Solar Powered Birdnet-pi

Installing Solar Power for Birdnet-pi in Remote locations

In remote locations, staying connected and powered up can be a challenge. I'll guide you through setting up a solar-powered BirdNet-Pi —a Raspberry Pi-based device—complete with solar panels, batteries, an inverter, and a cellular hotspot for remote deployment.

Parts used:

1. Bird Net-Pi:  A Raspberry Pi 4 setup with BirdNet-Pi, typical draw is roughly 15 watts.

2. Solar Panels: Four 25-watt solar panels.

3. Batteries: Two 12V, 35Ah deep cycle batteries.

4. Inverter: A DC to AC inverter to power the Raspberry Pi.

5. Solar Panel Controller: A charge controller to efficiently manage the solar panel charging process.

6. Cellular Hotspot: A reliable cellular hotspot for remote internet connectivity.

Wiring the Solar Panels: 

Wiring the Batteries:

Note: Parallel wiring connects the positive terminal of one battery to the positive terminal of another battery and the negative terminal of one battery to the negative terminal of another battery. It essentially combines the capacities of the batteries while keeping the voltage the same.

Adding the Solar/Charge Controller:

Adding the Inverter:

Note: 120 Watt Continuous/240 Watt Peak Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter was used in this example

Deploying the Cellular Hotspot:

The Enclosure:


By setting up a solar-powered BirdNet-Pi you can enjoy uninterrupted remote operation. This setup provides both power and internet connectivity, making it perfect for outdoor applications, birdwatching, surveillance, or any project where power and connectivity are a challenge. 

Happy bird watching! 

You can find out more about this project at the Middle Susquehanna River Keeper website:

Interactive map of where the BirdNet-Pi is deployed running solar power and celluar uplink

Energy storage needs for 24/7 operation with a Raspberry Pi 

1. Raspberry Pi Energy Consumption:   - The Raspberry Pi draws 5V at 3A, which is equivalent to 15 watts (5V x 3A).
2. Solar Panel Energy Production:   - Your 100-watt solar panel generates 100 watts per hour under optimal conditions.
3. Energy Required for 24/7 Operation:   - To calculate the daily energy consumption, you'll need to convert the Raspberry Pi's power consumption from watts to watt-hours.    - Daily energy consumption = 15 watts x 24 hours = 360 watt-hours.
4. Battery Capacity Needed:   - You need to store enough energy to power your Raspberry Pi during the night or cloudy days when the solar panel isn't generating energy.   - Assume you want a buffer for at least two days without sunlight, so you would need a total of 360 watt-hours x 2 days = 720 watt-hours of battery capacity.
Now, let's calculate how many 12V 35Ah batteries you would need to store 720 watt-hours of energy:
Battery Capacity (in watt-hours) = Battery Voltage (in volts) x Battery Capacity (in ampere-hours)Battery Capacity (in watt-hours) = 12V x 35Ah = 420 watt-hours
To store 720 watt-hours, you would need:
Number of Batteries = Required Battery Capacity / Battery Capacity per BatteryNumber of Batteries = 720 watt-hours / 420 watt-hours per battery ≈ 1.71 batteries
Since you cannot have a fraction of a battery, you would need at least two 12V 35Ah batteries to meet your energy storage needs for 24/7 operation with a Raspberry Pi using a 100-watt solar panel.Again, please keep in mind that these calculations are based on ideal conditions and do not account for factors like energy losses, variations in solar panel efficiency, and other real-world variables. Having some buffer capacity in the form of additional batteries is a good practice to ensure reliable 24/7 operation.