Offgrid security cameras

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by Eagle's Nest, May 22, 2017.

  1. Eagle's Nest

    Eagle's Nest Monkey

    We have a cabin that is often unoccupied and we want a way to check on things using security cameras. The challenges I have are that many security cameras require a DVR or they continuously upload video or images to the internet which requires some significant internet usage. I can't keep my Magnum 4064 on while we are away so I am considering picking up a much smaller inverter that can run a network switch with power over Ethernet to run up to 4 security cameras directly from the switch. It would also need to power my cellular booster and a small 4G WIFI hotspot. I have a laptop that I can probably just run off my batteries directly with a DC adapter so I don't have to budget for a higher wattage inverter. I'd like to be able to do it all with a 500w inverter or smaller. I have 16x Trojan T105's (225a/6v) and 4x 305w panels. I can't trust the weather up there in the winter - there are some days when the panels are under too much snow to generate power which is why I can't leave the larger inverter on. If anyone can suggest such a small, reliable inverter for this application, I am all ears.

    My challenge is what camera system to look at. I've started the research, but the options are overwhelming and almost all require a DVR. I want something that will use a continuously running laptop to capture images. I need the cameras to operate on motion detection, but once logged onto the laptop remotely, I want to be able to see real time video or photos. I'd rather have higher resolution still shots rather than medium to low quality video. I don't want it to automatically upload photos to the internet, but upon motion being sensed, I need it to SMS/text or email me a notification so I can log in and look at what is happening. My hotspot has a 5GB monthly limit, which is why I am searching for something like this and why I want it to be PC based but totally open to any options from anyone that has gone down this road.
    hitchcock4 and Motomom34 like this.
  2. sec_monkey

    sec_monkey SM Security Administrator


    indoor or outdoor?

    is the cabin insulated or not?

    does it have heat?

    how much BTC do ya have plus how much are ya willing to invest in the system?

    Motomom34 likes this.
  3. sec_monkey

    sec_monkey SM Security Administrator

    also our solar monkeys probably need to know the rough lat. plus long. so they calculate what the panels can do in yer AO.

  4. Eagle's Nest

    Eagle's Nest Monkey

    We would want outdoor cameras. At least 3, and if I'm feeling froggy, one inside for no more than 4. The cabin is insulated, but not heated except for a small pump room where we store some dry goods. The pump room is heated by a millivolt ventless propane heater which requires no power and keeps the room between 40-50°F. It does have a basement where my solar equipment is mounted which does not dip below 25°F. As for investment, as much as I can without my wife knowing what I paid. :) I wouldn't say that price is no object and I would invest more to avoid potential issues and I would hold off until I could do it right.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2017
  5. sec_monkey

    sec_monkey SM Security Administrator

    some cameras could have issues in harsh conditions

    how cold does it get in the AO?

    indoor cameras in a heated cabin would not be all that expensive [winkthumb], outdoor cameras not so much [eek3]

    indoor cameras in an unheated cabin are going to have to be rated for outdoor temps

  6. Eagle's Nest

    Eagle's Nest Monkey

    Sorry, missed that question. It's 2500ft on a mountain in Western Maine so lots of wind, brutal temps, sideways wind. Can be -30, but overall winter temps average high teens to low 20's. Inside temps have been as low as 15°F. I could do without an inside camera for a while. A battery operated camera wouldn't do. My gamecams don't last long even with Lithium batteries, which is why I'd use PoE to the camera from an Ethernet network switch.
  7. sec_monkey

    sec_monkey SM Security Administrator

    [coo] :)

    the wind plus brutal temps are gonna be an issue

    the outdoor cameras might need internal heaters plus weather resistant enclosures which could require more power than PoE can safely supply without burnin the place down :eek:

  8. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    I use OutDoor PTZ POE (Pan, Tilt, and Zoom - Power over Ethernet) Cameras ($130US at Amazon) around here... they draw about 500ma when NOT Moving... All are hard wired to the Network, so NO RF to DF on.... and they all send emails to my local Server when movement is triggered.... That could be easily setup to email elsewhere...
    Tully Mars and sec_monkey like this.
  9. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    All of the smaller inverters (less than 1500w) I have used tend to cut out around 25 degrees...this would be an issue unless you can find equipment that runs directly off of your batteries. BTW, did you mean a Magnum 4024?
    sec_monkey likes this.
  10. Eagle's Nest

    Eagle's Nest Monkey

    Yes, it's a 4024. No 64 volt inverters that I have heard of :) I could put the inverter in the battery box. I don't think that has dipped much below 30-32. I take temps for the basement and living space and the basement's lowest reading was 25 and is usually 30 or higher, so that's a risk I'd be willing to take.

    I looked for the $130 OutDoor PTZ unit and didn't see it. Could you reply with a link? I'd be willing to try a couple first. Thanks again, this has been helpful.
  11. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Tully Mars likes this.
  12. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Game cameras.
    That's what I use and I'm on grid.
  13. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    Thanks for the link.
    How far do you think these could be run from the network? I might of missed it but didn't see anything in the link. The system we have in the house and surrounding areas now is hard wired and the max cable I can run and still get good picture day and night is 300'. If these would work, I could see a few places around here further out where I could sneak in a couple more.
  14. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    I do as well, along with a hard wired system for the house and surrounding areas, but these open up a whole lot more possibilities.
  15. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Check out the POE Specs, the maximum distance is determined by the Injection Voltage... The higher the Voltage, the further, you can power a device... my PTZ POE Cameras are in the range of 300 Ft but my injection Voltage is only 12 Vdc, and I use a package Switching Powersuppy, that has a 8-32Vdc Input, and a Stable 12Vdc Output @ 1.5 Amps... Off. the Shelf POE Systems use 24-48 Vdc Injection Voltages, and therefor carry much further than what I need...


    Picture from the South Tower Cam.....
    Last edited: May 22, 2017
  16. Eagle's Nest

    Eagle's Nest Monkey

    That is stunning. That's exactly what I'm looking for. What brand camera is that? One of the earlier links showed a WIFI camera, which won't work in my application. Do you have experience with mixing models so that some could be lower resolution bullet style and one good hi-res PTZ? What megapixel is that camera that you took that photo with? Are you saying that you are using DC power from your battery bank to inject the PoE to the cameras? That would be great if I could do that to eliminate the extra small inverter. Also, with the laptop I'd have up there, I would just get a 12v DC adapter to run it and be inverter free. Sorry for all the questions, but I'm pretty excited to get this project to come together.
  17. Tempstar

    Tempstar Monkey+++

    Get some cameras that are POE and run Blue Iris on the laptop. If you're handy, do an IP Tunnel back to home and have the computer there, letting the cameras send the data over the network. Knock the bitrates down to half a meg. Blue Iris will send SMS alerts, record on motion, take snapshots (you determine the quality), and even time lapse. As for cameras, put them away from the house looking at it, not on the house looking out. Spend a few dollars more on the cameras and get a varifocal lens, then set it for your field of view. Most of the cameras are 12 volt, though as the quality goes up the voltage does as well, with 24 and 48 volt being pretty common. Run the cams directly from the battery to cut inverter losses. By shopping for a 12 volt switch and hopefully running the router from 12v as well, you may could cut an inverter out of the picture altogether. : SV3C 1080P Full HD Poe IP Camera, Bullet Outdoor Security Camera with 2.8MM-12MM Varifocal Lens : Camera & Photo

    Blue Iris - Video Security Software
    sec_monkey and Tully Mars like this.
  18. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

  19. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Great thread!

    I always thought PTZ cameras were about a grand each, which is why I've never bothered with a camera system other than a game camera. Maybe it's been too long since I've looked into them and it's time to give this whole subject another once over.

    Looks like prices are almost reasonable for cameras with decent resolution as well. The ones I remember looking at were really grainy, not really worth much if you're trying to identify someone.
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  20. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    Depending upon how much of a DIYer you are with computer stuff, you might explore using something like a Raspberry Pi computer instead of the laptop to cut power demands more and maybe skip the inverter.
  1. Ganado
  2. HK_User
  3. Motomom34
  4. Motomom34
  5. Motomom34
  6. BelBol
  7. Bishop
  8. Yard Dart
  9. Asia-Off-Grid
  10. Yard Dart
  11. Seacowboys
  12. oil pan 4
  13. Thunder5Ranch
  14. arleigh
  15. GOG
  16. Airtime
  17. Yard Dart
  18. GhostX
  19. Yard Dart
  20. DarkLight
survivalmonkey SSL seal warrant canary