Researchers have made significant progress in recent years towards realizing long-term structural health monitoring (SHM) utilizing wireless smart sensor networks (WSSNs). These efforts have focused on improving the performance and robustness of such networks to achieve high quality data acquisition and in-network processing. One of the primary challenges still facing the use of smart sensors for long-term monitoring deployments is their limited power resources. Periodically accessing the sensor nodes to change batteries is not feasible or economical in many deployment cases. While energy harvesting techniques show promise for prolonging unattended network life, low-power design and operation are still critically important. This research presents a new, fully integrated ultra-low power wireless smart sensor node and a flexible base station, both designed for long-term SHM applications. The power consumption of the sensor nodes and base station has been minimized through careful hardware selection and the implementation of power-aware network software, without sacrificing flexibility and functionality.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.