WiBACK Solar

Autonomous WiBACK node powered by solar energy in Hennef, Germany.
Solar-powered WiBACK node providing WLAN access to hikers during the day in Bruneck, Italy.

Particularly in rural and remote regions, reliable energy supply is often a major obstacle. Even if a power grid is present, its stability might be limited.

Furthermore, to optimize radio conditions and signal propagation, the ideal locations to deploy wireless nodes are elevated landmarks (high buildings or hills). In sparsely populated areas such hills are typically not anywhere close to a power grid. Hence, alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind, fuel cells, etc. are typical alternatives.

The costs of such energy systems depends highly on their dimensioning. Every Watt counts. Hence, keeping the energy footprint of a wireless node as low as possible is key to an affordable solution.

As these are the typical constraints in unconnected areas, WiBACK nodes were designed to be extremely energy conversing while providing stable and predictable throughput. This was achieved by a high integration of carefully chosen, well matched components.

WiBACK nodes can typically be powered via wide-range DC input, Power-Over-Ethernet (PoE) or via a built-in solar charger incl. battery.

Our latest WBACK-4-Connect node features a built-in solar charger for LiFePo batteries. The built-in battery has been dimensioned for 24/7/365 operation for areas roughly within the equatorial belt. The lifetime of this battery is about five years. This node just requires an external solar panel (about 100W) to be operational.

Hence, unless the node is not stolen or damaged otherwise, such WiBACK nodes have extremely low maintenance requirements and are perfectly suited for remote deployments.

Rather an R&D topic, an option to save costs on energy supply is to consider the question if network performance or even availability may depend on the temporal availability of energy (i.e. day vs. night usage). By closely monitoring the incoming energy and the charge level of its batteries, the network may limit its resources to critical services. While the building blocks for such a dynamic network are available within WiBACK, a proper algorithm would have to be developed.