ist to put two 12v battery in a row to get 24v.

  33. Shane S says:

    cool video, agree with you on the HF panel kit. if you going to connect a inverter in your setup, connect it direct to the battery, the "Load" connection points in that charge controller is limited on output power
     alternatively you can use a DC to DC step-up converter( ) along with a 2.1mm x 5.5mm Male DC Power Adapter( ) and a Passive PoE Injector with 5.5×2.1 mm DC Connector( ), and this would probably consume a lot less then an inverter

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