I'm thinking of powering a wireless outdoor remote weather sensor node connected to my Arduino-based weather station via solar panels, and am wondering what capacity LiPo battery I'll need to assure that it stays on all night on even the longest and coldest nights.
I haven't yet decided whether the remote sensor node, which will likely have a DHT22 for humidity & temperature, an LDR for light levels, and perhaps an MQ-2 gas sensor, will be based on a small-form Arduino such as the Pro Mini or Nano, with an RF24+ handling the communication with the base station, or on a NodeMCU module that uses an ESP8266 for both the microcontroller and WiFi (the base station already has both WiFi & RF24+, so either would work).
This means, of course, that its power requirements will vary depending on which MCU/Wireless solution I use, and whether it'll have an MQ-2 sensor, which uses a fair amount of power to heat up the element.
I'm obviously new to solar/LiPo, but from what I've read, it appears that I'll need the following to make this work:
Solar Cell (I've ordered a cheap 6V/1A panel on eBay)
-->Solar LiPo charger circuit
-->LiPo battery (3.7V, mAH tbd)
-->3.7V-5V DC-DC power boost circuit
-->Sensor node (5V input)
Lots of components there! Did I get this right?
Anyway, I'm wondering, what's the lowest capacity LiPo battery I should consider, for the lowest power-consuming version of the remote sensor node (which I assume is the Pro Mini + RF24+ w/o MQ-2 sensor), and for the highest power-consuming version of it (which I assume is the NodeMCU w/MQ-2 sensor)?
FWIW I live in the NE USA, to give an idea of what kind of sunlight we get here, and how cold it gets. In the dead of winter days can be as short as ~10 hrs long and completely overcast, so I'm guessing that the battery, which I assume loses efficiency when it's cold, would have to have enough power to last several days when solar output is this low and it's this cold, as it trickle charges on overcast days, until the next sunny day comes along.
I'm just looking for ballpark estimates, nothing too detailed. Better yet, if someone could direct me to a good site that helps you estimate a project's power requirements and what kind of battery and solar panels you'll need to keep them running 24/7, and the various technologies and boards you need to make this work, that would be really helpful.