Introducing a Solar Panel for your Brinno Time Lapse Camera

I have started a retail web site devoted to Brinno time lapse camera solutions with a focus on prepurchase customer eduction and project support. All of my current Brinno related content is at the new site. Please visit us at www.TimeLapseCameras.com. Since you have an interest in this article you should check out our Brinno Learning Series. Sadly, the Solar Joos is no longer in production and availability is limited to a scarce unit or two occasionally on eBay.


I can hardly contain my excitement over the Solar Joos Orange panel and battery combination. Ever since my first long term time lapse, where the camera was mounted on top of a water tower, I have longed for a solar panel solution which would work with the Brinno Time Lapse Cameras.

Update 12/7/14: The Brinno TLC 200 Pro will work with the Solar Joos, however if power is lost the camera resets. A firmware update which corrects this may be a future solution. For now, my recommendation is to use the Solar Joos only with the Brinno TLC 200 f/1.2 or Brinno BCC 100 Construction Cam.

Solar-Joos-Orange-Packaging

I had spent a year, occasionally searching for and thinking about a viable solution and last month I ran across the Solar Joos. After talking with the Joos people and the Brinno people no one knew for certain whether the panel would work. It looked promising but the odds of finding a perfect solution were not in my favor.

Within a few days, I had a Joos and was immediately impressed with the work of art in my hands. The Joos is one tough panel, made to withstand the harshest of environments. I charged the panel via USB and tried it out with a camera and it worked! With the first hurdle jumped, I spent the past month testing the panel in situations which concerned me.

The Energy Dashboard software, showing the current charge at 63% and generating 2.6W of solar power.

The Energy Dashboard software, showing the current charge at 63% and generating 2.6W of solar power.

My first test was to leave it connected to the camera and running for a few days and nights outdoors capturing one image every 10 minutes. There is very handy software available for download which tells you the status of the panel. After a few days, the Joos Energy Dashboard showed the panel at 100% charge even though most of the days were considerably cloudy.

Everything continued to look promising so now it was time to test the worst case scenario. Being in Minnesota, we get extended periods of overcast winter days, this summer too has been quite gray and gloomy. My next test was to see how long the battery in the panel would last without any sun. So using the same settings with the camera capturing an image every 10 minutes I placed it in a closest. Occasionally I would check to see if the camera was still running and after a week, the suspense was killing me so I had to check the Dashboard. After one week without any light the panel was at 85% charge. That's a pretty extreme duration, given the panel charged on very cloudy days.

Cloudy and rainy day example of the Joos charging indicated by the flashing red light.

Up next was a cold test, we all know batteries don't last as long in the cold so I was thinking what I had in-store next would be a deal breaker. Using the same settings, I placed the panel and camera in our kitchen freezer between the Popsicles and Tater Totts. I checked quite often and the camera was running, after a week it was still going and I had to check the status of the battery. After one week at -5 degrees Fahrenheit, capturing an image once every 10 minutes the panel was at 100% charge. The cold test performed better than the room temperature test. I am not into technical testing, I test what might apply in the real world.

At this point, I would personally feel comfortable using the Solar Joos Orange on a long term time lapse project and I intend on doing so in the near future. The people at Brinno have panels for testing and the Solar Joos people have cameras for testing. I expect them both to provide additional information in the future. However, for now I feel we we have a winning combination.

solar-joos-orange-brinno

This is what the Solar Joos Orange looks like with reflectors, connected to a Brinno TLC 200 Pro in the weatherproof housing. I will provide more information regarding real world mounting, weatherproofing the cable and connection, and anything else I discover in the future. If you are looking for a solar panel solution to power your Brinno camera I think the Solar Joos Orange is your best option.

Solar Joos has extended a discount for Brinno users and I recommend purchasing the bundle sold on this page of the Solar Joos web site. The discount code is, "Brinno"