Brinno Time Lapse - Solar Joos Testing Update

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 have had two Solar Joos Orange panels for about three months and have tested them extensively in many situations as a power source for the Brinno time lapse cameras.

In a previous post, Introducing a Solar Panel for your Brinno Time Lapse Camera, I gave my initial impressions, did a freezer test, overcast day test and an extended length darkness test. At the time, I was very impressed and now, after additional testing, I am very confident the Solar Joos panel will power your Brinno camera for months, even years without an issue.

Before I get into my testing, let me stray off track for a minute. The Solar Joos is a great product, weatherproof, sturdy and would survive the most extreme conditions. Here are some other scenarios I can think of where the Joos would be a perfect fit to keep your phone, GPS, GoPro, camera, portable game system and other devices charged.

  • Any back-country camping, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling or extreme adventure.
  • Emergency power in your vehicle in case of being stranded or a remote area accident.
  • Emergency power in your home to maintain communications due to a power outage or natural disaster.
  • Extended boating, river rafting, horseback ride trips.
  • A power source at a remote cabin, ice fishing shack, etc.
Brinno-Solar-Joos-Outdoor-Snow-Test

I started my latest tests in October and wanted to see how the Joos would perform in cold Minnesota weather. I built a test stand for both panels and at first kept the cameras indoors. I wanted to check the cameras often too see if power was lost. This test was done without batteries and even though my panels were at a bad angle (they collected snow) the panels powered the cameras for a couple weeks and were still at 100% charge when I reconfigured them at a different angle and wanted the cameras outside too.

Brinno_TLC-200_Solar_Panel_Winter_Test

Here is a photo from my latest test which has been ongoing for over two months. I made the mount angle steeper and removed the reflectors. The steeper angle was to keep snow from collecting on the panel. I removed the reflectors to see if they are necessary and in my opinion they are not, for powering Brinno cameras.

For this test I installed Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries in the cameras. I have been told by Brinno techs, when the camera is connected to DC power, the batteries act as a back-up and only used if DC power is lost. I have used lithium batteries in the past with excellent results. I figure, there is little chance of the Solar Joos not providing power, but if it does the lithium batteries are a worry free backup.

For long term projects, in my case primarily construction, the Brinno battery life is amazing. I have often left cameras for three or four months unattended, which is well beyond Brinno's recommendations. I find myself falling behind when it comes to checking on cameras. Having a Solar Joos as a secondary power source would be a great peace of mind. As always, my primary concern with a long term project, is not the camera's battery life, rather an unplanned natural occurrence which interrupts the recording. A bird doing it's business on the lens, lightning, high winds, etc., all unlikely but possible.

The Solar Joos is the only product I recommend as a secondary source of power for your Brinno camera. It is my understanding there will soon be a bundled Joos and camera combination from BrinnoUSA.

For now, I only recommend the Joos for use with the Brinno TLC 200 f1.2 or the Brinno Construction Camera. The Joos will work with the Brinno TLC 200 Pro, however, if power is lost and then returns the camera shuts off. With the Construction Cam, if power is lost the batteries take over and when power is restored the camera keeps running. There is a firmware fix in the works, for the Pro to allow full functionality of the Joos.

Below is a short video showing the duration of sunlight hitting my test panels above which is direct sun for only about three hours.

The Brinno cameras are great products, the Solar Joos is a great product. Together they have an unprecedented ability to capture long term projects without user intervention. This concludes my testing of the Joos, my next post will detail mounting, connecting and weather proofing the cable connections.

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"