Reolink Argus 2: a standalone IP camera with a battery and the ability to charge from the solar panel

by Kelvin
Reolink Argus 2: a standalone IP camera with a battery and the ability to charge from the solar panel

Hello, friends

Again, I return to the topic of video surveillance, without which it is impossible to imagine a single smart home. Today we’ll talk about a camera that can be installed in places where there is no possibility of power supply and the hero of the review will be a product already known to my viewers by the company – Reolink.

  

I have already reviewed two cameras from this manufacturer who wants to – you can find these links – Reolink C2 Pro Super HD, Reolink – RLC-411WS.

Where can one buy ?

Reolink official store on Aliexpress:

Packaging

At my disposal was a kit consisting of a Reolink Argus 2 camera and an external solar panel for recharging the camera’s battery.

Boxes are made in the same style, in an expensive looking black, with photos of the contents. Both the camera and panel have their own packaging. The boxes contain brief information about the capabilities of the camera, software requirements and features.

On the box with a solar panel – indicated compatibility with cameras. At the moment, with the lineup there are 4 camera options that can work with a solar panel.

What's in the box – camera

A cardboard bag with documentation and a pioneering motto is waiting for us in the box – Get ready! I want to answer – always ready. Underneath it, in a convenient shockproof package, is the hero of the review – the Reolink Argus 2 IP camera. I think that the integrity of the contents when sending is not worried

There are two mounting options for the camera. Both can be attached to the surface using self-tapping screws. One – has a magnetic base, the other – a more classic, tripod type.

In addition, there are two sets of self-tapping screws, for each of the mounts, a strap for mounting on trees and poles, a rope for carrying and a cable for charging. This is how the complete set looks like – besides the above, there is still a rubber “rain cover” for the camera, which will clearly improve its waterproof capabilities

In a black envelope – there was an instruction, a sticker – a warning about video shooting and convenient stickers – templates for marking holes for mounts.

What's in the box is the solar panel

In the box with the solar panel, at the top there is also an envelope with documentation, additionally performing protective functions. Along the perimeter, the solar panel is protected by a plastic holder, and the surface itself is protected by a soft tab. Everything got safe and sound.

The envelope contains as many as two books – instructions in 5 languages, another sticker – a warning and a template – marking for fastening. The complete set looks like this – a panel with a holder and a cable 4 meters long, a set of documentation and stickers.

Appearance – Camera

The camera has an egg-shaped shape, most of the body is white, the front part is black. The lower part of the case is magnetic and can be used in conjunction with a complete magnetic mount, allowing you to rotate it in a wide range of angles.

All connectors on the case are covered with rubber plugs, this camera model can be used outside, with a temperature range from minus 10 to plus 50 degrees, including in the rain

On the front there is a lens with a viewing angle of 130 degrees, right above it there is a light sensor, on the sides there are 6 IR LEDs, with a backlight range of up to 9 meters, under it there is an activity LED, microphone, motion sensor and speaker

To charge the battery – use the micro USB connector, closed with a rubber cover. Around the circumference of the connector there is a groove, which includes rubber protection against moisture – it is equipped with a cable from the solar panel

On the right side, under the rubber cover, there is a slot for a micro USB memory card, there is also a hole for the reset button in the factory settings. There is nothing interesting on the left side of the camera

The lower part of the camera body is concave inward. In addition to the magnetic mount, in the center there is also a screw mount for the external camera holder

The built-in battery, the weight of which makes up the bulk of the weight of the entire camera, has a capacity of 5200 mAh, which at a nominal voltage of 3.6 Volts is 18.72 watts * h. The charge voltage is 5 or 9 Volts. The claimed autonomy is 14 hours in viewing and recording mode. Detailed tests will come next

The complete rubber cover with a visor is made of soft rubber and increases the degree of protection of the camera body from moisture inside. It is put on tightly, the front and lower parts remain open for the lens and tripod mount. A flap valve is provided for the power connector.

Long mount with screw – designed for outdoor installation. It can be used on both horizontal and vertical surfaces.

The instructions describe in detail the fastening methods – the lower metal part is removable, and can be fastened either with self-tapping screws or with a complete belt – for example, on a tree or on a pole

Appearance – Solar Panel

The solar panel has a size of 180 * 115 mm, to the overall dimensions it is still worth adding 5 mm of the shell thickness on each side. The panel is attached using the complete stand – holder, while the angle of the panel is adjustable.

The micro USB connector on the 4 meter cable has a round, sliding rubber plug for protection against moisture. After connecting the connectors, the plug moves, falls into the circular groove of the camera and reliably protects the contacts from moisture

And here is the whole set – camera + solar panel, time to start connecting to the application.

Reolink app

The Reolink application needs to be downloaded from the market or epstore and registered in it. I already have two cameras – so I just launch it and click add camera. After that, you need to scan the barcode pasted on the case and select the option – connect to wi-fi or to an already configured camera. When choosing the first option – the application generates a QR code.

The QR code from the smartphone’s screen should be given to the camera – as for me, it’s a rather convenient way and has already been tested many times on Xiaomi cameras. After that, the process of connecting to the network will begin – I note that the camera only supports the 2.4 GHz band, by the way it is longer than 5 GHz. Therefore, before connecting the phone must be transferred to the 2.4 network

After that, the camera asks for a username and password, but in fact, at this stage you need to think up and enter the password twice, the account is admin, after which you need to set a name and, if necessary, set the parameters for switching to winter time.

The peculiarity of the battery chamber is that it is activated by motion detection, and not in the frame, like other cameras, but by the motion sensor. And by initialization through the application – the rest of the time the camera goes into power saving mode. The precautionary app is reported in Russian, after which the preview window starts.

Unlike cameras with stationary power, this camera in the preview picture in the main menu displays the battery level, and its status is autonomous power, charging from the mains and charging from the solar battery

When you click on the camera window, the live view window starts. You can choose a smooth stream – faster but less high-quality or a stream with a maximum camera resolution of 1080p. If you have several cameras, you can select the multi-screen mode, where up to 4 cameras will be displayed. In the playback menu – the timeline and individual video clips are displayed, with recording duration on each

When you click on the gear in the upper right corner of the picture – we get into the settings menu. Information on the battery charge level is visible in the main menu, here are all the menus for camera settings and switches for LED activity, sound recording and IR illumination. In the battery menu, in addition to the charge level and its status, you can enable the option of calculating the charge of its charge.

Image settings menu – here you can turn it over, for cameras installed upside down, configure the display of the camera name and current time, enable the anti-glare and day / night options. Here you can select the image quality for the main and fast modes – in the main mode, you can choose the quality of 720p or 1080p, frame rate from 2 to 15 per second and bit rate from 256 to 2048 kbps

In the menu of the motion sensor – you can turn it off, if you do not need a recording, notification of detection – are included in the main menu of the camera. When the motion sensor is on, you can configure its schedule and sensitivity.

Recording clips to a memory card – is included in the menu of the same name. There is also an option here – recording extensions, upon activation of which – recording continues for some time after the absence of the event. By the way, in stationary models that are active all the time, there is an option for prerecording, when the time is saved on the card before the event.

There is an option for a sound signal – when activated, it is triggered when motion is detected. You can use the default siren, you can record your sound – up to 5 seconds. As for me, the schedule is very lacking here.

If the camera is constantly in the wi-fi reception area, then you can configure e-mail notifications, including those with an attached image. This is the only method of obtaining images, except for the application and the program, since Reolink rechargeable cameras do not support general transfer protocols such as rtsp or onvif.

The last menu has options for changing the password, data on the storage, updating the firmware, setting the date and time, rebooting and resetting the camera.

Client for PC

Similar to the stationary versions – Argus 2 can work with the application on the PC. To do this, click add a camera and select it from the list. Its line does not display IP and port, only identifier. After the viewport from it is added to the general list. Unlike stationary cameras, which are connected automatically when the program starts, to the battery one – you need to connect manually.

In order to avoid battery discharge, the application will periodically light a warning, if you do not confirm continued viewing, the camera will turn off.

Here, all the settings from the mobile application are duplicated, the only difference is that it is simply more convenient at the computer. You can find out the address of the camera, perform a software update and reset it to the factory ones. Configure settings for displaying images from the camera, resolution and bit rate, configure sending to e-mail add users and everything else

The main difference is the more convenient downloading of recorded clips. In the playback menu – select the window of the desired camera and click on the button with the diskette in the right corner. Then we get access to the list of recorded videos, where you can see the start and end time of the recording and the volume

Test – Autonomy

To test autonomy, I fully charged the camera’s battery – disconnected from the power 6:49 with a level of 100%. For an active test, I took her to work with me, having carried out additional tests along the way. Two hours later, of which the camera was in the backpack for about an hour and did not take anything off, the charge level dropped by 5%. Over the next hour – another 5% – with almost continuous shooting.

I chose a camera installation location such that there was almost constant movement opposite it. Very active mode in a crowded place.

After 4 hours 40 minutes – another 20%. As a result of a 12-hour test, of which the camera wrote almost continuously for 10 hours – the battery was dead by 41%. From this I conclude that in a very passable place, the battery charge should be enough for more than a day.

A solar panel

The next test I conducted with a solar panel – according to the manufacturer, it should produce up to almost 3 watts of power at a voltage of up to 6 volts.

First I checked the panel on an external electronic load. In the morning sun – I was able to achieve a maximum power of about 0.8 watts, but I think that in the daytime under direct rays there will be significantly more.

Yes, and I'm more interested in the work of the panel in conjunction with the camera. To do this, I made a temporary outdoor stand – hanging the camera and panel out the window. It should be noted that from this side of the house direct sunlight is only in the afternoon – in the morning a shadow.

For the remainder of the daylight hours, the battery charge rose from 59% to 61% as of 20:25. By nine o’clock he began to fall – and amounted to 60%. During the night of work, of course, from the installation site of the camera, the activity was very low – the charge dropped by only 4% – as of the morning it was 56%

Next – the battery, while during the first half of the day while the system was in the shade, it showed that it was charging, but the charge level remained the same – 56%

And in the second half of the day, the percentage of charge began to grow, increasing to 70% – until the moment when the sun had gone. Thus, the day in stand-alone mode, when recharging from the solar panel, during episodic recording of events and not frequent – every few hours connections – the battery was charged from 61 to 70%

At the same time, I’ll clarify again, the installation location is not particularly sunny, tens of meters of the walls of the house stretch up and down, the sun shone directly on the panel for about 6 hours.

Another installation option is also completely autonomous, on a shelf in the hallway, recording events when someone comes or leaves. On the day of the order of two dozen records – the battery is discharged on average by 15% per day. Which gives autonomy about a week.

By the way, IR illumination – turns on only when the motion sensor is triggered; in sleep mode, the diodes are disabled. In active mode – visible to the naked eye as 6 dim red dots

wifi connection

In the case when the camera is in the coverage area of ​​the router, there are no issues with connection, everything is standard, as for any IP cameras – access from anywhere in the world through the application. But how does it work if the camera is “in the fields”?

The easiest and most convenient way is to simply raise the wi-fi access point with the same name and password on the smartphone – the camera already knows this network and connects to it. Connecting almost instantly, there were no delays for more than 5 seconds. Yes, and in the absence of wi-fi, the camera continues to work according to the settings, recordings are stored locally on the micro SD card of the camera.

Therefore, the camera is suitable for use not only in stand-alone mode, relative to power, but also without a network – for example, in cottages where there is no permanent Internet, and you can connect to it – occasionally to view recorded events

Camera operation

One use case is a siren, and a 5-second message recorded by a microphone can also be used as a siren. The demonstration is shown in the video version of the review.

In addition to the control application, videos can be downloaded directly from a micro SD card – if of course there is direct access to the camera, it’s even faster. Rollers are simply written to the root directory of the map

The sound is recorded in mono mode, 16 kHz. Examples of videos shot under different conditions – see below-

Video review

Conclusion

This is a truly autonomous surveillance system that can work without external power for a long time, and even constantly if there is more or less sunny weather. Well-designed energy saving mode, a separate motion sensor, which allows not to analyze the change in the picture in the frame, a capacious battery and an effective solar panel.

First of all, it will be useful to those who need to organize outdoor video surveillance, but there is no possibility of summing up a constant power supply.

Thanks for attention.

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