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A new generation of power efficient cameras

6 minutes read

Soaring energy costs and the climate crisis have reshaped how we look at progress. New solutions need sustainability at heart. So much so that energy consumption has become a key purchasing factor for cameras. We spoke with Kent Fransson, Global Product Manager PTZ, and Rickard Gudbrand, Product Specialist PTZ at Axis about the Axis Q-line products with a new power saving functionality. The low power mode can reduce power demands by 25 % or more.

An unusual beginning

When you hear the words “mobile surveillance unit” you’d be forgiven for not immediately thinking “fertile ground for energy saving innovation”. But as the saying goes, the best ideas happen in the most unusual places. And it was just such a place that served the proving ground for a key part in our commitment to protecting the planet.

Various customers were asking Kent and Rickard’s team for low-energy, custom cameras designed to support mobile and remote sites. These cameras needed to operate in conditions where temperatures could range from balmy day-time warmth to sub-zero nights.

“Specialist technology like ours needs to keep its internal temperature round about 20 degrees,” explained Kent. “We, like all our industry peers, get around this by simply installing minute heaters within our products.”

The problem was, heating is one of the most intensive forms of energy use. But facing wide temperature swings, removing the heater was not an option. This customer was using mobile units carrying huge batteries to keep things running.

“Some even had solar panels to help maintain the charge”, he continues. “But energy consumption is trickier to manage than you imagine. The only thing we can really do is try to lessen the amount of energy demanded on the battery.”

Rickard chimes in, “it might seem obvious, but enabling the heater to turn off when you don’t need it isn’t an industry standard when it comes to cameras. Energy consumption has only recently become a significant purchasing factor.”

Rickard Gudbrand
Rickard Gudbrand, Product Specialist PTZ

Their team were able to create a new low power mode function that disables most of the heaters in the camera when the ambient temperature is high enough, which reduces the power consumption.

“We knew we were onto something big when the initial figures were in,” Kent says excitedly. “We saw power savings by as much as 50% in certain temperature ranges.”

“The next step was clear to us,” Rickard continues. “We needed to test this in other scenarios – new locations with different average temperatures. New use cases.”

A sustainability-first mindset

Back at Axis HQ, recently conducted lifecycle analysis was showing that between 60 and 80 percent of the total environmental impact of network cameras is associated with its energy consumption during usage.

The challenge in reducing power consumption, however, is ensuring that the performance and reliability is not impacted in any negative way. 

“When you’re providing security solutions, evidence fidelity and reliability has to come first,” says Rickard.

As a result, Axis continues to spend a great deal of time and effort making its power supplies as efficient as possible. Power delivery already occurs with minimal waste in the form of heat and electrical noise.

“We’ve committed to setting science-based goals for our carbon emissions,” Kent explains. “We want our work to set the industry benchmark for sustainable business practice.”

By focusing on three strategic areas – beat climate change, protect natural resources, and protect ecosystems – Axis is baking sustainable progress into how it operates.

You can’t optimize what you don’t measure

The team had since modelled the new low power mode at ambient temperatures from all over the world. And the findings were substantial. Locations like Lund, New York, even relatively warm cities like Madrid and Dallas. Urban deployments on buildings and streetlights, industrial sites and factories, and remote mobile units using batteries. They were all showing significant power savings. 

“To properly understand any challenge, you need to be able to quantify it,” says Rickard. “Then you can address it. Then you can prove your success.”

He continues, “we installed power meters in each scenario to keep track of how much energy we were saving year-round. This way we were able to see the real-life effectiveness of new low power mode in various scenarios. Needless to say, we are thrilled with the results. We’ve proven a new approach to energy saving beyond power delivery.”

What’s more, energy consumption is high on every company’s priority list. Commercial tenders now frequently ask for carbon impact on installation and the lifecycle consumption. These figures can make or break a successful application.

Kent Fransson, Global Product Manager PTZ
Kent Fransson, Global Product Manager PTZ: “…customers and installers can now make fairly accurate forecasts of energy – and therefore carbon – impact of any installation.”

Kent adds, “with the modelling and testing we’ve carried out, and with the integration of energy meters, customers and installers can now make fairly accurate forecasts of energy – and therefore carbon – impact of any installation. It’s the level of accessibility needed to make sustainable decisions that is all too often missing.”

Beyond heating

As well as showing the significant impact the new mode was having on energy consumption, the introduction of a built-in power meter was sparking all manner of ideas.

“Suddenly we were thinking beyond just heat”, says Kent. “The power meter gives the opportunity to measure the energy consumption of almost every component of the camera – from the speed that PTZ cameras move, to whether infrared illumination is activated, to different frame rates, and more. With that information and the right tools users could individually configure cameras to optimize energy consumption while still being right for the customer use case.” 

Rickard continues, “customers often ask how much power a camera needs with specific settings and ambient conditions. These questions had been tricky to answer, but now the power meter makes it possible to get very precise values, not just in the moment but also over time. This is very important for customers that are using the cameras in battery powered, often mobile, installations. And also those with a back-up battery, as they can very accurately estimate how long it will last before an external power failure.” 

The Q-line with low power mode functionality

Axis has since launched the AXIS Q6318/15-LE, AXIS Q6215/25-LE and AXIS Q6135-LE cameras with this new low power mode functionality. The above-mentioned models also include the power meter, a real time energy meter, and mark the commercial availability of high-energy-saving cameras.

Additionally, Axis has committed to making future Q-line products come with a low power mode and power meter available as standard.

AXIS Q6315-LE Network Camera, one of the available cameras with the low power mode functionality.
AXIS Q6315-LE Network Camera, one of the available cameras with the low power mode functionality.

“We’re really excited and proud to have made energy saving a key selling point of our products,” Kent concludes. “It’s something new to the market that we know can make a huge difference both to our customer’s purse and the environment.” 

Depending on the circumstances and ambient temperature, using low power mode can reduce the power consumption by as much as 25%. The actual reduction in power consumption depends on the conditions around the camera (such as the ambient temperature), firmware version, workload on the camera, and of course the selected camera model.

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