Installing security cameras around your home or business can get expensive very quickly. However, with the Raspberry Pi single board computer, you can build your own solar powered security camera system on a budget. In this guide, I'll walk you through everything you need to know to build your own solar powered security camera with Raspberry Pi for under $50.

Required Components

To build this solar powered security camera, you will need the following components:

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is the brain of this DIY security camera. Any Raspberry Pi model will work, but I recommend the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ or Raspberry Pi 4 for best performance. The Raspberry Pi runs the camera software and handles video recording and live streaming.

Camera Module

The official Raspberry Pi camera module connects directly to the Raspberry Pi board via ribbon cable. It features a 8 megapixel Sony image sensor capable of 1080p video recording. Make sure to get the camera module designed for your specific Raspberry Pi model.

Solar Panel and Battery

To power the camera system, you need a small 5V or higher solar panel and a USB power bank to store power. A 10,000 mAh power bank along with a 10W solar panel is sufficient. The solar panel charges the power bank which powers the Raspberry Pi.

MicroSD Card

You'll need a MicroSD card (at least 16GB recommended) to store the Raspberry Pi operating system and camera footage. A Class 10 card provides good performance for video recording.


To protect the camera outdoors, you can mount it in an enclosure like an electrical junction box or a 3D printed case. Make sure the housing allows the camera module to point outside through a hole or window.

Software Configuration

With the hardware ready, now we need to install and configure the Raspberry Pi camera software. Here are the steps:

Install Raspberry Pi OS

Download the latest Raspberry Pi OS from the official website and flash it onto your MicroSD card. Raspberry Pi OS includes drivers and support for the camera module.

Enable Camera Support

In the Raspberry Pi configuration tool under Interfaces, ensure the camera is enabled. Reboot for changes to take effect. The camera should now work.

Install Motion

Motion is an open source surveillance software that detects motion and records video from the camera module. Install it on the Raspberry Pi with:

sudo apt install motion

Configure Motion

Edit the Motion configuration file (/etc/motion/motion.conf) to customize motion detection, resolution, and recording parameters. Important settings include:

Set Up Automatically Starting Motion on Boot

To have Motion start automatically when the Raspberry Pi boots:

sudo systemctl enable motion

Constructing the Enclosure

With the software ready, it's time to build the physical camera enclosure. Follow these tips for construction:

Viewing Live Footage and Videos

Once running, you can view live footage and recorded clips from the solar security camera:

Closing Thoughts

Building your own solar powered security camera with Raspberry Pi is an affordable way to set up outdoor surveillance. With a DIY approach, you can customize the camera enclosure, resolution, motion detection and more to your specific needs. And you save money by avoiding commercial camera systems. Just follow this guide and with around $50 in components, you can set up your own robust solar security camera.