Swann's been making security cameras for a while now and which they typically run on batteries. While they last for a few months and are are easily removed from their magnetic base for charging, Swann has a added found a better solution to charging their IoT cameras. The Swann Solar Panel continually charges the internal battery, with free sunlight, so you never need to charge your camera again.
This offers a set and forget experience with the camera which is great, as nobody enjoys recharging their gadgets. It also means your home is potentially unguarded for the time your camera is on charge. Another great benefit is the flexibility of placement. By having a power solution connected to the camera, you can really place the camera wherever you like, often in places you wouldn't otherwise consider. Hard to get to places like on your roof is a perfect example. If you needed regular access to the camera for recharging, it'd be an absolute headache, just make sure it's in range of your WiFi and you're golden.
DESIGN AND FEATURES
Looks and features matter
The solar panel doesn't have a long list of features as its a fairly dedicated device, designed to do one thing really well, capture sunlight and send that power to the battery inside the camera. In terms of design, it's not the sexiest product on the planet, far more based in practicality than design innovation. It's probably a bit thicker than I hoped for, but that's possibly where we're at with current generation PV, but then again, this isn't meant to draw attention, and the black colour does help it blend in.
The solar panel is a fully black, 9.5" x 7.52" panel that captures sunlight direct and indirect. The panel comes with an adjustable mounting bracket that can screw into a wall or fence which enables mounting options, as well as the ability to rotate the panel towards the sun.
During my time with the Solar Panel, I leveraged this flexibility to position the camera in the back corner of the garden, to capture the backyard. Thanks to the solar panel and camera being waterproof, I was able to position it outside without shelter which was something many cameras don't offer.
To keep the back of the camera dry, you simply remove the standard rubber back and replace it with the outdoor replacement cover. This enables you to keep things dry, while still allowing the included, long USB cable to be connected from the solar panel. Because of the size of the solar panel, if you're worried about your camera, you can position the solar panel over the top of your camera to protect it a little bit from the elements.
Room for improvement
The Swann Solar Panel for Smart Security Cameras works incredibly well, however there's still room for improvement. After having used the click double-sided tape and magnetic ball mounting system for the camera, I was surprised to not see a similar option for the solar panel. One mounting idea I had was the back fence, made of metal, could potentially mount without any screws, but unfortunately there's no magnetic base (probably due to the weight), but I'm sure there'd be a way (possibly 2 magnetic contact points on the mount).
About the only other complaint would be the lack of discount if you already have a Swann camera setup that includes 2,3 or 4 cameras, you're up for the full price of the solar panel, times that number of cameras. Given the bundle deals for new customers, I'd love to see them offer a bundle discount if you buy more than 1 solar panel.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
If you already have a Swann Camera, then you can purchase the solar panel by itself for A$99.95. However if you know your future needs and are investing in Swann security for the first time, you may wish to consider the bundle packs, like the 4 camera bundle that includes 3 free solar panels.
This costs A$849.96 and really provides a whole home solution, covering your entry, rear and sides of your property, so in the event someone does enter your property, you'll know about it.
At the end of the day this is a great solution to providing power to your IoT devices. While I accept recharging your IoT devices is completely a first world problem, we've all probably got enough devices that take batteries, rechargeable or otherwise, that this does become an issue. If you're planning on adding, 2, 3 or 4 of these cameras to your home, then you'd be up for recharging every other month. Adding the Swann Solar Panel will really achieve the set and forget simplified solution we all wish for when making our homes connected.
If you have the cameras already, then this is a no brainer, for a decent price, it's definitely a worthwhile upgrade. The 3 metre cable is fantastic to enable camera placement where you like, as well as positioning the solar panel away from sight.
- Long USB cable
- Never charge batteries again
- Large case