Like transmission distance, battery life depends on many factors including signal strength, sleep time, amount of data transmitted, number of photos or videos, solar charging, type of camera, ambient temperature and the battery itself. So again, each circumstance will be different. But we would challenge any camera to live up to the battery life of the X-series in an apples to apples comparison. Check out the BuckEye Cam website for more info.
The #1 rule for SLA batteries may be to never let the batteries go below 50% charge. Many sources on the Internet report that doing so is likely to permanently lower the battery’s capacity to hold a charge. We can confirm this from experience. Basically, the battery will be never be able to be charged to 100% and will always start in a partially depleted state. And 50% is the minimum, bad stuff is happening at 60% too, but not as fast. More frequent and proper charging will extend SLA battery life proportionally.
We put out six X80s on December 8, 2014 and did a long-term analysis of the battery life on each to the right. After over two months, one battery is still showing 100% charge! See the chart on the right for the history of battery charge on our six LiveCams. Battery charge is highly dependent on signal strength and amount of data transmitted. See the charts below for those values on the six cameras. Camera 5 serves as a repeater for Camera 3 and the chart shows the cumulative data transmitted for Camera 5.
Previously, we did a trial comparing the battery drain between the X7D and X80 models.
The X80 provides faster transmission time and lower power consumption when “sleeping”, as compared to the X7D and should provide longer battery life than the X7D. We used two identical batteries as-is (not re-charged and already partially depleted) and purchased at the same time from the same vendor. We put the bases and cameras in the same location and set them to take and send an HD image (~700 Kb) every 20 minutes. The X80 transmitted at speeds as high as 8.5 Kb/sec while the X7D transmitted at about 2.5 Kb/sec. Both cameras sent about 160 Mb of data during the period.
The X80 appeared to drain the battery about 2/3rds as slow as the X7D in this trial. This should not be viewed as representative of all situations but does show that the X80 uses less power over the long haul. We used MS Excel to insert a linear trend for each data series. We reran the trail with the same batteries, but fully charged this time, and more normal (less) data transmission demand. As expected, there is a much slower rate of decline when the batteries have a better chance to recover in between transmissions and we start with a fully charged battery. After 7 days, both cameras were still showing 100% charge. We had to end the trial because a friend was having trespasser problems and we deployed the cameras to try and catch them.
We also have an Orion Cell Base system running all the time and have it set to take and send photos twice a day, 12 hours apart. There is a battery bank and solar panel attached to each camera. The solar panel is pointed south and slightly obstructed by timber, which is not much of an issue in the winter. The cameras have a good signal to the base. Camera 1 sent 30.1 Mb of data to the base and Camera 2 sent 13.8 Mb from 11/13 to 2/19. There happens to be RAWS station just a couple of miles from this location and it reports an daily average solar radiation of 1.33 kilowatt-hours per square meter over the same time period. A graph of the daily solar radiation for the same time period is shown below. Over time, we’ve kept a record of the % charge reported in the emails with the photos. These batteries have been in service for about one year but I’ve kept them fresh. We did forget to connect the solar panel and battery bank to camera 2 for a few weeks and you can see the effect draining below 50% charge had on that battery. The chart on the right shows the % charge over the last month+.
Using an Excel spreadsheet and inserting a linear trend, at the current rate of decline, the setup could have stayed above 50% charge until Spring. The trend line does not start until the second week, after the batteries “settled-in.”
Conclusion: After 3 months with limited solar charging, the batteries remained above 70% charged.
The chart on the right shows the effect of a solar charger and battery bank can have on battery life. These are the same two Orion cameras shown above covering the period when one was not connected to the solar panel. The camera with solar charging and battery bank could have run all summer. The camera without solar charging or a battery bank fell below 50% in about 6 weeks. Each camera sent about 22 Mb of data in the period.