Powering remote and wireless devices with solar panels

Banner offers stand-alone powering solutions designed for wireless instrumentation applications. Deploying them appropriately requires understanding a few basic solar power concepts.


Banner FlexPower solar

Banner FlexPower Solar Supply

In those situations where wired power isn't available or practical, solar panels can supply industrial wireless devices increasing the range and efficiency of your wireless sensor network. Banner says its FlexPower Solar Supply provides power for continuous wireless sensing and monitoring applications in a compact, plug-and-play package.

The FlexPower Solar Supply includes solar panel, controller, and rechargeable battery pack. It is designed to provide continuous power for 4-20 mA sensors if minimum conditions are met. These units assume that the sun is only available at specific times and may not be available at all if weather conditions are poor. The general design assumption is to size the elements to perform even in the worst-case scenario. Therefore, each unit's battery pack is able to power the load for a specific time span known as an autonomy period.
Autonomy is a measure of how long the assembly will supply power without sunlight. Autonomy depends on the load and battery capacity, but it is also affected by battery temperature. In this case, a fully charged battery will supply 350 mW with 10 days of autonomy. Ten days of 100% autonomy means that the battery is able to carry the load through 10 days of darkness or 20 days with only half the required sunlight, or insolation.

Insolation is the amount of solar radiation falling on an area per unit time and is measured in kWh/m2. Insolation can be characterized as an equivalent number of hours of direct sunlight per day required to maintain a desired load. Powering a typical 4-20 mA transmitter with a continuous supply of 350 mW requires minimum insolation of 1 kWh/m2 per day, which is roughly equivalent to 80 minutes of direct sunlight during the winter. (This level is available anywhere south of the arctic circle, so most of North America qualifies.)

Consequently, a single FlexPower Solar Supply can supply a continuously powered 4-20 mA, two-wire transmitter at 13V and power a wireless transmitter such as the Banner DX80 FlexPower Node for continuous sensor operation. Even with a 20 mA transmitter signal, the battery provides about 10 days of autonomy. Locations with exceptionally poor insolation rates can be supplemented with a larger battery pack.


-Edited by Peter Welander, process industries editor, PWelander@cfemedia.com
Control Engineering Process Instrumentation & Sensors Monthly eNewsletter
Register here to select your choice of free eNewsletters .

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Robotic safety, collaboration, standards; DCS migration tips; IT/OT convergence; 2017 Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey
Integrated mobility; Artificial intelligence; Predictive motion control; Sensors and control system inputs; Asset Management; Cybersecurity
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me