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Optimising Solar-Powered Surveillance Systems: Factors, Considerations, and Custom Solutions

Solar irradiance is a measure of the amount of solar energy available at a given location on the Earth's surface. It is affected by several factors, including the location's latitude, the time of year, and cloud cover. In the UK, the difference in solar irradiance between the South and the North is largely due to the latitude difference.

The South of the UK is located at a lower latitude than the North, which means that it receives more direct sunlight and therefore has higher solar irradiance. This is because the sun's rays are more perpendicular to the Earth's surface at lower latitudes, resulting in more energy being received per unit area. The South of the UK is, therefore, a more favourable location for solar energy generation compared to the North.

Solar Irradiance Map (UK)
Solar Irradiance Map (UK)

In addition to latitude, the time of year also affects the difference in solar irradiance between the South and the North. During the summer months, the sun is higher in the sky, resulting in higher solar irradiance, while during the winter months, the sun is lower in the sky, resulting in lower solar irradiance.

Cloud cover is another factor that can affect solar irradiance. The South of the UK generally has less cloud cover compared to the North, which means that it receives more sunlight and has higher solar irradiance.

When we design solar-powered platforms and technologies, solar irradiance and cloud cover are our starting point and several factors influence the final solar design for our customers.

An accurately specified solar array will be different depending on the location 

We perform a desk-based evaluation of the site, determining the average amount of solar energy produced over a 20-year period and examining any factors that may negatively impact the overall power generation of the system, such as shading (by tracking the annual sun's path). The specifications and size of the solar panel system will vary depending on the specific location.

Our systems are approved for stability by independent structural engineers

To complement the desk-based survey, we analyse local weather conditions, including average precipitation levels, cloud cover, and wind speeds over a 20-year period. These factors can affect the stability of CCTV masts and have an impact on the design and size of different solar panels. It is important to consider that some locations in the UK receive more rainfall, cloud cover and much higher wind speeds than others when determining the appropriate design and size of the solar array.

We integrate the surveillance sensors you specify

As experts in the security industry, we collaborate with our customers and provide a variety of security and communication technologies from top manufacturers. To meet our customers specific needs, they may choose a particular sensor that has a high energy consumption, which may impact the size of the solar array and battery system required. For instance, a single bullet camera consumes more power than a pan-tilt-zoom camera.

Our technologies are certified to operate in your sector

We operate in various market sectors, each with distinct requirements that may vary from one another. The deployment of solar-powered structures and technologies on roads, rail, or in the oil field requires different considerations regarding wind loading, system weight, voltage, and other industry-specific features.

We can adapt our technologies to meet your precise requirement

After determining the site and assessing the potential solar energy production, we evaluate whether the surveillance sensors and communication equipment can be sustainably powered by renewable energy throughout the year. Our systems are designed to provide continuous, round-the-clock power, but some customers may only require the system to operate for fewer hours. This requirement will impact the size of the solar array and battery system required.

Battery system design is critical

Correctly designing the integrated battery system is crucial for ensuring the solar-powered system operates consistently throughout the year, regardless of weather conditions or solar energy production. This involves analysing the power consumption of the specified surveillance sensors and communication equipment and determining the appropriate battery system. For instance, in locations in the North of England, it may be necessary to increase the size of the battery system and solar array, or closely monitor it, especially if multiple sensors are used on a single system.

Shading effects can have a drastic effect on energy production

One of the most significant effects of shading on solar panels is the "shading effect," which occurs when one or more panels in a solar array are shaded while others are not. This can result in the reduction of power output for the entire array, as the shaded panels are unable to produce the same level of electricity as unshaded panels. Therefore, we locate our mast to the rear of our cabinet, as centrally located masts during the early morning and late afternoon, partially shade panels on either side and critically reduce their output.

It may seem straightforward to think that attaching a solar panel to a wheeled cabinet would provide enough autonomous power for the surveillance sensors and communication equipment. However, this is far from reality as many factors, such as solar energy production, local weather conditions, location, specified sensors, shading effects and industry regulations, play a significant role in shaping the design of our technologies and the technical decisions we make with customers to ensure successful deployment.

If you are considering solar-powered surveillance systems, it's essential to consider whether a one-size-fits-all system can achieve what you need?

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