Using an external battery on a Nest Cam or DropCam Pro home security camera was half experiment and half necessity. I needed to temporarily relocate a camera to a spot that I wanted to keep an eye on at my home.
This article will discuss using an external battery on a Nest Cam or DropCam Pro. For those unaware, the DropCam Pro was the predecessor to the Nest Cam. The cameras have the same power specs (1 AMP) and use the same type of micro USB connection. My experience with using the external battery on my DropCam is applicable to a Nest Cam as well. It might be applicable to other brands of cameras too. You will need to match the power specs with the battery outputs.
There are pros and cons to using an external battery on a Nest Cam or DropCam Pro. The biggest con is these batteries do eventually run out of power. No power equals no camera equals no cloud access. You get the idea. It’s temporary. Be sure that your needs match the life expectancy of the external battery.
Buy a battery from a reputable manufacturer that sticks to their specs, provides over-current protection and is known for reliability.
So let’s move on to my hands-on experience.
The spot that I needed to monitor had no power outlet anywhere nearby. We have a recent article called Alternative Power Sources for Home Security Cameras which I referred to. Heck, I wrote the article, so might as well follow my own advice, right?
The issue is that there was nothing close by. I mean nothing. No porch light. Power Over Ethernet (POE) isn’t applicable on these cameras. I couldn’t even run the the 20ft USB Power Cable for Nest Cam which was recommended in our article.
Nope. This place was located in a remote corner of my home that is inside a sun room. There aren’t any power outlets and to make matters more difficult, there is a locked door which must stay locked that separates the sun room from the remainder of the home.
I then remembered that I use external battery chargers for my phones all the time and I mean all the time. These are great. They provide power to anything that uses a USB cable. A good external battery has 10000 mAh or more of juice and will power your phone or tablet many times over. These batteries get charged via a normal AC outlet and typically have one or two USB outlets. Plug your micro USB or Lightning cable into one of the USB ports and charge your phone without use of an AC power outlet. These are great for long trips or just sitting on the couch.
Turns out that I could also use it for my non-traditional idea.
An external battery can have anywhere from a few thousand mAh to 30,000 mAh or more. Selecting the right external battery for a Nest Cam or DropCam Pro is a matter of deciding how long it’s needed to independently power your camera.
In my personal experience of using an external battery on a Nest Cam or DropCam Pro, I find that roughly 10,000 mAh gets you a day. So figure out how long you need the external battery to last and figure on 10,000 mAh per day.
Most external battery units come with two USB ports. One outlet might be 1.0 AMPS and the other is 2.1 AMPS. I used the 1.0 AMPS port to match the 1.0 AMPS draw on the DropCam Pro. The Nest Cam is similar at 1.0 AMPS so my calculations remain the same for the Nest Cam too. I also tried the 2.1 AMPS outlet successfully as I knew my particular battery has smart sensing technology that steps the power down.
I’ll speak to the two batteries that I successfully used to power my camera.
In the accompanying photo, I am using the Jackery Giant+ Premium 12000 mAh Dual USB Portable Battery to power my DropCam Pro. The battery has 12,000 mAh and successfully ran my camera for a little more than one day. This is a good reliable battery that’s typically used for smartphones as well as tablets. It has over-current protection to protect your devices. Had this for over a year and it still powers my devices reliably. Now I know it powers my cameras too.
The second battery that I can recommend from experience is the Poweradd Pilot X7 MP-3461BK 20000mAh External Battery. This battery powered my camera for two days. I used the 1.0 AMPS port and it worked well. This is my go-to battery for plane trips because it has 20,000 mAh so I tried it out with a home security camera too. My DropCam Pro powered right up and stayed that way for two days until the battery drained.
There are other batteries out there that I’m sure will work just as well. These two are the external batteries that I personally used successfully for my cameras. So if I need to temporarily power my camera in a remote location away from a power outlet, now I know how to do that.
All of these articles are written by someone (me) that figured out how to do this stuff the hard way. I have owned and tested dozens of cameras. Manufacturer support varies. There are a few good companies that provide timely answers when you have questions. There are several that sell you the camera and seem to have little interest in post sales support (which leads me to finding out stuff the hard way).