Anyone who has been in the drivers seat of a motorhome or vehicle pulling a RV knows the challenges they can reveal themselves when backing the RV into a campsite, garage, parking spot, or driveway. If your one of the lucky few with a late model RV then chances are you have a RV camera or even a series of RV backup cameras to assist you with this task. For the millions of us with “slightly used” RV’s, what are we to do? The answer is to purchase and install an aftermarket RV backup camera. They can be surprisingly affordable and simple to install depending on a slew of factors like RV length, your budget, and the features your looking for.
Aside from assisting RV owners with backing up, the RV rear view camera also helps to eliminate the hated blind spot while in transit as most RV review mirrors serve little to no purpose. The stress associated with changing lanes can be a thing of the past. Having a RV camera gives you an extra set of eyes behind your RV and an awareness that was nearly impossible without it.
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What to Look for in a RV Rear View Camera
When you decide its time to get your RV backup camera, there are several factors to consider. Some will be looking for the cheapest options, the most feature rich unit, the unit that most seamlessly integrates with their RV, the best video quality, or perhaps the easiest among them to install. Some RV backup camera units feature remote control, anti-theft features, and wireless installation. As you can imagine, the more features you seek, the larger the price tag.
When You Look, What Will You See
The size of the video monitor (where the image is displayed) will vary from unit to unit. There will also be differences in resolution (crispness of image) in both the video monitor and the RV camera itself. Think of this on a sliding scale. The higher the resolution the more you can see. The more you can see, the higher the price of the RV backup camera system.
Types of RV Cameras
There are two primary types of RV backup cameras available for RV’s. Wired and Wireless. Both run on 12 volt DC power from the RV or vehicle they are attached to. Should you choose to use a wired RV rear view camera system then you will need to run a video cable from the camera to the video monitor which depending on your RV could be 30 feet or more.
Wired RV Camera
A wired RV back up camera is just as the name implies. The connection between camera and video display are connected with a wire that transmits the signal across a large span (the full length of your RV plus the length of your vehicle). A wired RV rear view camera setup tends to be much more “plug and play”. This means that you can buy components separately and they will typically work together even if they are not of the same brand or purchased at the same time. For example you could buy the camera from your neighbor, then purchase the cables online, and purchase the video monitor from the classifieds section. As long as all the components operate under the same video and cable format it should work perfectly. By far the simpler approach is to by a ready made RV back up camera kit. Most RV’ers will find the RV back up camera much less daunting by purchasing a ready made kit.
Wireless RV Camera
Wireless RV rear view camera, also aptly named, include a wireless RV camera as well as a wireless monitor. Each component is performing functions that its wired counterparts do not. The wireless versions are also responsible for transmitting the video image from camera to monitor. The monitor is setup to receive a wireless signal and the camera setup to transmit the signal. The wireless RV backup camera is typically designed only to work with the monitor and camera that it was paired with. Some RV rear view camera systems come with a receiver unit that can be plugged into any video monitor.
RV Backup Camera Features
Video Quality – A backup RV cameras video quality is something of an afterthought for most RV’ers. That’s is until they get the unit installed and realize the picture is just too fuzzy or black and white is not ideal. It is important to outline what your use for the RV backup camera will be. Are you just checking to make sure your smart car is still back there? Or are you looking for more detailed picture to show if there is a flat tire, smoke, or a dog in the way as your backing up? The monitor, camera, and cables (or wireless transmitter) all play a role in how good the quality of the image is and how versatile the RV back up camera system will be.
The Camera – The RV camera component of a rear view backup system can capture images in many ways. You will find black and white, color, and infrared/night vision options available to you. Lower end cameras typically offer color or black and white video. As you move up the price scale you will begin to see additional image options and more rugged weatherproof construction. Aside from the traditional cameras, you can also find that there are license plate mounted versions as well. These are mostly designed for cars and trucks but may be an option for you depending on your needs.
Weatherproof – It seems obvious that the components (especially the camera) should be weather proof from the elements. Though most if not all consider it in their engineering, its effectiveness in practice can be underwhelming. Based on where your RV camera will be installed, be sure its rugged enough to take the beating of rain, cold, heat, and snow that may be in its future.
RV Backup Camera Microphone – One of the more interesting innovations in RV backup cameras is that some offer a sound sensor. This unique idea lets you communicate with someone who is standing behind your RV. It is designed for your co-pilot to help you while in reverse. It could just as easily be used to tell a pet or person that they are in the way!
Available Accessories – The accessories for a RV backup camera system can vary widely. You may find remote controls, glare protectors, special mounting hardware, or comprehensive installation kits. These bundled or individual accessories can make the ease of installation and the enjoyment you find in your new system exponentially better.
Customer Service and Support – Since most RV’ers insist on installing their RV backup camera on their own (don’t worry, we do too), its important that if you get stuck on some aspect of the installation that you have a real live person familiar with your installation a phone call or email away. Higher quality RV backup cameras typically come with more robust instructions along with a warranty that they will honor no questions asked if you end up with a defective component.
7 thoughts on “Back Up RV Camera: Best Options and Reviews”
what brand of baby monitor was this? How long was space between your camera in rear and display in front? Waterproof?
Thanks for sharing your great DIY setup.
I just bought a used class B 2007 PleasureWay that didn’t come with a back up system, but I wanted one just to be on the safe side of things. I am going to have to put a hitch on as the previous owners never put one on, but had the ‘towing package’ installed in case. So I have to put money into the purchase/installation of a hitch, and that will mean I definitely want a back up camera.
After looking at some systems, I came up with the idea of using a baby monitor system instead. Why? Because while I was watching my newest granddaughter (1 month old) and seeing how well their baby monitor system was working (I can pan left, right, up and down 180 degrees from whatever angle the camera is based at) and the display monitor goes where you go without distorting the image (fisheye image/fuzzy). For night it has infrared and the images are good for that too.
So with heavy duty velcro it is mounted inside (so weather proof) at the top of the back window where it doesn’t interfer with my normal rearview mirror views and when I need to check on things…the easy to use wireless monitor is on my dash for me to glance at or move as needed…and as it has a microphone (sensitive mind you lol) I can also hear if something starts to not sound right in the back of the unit that I might not otherwise hear until it was really bad.
I can add up to 4 camera on this unit, but I’ll only use 2…1 for watching the vehicle behind me/backing up and the other one for the grand children who will still be in rear facing car seats for awhile and will need monitoring also…and it has a temperature gauge also – so I’ll know if it’s getting to hot/cold back there for them. On the monitor display you switch between the cameras – so you still have a 3.5″ full display and not a split display from 2 (or more) cameras.
Only the camera has to be plugged into an outlet and not wired into the existing vehicle wiring and the monitor you charge up as needed and then use remotely. When not in use…take them down and bring into the house for home survelliance/baby monitoring or both. Lots of uses for a system that cost $239.99 in CT.
The best part so far…it’s been a system that works…and just as well and maybe sometimes better as it doubles as a two way ‘radio’ with anyone sitting in the lounge area while we are driving down the road…so no conversations are missed (I heard that!) 😀
I’m not sure if this would work on the much bigger RV’s but possibly as the range is 590′.
Thought I’d just share my DIY solution for a back up system until it proves I need a different system.
I use the same device that I use with a regular hitch. A telescoping rod with a magnet on one end and a day-glo ball on the other. Though they come as a set of two for a boat hitch, I place one at the catch of my hitch and it leads me right to my kingpin. I have attached a string to the device for easy retrieval.
Trying to visualize your issue. Is the light bright on the screen or is the light too bright in the truck bed?
I installed a backup camera on the upper part of my truck bed under my tri-fold cover so I could see the king pin of my 5th wheel as it comes up to the hitch. Because of the cover I could no longer see the hitch from the cab. My problem is the light is so bright that I cannot make out what is happening…..I really do not know what to do to correct the problem. It is as tho one is looking into the sun…..
Thanks! the eaglelogcabins. com traveling road show has a retro RV we are fixing up… and @ 37′ and towing a trailer… you know we want the best image possible! Happy Trails!
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