A bit with the eufy SoloCam E40+ solar panel
Two weeks ago I was tasked with installing a couple of eufy T8131X (SoloCam E40) cameras and the associated solar panels that go along with them. The idea was to provide video surveillance of a construction site, although the use case would be more like a trail camera as we’d only have internet when someone popped a hotspot up. The 8GB internal storage would take the video, and the idea was that hopefully during construction we’d manage to get a WiFi up and running.
TL;DR – decent camera, doesn’t align perfectly with my use cases, might with yours
Setting them up via hotspot didn’t work. I’m not sure if they detect metered network, the hotspot was bad or in isolation mode, or what the deal was. I contacted support.
I was warned strongly that although this did seem like a plan, without internet fairly regularly the cameras were prone to failing. There’d be no way to verify they were up, heartbeat something, reboots, etc. Oh well. It was an idea quickly replaced by an LTE-enabled solar paneled trail camera. The two eufy cameras came into my possession (purchased through some deal at Costco) to see if we could finally have a license plate reading camera at work.
Install was a couple of screws for the camera, three screws for the solar panel, and then picking a water seal from the panel that matches the camera. Total install time for a wireless camera was… longer than you’d expect.
That, however, was not the eufy’s fault. I discovered the Portal WiFi we had powering the internet closest to the eufy had burned out its 2.4ghz radios… or at least it was not broadcasting them when it claimed in the admin page they were working. These things only work on 2.4ghz. Set them up before you install.
I picked up an RT-AX3000 to replace that Portal and once the 2.4ghz band was broadcasting again everything worked pretty much as expected.
The video captured works great for people, not so great for cars or people on a bike. Don’t know why a lady was chasing a car up our driveway on Christmas on a bike, but she was.
Motion detection is interesting but you need to test it thoroughly. I have plenty of videos of people coming into the building parking lot, but very few of them leaving. They generally come in a bit slower just due to it being up hill is the only thing I can think of (other than perhaps the final scene from From Dusk to Dawn is happening). I’m going to re-aim so that it’s more dead-on as opposed to at a 70 degree angle and see if that helps things. I suspect the movement is just too fast and gone too quickly from the unit’s field of view for how I’m using it.
The sun hasn’t been out for a couple of days at this point. Camera is bleeding battery and… oh it’s at 98%? Well then carry on. Assuming this is correct I’m currently satisfied.
App is… kind of uniquely terrible. Oh, there’s nothing wrong with a branded OEM software, but there’s not a lot of thinking that’s gone into making the camera and app more than just what they are.
So, you as a criminal see a eufy solar camera? Go over to it, move it out of WiFi range, the video it stored on said camera is just sitting on the camera. There’s no option to offload it, even to a pay per month cloud server. Oh, you say obviously this is because this is not a connected thing… but all you have to do is have the option to auto-download images and video in the app. Bam, a million times more useful.
As it stands, you get an alert, you open the alert, and you wait for the camera to respond and then you can download the media created with the alert. A simple “auto-download alerts” would work so much better because it would not be a race against time to get the video.
Now, most companies that make this type of product are attempting to push a monthly service… it does not appear that eufy security is with this product. As such, adding the tiniest usability feature listed above, or slapping in an FTP option, is something we could hope for.
Video is pretty much unusable for picking out license plates. Everything’s blurry. People are recognizable but any fast moving object is a blurry mess. This isn’t something that I’d expect a consumer level camera to get right, but just mentioning it. It’s not going to grab plates without some effort.
For a no-wires people-catching solar-fueled camera (we have the solar panel version,) it’s pretty decent.
Product claims 40 day battery life. My current use case indicates about 50 although being over the holiday break and having *some* solar input that’s going to be a bit off.
OK, who’s the E40 for?
It’s great for around homes with 2.4GHz WiFi signal available. Solar panel option if you don’t want to be bothered charging it, or on-battery with a recharge every month or so. Someone who’s not afraid to get on a ladder (once a month if you’re not picking up an additional solar panel).
Consideration from Paul the cheapskate
Bunch of thoughts which occur to me that may or may not pan out:
While these things are cool should be noted this is IP65, not 67. You’re going to want to deflect water or plan to replace. I’ve blown through enough Amcrest cameras (67) to realize that anything below 68 is going to be taken out by a decent storm in Tennessee.
As I haven’t had a battery low event I’d wonder what notifications there are to let me know that the battery needs changing.
The solar panels are an additional purchase and cost about $30 a pop. This puts the camera+solar panel at about $160usd. This is getting up there for something with such an unimpressive app.
Overall (at a week on the eufy SoloCam E40)
Coming in at about $80 above what you can get a no-name knock off that has cloud storage plans and an app that’s equally impressive and has cloud storage, it’s a bit on the pricier side.
That said, I managed to get a human on the line who was able to help me with the issue within a couple of minutes so there’s that.
You can grab a SoloCam E40 from here. Feel free to ask any questions or ask for a test as I’m still testing these things out.