Rebluum solar powered security camera (review)

I do enjoy having a 'smart house'.  Our vacuum, our speakers and displays, and even bettte as it's nearing the time for deliveries (Christmas ordering) having a security camera (or 2) to help monitor things.

I was approached by the folks at Rebluum to look over their solar powered camera.  I was hesitant as I've had purely solar powered items (flood lights etc...) and never been something I wanted to rely on.  My favourite was the solar powered battery charger - it would take all day to get a few thousand mAh... ugh.

But, could give it a shot and see.  The big bonus is that the device uses the app CloudEdge for monitoring and notifications and that app works with Google (meaning I can bring it into the Google Home app).  I do like bringing everything back to Google if I can

So let's dive into it.

First off, this is eerily on the cost efficiency side going for $109.99CDN (on sale on Amazon at the moment).  When researching it, there are selveral other manufacturers that look very similar also using the same app for monitoring, so it's possibly a white labelled manufactured item  and mass produced in a way to be very economical, so I'm not holding it against it.  Besides, this is wireless, so less to worry about setting up and put in the box.   Nice.

Except, speaking of stuff in the box, I unboxed and as much as I liked finding the stickers for guiding screws, what I didn't find was the screw kit.  No screws, no anchors.  Hrmm... It was a sealed box, so I hope it was just an oversight.

In the box tho was the camera unit, that has a swivel 'face' for near 360 coverage (left right swivel and up/down tilt availability) and has 2 antennae to pick up the Wifi. On the underside of the camera is a rubberized protected port which has the power button (long press to turn on), the reset button (long press to get into set up mode) and a microSD slot.  

There's a mounting bracket for the main unit.

Then there's the solar panel itself (size!!?!) and it's own mounting bracket.  

The solar panel looked a little undersized for what the camera may need (I remember a solar powered water pump I had for a tiny fountain and it barely had enough).  Attached to the panel is a cord that will reach over to the main unit and plug into the USB-C port (which has some sealing rubber around the port).

There's also a USB-A to USB-C cord in the box, presumably if you wanted to plug the main camera unit into some other charging option (you'd probably want a longer cord tho') or to download video off of the SD card.

Now, to install it.  I'm not a great handyman, so I enlisted the help of my father in law.  We had originally thought to install it so the camera would monitor our side lane of the house.  Because it needs solar power, the panel would have to be installed on the south facing side of our house, and we could run the cord to camera mounted on the east side.  Without the anchors to drill into the brick of the house, I decided instead to put it near the back of the shed to watch where we park our car.  This was just going to go into the shed siding and wouldn't need anchors.  The panel and camera would face south - so that worked.

We climbed up on the ladder (well, Greg did) and drilled a quick couple pilot holes in the metal siding (didn't need to, but it made things easier) and then screwed the mounts up.  I made sure that the panel was a bit aways from the camera and away from the side I wanted it to monitor so it wouldn't potentially obstruct the view.

It was a simple set up to start, and we thought see how it goes and we can ramp up the quality later on.

Setting up the camera was super straight forward, I did it before I even started to mount it.

Set yourself up an account on CloudEdge and then there's a option to add a device (it said you could scan a code, but I didn't see any on the device).

From the Device selection picking the battery camera and it'll walk you through setting it up (you'll need to power it on and reset it to get it into pairing mode).

It then will ask for the Wifi it'll connect to and you tell it which and give the password (note: it only works with 2.4GHz networks... boo); and then it has a neat way to sync that wifi into from phone to device -- point the security camera at the app and a QR code will be provided for the camera to connect.  Neat.

Once connected you now have the app ready to go.

For me -- before I dove into the app, I went into Google Home and made sure to add it into that.  You go to devices and choose to '+ Add' and then choose 'Works with Google'.  

Scroll down to find CloudEdge and log in.  It'll take a minute or two, but at the bottom of all my devices I now saw the camera from CloudEdge in an unassigned room. 

Back to CloudEdge.  First up I didn't want it to be known as "11242" or whatever. So, I went into the camera settings and gave it a new name (Solera seemed apropo for solar powered camera).  You can notice in there how much wifi power it's getting.  Back in the back of the yard 50% isn't great and does lead to a little delay, but it works.

In the main view of the camera you get the video feed of what it sees and below it are your options.  

Left most is the "Live" panel, which gives you options to take a screenshot, hold to talk through its speaker ("hey, get off my lawn"), start a recording, adjust the motion detection settings, PTZ (control the camera direction), [you'll have to swipe to the left to get these others] turn on the lights, start the siren, start the audio warning and strobe light, adjust the colour mode, see your album.

In the middle is the 'history' panel which lets you go back in time and see what's on the SD card.

The right most is the 'Cloud' option.  So you can see some recent actions - now without an upgraded option you're not going to get much.

Here's a quick run through of me using the app as it is:

Now, how does it do?  Surprisingly well so far.  Aside from the fact that where it is I get 50% wifi power, so it's a little slow to pick up (wasn't that slow when I was testing in the house - I may yet move it to the house).  

The downside is that every once in a while I have to open CloudEdge for it to sort of 'remember' to send me messages/notifications.  See, it doesn't share it's notifications to Google Home, so to find out anything you HAVE to have the app on your phone.  And don't install the app on another device, like your tablet, because it'll sign you out of your phone.  You could 'share' the device to someone else's account (I.e. my wife could install it, set up her own account, and then I could offer to share with her the camera - kinda cumbersome).  That being said, my wife can see the camera in our shared Google Home set up.

It would be entice if the notifications from CloudEdge have a little more information (maybe I need to be on a paid account).  They're pretty generic.

And sometimes, I get that 'pir'... not sure what that means.

And, without a paid subscription you don't have much time before the notification/video/picture is viewable.

A paid subscription not only gives you more time but also more intelligent analysis of what it sees and notifications.

I should also take a look at putting an SD card in and see how long it lasts.

More interestingly was the camera has been able to be continually be charged.  It has a 9700mAh battery and from the meter from the app it has stayed charged by the solar panel.  I thought for sure there's be some lapse in power or something.  So that's promising.

What will be interesting to watch (pun intended) is how it'll fare during the winter months.  It's starting to get cold already (starting to hit the freezing point) and the camera is saying it's good from 14°F, which is -10°C ... which it has hit already and I didn't get any notice from the camera about it losing power or anything.  But, up here in the North, it can get WAY colder, so it's something I'll be monitoring.

All in all, not a bad device.  Just wish it shared it's notifications with the Google Home app.

Price sure is right tho' and it was so handy not having to worry about power.