With so many electronic devises on the market aimed at improving our ability to collect data, it has become increasingly more important to have a reliable power supply. Whether the device is a Vaki Riverwatcher to count adult salmon migrating upriver to spawn, a PIT tag antenna to detect tagged juvenile rainbow trout (O. mykiss), or an acoustic hydrophone receiver to listen for the adult O. mykiss we tagged last spring, solar power is a reliable and efficient means for supplying the necessary power.
When using solar power, the first step in our planning is to determine what our power consumption demand will be. Solar power can be easily adapted to operate at 12 or 24 volts and with the use of batteries, power can be maintained during periods of bad weather and darkness. It is essential to use solar panels that consistently produce enough wattage to adequately operate the monitoring equipment and fully charge the batteries. A custom fabricated mounting frame, like the one shown above, allows the angle of the panels to be adjusted in the field. To ensure adequate sun exposure, and for security purposes, we mount solar panels on a pole at least 12 feet off the ground. Not only is solar good for the environment, it sure beats hauling heavy batteries out to remote locations every couple of days.
Photo source: FISHBIO