Best Trail camera with External Solar Panel: 8 Picks for 2024

Exploring Best Solar Trail Cameras with External Solar Panels

Trail cameras with external solar panels are an essential tool for wildlife monitoring and outdoor security. These powerful scouting tools allow remote monitoring of wildlife activity, capturing high-quality images and videos, with continuous power supply. There is a growing interest among outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife researchers in trail cameras having an option to connect external solar panels, over the traditional trail cams with integrated solar panels. In this article, we’ll explore the best trail cameras with external solar panels available in 2024, to help you make informed decisions if you are looking to invest in one of these cameras. 

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Best Trail Cameras with External Solar Panels in the Market for 2024

1) Browning Command Ops Elite 20 with Browning Power Pack

The Browning Trail Cameras Command Ops Elite 20 is a top-notch trail camera with an external solar panel. It boasts impressive features and specifications, including high-resolution images, fast trigger speed, and a durable design.

Browning Command Ops Elite 20

Users have praised its reliable performance and the additional Browning Power Pack, which provides extended battery life. This trail camera with an external solar panel is a great choice for those looking for a dependable and long-lasting outdoor security solution.

2) Stealth Cam Fusion-X with Stealth Cam Durable Sol-Pak Solar Battery Pack

The Stealth Cam Fusion-X is a top-notch trail camera with an external solar panel. It offers reliable performance and durability, ensuring continuous operation in the field.

Stealth Cam Fusion-X

The Stealth Cam Durable Sol-Pak Solar Battery Pack provides efficient charging capabilities, making it a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts. Users have praised its high-quality images and user-friendly features.

3) WingHome Cellular Trail Camera 480Ace + Winghome Solar Panel for Trail Camera

The WingHome Cellular Trail Camera 480Ace, paired with the Winghome Solar Panel for Trail Camera, is a top choice for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a trail camera with an external solar panel.

WingHome Cellular Trail Camera 480Ace
Winghome Solar Panel for Trail Camera

With its advanced cellular capabilities and efficient solar panel, this trail camera offers continuous operation and reliable power source in any outdoor environment.

Users have praised its high-quality images, durability, and easy setup process.

4) Camojojo Trace 4G LTE Cellular Trail Camera + Camojojo EnerG Solar Panel Portable

The Camojojo Trace 4G LTE Cellular Trail Camera combines advanced cellular technology with the convenience of an external solar panel.

With its reliable connectivity and portable solar panel, users can easily monitor wildlife and outdoor areas without worrying about battery life or power source.

It is a top choice for those looking for a trail camera with an external solar panel.

Camojojo Trace 4G LTE Cellular Trail Camera
Camojojo EnerG Solar Panel Portable

5) Browning Defender Pro Scout MAX Extreme + Browning Power Pack

The Browning Defender Pro Scout MAX Extreme is a top-performing trail camera with an external solar panel. It offers high-resolution images, fast trigger speed, and a durable design. Paired with the Browning Power Pack, it ensures long-lasting power for continuous operation in the field.

Browning Defender Pro Scout MAX Extreme
Browning Power Pack

6) Moultrie Mobile Edge Cellular Trail Camera with Solar Pane

The Moultrie Mobile Edge Cellular Trail Camera with Solar Panel is a top choice for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a trail camera with an external solar panel.

With its advanced features and efficient solar charging capabilities, this camera ensures uninterrupted performance and extended battery life. The high-resolution images and fast trigger speed make it ideal for wildlife monitoring and outdoor security.

Moultrie Mobile Edge Cellular Trail Camera with Solar Pane

Users appreciate the convenience and cost-effectiveness of the solar panel, as it eliminates the need for frequent battery replacements. Its durable construction and weatherproof design make it suitable for harsh outdoor conditions. With the Moultrie Mobile Edge Cellular Trail Camera with Solar Panel, users can enjoy reliable performance and hassle-free operation while capturing stunning wildlife moments.

The CuddeLink Wireless Trail Camera is a top choice for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a trail camera with an external solar panel. With its high-quality images, fast trigger speed, and reliable wireless connectivity, this camera offers exceptional performance for wildlife monitoring and outdoor security.

CuddeLink Wireless Trail Camera

The CuddeLink Wireless Trail Camera is compatible with external solar panels, allowing users to extend its battery life and ensure continuous operation even in remote locations. Its durable construction and weatherproof design make it suitable for various outdoor conditions. Users have praised the CuddeLink Wireless Trail Camera for its ease of use and reliable performance, making it a popular choice among trail camera enthusiasts.

8) Stealth Cam DECEPTOR IR Camera + with Stealth Cam Durable Sol-Pak Solar Battery Pack

The Stealth Cam DECEPTOR IR Camera is a high-quality trail camera with a 40MP resolution and dual network capabilities. With its external solar panel, it ensures continuous power supply, making it an ideal choice for outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife monitoring.

Stealth Cam DECEPTOR IR Camera
Stealth Cam Durable Sol-Pak Solar Battery Pack

Benefits of External Solar Panel Trail Cams:

External solar panel trail cameras offer several advantages over integrated solar panel trail cameras.

They provide greater flexibility in choosing camera locations and allow for optimal sunlight exposure. Additionally, they have longer battery life, reduced maintenance needs, and extended camera lifespan.

Longer Battery Life and Cost-Effectiveness

Solar-powered trail cameras offer a cost-effective solution, over a longer time for outdoor enthusiasts. 

By harnessing the power of the sun, these cameras eliminate the need for frequent battery replacements, saving users both time and money. With their long-lasting power source, trail cameras with external solar panels provide continuous operation without the added expense of purchasing and replacing traditional batteries. Most setups can last over 250 days between battery swaps, with some high-volume picture areas needing battery changes less frequently

While the upfront cost of trail camera solar panel may be higher, it provides long-term cost savings and reduces the ongoing maintenance associated with replacing traditional batteries

Reduced Maintenance

Most traditional wifi or cellular trail cameras have openings for battery changes, which can be vulnerable to moisture and dust ingress if not properly sealed. This can lead to electrical malfunctions or damage to the camera’s internal components. With continuous power supply for solar trail cameras, there is no need to constantly replace batteries, resulting in less maintenance.  

Even during periods of low sunlight, the solar panel can often trickle-charge the battery, extending its life and reducing the need for replacements and ensuring a longer lifespan for the device.

Flexibility in Choosing Camera Locations

Trail cameras with external solar panels offer flexibility in choosing camera locations.

External solar panels free you from the constraints of readily available power sources like outlets or solar cells integrated into the camera body. This allows you to place your camera deeper in the wilderness, on remote trails, or near specific wildlife watering holes or feeding grounds, unrestricted by power limitations. Whether it’s deep in the woods or in an open field, these cameras can be strategically positioned to capture the desired footage. 

You can place your camera on uneven or sloped surfaces where mounting an integrated solar panel might be tricky or impractical. The external panel can be positioned more flexibly to capture optimal sunlight, regardless of the camera’s position. This flexibility allows users to monitor a wide range of locations and maximize the effectiveness of their surveillance efforts.

Another major flexibility is to adjust the external solar panel to sun’s angle – as it changes throughout the year, helping to maintain optimal sun exposure and ensure continuous battery charging. This is especially useful in areas with distinct seasonal variations in sunlight.

For short-term monitoring projects or capturing seasonal events, you can easily move the camera and solar panel together without needing to find a new power source or worry about limited battery life.

Security and Concealment

The separate panel allows you to place the camera itself in a more concealed location while positioning the solar panel in a more open area to maximize sun exposure. This can help deter vandalism or theft of the camera. 

You can strategically place the solar panel away from the camera to avoid attracting unwanted attention to the camera’s location, especially when monitoring sensitive areas or wildlife.

Additional Benefits

Some external solar panels can be detached and used with different trail camera models, offering greater flexibility and reducing electronic waste.

You can easily add more solar panels to a single camera if needed, especially for cameras with high power consumption due to features like cellular connectivity or frequent video recording.

Drawbacks of External Solar Panel Trail Cameras:

External solar panel trail cameras do have a few downsides and limitations. The drawbacks are relatively minimal, but they do exist. Here are some potential drawbacks to consider:. 

Cost Considerations

Cameras with external solar panels typically have a higher initial price tag compared to non-solar or cameras with integrated panels. This is due to the additional cost of the separate panel and potentially more robust weatherproofing needed for both camera and panel.

In case of damage or theft, replacing the external solar panel can be an additional expense compared to cameras with internal batteries or integrated panels.

Setup Complexities

Setting up and positioning the camera and solar panel separately requires additional effort compared to a single unit. You need to find suitable locations for both components, ensuring optimal sun exposure for the panel while considering concealment and security for the camera itself.

The cable connecting the camera and panel can be a tripping hazard or attract attention if not properly concealed or secured.

Dependency on Sunlight and Weather Conditions

Trail cameras with external solar panels are dependent on sunlight and weather conditions for their power source.

The camera’s functionality relies heavily on consistent sunlight to keep the battery charged. In areas with limited sunlight due to dense foliage, overcast skies, or seasonal variations, the camera might experience reduced performance or require more frequent checks. It is important to consider the local climate and ensure that the camera’s solar panel receives adequate sunlight for consistent performance.

Apart from that, rough weather conditions like strong winds, heavy snow, or falling objects can damage the external solar panel, potentially interrupting the camera’s operation.

Vulnerability to Theft and Tampering

One potential drawback of using trail cameras with external solar panels is their vulnerability to theft and tampering.

Since the solar panel is located outside of the camera, it can be easily noticed and targeted by thieves or vandals. This puts the camera at risk of being stolen or damaged, which can result in the loss of valuable footage and the need for costly replacements.

It is important to take precautions such as placing the camera in a secure location or using anti-theft devices to minimize this risk.

Despite these limitations, many outdoor enthusiasts still find the benefits of using a trail camera with an external solar panel outweigh these drawbacks.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Trail Camera with External Solar Panel:

Trail cameras with external solar panels offer excellent options for long-term wildlife monitoring or capturing remote scenes. However, with various models and features available, choosing the right one can be overwhelming

Some of these include solar panel compatibility, camera specifications, solar panel efficiency, durability, user-friendly features, and price range. Lets evaluate these factors to help you choose the perfect trail camera with an external solar panel that meets your specific needs and preferences.

Solar Panel Compatibility

When choosing a trail camera with an external solar panel, it is crucial to consider solar panel compatibility, in terms of Voltage and Amperage Requirements.

Check your camera’s manual or manufacturer website for its specific voltage and amperage requirements for external battery charging. Match the panel’s voltage and amperage output to the camera’s requirements. Mismatched values can damage the camera or prevent proper charging. 

Most trail cameras use 6V or 12V voltage with various amperage ratings. Popular external panels offer similar output options for broad compatibility.

Ensure that the solar panel is compatible with the specific trail camera model to ensure efficient charging and continuous operation.

Type of Connector

You need to also check and identify the type of connector on your camera for external power, such as DC barrel jack, mini USB, or a proprietary connector specific to the brand. Ensure the panel’s connector matches the camera’s port for a secure and compatible connection. Some manufacturers offer adapter cables to connect cameras with specific ports to standard panel connectors.

Cable Length and Durability

Based on the type of location you’ll be setting up this trail cam, choose a cable with sufficient length to reach your desired panel placement without straining the connection. Make sure to opt for a weatherproof cable resistant to moisture, sunlight, and extreme temperatures to ensure long-lasting performance. I would also consider thicker cables or protective sleeves to deter chewing from rodents or other small animals, which happens quiet often.

Compatibility Lists and Manufacturer Support:

Many branded trail camera manufacturers, like Stealthcam, Moultrie Mobile and others offer dedicated external solar panels guaranteed to be compatible with their cameras. 

Always check compatibility lists offered by panel manufacturers or retailers to find panels compatible with your specific camera model. If unsure about compatibility, reach out to the camera or panel manufacturer for assistance.

Mobile App Accessibility

When considering trail cameras with external solar panels, lookout for trail cams that have good mobile apps for their functionality.

Most Apps allow you to view captured images and videos directly on your phone or tablet, even when you’re not near the camera. Some apps let you remotely adjust camera settings like trigger sensitivity, image resolution, and night vision intensity, allowing you to fine-tune the camera’s performance without physically visiting it.

Additional Tips:

In my experience, its better to avoid vague marketing terms like “universal” or “compatible with most cameras.” Always verify specific voltage, amperage, and connector details before purchase.

Look for online reviews and forums where users discuss their experiences with specific camera and panel combinations to get real-world insights.

While cheaper panels might seem tempting, prioritizing quality materials and connectors ensures reliable performance and avoids potential damage to your camera.

Trail Camera Specifications (resolution, trigger speed, detection range).

When choosing a trail camera with an external solar panel, it is important to consider the camera specifications. Here is what you should look out for:

Image and Video Resolution

  • Measured in megapixels (MP), higher resolutions capture sharper and more detailed images and videos. However, they require more storage space and battery power.
  • 8-12 MP is often sufficient for capturing wildlife or monitoring purposes. Higher resolutions (16 MP and above) might be desirable for high-zoom needs or printing large images.
  • Remember, file size increases with resolution. Choose a resolution that balances quality with your storage capacity and desired battery life.

Trigger Speed

  • Trigger speed determines how quickly the camera captures an image after detecting motion. A faster trigger speed is crucial for capturing elusive wildlife or fast-moving scenes.
  • Most cameras offer trigger speeds between 0.2 and 1 second. For capturing quick movements, opt for a speed below 0.5 seconds.
  • You should know that faster trigger speeds typically drain battery faster.

Detection Range and Sensitivity

  • PIR sensor range: This determines how far the camera can detect motion. Choose a range suitable for your target subjects and desired field of view. Common ranges are 20-60ft.
  • Adjust the sensor sensitivity to minimize false triggers from wind, leaves, or small animals, while still capturing your desired subjects.
  • A larger range might increase false triggers, while a lower range might miss your target subjects. Finding the right balance is important.

Other Considerations

  • Night vision: Many cameras use infrared LEDs for night vision. Consider the range and clarity of night vision needed for your intended use.
  • Field of view: Wider field of view captures more of the scene but decreases the clarity of distant subjects. Narrower fields focus on a specific area with greater detail.
  • Time lapse and interval recording: These features capture images or videos at set intervals, useful for long-term monitoring or timelapse sequences.
  • Video recording length and resolution: Consider the desired video length and resolution for your monitoring needs. Longer and higher-resolution videos demand more storage space and battery power.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Prioritize the specifications that best match your specific goals and environment.

For wildlife photography, focus on high resolution and fast trigger speed. For monitoring, a moderate resolution with adjustable sensitivity might be sufficient.

Price Range and Hidden Costs

When considering a trail camera with an external solar panel, it is important to factor in price range and budget considerations. Prices can vary depending on the brand, features, and quality of the camera. It is recommended to set a budget and compare different options to find the best value for your investment.

There are also some hidden costs that you should know before going ahead and investing in this option.

  • Panel lifespan: Like any electronic device, solar panels have a finite lifespan. While they can last for several years, eventually, their efficiency might decline, necessitating replacement for optimal charging.
  • Monthly fees: For cameras with cellular connectivity, a data plan is essential to access captured footage remotely. These plans can add a recurring monthly cost to your budget, which can vary depending on data usage and provider packages.
  • Accessories: Additional accessories like mounting brackets, cables of different lengths, or security locks might be needed depending on your camera placement and security concerns. These add to the overall cost, although they can be a worthwhile investment for specific situations.
  • Software subscriptions: Some advanced cameras with cloud storage or remote management features might require paid subscriptions for these services. Research these needs and factor them into your budget alongside the initial camera cost.
  • Warranty considerations: Extended warranties can provide peace of mind for repairs or replacements in case of manufacturing defects. However, these also add to the upfront cost, and the necessity depends on your individual risk tolerance and expected camera usage.

Installation and Maintenance Tips:

It is important to have a proper installation and maintenance process for optimal performance using your trail cameras with external solar panels. 

Choosing the Location:

  1. Position the camera based on the animal activity you intend to capture. Consider animal trails, watering holes, food sources, or nesting areas. Aim the camera slightly downward for a more natural field of view and avoid capturing the sky, which can trigger false positives from sunlight or clouds.
  2. Place the solar panel in a location with ample direct sunlight throughout the day to ensure efficient battery charging. Some panels offer tilt mechanisms for easy adjustment. Consider seasonal sun movement and potential obstructions like trees or foliage. As seasons change, adjust the panel angle if necessary to maintain optimal sun exposure throughout the day.
  3. Choose a discreet location to avoid theft or tampering. Secure the camera and panel with cables or locks if necessary. Use camouflage paint or sprays to blend the camera and panel into the surroundings for increased concealment. Consider additional accessories like mounting poles, security boxes, or weatherproof covers for enhanced protection and stability.
  4. Consider ease of access for battery changes or data retrieval, especially if using a separate SD card.

Camera and Panel Setup:

  1. Camera settings: Adjust settings like trigger speed, resolution, and night vision intensity based on your needs and target subjects. Higher resolutions and faster trigger speeds drain battery faster, so find a balance for optimal performance and battery life.
  2. Securely connect the panel to the camera using the dedicated cable. Ensure the connection is weatherproof and protected from animal chewing.
  3. Before deploying the camera, test its trigger sensitivity, image quality, and charging status in a controlled environment.

Maintenance Tips:

  1. Periodically check the camera and panel for proper functioning, battery level, and potential damage. Replace batteries if necessary.
  2. Gently clean the camera lens and sensor with a microfiber cloth to ensure clear image quality. Avoid touching the sensor directly. Keep the solar panel free of debris like leaves or snow for optimal sunlight absorption.
  3. Check for and install firmware updates periodically to ensure the camera’s software remains current and secure. Download captured footage regularly to prevent storage space limitations. Consider cloud storage options for remote access.
  4. Consult the camera and panel manuals for specific installation and maintenance instructions tailored to your chosen models.

Wrapping Up

Whether you’re a seasoned wildlife enthusiast or a curious landowner, investing in a trail camera with an external solar panel opens a world of possibilities. Capture breathtaking wildlife scenes, monitor remote properties, or simply observe nature up close, all with minimal maintenance thanks to solar power.

Remember, choosing the best setup depends on your needs. Consider factors like cellular connectivity for real-time updates, powerful solar panels for extended battery life, and high-quality image features for capturing every detail. From Tactacam Reveal’s sleek design to Cuddeback’s long-range detection, there’s a perfect trail camera out there waiting to turn your curiosity into stunning footage.

So charge up your cam, embrace the power of solar, and start capturing the magic that unfolds even when you’re not around. And who knows, you might just discover that the best moments in nature happen when no one’s watching.

FAQ Section

1. Solar power vs. batteries: Should I get a trail camera with a solar panel?

Solar panels extend battery life significantly, reducing maintenance and reliance on external power sources. Consider your desired monitoring duration and remote location to see if solar panels outweigh the initial cost.

2. Best cellular trail camera for 2024?

The “best” depends on your needs. Top contenders include Tactacam Reveal X, Moultrie MXT Genesis, and Cuddeback Black Flash X24 for their cellular options, image quality, and battery life.

3. Trail camera with longest range?

Cuddeback Tracks Max offers a 100ft detection range, ideal for capturing elusive wildlife from a distance. Other options like Spypoint Force Pro and Ridgetec TRX boast impressive ranges as well.

4. Can trail cameras run on AA batteries?

Yes, many budget-friendly models use AA batteries. While convenient, they require frequent replacements. Solar models or rechargeable lithium batteries offer better long-term value.

5. Do trail cameras capture real-time footage?

Cellular models with live view options like Moultrie Mobile or Tactacam Command Pro App allow real-time viewing through your phone. Standard cameras capture photos and videos at set intervals.

6. What’s the biggest and best trail camera?

Stealth Cam Command Pro boasts advanced features, 4K video, and long-range detection, but size and cost might not suit everyone. Consider your specific needs and budget before choosing.

7. Do I need solar panels and rechargeable batteries?

Both offer advantages. Solar panels provide continuous power but might not always be sufficient. Rechargeable batteries act as backups when sunlight is limited.

8. What cameras are designed for low-light conditions?

Cameras with powerful IR LEDs like Ridgetec TRX or QWAA Solar Trail Camera excel in capturing clear images and videos even at night.

9. What’s the best cellular trail camera for capturing every movement?

Models with fast trigger speeds and rapid image recovery like Cuddeback Tracks Max or Spypoint Force Pro capture quick movements with minimal delay.

10. How many visits will a trail camera handle per day?

This depends on the camera’s recovery time and battery life. High-performance cameras like Tactacam Reveal X can handle hundreds of visits per day without missing action.

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