I am pretty much a total beginner when it comes to Raspberry Pi's and everything associated. Thus, I am relying on the people in this Forum to help me out:) I have a project in Greenland for which I would like to build a cheap timelapse camera system.

I would like to use solar panel, some kind of Li-Ion Battery, a Pi Zero and A Canon DSLR to setup said system.

The system would need to work for approximately one year without failure (meaning the Arctic winter with no sunlight), taking pictures every hour. At the moment I am trying to find out the size of the solar panel needed as well as the size of the battery (mAh). I figured out that a DSLR battery has about 5.8 Wh, which should last for about 2-3 days of taking pictures.

So my questions are: 1. First of all, do you guys think this is feasable? 2. What is the energy consumption of a Pi Zero for a day/year given the fact that it would only run a simple script? 3. Any ideas on what size the solar panel/battery should be?

I'd appreciate any help/links/tipps.

Cheers, Dom

  • Welcome to Raspberry Pi! Please take the tour and visit the helpcenter to see how things work here. Please use the search function on this site, some aspects of your question have been discussed before (e.g. power consumption). Note that you might need to heat the enclosure of your setup (that will add to power consumption). I however do not see how you'll make it through the arctic winter with solar cells. No sun, no power.
    – Ghanima
    Sep 25, 2017 at 22:14

1 Answer 1


Is it feasible?

Definitively yes, see the awesome work of James Balog in Extreme Ice Survey and other projects, there are some basic description of the hardware used here.

What is the energy consumption of a Pi Zero

You are probably thinking of using a Pi Zero as an intervalometer, but a hardware intervalometer will probably consume a hundred time less. It's also possible that using a custom firmware like magic lantern will provide some interesting functions for free.

About the environment

I think your real problems will be :

  • The temperature (all your hardware should work in extreme temperatures). For instance my Canon EOS 80d is rated for a 0°C - 40°C. Most battery technologies won't even work below 0°C, ...
  • Weather, your hardware should not only be waterproof, but what will happen if the optics get dirty?
  • Mechanical: Where can you put your hardware, if you expect meters of snow, avalanches, or even landslides? I think James Balog did not even find some cameras any more.

Another Photographer, Alessandro Della Bella, has some shot of what your camera will look like after a single night at -25°C.

  • Thanks for the link to Alessandro Della Bella's page. That was an interesting time lapse video. He mentions two problems he ran into, rime affecting the lens optics and the cold affecting battery life and lenses. It would seem a warmed, insulated enclosure to keep the camera and batteries above freezing would be a requirement. I wonder if wind generated power to supplement solar would be necessary. Sep 26, 2017 at 13:58
  • Thank you for your comments @pim. Yes, I thought about using the Pi as intervalometer, but you might be right that using a hardware intervalometer is easier. The magic latern might be the easiest way! We installed a timelapse system from Harbortronics link this summer, which has no insulation (steel housing) at all and, in my opinion, is quite expensive. The parts they are using didn't seem very high-end, so I thought it can be build cheaper. Regarding insulation, I think a pelican case might be good enough to keep the weather out.
    – Dominik
    Sep 26, 2017 at 17:05

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