GPS with solar panels VS GPS with batteries

All electronics and iot products (including GPS) require sufficient power to be transported. Traditional fleet management equipment either has its own battery or is connected to its own power cord to provide real-time tracking when the vehicle is started.

But other assets, such as trailers, containers, and garbage bins that do not have the power to access power like cars, require alternative power for these types of unpowered asset tracking applications. Typically, in the iot asset tracking space, we see the use of two power sources - solar (via solar panels) and battery power. In the long run, solar GPS is more of a long-term alternative to battery GPS, because solar power is a sustainable alternative to battery (non-rechargeable) powered devices that will provide unlimited, recyclable energy.

fbf3cc04d6033f7aab610fc4f00c26c2But solar GPS is not perfect. Although they can be untethered to pv wire, a more obvious limitation is that they need the sun, so they need to see the sun in order to operate. And solar devices are often mounted on top so that they always get direct sunlight. It also hides another flaw, which is easily exposed to public view and easily stolen by people with bad intentions. The same exposure to the environment is easy to be covered by dust, affecting the efficiency of power generation.

One way to get the best of both worlds, untethered to battery charging and still providing a constant source of power, including at night, is to use solar panels with rechargeable batteries. When sunlight hits the solar panel, it will provide a voltage to charge the lithium-polymer battery, which will then power the device.

When choosing the type of GPS, it is important to consider the total cost (money, time, and environmental impact) of device ownership over its lifetime. Solar solutions are well suited for many iot applications, especially some small sized solar panels (Sunpower SMT solar panels) with high conversion efficiency.

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