When you say off grid - do you mean in a location with no hard line electric, phone or DSL/cable, but with the possibility of cell service or satellite internet?
I am curious about the same types of technology - well, specifically what is most cost effective. We have a lot of people here with wildlife cameras, but most download them manually. There are also lots of astronomers here with observatories where the info is available to them online while they are traveling - but that requires a hard-line internet connection, I'm told. DSL.
I looked into systems and saw one type that would require both its own cell service plan AND an monthly subscription to the company you buy the equipment from. That seemed really cost prohibitive.
What is a simpler way to do this? It seems like one should be able to set up a motion detector to initiate a camera, and then have the recording sent over a cellular or other internet connection to a specific email...? There must be someone out there who has figured out a cost-effective way of doing this that doesn't lock you into a subscription with some alarm company.
Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts. ~Wendell Berry
I have no hard line or electric, and my property is very large. I was hoping to find a cost prohibitive set-up that would be solar cameras that could send via cellular to my smart phone, if such a thing exists?
I've been thinking about this for a while.
The closest to off the shelf I have found is the video system used on drones.
I believe the wifi on them is limited to 600 meters but that might be enough.
They also are already set up for DC so making them solar powered shouldn't be too much work.
How much property are you talking about covering? I got into learning about camera systems around 10 years ago and I had more of the mindset of building a system I could maintain with time and tweak to my liking. I didn't want to get a complete off the shelf system that would likely be discontinued or be easy to hack. The field has changed a lot, but here are some of the conclusions that I arrived at, which hopefully will be helpful.
1.) You get what you pay for. A good long-term system will usually cost more and be more trouble to maintain than most people want to bother with.
2.) Think about what you want to system for. Successfully identifying thieves and vandals means that the cameras have to be very well placed and high quality. An early warning system for intruders can be simpler, but it's also hard to beat a pen of Guinea Hens. Watching wildlife is probably my favorite use.
3.) Network cameras are where it's at. They perform the video encoding, rather than overwhelm the central server.
4.) Wired cameras are best and less troublesome. You have to power them anyways.
5.) Power Over Ethernet(POE) gets you your power and data on one cable, greatly simplifying the system.
6.) ZoneMinder is good software that helps you manage and store the camera streams.
7.) Spiders and insects wreck havoc on motion detection at night.
8.) Cameras running 24/7 outdoors don't last as long as you think.
You could do all of this on solar, and with a good WiFi router, you could access it by phone on your local network without being connected to the internet.
Also, it's not hard to connect the server to something like a Verizon Jetpack and turn on port forwarding so you can access everything remotely by phone. You might have to go through a VPN if they won't give you a static IP.