Trail Cameras can be a great tool for hunting or just for learning more about the wildlife where you live. When choosing a trail cam, the camera’s battery life and overall dependability are by far the most important factors to consider. Rather than scrutinizing the specifications and calculating megapixels, let’s just want to know how long the camera can last and how many photos we expect the trail cam to take with a set of batteries.
This can be very frustrating when you look at the pictures you have taken and find that the camera stopped taking a few days ago due to a dead battery. Choosing the right trail camera batteries can help solve this problem and reduce some disappointment. In the long run, using a battery that gives you the best performance can also save you a lot of money.
How to choose the best battery for your trail camera?
Let’s talk about the main types of batteries used in trail cameras, their characteristics, and why you might want to use one type over another.
As always, if you have any questions after reading, or if you’d like to get in touch to learn more about trail cameras, please contact us here. You can also visit our official website to message us directly.
1. The main types of batteries used in trail cameras
More accurately called lithium metal batteries to differentiate them from lithium-ion batteries, the rechargeable type in our phones, these are a popular choice with trail cam users.
Lithium batteries offer some very interesting benefits. To start, lithium batteries produce 1.6 volts/cell, or as we like to say “They run hot”. Just as decreasing voltage produces weaker flash characteristics, increased voltage produces a stronger flash with brighter pictures.
We noticed a 10% increase in flash range when using lithium bats. In addition, starting at a higher 1.6 voltage is like installing an auxiliary fuel tank in a vehicle. Lithium batteries will multiply your camera’s time in the field (by months).
Lithium batteries also have fairly steady performance to temperatures as low as negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Especially if you are using your camera for the fall hunting season you won’t have to worry if there is some unseasonably cold weather that your camera will give up on you.
One aspect of lithium batteries can be explained in different ways, they are currently only available in AA. You are out of luck for anyone operating a “D-unit” based camera. However, if your rear camera requires a “C” battery, you can benefit from the extra voltage provided by lithium batteries. Fortunately, the measurements of AA and C are exactly the same between the tips. Inserting “AA” lithium into the sleeve of the aftermarket can bring the total diameter to the diameter of the “C” battery and can be a perfect replacement. So Lithium batteries can be a good choice of trail camera batteries.
Lithium polymer (LiPo)
What if you could get the benefits of lithium metal batteries and be able to reuse them too? That’s the promise that lithium polymer batteries offer.
Unfortunately, at the moment of writing, the current line of lithium polymer batteries is still in the early stages of development, with too many glitches for us to recommend them right now. It may become the most popular trail camera batteries in the future once its technology matures.
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) Rechargeable Batteries
There’s no doubt about it, we should all be doing our best to look after the environment, and a big part of that is switching to rechargeable batteries across all our devices. NiMH Rechargable Batteries perform amazingly well, almost as well as Lithium batteries in the cold weather. If the manufacturer doesn’t explicitly recommend staying away from rechargeable batteries these can be a great choice, especially if you are using your trail camera in the fall and winter. If your trail camera batteries can be used longer in the winter, it will reduce your frequency of going out to replace the battery.
Benefits of Nimh batteries
1. Less expensive in the long run
2. Longer battery life in winter months
Fully charged, NiMH batteries produce about 1.4 volts. However, they quickly decrease to a working level of 1.2 volts, which they are consistently able to deliver for the rest of the usage cycle. However, the 1.2 working voltage does present a problem for use in some cameras. Most cameras are designed around a 1.5 volt/cell scenario. It is very common for a camera to use 4 batteries, or essentially a 6-volt system (4 X 1.5volts).
Many of these 6-volt systems constantly monitor the voltage and automatically shut the camera off when the voltage dips to around the 5-volt level. With NiMH batteries providing just 1.2 volts/cell, they produce an aggregate voltage of only 4.8 volts. This makes Nimh batteries incompatible with several models manufactured prior to 2011. Fortunately, almost all current production models have a shut-off voltage of about 1 volt per cell and are compatible with NiMH batteries.
Alkaline batteries produce energy by the chemical reaction of the internal Zinc (Zn) and Manganese Oxide (MnO2). They work for the standard output of 1.5V and create a 6 to the 12V operating voltage. The typical capacity ranges between 1,000 to 1,500 mA of discharge.
Such power is enough for the cheap camera with several basic functions whereas, for mid-range to high-end trail cameras, the battery life will be concise!
1. The least expensive among these batteries types
2. The availability at almost all retail stores or gas station
* The poor performance in cold weather. There is a water-based electrode inside the Alkaline batteries for chemical reaction to happen. And, the water is freezing in cold water, making the batteries to be less capable.
* The loss of voltage when the batteries begin to drain. When the output drops to 1.2 of individual, the trail camera will stop working properly.
* The short lifespan. For many reasons like size, temperature, or chemical properties, the alkaline has high internal resistance. As a result, the amount of current is reduced, and the lifespan of the batteries become shorter and shorter. A full set of 8 alkaline AAs can take 7,000-9,000 still photos at the most.
Almost as important knowing which type to choose, is knowing which type to steer a wide mile from. Coming in two varieties, original zinc carbon and updated zinc chloride (known commercially as heavy-duty or super-heavy-duty batteries), these were the first batteries for mass use and state-of-the-art at the time.
But they now serve as a very feeble power source: OK for low power devices such as TV remotes but definitely not up to scratch for high-tech devices such as trail cameras. Anyway, Zinc batteries is also a good choice for your trail camera batteries.
2. How to Choose Trail Camera Batteries?
Here are a couple of considerations to have in mind while seeking the right product:
The energy requirements of some devices can vary a lot. While most trail cameras need around 12V to operate, they can seemingly work with less power, but this turns into bad quality in essential areas like nighttime usage, quality of the picture, and motion detection.
Batteries lose energy over time, even while not taking pictures, and this is called discharge. This phenomenon directly affects the voltage, and therefore, the performance of the device in the long run. To get the job done some brands offer options with low self-discharge rate.
Continuous use can also deplete a battery in just a matter of weeks. A trail cam with many features will consume more power than a simpler one. That’s why capacity is necessary for durability.
Depending on the type of battery, the temperature can have a considerable impact on performance. To generate energy, batteries create a chemical reaction that produces electricity. In cold climates, some brands may freeze and stop working. On the other hand, heat pushes the battery to work more making it lose energy faster.
Just like with any other product, you get what you pay for. Rechargeable models may cost a little bit more than your everyday alkaline but, in the long run, you’ll get way more use from them, and will avoid a pile of depleted batteries.
How to Extend Your Trail Cam’s Battery Life?
1. Avoid operating your camera at very low temperatures. We all know that as temperature increases then so does energy, and the same is true vice-versa. This applies to batteries as much as anything else.
2. Reduce night vision video as far as possible. The trail camera’s IR LEDs, which are used for night vision, don’t have too much of an impact on battery life when used for photos but have a significant impact on videos.
3. Open up the trial camera to view the photos and images as infrequently as possible. The third tip is clear from an analogy with smartphones. What uses the most battery on your smartphone? Take a look and you will see that it is usually the screen. The same is true for trail cameras.
I hope you enjoyed our exploration into the world of trail camera batteries. Like everything in technology, trail camera batteries and other types of power source they use are constantly developing. If you are interested to learn more about a trail camera with supports sending 20MP original size image & 30s HD video, take a look at our latest 4G trail camera Watcher1-4G here. Feel free to contact us on our Website or Facebook page if you have any question.