This solar panel is a game-changer for security cameras — but there’s a catch

Blink Outdoor with solar panel
(Image credit: Blink)

One of the best outdoor security cameras — and one of my personal favorites — is the Blink Outdoor. It’s small, completely wireless, easy to set up and inexpensive. The video quality isn’t as good as one of Arlo’s cameras, but it’s plenty good enough for something that costs less than $100. It was also a super-popular Prime Day deal, when it was on sale for nearly half off. 

The Blink Outdoor is so versatile, I use it not only to keep tabs on my house, but I even use one to watch the birds in my yard

Another great feature is that the Blink camera, which runs on two AA batteries, uses so little power that it can last up to two years on a charge. It’s not just hyperbole from Blink, either: I’ve had these cameras around my house for a long time, and have only changed them once. Still, unlike many of the best home security cameras, you do have to change the batteries, which 1) is a minor inconvenience and 2) contributes to e-waste. 

Last year, though, Blink came out with an accessory that would take care of both of these problems: a solar panel charging mount that would supply the Blink Outdoor with nearly limitless energy. Goodbye, AA’s! 

There’s only one problem: You can only get the solar panel if you buy a new Blink Outdoor camera. The camera, solar charger, and sync module (which you need to use the camera) cost $139 when bundled together. The camera and solar charger alone cost $129. 

This is a huge disservice to current Blink camera owners, and a real missed opportunity for Blink. Since they were first announced, Blink owners have been asking when the solar panels will be available separately. In the question section of its Amazon listing page, a number of Blink owners have posed that very question. Two Blink representatives responded “We will be offering the Solar Panel as an individual accessory soon.” 

That was October 2021. We're still waiting.

If Blink doesn’t want to take advantage of this opportunity, there are others who will — and who already have: Wasserstein, which makes a large number of accessories for smart home devices, currently sells a third-party solar panel for the Blink Outdoor for $39.59. While not as seamless a design as Blink’s panel, Wasserstein’s panel offers more flexibility in where you can mount it, so you can capture light more efficiently, and place the panel where it’s more convenient.

Blink’s About Us page has a statement that it’s “proud to be an Amazon company.” Well, one of Amazon’s goals is to be net-zero carbon by 2040; it would seem that an easy way to achieve a more sustainable future is to develop products that don’t require disposable batteries, and to promote renewable energy sources. 

Making a solar panel accessory available to the tens — if not hundreds of thousands of customers who have already bought a Blink camera would be one of the easiest steps the company could take. Not only would it be better for the environment, but it would be better for consumers, too.

Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.