Standalone Solar Powered Mailbox

Keep us updated, I want to know when they’ll steal you everithing.

I like how you connected the voltmeter in that schematic.

Thanks Pi90 I certainly will let everyone know when my camera is vandalized or stolen. It’s been close to two months and nothing as of yet. I’m hoping the camera dies before that happens, but if not, I’ll deal with it.

…and yes, in my rush to help some in this forum during my lunch break, I made a mistake in my diagram. Michael8 was cool enough to point it out so nobody actually wired the dvm in as I hastily drew it up. It’s nice that most in here have a positive outlook and want to help each other. I also like how you spelled “everithing.” Proof positive that we’re all human…


I am very interested in your specs. We had some tools stolen, and would like to put it on a job site.
Thank you

Kdn if you look above in the thread, I have a parts list with links. The only thing not listed is a 30 watt mono solar panel you can also get on Amazon. The wiring diagram is also a few post above. Just don’t wire the voltmeter in as a drew it up as I was rushing whilw.drawinh during lunch and show it wired incorrectly. One side must go to the positive lead and one to the negative. For simplicity’s sake, you could just wire it directly to the terminal strip + and -.

Also, on a constructions site, I would definitely mount the camera inside the structure. You could place a lock on the access door.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out…

Instead of building it to look like a mailbox, maybe mount it in a port-a-john. Something they wouldn’t steal. :smiley:

The hardest part is going to be securing the solar panel at a construction site. I have mine seated on the 4x4’s which are cut at angles on top (to provide pitch for the rain runoff). It just lays inside the frame, but has a chain attached to crossbars I bolted on the bottom and secured to one of the 4x4’s with a lag bolt. Someone could always take it, but they would need bolt cutters or a tool box and 15-20 minutes.

You might make it a 2 piece system. One piece would be a small self contained box with the battery, charge controller, and camera that you can chain down to something…truss’s etc. overnight (welded diamond plate would be nice). Build some jacks into it where you could plug in the panel leads during the day and then disconnect and carry the panel off at night.

That mailbox is over the top awesome! Thank you for posting.

I have something to add to your mailbox that you will love. Mail alerts! My mailbox sends me alerts when the mail is delivered. I have found it very useful when I am waiting for some important mail, or want to know if the mail has come already because I have outgoing mail. You just need to add another camera somewhere inside the main area that is peeping through a hole at the inside of the mailbox, then you will get a motion alert when the mail is dropped in the mailbox. That’s one of my all time favorite home automation tricks, yet by using a Wyze Cam it only costs $19.99. Cheers!

Great idea Roosevelt… Much easier than scanning through my 50 daily events looking for the mail truck!

Mine was in a Jury Room. :shushing_face:

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I was fortunate enough to have a power analyzer on loan, so I took the opportunity to measure power draw over a 12-hour period. I chose to measure the 12v supply at the battery output so that the 12-to-5v conversion, and any power consumed by the little LCD display of the charge controller, were included. Day/night was in auto mode but LEDs were disabled; HD video.
As you can see, the 12-hour draw was roughly 2 Ah, typical current 160mA and power 2W. A quick test showed 2.2W with IR lights on.
buccscott, can you expand on your c/5 to c/10 rule of thumb for charging? I’ve plenty of experience with AC and DC power but none with solar. Does this mean a panel should be able to charge the battery to full capacity in 5-10 hours?

Interesting work beagle! The C/5 - C/10 charge rate is a method to keep your batteries healthy. For healthy charging and longevity (burning off sulfates to keep the plates clean, etc.) you should provide a minimum amperage input equal to 5-10% of the Ah capacity of your battery or battery bank. For example and to keep it simple… If you have a 100Ah battery, you should provide 5-10A input to charge the battery. If you have a charge controller to regulate the input it will fluctuate according to the need of the battery but you should ensure you have the 5-10A available for the charge controller to use if necessary. An MPPT charge controller also mitigates this a bit as your panels don’t necessarily have to produce the 5-10A as it can convert any excess voltage (say you’re using an 18v panel and you have a 12v battery) to increase the current.

Another quick tip for battery health…you should never run the battery capacity below 50% as doing this exponentially decreases the battery life. As a rule, I shoot to keep it at 60%.

A transformer is for AC voltage transformation and diodes are necessary for DC. Please explain the power structure again? Or add a photo of how you are converting the 12 V DC gel-cell battery into 5 V DC for the micro USB on the camera please.




Tuna, the parts list is above in the thread. Here is the link to the buck transformer I used. Someone improved upon this later in the thread with the same unit but with the usb interface for the camera as the 5vdc output (plugs right in). I did it the hard way of course as I physically stripped a tiny USB cable and spliced for the interface as I didn’t see this magic part early enough :slight_smile: Scroll up and you’ll find the improved version somewhere…

Wondering if you use a charge controller to not cook the battery? Perfect use for Sense contact, to know when the mailbox is opened!

Do you have a WIFI repeater on board or a bridge router or does the Wyze work back to the house? Nice execution of your design!

Thanks Steve! Yes, I use an MPPT charge controller to manage the energy from the PVP to the battery. I do not need a WiFi extender, but I did need to change the channels on my router to minimize interference from the neighbors and maximize my range.

How do you save the video? You mentioned above that you have good wifi connectivity but since I am new to most of this, I don’t understand how the video can be saved for a long period of time so it can be reviewed later if a need arises

When I look at events from the camera through my app, my phone automatically downloads them. I can then copy and email them to myself. I’m pretty sure you can download them through the website as well. The key is setting the camera to record events… I get literally a hundred or so per day from the mailbox cam, but only view them when I need to see something from a specific time during the day.

What website are you referring to?



[MOD EDIT: Personal info removed]