I want to build a webcam from an old mobile and I want it to be solar powered. The phone use a 3.7V lithium-ion battery of 1500mAh capacity. The phone last 24h hours on one charge.

So if I'm right, it is 3.7V * 1.5Ah = 5.55Wh

I found some solar panels that claim to give at 5V a maximum of 260mA.

5.55Wh / (5V * 0.26A) = 4.26 hours needed to charge the battery at full capacity.

In a sunny day, this will be done quite easily. But on a rainy day or cloudy day, how much mA should I expect from the solar panel? Do I need to have a battery that will sustain many cloudy days in a row? What can I do to be sure I will never run out of battery?


Here is the number of hours of sun of the actual location: a busy cat

And the cloud cover information: a busy cat

  • \$\begingroup\$ What you are asking heavily depends on where you are setting up the camera. You already did the math, now it's time to grab some weather history, figure out how many cloudy days you want to sustain and size the battery accordingly. One day is probably not enough... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 8:56
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @VladimirCravero I updated the question to reflect the local weather condition \$\endgroup\$
    – Pat
    Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 9:10

1 Answer 1


If you want NEVER run out of battery, you should come from ALWAYS extreme cloudy condition at shortest day, because weather statistics cannot guarantee cloudy time duration limits.

Note, solar battery manufacturer gives power output for very optimistic conditions, say clear day and battery oriented directly to sun.

Daylight wikipedia article gives you range of conditions you'd expect. According to it, in extreme cloudy day there's less than 0.002 of max. light intensity. Add here 40% daylight time. So you will need rated power of ~2000 times consumed to work forever (1 KW solar battery for 0.5 W device).

So you have to define less strict requirement to get reasonable values, say 10% per year failure rate. Then I expect about 10-20× solar power, say 5-10 W solar panel and larger accumulator (week of autonomous power). But accurate value require much statistical calculations or experiments.


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