I think power is a topic that’s often over looked and not something you see spoken about very much in this hobby. Maybe that’s because it’s obvious, but like everything in astrophotography, I think it’s anything but obvious because there are multiple ways to approach this.
In this post I’m going to break down how I power my gear at home and then explain other options that are available to you.
- I have an outside socket so I can use mains power
- I have an 4 socket extension lead plugged into the socket
- Power adapters all have mains plugs, except for one where I have a 12v plugged into an adapter for my dew heaters – if you use an ASI Air you won’t need to do this.
This powers my Raspberry Pi, dew heaters, mount and Astro camera.
I would always recommend using mains power for astrophotography. The obvious reason for this is that mains power doesn’t leave you worrying about the charge level of a battery through the night.
Checkout my YouTube video where I guide you through my home setup and explain the portable power solutions below.
Portable Power Options
Okay, so mains power is all well and good but what if you’re out in the field to get away from light pollution, or at a star party where mains power isn’t available? Below I list some of the options that are available to you when mains power isn’t an option.
Car Jump Starter Battery
- It’s portable so you can take it anywhere. Although they are heavy so you wouldn’t want to hike up a mountain with it, but if you’re staying close to your car then they’re ideal
- They are cheap if you don’t have another option
- It’s a lead acid battery. It’s not really designed for this type of use and if it completely loses charge then the capacity is forever reduced
- Limited life span – mine packed up after about 18 months
- If it’s cold, expect the battery to deplete much quicker
This isn’t an option I would recommend, speaking from personal experience. However, I include it in this list because if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to power your mount and camera then this could be a solution for you. Just make sure to keep it fully charged and expect it to need replacing after 12-18 months, and make sure it’s capable of powering your gear for a full imaging session.
I used this car jump starter from Halfords when I first started getting serious in astrophotography.
Li-Ion Battery Pack
- Portable and much lighter
- Longer life span
- Battery could die during imaging
- Not particularly cheap depending on what option you choose
This is a step up from the previous option, both in capability and price. You will be familiar with Li-Ion batteries as they’re now ubiquitous in tech like smartphones. If you can afford the step up, then I would always recommend this option over a car jump starter solution. I would also recommend this option if you’re wanting something that “just works” out of the box.
Some options to consider are:
- It’s tailored to your exact needs
· Need some technical knowledge to design/build it
· A lot of effort at the beginning
There are lots of amazing DIY solutions out there if you Google “DIY astrophotography power box”. The great thing about this solution is that you can tailor it to your exact needs, buying the individual parts is relatively cheap with the exception of the power source – lots of people opt for a deep cycle leisure battery. However, unlike all the other solutions that are plug and play, you will need to invest considerable time and effort to achieve this solution. If you’re an electrical engineer, or are confident in your handy skills and have found a guide online, then this could be the best solution for you.
Always go for mains power if that’s an option. If that’s not an option then I would go for either a Li-Ion solution like a Jackery power station or a home solution if you feel confident knowing what you’re doing.