Rural, no wifi, remote video monitoring system

Edit: I talked through this problem in this thread and we made a decision to not use wifi. Read through for more info if you are in an area with service limitations like us. I will update the thread after we install.

Original post:

So we are discussing adding WiFi primarily to be able to add something like Arlo cams, and this would also allow us to control the thermostat because there is already a Honeywell smart thermostat installed.

Rural area, only provider is Satellite internet. Plans range from pricey to twice-as-pricey, with tiers depending on how much data is included in the plan.

We realize the cameras and thermostat need to be on a separate secure network vs wifi the guests can access, no problem we can get that configured.

But… data plans? How much data do we need? Do you hosts remote monitoring have unlimited data? My options are 5 plans, the least painful price starts at 10 GB/month, going up to the max 50 GB in increments of 10. After you use your allotted monthly GB, you can still access the internet but it gets throttled down to dialup speeds So we really want the right plan. But don’t want to overbuy.

We don’t know if not having WiFi hurts us or not…we believe our guests travel to the area to unplug and get away from urban pressures, but it would be nice to offer the amenity as a side benefit to being able to control things a bit more. I don’t believe it matters much to our typical guest, but it might bring in some atypical ones I reckon.

My guests stream Netflix etc… have only cracked to 500 g twice in 4 years…

We would ration the guests on the router, we provide 200 satellite TV channels that include most any genre of music.

Really only care about what is the minimum I need for the cam footage. I know this is largely dependent on settings and how you set it to record. We cannot realistically record all the time, and there is a lot of wildlife that can potentially trigger it often no matter how short we set the recording interval.

Edited to add: The 50g plan is nearly twice the cost of the barely affordable 10g plan. It is going to be a noticeable budget impact no matter what we choose.

We have a 3 bed house and a 1 bed house that share internet. This past month was 225 gb of data. I would not offer wifi if you are going to have a strict data cap. I believe it will just be a headache. Maybe look into a cell hotspot to run the thermostat and such. If you have LTE service should work. Cell hotspots also usually have hard caps on faster speeds so also likely not a good idea for guests

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cell service is one of our other amenity limitations.

I totally agree. I am currently staying with my family at a rental with no Wi-Fi. As much as I hate this (my husband was the one who chose this place), the only thing that would be worse is “having Wi-Fi“ that we can’t really use. It’s like running water, it damn well better be there when you turn on the tap.


we appreciate the perspective and are considering all options.

would you really be miffed if you had 200 channels so didn’t need to stream, and your cap was 2 gb over a long weekend?

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People don’t read, if the wifi box is checked you will have guests that are upset. Even if you explain the situation in detail in your listing. My thoughts


i mean, literally before we read your coomment, we had already discussed not offering it to guests at all. so i don’t really care about what they need, i care about buying a plan that allows me to see enough on the cams that it’s worthwhile.

i can limit the amount of wildlife getting captured some on one area where i would like to record, but not really on the other area because i want to record who comes up the drive and the animals do, often.

Definitely don’t offer WiFi with a low cap to guests. 2GB is nothing when people start streaming.

You need to do more research into the camera systems. You need a system that records locally and transcodes to a lower resolution and lower bitrate for remote monitoring, and only transmit a few seconds so that you can decide whether you need to see more. But It doesn’t sound like you know how frequently you’ll need to transmit, and you probably won’t know until you have it installed for a couple months.

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Right. Not a clue. And unlimited data is just not even an option, even if money were no factor.

Just learned that I get 50 GB bonus non-peak 2am-8am on the plan so this is good news, especially if I can schedule uploads for those hours. At any rate it alleviates much of my concerns about having hours of footage of armadillos rooting for grubs in the dark.:grinning:

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Surely there’s a cable TV nature channel you can sell that video to…? :stuck_out_tongue:

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From some quick internet sleuthing it looks like you should expect 50GB to 500GB/month. Higher quality video, active areas, or more sensitive motion trigger will all increase usage.

When you choose your cameras, pick a brand that allows you to set the area that triggers a recording. On mine (ring) I was able to draw around some trees that wave in the slightest breeze. Fewer recordings = less data uploaded.

Slightly aside, but you mentioned cell service is iffy. Is there a home phone or other mode of communication?

If you don’t offer a landline or other communications, I’d leave the password for a guest network but make clear it’s extremely limited.

You’re not in a position to offer the kind of speeds/volume most people expect, so I wouldn’t even check it as a listing amenity. I can picture far too many issues when your first guests of the month binge Stranger Things all weekend and the next guests can hardly check e-mail at throttled speeds.

Unless you have the tech wherewithal to allocate data to each visit, just don’t.

Edited to add:
Does your ISP say anything about uploading data, or do they treat them the same?

I think your quoted numbers were for download. Say you got a Ring or Nest that’s uploading 60GB of videos to the cloud so you can remotely monitor them. Meanwhile the camera is only downloading small pieces of info for firmware updates or settings.

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I use 20 gb/month average with just occasionally checking on my cameras only. This is before you talk about streaming entertainment. If you’re that limited on data, you could limit yourself to the ‘preview’ stream which is low quality, low frame rate. If something happened where you needed the full quality, you’d probably have to download it from the LAN on site.

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Thank you Allison and @Mexican for the input.

We offer no communication amenities at all. We warn people redundantly about these limitations. There is only 1 cell carrier that gets service there. We recommend people who don’t have that carrier to use a burner phone for calls and an internet hot spot. We have one for that purpose (because the carrier we get there doesn’t serve our other full time home!)

After considering all your feedback (thanks everyone), we are looking at a cellular network cam with sim cards in the cams and just buying the data plan from that one carrier to run them and leaving our listing with the currently existing amenity limitations - we provide no phone, no WiFi.

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I believe data is data for them no matter the direction.

I figured out how to do this, it is easy enough. It would require going into the router and setting a monthly limit to the fraction of the monthly total I am allocating to that guest, then re-set the counter after checkout as part of the administrative procedures. Configuring it for a daily limit isn’t possible without advanced IT skills.

Edited to add, I have abandoned this idea, but that would be the onky way to do it that I am aware, unless you have said advanced IT skills.

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If you have cellular just get a cell modem with an external antenna. You can increase the gain with the antenna. So even if you only have like 1-2 bars of signal with your cell phone, you can slightly increase that with an antenna mounted on the roof. There’s supposed to be limits on what kind of antenna you can legally use but I think up to a 6db should be fine under any circumstance. That would give you 2x the signal. A 12db gain antenna is probably possible as well, especially if its directional. You only need it pointed at the tower. If you start searching around you’ll see a wide variety of antennas available on ebay.

No modem/wifi needed with sim card cams. I got the basic rundown here

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