Spotter Platform

How Power Save Mode increases Spotter’s battery life and deployment duration at high latitudes

Sofar Ocean

Sofar’s durable Spotter buoy platform is designed to withstand harsh ocean conditions. From aquaculture operations in Norway to sea-ice interaction research in the Arctic, customers around the world trust Spotter to collect and transmit ocean data in the most extreme environments. 

A key component of Spotter’s durability is its longevity. Many customers use their Spotters, which are powered by lithium-ion batteries and solar panels, for multi-year deployments. Longer deployment windows enable more data collection and minimize the operational costs of retrieving or manually recharging a Spotter.

Our team is always looking for innovative ways to increase Spotter’s battery life and keep it in the water for as long as possible. Power Save Mode is a new feature that enables customers to increase their Spotter’s battery life today. Power Save Mode turns off Spotter’s GPS sensor during sampling dwell periods, increasing its battery life by at least 25% and significantly extending the duration of its deployment at high latitudes.

Below, we discuss Power Save Mode in-depth, highlighting the customers that will benefit from it the most and detailing how to equip your Spotter with the feature.

Extended battery life is crucial for Spotters deployed in sun-starved locations

15% of customers deploy their Spotters in sun-starved environments, where extended battery life is particularly valuable.

Extended battery life is valuable for all Spotter users, but it is particularly critical for customers collecting ocean data in sun-starved locations. In these environments, which include countries in the high latitudes, low-light areas, and foggy regions, Spotter’s solar panels naturally generate less power, reducing the lifespan of the device’s lithium-ion battery. A Spotter configured with standard data collection settings — Waves:Standard mode with a 60-minute update rate — will typically last through winter at 55 degrees of latitude without being manually recharged. Any Spotter that loses power will turn back on once exposed to ample sunlight.

15% of Spotter customers deploy in sun-starved environments, a percentage that we expect to increase as the maritime industry and research community continue to push ocean data collection to the extremes. The truncated cycle of installation and retrieval that these customers experience due to power limitations raises the stakes of each deployment, greatly increasing the value of time saved between recharges.

Using Power Save Mode during sampling dwell periods

Power Save Mode extends Spotter’s battery life by capitalizing on sampling dwell periods. When a Spotter’s sampling rate (how frequently it collects data) is shorter than its update rate (how frequently it transmits that data), a dwell period exists between sampling events. For example, if a customer configures their Spotter to collect data in Waves:Standard mode with a 30-minute sampling rate and a 60-minute update rate, there will be a 30-minute sampling dwell period. During this dwell period, Spotter does not collect wave data and does not perform spectral analysis. This minimizes the importance of Spotter’s GPS sensor, which collects location data that is central to the device’s wave and wind measurements.

A schematic of the sampling and update intervals for a Spotter in Waves:Standard mode. This Spotter has a 30-minute sampling rate and a 60-minute update rate; during the resulting 30-minute sampling dwell period, Power Save Mode can be used to extend Spotter’s battery life.

Historically, Spotter’s GPS sensor, which comprises a large portion of the device’s overall energy budget, collected location data without interruption. Power Save Mode corrects this inefficiency by turning off Spotter’s GPS sensor during sampling dwell periods. This reduces Spotter’s power consumption and has a significant impact on battery life:

  • Depending on the mode Spotter is in and the length of its sampling dwell period, Power Save Mode can increase battery life by as much as 69%.
A table showing the sampling rate, update rate, and dwell period in each Spotter mode. The battery life increase percentage indicates how much power Spotter saves when Power Save Mode is enabled.
  • These power savings enable year-round Spotter deployments in high-latitude areas and extend continuous operation limits in winter by up to ten degrees of latitude.
A Spotter in the Arctic Ocean. At high latitudes, Spotter has less exposure to sunlight, decreasing the amount of power that its solar panels generate. Power Save Mode enables year-round Spotter deployments in high-latitude areas and extends continuous operation limits in winter by up to ten degrees of latitude.
Photo credit: Ryo Kusakawa, University of Tokyo

How to enable Spotter’s Power Save Mode

To enable Power Save Mode, customers must update their Spotter’s firmware and configure a sampling dwell period. To do so, please contact us at We will also share additional strategies to use in conjunction with Power Save Mode.

To learn more about Spotter, please schedule a demo with our team by filling out this short form.

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