Are Cellular Trail Cameras Worth the Money

Likely you have seen all of the advertisements and have heard all of the buzz that surround cellular trail cameras. Everyone in the hunting industry is using them. People are using them for security around their house. You know the benefits that they will give you, but the price tag of cellular trail cameras are much higher than a basic trail camera, then when you add in the additional costs of monthly data plans, and you can’t help but wonder if they are worth the money.

Cellular trail cameras are worth the money, but not for everyone. It depends on many factors such as driving distance, how frequent you check trail cameras, available cellular service, and the amount of photos you collect a month.

While I realize this is simply a blanket statement, cellular trail cameras are not cost effective for everyone. So, lets break down the price structure and the convenience to give you a better understanding if cellular trail cameras are a good investment for you.

Cost of Cellular Trail Cameras

The average price for a cellular trail camera on today’s market is $255. The actual average is $254.26 from our collection of data from 14 cellular trail camera manufacturers. But for easier math, we will use the $255 price.

The cheapest cellular trail camera we were able to find is the Moultrie 6000 coming with a price tag of $119.99. The most expensive was the Spypoint Link S at $499.99. As you can see, there is a wide disparity in price, and like any other trail camera, this disparity also comes with quality.

This however is simply the upfront cost of a cellular trail camera. Now you need to look at other factors such as data plans, and cost of power sources.

Cost of Cellular Plans

Data packages for cellular trail cameras vary wildly depending upon the service provider, the trail camera manufacturer, and the amount of data you are going to require. We have a tremendous up to date resource on the price of cellular plans, that you should check out, before buying a cellular trail camera. This will give you an idea of the monthly and annual cost of using cellular service depending upon trail camera manufacturer as well as amount of data.

On average though, for the transmission of about 1,000 photos the price is around $10/ month. Just like a cellular phone there is also a yearly activation fee for most trail cameras. This activation fee is normally around $5.

Cost of Batteries

Cellular trail cameras consume much more power than a standard trail camera. In fact, you are likely to get only 25% of the normal battery life than you are used to. The constant searching for service, and the amount of power it takes to transmit photos all take a toll on the battery life.

For Lithium ion batteries, the cost per battery is around $1.33. Figuring you need 8 batteries per trail camera, you are looking at around $10.64 to run your trail camera. On average you will need to change out your batteries every three months bringing your yearly battery budget to $42.56.

Of course you can supplement your batteries with a solar panel, but the cost of adding a solar panel adds roughly $50-100 on the upfront cost. In my opinion, if you are using cellular cameras, you need to purchase a solar panel. Over the course of time, a solar panel not only pays for itself in batteries, but will save you money on gasoline running back and forth to change batteries out.

Up Front and Yearly Costs

We have thrown around a bunch of numbers, and prices, so lets break down the overall up front costs of cellular trail cameras. And the average cost of the first year of running the camera.

With this example we took some liberties in gasoline expenses, setting it at $20 a round trip to visit your trail camera. For some this might be cheaper and for others this might be much more expensive. We also contributed 4 trips a year for those using strictly batteries as a power source. This covers the initial trip to set the camera up, as well as 3 battery changes throughout the year.

Cost of First Year Without a Solar Panel

Cellular Trail Camera$255One time purchase$255
Cellular Data Package$10x 12 months$120
Cellular Activation$5Once a year$5
Batteries$1.33x 32 batteries a year$42.56
Gasoline $20x 4 Trips $80
Total Cost $422.56

Cost Per Year After Initial Year Without a Solar Panel

Cellular Data Package$10x 12 months$120
Cellular Activation$5Once a year$5
Batteries$1.33x 32 Batteries a year$42.56
Gasoline$20x 4 trips$80
Total Cost$247.56

Now to show the overall price difference between using a solar panel and not using a solar panel. As you can see, the up front costs are more expensive, but the yearly cost of using a solar panel is greatly reduced. It is also important to note that even when using a solar panel, trail cameras still need to have a set of batteries as a backup.

Cost of First Year With A Solar Panel

Cellular Trail Camera$255One time Purchase$255
Cellular Data Package$10x 12 Months$120
Cellular Activation$5Once per year$5
Batteries$1.33x 8 per year$10.64
Gasoline$20 One trip per year$20
Solar Panel$100One Time Purchase$100
Total Cost$510.64

Cost Per Year After Initial Year With A Solar Panel

Cellular Data Package$10 x 12 Months$120
Cellular Activation$5Once per year$5
Batteries$1.33x 8 per year$10.64
Gasoline$20One Trip per year$20
Total Cost$155.64

Cost of Basic Trail Cameras

Now that we have a basic understanding of the cost of a cellular trail camera, lets compare it to the cost of running a standard trail camera.

The average trail camera cost of a standard trail camera is roughly $144. In this comparison, we will assume that you will check your trail camera every month, for a total of 12 trips a year. Standard trail camera batteries typically last around 30,000 photos, so we will assume that one set of batteries will last an entire year

Cost of First Year With a Basic Trail Camera

Trail Camera$144One time purchase$144
Batteries$1.33x 8 per year$10.64
Gasoline$20x 12 Trips per year$240
Total Cost$393.64

Cost Per Year After Initial Year

Batteries$1.33x 8 per year$10.64
Gasoline$20x 12 trips per year$240
Total Cost$250.64

Factors to Consider

Obviously there are many different factors that contribute to the bottom line price of each type of trail camera. The model that we chose, is an average, and each person’s individual situation will be different. But from our model it would take about three years of running a cellular trail camera in conjunction with a solar panel to break even with the cost of running a standard trail camera.

As we know the overall price of the camera is not the only factor to consider.

Single Trail Camera

The entire comparison of trail camera prices, is simply based on using one of each trail camera. If you are running multiple trail cameras, the cost will change dramatically. For instance, the price of gasoline will not change as you are already driving to the location. But the cost of the cellular service and the amount of batteries you use, on top of the up front cost of trail cameras will increase. Something to keep in mind as you look into the purchase of a cellular trail camera.

While running multiple cellular trail cameras will increase the overall cost, using them in specific situations in conjunction with your other trail cameras can still offer a very unique experience. In situations around deer bedding areas, places that you are not going to be able to visit to check trail cameras, having a cellular camera can be an extremely helpful tool.

Cellular Service

Possibly the most important aspect to remember is that a cellular trail camera will not work everywhere. The majority of the locations in which I personally use trail cameras do not get cellular service. And you need cellular service in order for a cellular trail camera to transmit photos. The better the cellular signal in the area you are using your camera, the less battery your camera will use searching for service.

Impact on the Area

The overall impact of running a trail camera is a huge factor. For those who use trail cameras for hunting purposes, every time you enter into your hunting area to check trail cameras, you are having an impact on the movement of wildlife. A constant presence can alter a deer’s behavior as quickly as a changing food source. The more time you spend in the woods, the more impact you have.

The way that I have often looked at trail cameras is that the use of Standard trail cameras are for historical data. The information you receive can help you hunt deer the following year, by matching up weather patterns, available food sources, and rut patterns. While being able to get real time data from a Cellular trail camera can impact your ability to hunt more effectively during the current year.

Personal Time

One thing that we did not equate to the price comparison of trail cameras is the amount of personal time it takes to run a standard trail camera. A person’s personal time is impossible to equate. Every time you set off to check trail cameras, you are taking time away from your family, possibly your job, and other responsibilities you might have around the house.

Running cellular trail cameras is a much more time effective way of collecting data on your hunting area.

Enjoyment of Being in the Woods

One of the considerations that I often take into account is my pure enjoyment of physically going out into the woods to check trail cameras. For me, it is a time I enjoy to get away from the other things in life, and walk about a piece of property. This is something that I feel cellular trail cameras take away from.

Recommended Cellular Trail Cameras

Not all cellular trail cameras are made the same. And not all of them are going to be cost effective, or of the highest quality. So, we chose a few cellular cameras that we think are both cost effective and are of good quality.

Spypoint Link Micro-S

While the Link Micro S is new to the market in 2020 we are confident is saying this is an extremely cost effective trail camera. Combining the size and affordability of the Link Micro, with the addition of their built in solar panel technology, there is no need to buy an after market solar panel. This camera also comes with rechargeable lithium battery pack, making it so you will never need to purchase batteries for this camera.

Coming in at $200, even with average photo quality, this trail camera gives you the ability to capture the information you need without disturbing your area, all at an affordable price.

Megapixels10 MP
Wireless NetworkLTE
Trigger Speed.4 Seconds
Flash Range80 feet
Detection Distance80 feet
Warranty 2 Years

Exodus Render

When looking for a quality cellular trail camera, that is assured to last years in the field, look no further than the Exodus Render. One of the biggest factors people consider when purchasing cellular trail cameras is if they will get their money’s worth. With the Render, you are assured it will last with a 5 year manufacturer warranty. 5 years, will guarantee that it will last long enough for it to be a solid investment.

Megapixels12 MP
Trigger Speed.4 Seconds
Detection Range70′
Flash Range65′
Wireless NetworkVerizon LTE
Warranty5 years


If you are looking for cost saving measures, cellular trail cameras will typically be more expensive to purchase and operate. If your intent is to use trail cameras as a tool to help you hunt more efficiently this year, the cellular trail camera is worth every penny.

Having real time information about a specific area, will give you a precise time and location to plan your next hunt. It will give you an advantage of how to use your time in the woods more effectively, and for those with a busy lifestyle, with family, work, and church obligations, using a cellular trail camera is worth the money.

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