Backing up in a regular vehicle is hard enough. When you’re driving a motorhome or travel trailer, the situation is even more challenging. But with so many RV backup camera options, it can be difficult to know where to start. You may not even be sure if you need one in the first place.
Many RVers do survive happily without the aid of an RV backup camera. But adding one to your list of gear could be a big help. With an RV backup camera, you’ll be able to navigate back-in sites and driveways with confidence.
In this post, we’ll walk you through all the basics of RV backup cameras. We’ll cover what to look for when you purchase one and which types are available on the market. We’ll also cover some of the most frequently asked questions so you can make the right decision.
We’ll look generally at RV rear-view camera options. What types are there, and why is each attractive? What should you look for when you’re making your purchase, and how much can you expect to spend?
RV backup cameras come in a wide array of types, with varying video quality, installation needs, and price points. By the end of this article, you’ll have the information you need to make an informed decision about RV backup cameras.
Ready to get started? Let’s get going… er, put it in reverse!
Do you really need an RV backup camera?
Honestly… the answer is no. (And you probably already know that!) RVs have been around far longer than these cameras have, and people have been successfully camping without this technology for a long while.
Who Needs a Backup Camera for Their RV?
That said, an RV backup camera can be a significant upgrade. It can make your RV safer and less stressful to drive. Even small motorhomes and travel trailers are bigger than your average vehicle, and backing up can be a hairy ordeal. An RV backup camera can make you feel safer behind the wheel, and make your RV less of a threat to those around you. It can also make it easier for you to use the cheaper back-in spaces at your favorite campgrounds. (Who knows? It might even pay for itself over time!)
Finally, if you plan to list your RV on RVshare, a backup camera can make your rig more user-friendly to a
new RV driver. You may remember how stressful your first few times behind the wheel of a motorhome were! Your renters will feel more comfortable if they can see what’s going on around them — and so will you.
Types of RV Backup Cameras
So, what types of RV backup cameras are there?
While there are dozens of specific makes and models, they generally break down into two categories: wireless and wired.
Wired vs Wireless Backup Camera
Once you decide to get a camera, the next step is deciding on a wired or wireless rear camera. Both options have major pros and cons, so this is something you will want to consider and decide for yourself.
Wired Camera Pros and Cons
Pros: Wired backup cameras offer consistently excellent picture quality. They will never drop the signal or give a delayed image, even in poor weather. Additionally, because these cameras have been around for quite some time, there are numerous options.
Cons: Wired cameras are very difficult to install. Most people will need to call a professional to help with the installation. These cameras are also more expensive than their wireless counterparts.
Wireless Camera Pros and Cons
Pros: Wireless cameras are super simple to install and can be ready to go in five minutes flat. They are relatively inexpensive as well, making them accessible to anyone. Some can even be integrated into existing vehicle navigation systems.
Cons: Even the best wireless backup camera will occasionally have connection issues. This means the picture quality you receive will be fuzzy, delayed, or even nonexistent. This can be incredibly frustrating, and even dangerous in some situations. You can avoid some of this interference by going with a digital signal rather than an analog signal, but you’ll never be able to prevent it entirely.
The wireless camera will work for most people in most situations. Considering the lower cost and overall ease of installation, it’s a good choice for many.
Things to Look for When Purchasing an RV Backup Camera
Only you can decide whether a wireless or wired RV backup camera is right for your needs. But what else should you consider when shopping for this important item?
Since the whole point of this camera is to ensure you can see what’s going on behind you, you’ll want to invest in a camera that has decent video quality!
The best RV backup cameras offer not only fine detail and resolution in broad daylight, but also come with infrared, night vision, color, and black and white options. You can choose what works best depending on your circumstances.
RV backup cameras with digital video signals tend to display better and more reliably than those using analog technology. You’ll also want to look for a backup camera that offers an ample field of vision: ideally, more than 90 degrees of the space behind your bumper.
The best camera in the world isn’t worth bupkis if you don’t have a high-quality monitor. You want to ensure the monitor is of the proper size and scale to allow you to view the backup camera feed easily. Just as with your smartphone and other technological gadgets, screen resolution is important. The more pixels, the better!
As discussed above, wireless vs. wired cameras vary wildly in their installation requirements. While a wired RV backup camera does necessitate a significant amount of installation, it can also be a worthwhile investment of both time and money to ensure you have a reliable backup signal that actually works.
On the other hand, if you need a backup camera at the last minute before a weekend getaway, a wireless backup camera might be the better option. You can also use a wireless backup camera if you’re still in RV rental mode and haven’t yet purchased a rig of your own; all you have to do is unplug and re-plug-in the unit, and you can transfer it from vehicle to vehicle!
Last but not least, price is likely to have a significant impact on your decisions. While a backup camera that costs a lot may seem off-putting at first, it could be worth investing in up front to avoid having to replace it later.
Best RV Backup Cameras — Wired and Wireless
Shopping around is all well and good. But what about some actual product suggestions?
Fortunately, we’ve got a few. Here are some of the most popular RV backup cameras, in both wired and wireless versions.
Wired RV Backup Cameras
Here are some of the best wired RV backup cameras available right now.
eRapta Backup Camera 2.0
The eRapta Backup Camera 2.0 is a popular wired option, featuring a split-screen monitor and waterproof cameras with 18 infrared lights to ensure you’re ready to go, no matter what time of day you head out. With a voltage range from 12-24 volts of DC power, this setup can be used by RVers and semi-truck drivers alike and is installable in any kind of vehicle.
iStrong HD 720P Backup Camera
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, the iStrong HD 720P Backup Camera might be perfect. Complete with a 7-inch monitor and IP69K waterproof cameras, this setup also includes night vision capabilities and even the option to add a dash cam stream as well.
Wireless RV Backup Cameras
Here are some of the best wireless RV backup cameras available now.
iStrong HD Digital Wireless Backup Camera System
Made by the same brand as the second wired camera setup listed above, the iStrong HD Digital Wireless Backup Camera System offers the same kind of video quality and convenience without all the setup… and is available at a very attractive price. It’s usable on rigs up to 60 feet in total length.
LeeKooLuu HD Digital Wireless Backup Camera
Another reliable, budget-friendly wireless camera, the LeeKooLuu HD Digital Wireless Backup Camera offers waterproof cameras and night-vision capability with plug-and-play ease. Its included camera gives you 150 degrees of viewing, and it’s usable at up to 60 feet for high-speed observation or 80 feet for slow-speed streams.
RV Backup Camera FAQs
Here are answers to some of your most frequently asked questions about RV backup cameras!
How do I install an RV backup camera?
As mentioned above, installing a camera depends on the type you choose. If you choose a wired option, you’ll need to physically wire the hardware into your RV, which may take professional help. If you’re handy and a little brave, you can also DIY it; YouTube tutorials can be especially helpful in this regard. That said, you always want to double-check your owner’s manual to ensure you don’t cause any damage to the camera setup or your rig!
How do I fix my RV backup camera?
Troubleshooting your camera will depend on what kind of issue you’re encountering and what kind of RV backup camera you have. If it’s a wireless camera, signal interference is one of the most commonly-cited problems. For full details, check your backup camera owner’s manual or consult with a professional.
Should I get a CCD or CMOS sensor?
CCD and CMOS are two different types of cameras that are commonly included with RV backup camera sets. Both have their drawbacks and benefits.
CCD cameras are more sensitive to light and thus tend to have a lower amount of “noise” or “graininess” than CMOS cameras do. In other words, a CCD camera will probably have better video quality overall. That said, CMOS cameras are cheaper to produce, which could make for a lower price point on your RV backup camera setup.
What are my RV backup camera replacement options?
If your RV backup camera fails, you can choose to replace it with either a wired or wireless RV backup camera. This might be the perfect opportunity for an upgrade!
Why You Should Get a Dashboard Camera for Your RV
A dashboard camera mounts to your dashboard or windshield and faces out. It can be used to capture footage of your surroundings as you drive down the road. Dashboard cameras record automatically and continuously, recording footage in segments that are 2–10 minutes long and recording over the oldest footage as it runs out of space. Many dash cams can sense when an accident has occurred and will lock that footage so it isn’t accidentally lost. It’s also possible to manually lock certain bits of video if you need.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Dashboard Camera
If you’re looking for a dashboard camera for your motorhome, here’s a list of things you will want to look for in your new device.
You want to capture as much of the area surrounding your vehicle as possible. For this reason, it’s best to get a camera with a wide viewing angle. Sometimes this will give the video a “fisheye” effect, but if you go for a higher-quality camera, you should be able to find one with a wider image.
This feature is super important. It’s the sensor that tells the camera you’ve had an accident and ensures the footage from that accident doesn’t get recorded over.
Generally speaking, when you’re shopping for a camera, the higher the resolution, the better. That said, if you only want your dash camera to capture accident footage, you may not need the best resolution out there. 1080p is the lowest resolution you should consider. One thing to keep in mind while shopping is whether or not you can read license plates in a dash cam’s footage. Read the reviews if you’re unsure!
We all know car accidents don’t only happen in the day. In fact, they might even be more likely to happen after dark. For this reason, it’s important that your dash camera has decent night vision. If you want to get extra fancy, consider purchasing one with IR (infrared) capability.
Of course, price is always an important factor to consider when buying anything, and dash cameras are no exception. You can find cameras for as little as $15 and as much as $700. That said, good cameras can be had for $50–$100, and a nice high-quality one shouldn’t cost you more than $200.
There are a few other things you might want to look for if you’re super picky about your electronics. These things aren’t 100% necessary, and choosing a camera without them doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have a poor experience, but they are things to consider:
- Small Size — A smaller camera is less likely to obstruct your view or fall from its mount.
- GPS Tracking — This allows the camera to record the exact location where an accident occurred.
- Rear Camera — This can help record things that happen behind your vehicle, like if you get randomly rear-ended on the highway.
- Video Screens — Some cameras come equipped with screens that make it easier to review video.
- Parking Mode — This mode uses a motion sensor to tell the camera to wake up and record if anything comes close to your vehicle while it’s parked. Parking mode does require an external battery pack, or in some cases, a wiring mount to connect it straight to your vehicle’s power system.
The more video you want to keep, the more memory you’re going to need your camera to have. Fortunately, most cameras use microSD cards to store video, meaning you can choose the storage size to some extent. That said, most cameras do have a limit on SD card size.
It’s also important to note that cameras that take higher-resolution videos will require more memory than other cameras.
The Best RV Dashboard Cameras
Here are some of the best dash cameras for RVers. We chose each of these cameras based on a variety of factors, and feel confident one of them will be the perfect fit for you.
Garmin Dash Cam Mini
The best budget camera we could find, the Garmin Dash Cam Mini is the perfect choice for those who want a decent dashboard camera without breaking the bank. This is a relatively small camera. It also has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth so you can upload footage directly to your smartphone.
It doesn’t offer the best video quality, and the night vision is even worse, but for the price, this camera really is a good buy.
An ideal middle-of-the-road camera, the Rexing V1 is super tiny and when it’s mounted under the rearview mirror, it’s completely out of sight. This is perfect for those who rent their RVs, as it is unlikely to be tampered with or damaged.
This camera can record a full 170 degrees, meaning it has one of the wider camera angles on the market. Additionally, the Rexing V1 has an excellent reputation, so you can buy with confidence, knowing many others have had good experiences with the device.
Vantrue N2 Pro
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line camera that has the vast majority of features mentioned, the Vantrue N2 Pro is for you.
This awesome little camera offers the highest resolution of almost any dashboard camera out there. It also has a second camera that records the cabin area, something that can be especially useful to those who want to take videos of their trip while also recording their thoughts. (We don’t advise using this feature for keeping tabs on renters, for privacy reasons.)
We love that this camera has infrared technology for recording in total darkness, as it means you will have high-quality footage to work with no matter the time of today. Additionally, we appreciate the wide viewing angle and the fact that the image is not distorted because of it.
Tips for Using Your RV Dashboard Camera
Now that you know which camera to buy, let’s talk a little about best practices for using your camera. These little tips will help ensure you are using your dashboard camera safely and legally.
Don’t Obscure Your View
It’s actually against the law in many states to obstruct the view out of the front, side, or rear windows of your vehicle. We recommend mounting yours to the windshield behind the rearview mirror.
Get Passengers’ Permission
Another thing many people don’t know is that it is illegal in many states to record people without their permission. Because most dash cams record sound in the cabin of your vehicle as well as video of the outside, you will want to make sure your passengers are aware they’re being recorded. This is particularly important if you plan to post the videos you make to the internet.
Learn About Speed Trap Detection Laws
A few dashboard cameras have built-in speed trap detection. Since a number of states have laws against devices that let drivers know about speed traps and the presence of police officers, you will want to make sure this feature is legal wherever you go, and turn it off if it isn’t.
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