Solar-Powered Data Communications Off the Grid

The Challenge

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) monitors water conditions all over the country and continually updates the information on their web site with the latest data. Predictably, a large percentage of their water monitoring stations and sensors must do their jobs in locations where there is no easy access to the power grid and no Internet infrastructure. Sending technicians out to read and report data from the remote stations would be cumbersome and expensive. The USGS needed a wireless solution with excellent range and low power requirements.

The Solution

B+B SmartWorx met the challenge with the Zlinx Xtreme IP67-rated outdoor radio transmitter and a high-gain antenna. The transmitter could reliably report sensor data at ranges of up to 40 miles, with no need for human intervention. Power was provided by a solar panel and a maintenance free battery. The sensors at the monitoring sites only require about 0.60 Amp hours per day to do their jobs, and the ZLinx Xtreme radios only use around 2.4 Amp hours per day. A 50 W solar panel provided ample power for both the sensors and the radio, while simultaneously charging the attached 12 V battery for transmission after sundown.