Best RV Backup Camera Reviews 2017 - Keeping An Eye On Your Rear
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 RV backup camera suited for your needs.
In fact, the federal government has mandated that by 2018, all new vehicles will come equipped with a backup camera. This doesn't necessarily include travel trailers, but it will include motorhomes.
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.
Cameras may be placed not just on the back of the vehicle, but on the sides as well. Additionally, you may install a camera on the back of your tow vehicle, to make the job of hitching up super simple.
We have rounded up the best RV backup cameras out there to fit your needs, whether it's a hitch camera, a wireless setup or if you need side cameras. You may jump below the reviews to learn more about backup cameras.
NOTE: In the following backup camera for RV reviews we include products from just two manufacturers. If you've done any looking at RV rear camera systems, you will know there is a mind boggling number of options. Most are cheap systems that aren't worth the time to install. But there are a handful of 'big' players in the space. Why did we settle on these two manufacturers? We explain why here.
Best Wired RV Backup Camera Reviews
Wired RV backup camera systems offer the best quality and the most stable picture. However, they are harder to install than a wireless system. If you have a metal-skinned RV (e.g., Airstream) or a toy hauler with a metal reinforced ramp (back wall), then a wired RV rear camera is your best bet.
Best RV Wireless Backup Cameras
RV wireless backup camera systems offer the easiest installation, but since they use wireless technology, they are susceptible to interference causing loss of signal. Wired systems offer the best, most stable image, but are harder to install. NOTE: If you have a metal-skinned RV (e.g., Airstream) or a toy hauler with a metal reinforced ramp (back wall) then wired is your best best as metal interferes with the wireless signal.
Best Hitch Camera
Backing up your tow vehicle so that the hitch ball is directly in line with the trailer hitch is not such an easy task when your vehicle doesn't have an integrated trailer backup camera and you don't have a helper. Heck, even if you did have a helper, you might be better off using a trailer backup camera and avoiding any potential arguments. 😉
The wireless trailer backup camera reviewed below is not intended for permanent installation nor is it intended to be used as an RV rear view camera. It has one job and one job only - to help you line up your tow vehicle's hitch ball with your trailer so that you can easily hitch up for towing.
Once your trailer is connected to your tow vehicle, the wireless hitch cam is removed from your tow vehicle and stored until you need to hook up again.
RV Backup Camera Guide
There is SO MUCH to know and consider when it comes to purchasing an RV backup camera system. In the following section we lay out the ins and outs of what you need to know so that you purchase the best RV backup camera system for your rig.
Top RV Rear View Camera Manufacturers
If you do a search on Amazon for 'RV backup cameras' your head could explode. Seriously. The number of options is beyond overwhelming. You could literally 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 rear view 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:
Furrion: This brand only has one option (that is current technology) but this is a pretty good wireless system. The Furrion FOS48TAPK-BL is right in the price range of the other wireless backup systems we review, but it has a couple of gotchas that eliminated it from consideration:
- It only has a 4.3" screen. The similarly priced competition all have 7" screens. A 4.3" screen is the size (or smaller) than today's smartphone. In other words, it isn't big and is below our recommended screen size. For the same money, you can definitely get more screen.
- The Furrion FOS48TAPK-BL has a CMOS camera sensor, instead of the CCD sensor found in the reviewed competition. Now, this isn't a deal breaker, but there are reasons why CCD is better than CMOS. In this price range, you shouldn't settle for anything other than a CCD camera sensor.
Voyager: We already know that this is a Jensen brand (which is part of ASA Electronics), who 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 above. 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:
- The camera utilizes CMOS technology (CCD is the better choice and is included in the reviewed systems)
- Price is more than twice as much as the most expensive system we review. As a matter of fact, the cost to purchase a single additional wireless backup camera to add to your Voyager WVOS713 setup is MORE than it costs for one of the complete systems reviewed. Seriously?
These are a couple of reasons why we opted to not include Furrion or Voyager rear view 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.
Wired or Wireless?
Backup cameras for your RV come in two types: 'Wired' RV backup cameras and 'wireless' RV backup cameras.
- 'Wired' RV Backup Cameras
A wired backup camera can be installed on ANY type of RV or other vehicles. It can be used on travel trailers, 5th wheels, motorhomes, semi's, utility trailers and more.
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.
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.
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.
- '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 at 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 dealbreaker 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
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 I 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 in a hidden away compartment and tapped into the trailer's running light wiring. This means that I have to have the running lights on in order to provide power to the rear view camera's Wi-Fi network (which is how the camera transmits the image to my iPhone).
I then connect to this Wi-Fi network with my iPhone (you can use any iOS or Android device with the free to download app) and fire up the rear view 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. I think if I had a better quality system, I'd do this less frequently. Live and learn.
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 and a 7-inch monitor for optimum viewing. This size is big enough to see clearly and small enough to not be distracting.
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.
- 210 Degree View Angle
We don't recommend this size of a view for your camera. It is too wide to really function correctly. First, a 210-degree view is significantly greater than the human field of view, which is about 180 degrees. It is also greater than the proportion of the human field of view which can be accurately displayed on a fairly small screen.
The end result of a camera with this much view is that you get a fish-eye effect. While this distortion may allow the viewer to see a wider angle than would be otherwise possible, the distortion screws up the reality of the distances you see on the screen.
The real-life result is that cameras with this wide of a view angle contribute to more accidents than they prevent by helping to create a false sense of security.
- 130 Degree View Angle
Now, this is what we like to call the 'sweet spot'! These cameras generally provide the best compromise between width of field and clarity of view. You will have about 65 degrees of coverage from each side of the vehicle's centerline. This allows you to be able to see anyone who might be in your blind spot...
Additionally, you can also watch them approach so that they do not suddenly appear out of nowhere on the edge of the camera's field of view. The only disadvantage here compared to a camera with a narrower view? This view requires a larger screen to display the images clearly. Not to worry, we already recommend a 5-7 inch screen anyhow.
- 90 Degree View Angle
This is the narrowest view that should be considered for your RV backup camera purchase. These cameras provide 45 degrees from the centerline. This gives you a decent view to the side so you can see oncoming cars and pedestrians off to the side.
These cameras can remove most of your blind spot. However, it might JUST cover your blind spot. This will cause you to have to constantly look between your camera and mirrors to see anyone who is just approaching your blind spot area.
90 degree cameras are the VERY smallest view you should pick, and only because you absolutely cannot afford the next step. We really don't recommend this size and we will just say don't waste your money on a 60 degree view camera. You will regret it.
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 (complimentary 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:
- Night Vision: You want the system to have LED lighting in the camera so you can see clearly when you are backing up in the dark. Look for one with infrared LEDs to provide night illumination for the camera.
- Waterproof: Well, this is a no-brainer, but make sure what you get IS waterproof!
- Warranty: Make sure you get a warranty of at least a year. We don't recommend extended warranties on these items, but that's always a personal choice.
There you have it. Now you have the knowledge to select a backup camera system with confidence. You will wonder how you ever lived without it if you didn't have one before. Stay safe on the road.
Camp on, Addicts!