Rear View Camera Guide: Picking The Best System For Your RV
(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)
What a wonderful thing technology is!
The ability to see behind you whether you are driving a car, motorhome or a travel trailer is essential for safety and maneuvering.
How is this accomplished? By using the best rearview camera suited for your needs.
For many, backing up an RV is a two-person fight ordeal.
Sometimes it's hard to turn around to look behind you, making an assistant necessary.
Or you may have such a big setup that the blind spots make backing up nearly impossible to do alone.
On this page, we teach you which RV backup camera brands are the best and why they outrank the competition.
You will learn if you should/can get a wired or wireless rearview system and more.
Check out our table of contents to find what you are looking for.
Want to know which rear view camera system is right for your RV? Click the button below to read our reviews.
Rear View Camera Guide
There is SO MUCH to know and consider when it comes to purchasing an RV rearview camera system.
In the following section, we lay out the ins and outs of what you need to know so that you can purchase the best RV backup camera system for your rig.
In fact, the federal government mandated that by 2018, all new vehicles must come equipped with a backup camera.
Top RV Rear View Camera Manufacturers
If you do a search on Amazon for 'RV backup cameras' your head could explode.
The number of options is beyond overwhelming.
You could spend hours going over your options and still come away confused and with a migraine.
That's probably why you're here.
We did the heavy lifting for you and greatly narrowed the options.
There are only a handful of RV rearview camera system manufacturers that you should consider.
And of those, there are just a couple that we think float to the top.
Let us explain.
Once you eliminate the cheap, crappy backup camera systems, you are left with a few major players.
Here are four that we took a good hard look at:
Furrion, Voyager, Rear View Safety and 4UCam.
We boiled these down to two: Rear View Safety and 4UCam.
Rear View Safety (RVS) is used by many RV manufacturers who install their hardwired rear view camera systems at the factory
Why Didn't Furrion Or Voyager Brands Make The List?
Why did we eliminate Furrion and Voyager?
Especially Voyager, who is a pretty big name in backup camera systems?
Simple. Let us explain:
The Furrion Vision S vehicle observation system (backup camera) is a pretty good wireless system.
It comes with the option of one or more cameras and a monitor size of either 4.3 inches, 5 inches or 7 inches.
The Furrion Vision S with the 4.3-inch monitor is right in the price range of the other wireless backup systems we review.
Regardless, it has a couple of gotchas that eliminated it from consideration:
We already know that this is a Jensen brand (which is part of ASA Electronics), which is well-known for RV electronics including TVs and audio systems.
If you have an RV, it probably has something Jensen in it.
But this doesn't mean that Jensen's Voyager is your best bet.
Let's take a quick look at the Jensen Voyager WVOS713.
The Voyager WVOS713 is the comparable product from Jensen to the wireless backup camera systems that we review.
The WVOS713 offers the same 7" monitor size and a single wireless camera as do the reviewed units.
So far, so good, but here are the gotchas:
These are a couple of reasons why we opted to not include Furrion or Voyager rearview camera systems in the above reviews.
But if spending money unnecessarily is your thing, or you like tiny screens, feel free to buy either of these systems.
They'll do you just fine.
Though you'll probably be happier choosing one of the following offerings.
Pre-Wired RV Camera Choices
Some RV manufacturers pre-wire their rigs to accept a backup camera on the rear wall.
Usually, they just include a power supply you can use for your installation.
Commonly they will include a Furrion Mounting Kit that is designed to let you easily install a Furrion camera.
However, you certainly don't have to install a Furrion system if you have one of these kits pre-installed on your RV.
4UCam offers an optional Furrion mount adapter for their wireless rearview systems.
We have included a link to the kits that include these adapters in our 4UCam reviews.
This is the more affordable way to install a rearview camera system on your RV if you have the Furrion Mounting Kit from the factory.
Wired Or Wireless RV Backup Camera?
Backup cameras for your RV come in two types:
- 'Wired' RV backup cameras
- 'Wireless' RV backup cameras
Is Wireless REALLY Wireless?
BOTH TYPES REQUIRE WIRING.
The camera in a 'wireless' kit does NOT run off of batteries.
Then where does it get its power?
By wiring it into the existing power wires in your vehicle.
Your monitor usually has a 12v cigarette lighter plug, so no wiring is usually required for the monitor.
The term 'wireless' really only means there's no wire connecting the monitor to the camera.
'Wired' RV Backup Cameras
A wired backup camera can be installed on ANY type of RV or other vehicles.
This is the more reliable of the two camera types.
You don't have to worry about losing the signal as people do sometimes with the wireless cameras.
Especially if you have a long vehicle, holding the signal can be harder to manage if the distance from the monitor to the camera is very great.
The cost is also usually less for a wired system.
However, you may have additional costs to consider if it needs to be installed by a professional.
Airstreams And Toy Haulers Beware
Wireless RV backup camera systems are not the recommended choice when there is metal involved.
If you have an Airstream trailer (made with an aluminum skin), for example, wireless shouldn't be your first choice.
Toy haulers commonly have metal reinforced rear ramps, so mounting a wireless camera here might be a bad idea.
Metal doesn't allow the passage of wireless signals.
Therefore, it's going to be hard for the camera screen (monitor) mounted upfront of the RV to pick up the camera's wireless signal at the back of the RV.
Choose a wired system instead.
How Much Will Installation Cost For A Wired Backup RV Camera?
A wired RV camera system is going to require more than a wireless RV camera system because of the installation and time involvement.
(If you are hiring someone to install the wired RV camera system for you, there's your extra cost)
How much more it will cost depends on what size rig you have and how many cameras you are having installed.
How Much Does Installation Cost?
Typically, expect to pay around $75-$100 per hour for installation.
Wiring a single camera system for a car, truck or a simple RV installation should take about 2 hours.
It will be about 3 hours for a semi, large utility truck, or a more complicated RV installation.
Add in about 30 to 45 minutes of installation time for each additional camera.
Of course, these are estimates to give you an idea of what the extra cost might be.
Your setup could cost more or less depending on size and complications.
Can I Use A Wired Backup Camera System On My Travel Trailer Or 5th Wheel?
Yes, you can!
With a travel trailer, 5th wheel, or anything other towed RV, a wired system requires a trailer tow quick connect kit.
This connects the wires from your tow vehicle to your trailer.
The connect kit will provide you with two 'male' ends, one to install onto the trailer and one to install onto your tow vehicle.
Then there is a coiled double 'female' end wire that connects between the two.
Tips For Installing An RV Rear View Camera System
Read The Instructions
We can't believe we are including this as the #1 tip, but men will be men.
(And some women too, of course!)
READ the instructions that come with the camera system. Duh!
Dry Fit The System First
For starters, this allows you to see if the components work before you go drilling holes (you will need to find a 12-volt power source to power up your system - for example a spare car battery, cuz everyone has one of those lying around).
It also lets you check to see if you can get a good angle with your camera to preview what you want to see.
One of the complaints with these systems is that the included bracket doesn't allow you to point the camera far enough back (angle it up) to get a good view as the camera's antenna (mounted on the back of the camera) hits the vertical wall of your RV when you try to angle up too much.
Know What Is Behind Or Inside The Wall
Know what you are drilling into before you start poking holes into the walls of your RV.
You don't want to be drilling into electrical wiring or hitting another vital part of one of your RV's systems.
Be smart before you drill.
Weatherproof Any Holes
Any holes you make in the side of your rig should be sealed to prevent water from coming in.
Your camera system probably comes with rubber grommets you can use in the holes.
Even so, we recommend you take the additional step of using a high-quality sealant to ensure the hole(s) won't allow water or other elements into the walls.
'Wireless' RV Backup Cameras
Wireless RV backup cameras are much simpler to install.
They only need to be connected to DC (12-volt) power at the monitor and the camera.
Look for RV backup camera systems that use a digital signal as these are more reliable than the analog types.
Most cameras are hooked up to power by connecting them to the existing lighting wires.
Monitors are plugged into the cigarette lighter in the tow vehicle.
They usually come with a windshield suction cup or a mounting bracket for the dash.
These systems are chosen mostly for their ease of installation.
Typically, an install takes under an hour.
Hire a professional to install if you are not familiar with how to connect the wiring that provides power to your camera.
An install in a simple tow vehicle should take under an hour.
Rates run around $75-$100/hr.
There are some disadvantages to this type of system - potential issues with the wireless connection.
There are complaints about losing the connection with wireless versions. Especially when using an analog system versus a digital system.
With analog, sometimes people report temporarily picking up the security camera from nearby stores while driving through town.
This is a problem when you are in the middle of looking at your monitor to change lanes.
While this is not a deal-breaker for some, it can be annoying.
Especially if you lose signal at a crucial moment of passing or backing up.
Thoughts On RV Backup Camera Use
Camp Addict Co-Founder
I'm a solo traveler living full-time in my 24-foot Lance travel trailer.
Before I started living full-time in my rig I figured I needed a backup camera, but didn't know anything about them.
I ended up purchasing a 4UCam 8909 WiFi, our best budget-friendly wireless RV backup camera.
This system has worked out well for me only because I don't use it very often.
Since I boondock pretty exclusively, I rarely find myself in a situation where I'm backing into a tight spot and need to see what's behind me.
If I needed to look behind more frequently, I'd be MUCH better off with a system like the RVS-2CAM, which offers a larger screen and better picture quality.
While the 4UCam 8909WiFi that I installed is intended to be mounted on a license plate frame, it doesn't have to be.
My trailer's license plate is offset to one side, which is hardly the ideal location for a backup camera.
So I simply drilled two holes in the steel rear bumper and used two bolts and nuts to secure the backup camera unit.
I installed the WiFi transmitter in a hidden away compartment and tapped into the trailer's running light wiring to power it.
This means that I have to have the running lights on in order to provide power to the rear view camera's WiFi network (which is how the camera transmits the image to my iPhone).
When I need to use the backup camera, I connect to this WiFi network with my iPhone (you can use any iOS or Android device with the free to download app) and fire up the rearview camera app. Bingo!
I can see behind me using my phone.
It's far from the greatest picture in the world, but it gets the job done.
When I am using it, I often find myself verifying what's behind me with my eyes.
RV Backup Camera Monitor Size
You might think 'The bigger the better' applies.
Let's not get crazy.
You could get a monitor so big that it starts to block your view of the road!
Monitors range in size from about 3 inches to 10 inches.
We recommend getting in between a 5-inch and a 7-inch monitor for optimum viewing.
This size is big enough to see clearly and small enough to not be distracting.
Quick Note About Monitors
All of the backup systems that we reviewed have monitors with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels.
This is basically the same resolution your computer had back in the day.
Or what a non-high definition TV has.
In other words, it isn't great.
Don't expect miracle vision with these monitors.
They do a good job of showing you what is behind you and that's it.
Backup Camera Field Of View
Cameras come in a variety of fields of view.
They can be anywhere from 90 degrees to 210 degrees. Again, bigger is not better in this regard.
CCD or CMOS Sensor?
Which is best?
The short and easy answer? CCD (charge-coupled device)
CCD's are the best as of 2017.
CCD sensors create high-quality images with low noise.
These sensors are more sensitive to light so they produce better video, especially in low light.
Their superior technology also makes them more expensive than CMOS cameras.
CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) sensors need more light to create a low noise image at proper exposure.
This does not mean that CMOS sensors are completely inferior to CCD.
Still, we would recommend a CCD sensor for the best quality.
Additional Features To Consider
A few other important features to look for are:
Boy, there was SO much to learn about backup cameras!
Hopefully you have had your questions answered here.
Our mission is to arm you with the most correct information so you understand how these work, which kind is going to work best for you, or if you could use a better system.
You can read our RV backup camera reviews for the best rear view camera systems, wired or wireless.
If you have any questions that weren't answered here, and aren't already in the comments, feel free to comment below.
We answer all relevant and reasonable questions that we can for our readers.
(Questions that haven't been answered already.)
Kelly Beasley is co-founder of Camp Addict and loves sharing her enthusiasm for the RVing lifestyle. As a full-time RVer since May 2015, Kelly's playful writing style helps make learning about the sometimes dull subject of RV products a bit more interesting.
Camp Addict co-founder Marshall Wendler brings his technical expertise to help explain RV products in an easy to understand fashion. Full-time RVing since April 2014, Marshall loves sharing his knowledge of the RV lifestyle.