Google launched its first battery-powered Nest Cam last year, but running the camera solely on battery power tends to detract from the experience. With the addition of a solar panel, however, the Nest Cam not only gets a stable power source, but also better overall functionality.
The Nest Cam solar panel from Wasserstein is easy to install.
Wasserstein is a long-time Made for Google partner, offering accessories for the Nest line that are directly approved by Google to work with your camera, doorbell and other devices. Last year we also looked at Wassterstein’s more affordable projector offering for the Nest Cam.
This solar panel for Nest Cam (battery) works the same way, using Google’s special connector to power the otherwise battery-powered camera. The idea here is simple. Since the battery inside the Nest Cam can provide enough power to operate, the solar panel can be used to recharge this battery without worrying that the camera will lose power due to shade or of a rainy day. The battery inside is what makes this product possible and why you couldn’t use it with older Nest Cams.
Installation is, thankfully, a breeze. I bought Wasserstein’s solar panel for a Nest Cam that I keep in my garden on a pole to monitor our vegetable patch for pests and also anything that might be ready to pick. The Nest Cam is mounted on a wooden pole which left the perfect space open for mounting the solar panel – just two included screws are needed to lock the panel in place, a process that took a few minutes. The package also includes wall anchors and adhesive clips to route the cable.
Once you have the panel mount in place, you can slide out the solar panel itself following the arrows molded into the plastic. From here you can adjust the orientation of the panel 360° parallel to the stand with plenty of back and forth motion on the opposite axis. Whether you’re mounting the side of a house or the top of a post, it’s easy to position the panel for best exposure to the sun.
The whole panel is plastic, but that’s a good call in my book. It seems durable and two intense thunderstorms left the panel unscathed in my garden. It just needed a quick wipe of dirt bouncing off the panel.
The built-in cable is 13 feet long, way overkill for my use case, but certainly appreciated if you’re mounting the side of a house. The only regret is that the cable cannot be replaced. If an animal gnaws the wire or a storm causes damage, the panel becomes worthless.
How fast does it actually charge?
As of this writing, I’ve only been using the Wasserstein 2.5W Solar Panel with my Nest Cam (battery) for about four full days. During this time, the camera operated with minimal motion to detect, but also less than ideal conditions for charging, with several major thunderstorms passing through the area.
Despite this, the camera charged from less than 20% to about 70% during this time, while recording, staying connected to my network, and receiving about six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day.
There is also a 3.5W version of the Wasserstein solar panel which we should have in-house soon. This panel should load the camera much faster, but I think more folks should be okay with the 2.5W version based on those early tests.
Stay tuned, we’ll update this article in the coming weeks with more information on the 3.5W model.
With a solar panel, you also get a better experience.
Along with the near-infinite increase in battery life, you also get a better experience when using a solar panel with a Google Nest Cam.
There are two types of behavior with the Nest Cam. When plugged into a constant power source – wall outlet or projector – it can run 24/7 without interrupting recording or communicating with the Google Home app. Then, when left on battery power only, it goes into “sleeping” mode unless it detects motion. This means you can’t see anything beyond the recorded event and you have to ‘wake up’ the camera to view live footage.
With a solar panel, the experience meets a kind of middle ground. In the Google Home app, you’re immediately greeted with live footage from the camera, rather than having to “wake up” the camera. The camera is also more likely to maintain its internet connection – I found the connection to my backyard camera, which is about 150 feet from the nearest Wi-Fi point with a metal building in the way, to be more stable since the use of the solar panel.
You still won’t get true consistent 24/7 video recording, but it’s definitely a step up.
Where to buy a Nest Cam solar panel
If you want to buy a solar panel for your Nest Cam, pricing starts at $59.99 for the 2.5W version and goes up to $79.99 for the 3.5W version. special gutter you can buy to mount both the camera and the solar panel to that higher spot without any drilling holes – perfect if you’re renting a house.
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