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Complete Guide to Backup Cameras for RVs: Wired & Wireless

Complete Guide to Backup Cameras for RVs: Wired & Wireless

The backup camera for RV use is a pretty important piece of gear. If you’ve ever tried to back an RV into a tight space, you’ll know what we’re talking about. In fact, if you’ve ever tried to back up an RV at all, you can probably relate.

We recently published a post about wireless backup cameras for RVs. They’re easy to set up, with no wires to run. But as we noted in the post, there are pros and cons to wireless RV backup camera systems.

Also, there are a number of variables to consider, and they’re different for every RV. This makes it difficult to decide which vehicle observation system is best for your particular setup.

And finally, there are many different camera and monitor systems on the market today, so it’s no simple matter to decide which features are best for your needs. But we do know that there isn’t one specific system that’s best for everyone.

So, with all of this in mind, we wanted to create our complete guide to backup cameras for RVs.

Let’s get started!

Do I Need a Backup Camera for My RV?

Really, all new RVs should come with rear-view cameras, and many do. But if you have an RV with no backup camera, you probably already know how difficult it can be to back your rig up, especially in tight spaces like those found at many campgrounds.

You may have watched other RVers backing an RV into a spot with one person driving and the other outside shouting instructions, or talking into a set of walkie-talkies like these:

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That’s all well and good as they say…until it isn’t.

While having a helper is a great tool, using someone else’s eyes to guide your RV isn’t always ideal. There’s a difference in perspective at hand, and that isn’t always easy to communicate.

Unless you have a very short Class B RV or van conversion with excellent vision through the back and rear side windows to compliment your side mirrors, you’ll do well to have a wired or wireless backup camera available.

From the vantage point of the driver high up in the cab, backing a long, tall rig safely can be very difficult. To avoid causing damage (or worse, tragedy) by backing into something (or someone!), a backup camera is a helpful tool to have in your utility belt.

How Do I Know What Type of RV Backup Camera to Buy?

Despite your research into RV backup camera systems, you may be left with questions:

  • Do I need a single-camera or a multiple-camera system?
  • What’s the difference between CMOS and CCD?
  • Should my rear-view camera include night vision or sound?
  • Do I want a separate monitor or one that integrates with my rearview safety mirror?
  • Are wireless cameras capable of giving me an accurate view of what’s behind me?
  • Does a wireless backup camera for RV use have issues with interference or poor picture quality?
  • Do I already have an RV that’s pre-wired for a backup camera?
  • What type of backup camera system works best for a 5th wheel?
  • What system will give me the best viewing angle with my type of RV?

In the following sections, we’ll offer you a guide to help answer these questions and many more. You can then apply the information to your specific needs.

What to Look for in an RV Backup Camera

There are a number of options and features to consider when shopping for a backup camera for an RV. Let’s take a look at the main questions you’ll want to answer.

Wired or Wireless?

You may have seen our recent post on wireless backup cameras for RVs. In that post, we looked at the pros and cons of wireless systems and we laid out how to install them. We encourage you to visit that post if a wireless RV backup camera is of interest to you.

The main advantage of a wireless backup camera is that there’s no need to run wiring, making installation very simple.

But as you’ll note in our post on the topic of wireless backup cameras, there are some significant disadvantages that you may run into with a wireless setup.

First, it’s possible for the wireless signal to experience interference between the camera and monitor, which would make the camera far less helpful. Second, the type of RV you have can make it difficult to use a wireless system. And third, most wireless cameras don’t offer as crisp and bright a picture.

A 5th wheel being towed by a pickup truck

With certain types of RVs, it may be difficult to run wiring for a backup camera system. For these rigs, wireless systems may work best.

So, wired vs. wireless is one of the major factors to consider before shopping for a backup camera for your RV.

CMOS or CCD?

When you’re researching wired and wireless backup cameras for RVs, you’ll likely run into the option of CMOS or CCD.

You may have seen discussions about CMOS and CCD image sensors tossed around in articles about digital cameras used for photography. CMOS and CCD sensors simply use different technologies for capturing images. CCD sensors use analog technology and CMOS sensors use digital technology.

In practice, the difference between CCD (charge-coupled device) and CMOS (complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor) sensors comes in the way they transmit the image. Technically, what the sensors do is convert light into electrons.

CCD backup cameras tend to transmit the image more efficiently than CMOS cameras do. But CMOS backup cameras tend to be cheaper. 

CCD sensors are more sensitive to light, so they tend to transfer a crisper image with less noise. However, they also use more power than CMOS sensors.

Over time, CCD sensors have been deemed an upgrade over CMOS sensors because they transfer images in a simpler way than CMOS sensors do, and they have the reputation of offering a clearer, more crisp image.

In truth, some highly-developed CMOS technology offers just as crisp a picture as CCD, so both are capable of providing high-quality images.

So, how do you decide between CMOS and CCD?

Well, if budget is a consideration, you’ll want to opt for a camera that uses CMOS technology as cameras with CCD sensors are more expensive.

However, many backup cameras with CCD sensors do tend to offer brighter, less noisy images. And the fact that they’re more sensitive to light than CMOS sensors means they also tend to offer better images in low-light conditions.

Night Vision or Not?

If you never have reason to back up your rig at night, a backup camera with night vision may not be important to you. Maybe you’re an RVer who follows the 3-3-3- rule or the 2-2-2 rule. (For an explanation of those “rules”, see our post offering 10 pro tips for RV newbies.)

Having been on the road full-time for nearly two decades now, we’ll add here that although you may not plan on traveling at night, you never know when it could happen anyway (breakdown, traffic delay, illness, etc).

But in the end, only you can decide whether a camera with infrared technology for night vision is something you desire.

If you do opt for a camera advertised as offering night vision, check user reviews carefully. Often the night vision on backup cameras is grainy and not crisp or particularly bright.

What Field of View (Viewing Angle) Do I Want?

You want a relatively wide field of view because you want to see as much as possible in terms of what is behind you. That said, it is possible for the field of view to be excessively wide.

One thing to bear in mind relative to the viewing angle is that while you want sufficient coverage to see anything that’s behind your RV, it’s possible to have a too-wide field of view. Cramming too much viewing area into the scene will make everything in it smaller. But, there is a sweet spot to shoot for.

In general, backup camera fields of view run anywhere from 90° to 210°. Try to stay away from either of those extremes.

A 90° field of view is quite narrow at just 45° from the center line. If this is what your budget can handle, of course, it will work and is certainly better than not having a backup camera.

On the other hand, a 210° viewing angle is excessive. The human field of view is only 180°. So, if you have a backup camera with a 210° viewing angle, you’re going to get an unnatural fisheye effect which should be avoided if possible.

A distorted "fisheye" angle view of a pond and trees

A fisheye effect can occur from a camera with an excessively wide-angle view. A fisheye effect is a distorted view of what the camera sees and presents an unrealistic view for the driver. It also makes things appear smaller!

Cameras with a super wide viewing angle give the driver a false sense of the surroundings and a false sense of security to go along with it.

We should note that many of the less expensive backup camera systems make it difficult to know what the actual viewing angle is. So you may need to connect with the manufacturer for that information in some cases, or check the reviews to see what current users have to report.

With that said, the sweet spot in terms of viewing angle is generally right around 130°. This gives you 65° from the center line on either side and a more realistic picture while covering as many blind spots as reasonably possible.

Note: A larger monitor screen is best for a viewing angle this size.  Speaking of screen sizes…

How Large Should My Monitor Screen Be?

If you buy a backup camera that uses your rearview mirror or your phone as your monitor, then this section won’t apply.

However, if you’re buying a backup camera system with a separate monitor, you’ll find they’re generally available in sizes from 3 inches to 10 inches.

Here again, there’s a sweet spot, so we suggest shooting for a 5-inch to 7-inch screen for the best viewing experience.

How Many Cameras Do I Need?

Technically, you only need one camera to see what’s behind you.

But there are cameras that offer a better and more accurate viewing experience by using one camera mounted high and a second mounted low. Some camera systems even offer 3 cameras or more. Three-camera systems are often mounted one on each side (2 side-view cameras) and one rear-view camera.

You can also find 2-camera systems that allow you to add another camera or two later on.

Waterproof or Not?

This may go without saying but since we’re here – a waterproof backup camera is best because your camera(s) is/are mounted outside, so they’ll be exposed to the elements on a regular basis.

What Are the Best Backup Cameras for RVs?

Once again, there are two main options to consider – wired and wireless.

If you have an RV that’s been pre-wired for a backup camera, you’ll almost certainly choose to buy a wired camera. But without that, you may not be able to use a wired system with your particular RV. In this case, you’ll want to focus on wireless cameras in your research.

Let’s take a look at a couple of good quality wired and wireless backup camera systems. We’ll do our best to cover a range of budgets.

Wired Options

We’ll start with some options for wired backup camera systems.

LAMTTO RV Backup Camera System

This single-camera backup system uses a CMOS sensor and offers full-time parking guidelines.

It includes a 7″ monitor, infrared technology for night vision, and an IP67 waterproof rating.

Video capture is 480p. (Note that some cameras offer HD (1080p) which will offer better picture quality, but probably not at this price point.)

The system comes with a 4-pin cable that is 49.2 feet long for running long distances, making it suitable even for longer RVs. It plugs into a 12V outlet for power.

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DVKNM Dual Backup Camera Monitor Kit

This backup camera system comes with two cameras, V1 and V2.

V1 monitors what is happening in front of you and is displayed on the monitor as you’re driving. When you put your RV in reverse, the monitor screen automatically switches to V2.

(The connected cameras can be used as reverse or forward-facing cameras. Video input can be changed with the press of a button.)

The monitor is a 7″ LCD that displays video at 1280 x 720P.

With 18 LED infrared night vision lights, this unit is capable of displaying up to 50 feet in darkness.

With IP69 waterproofing these cameras should not sustain any sort of damage from the elements. The system has a 3-year warranty.

Included are a 7-inch LCD color monitor, two IP69 cameras, a 67-foot video cable, a 12V power cable, a remote controller, a monitor shading plate, a mounting bracket, and double-sided adhesive.

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RVS-770613-NM by Rear View Safety

This backup camera system offers a high-quality CCD backup camera with 18 infrared lights for 50-foot night vision. It has a 7-inch LED color monitor with optional grid lines and is capable of normal or mirrored imaging.

This system offers a viewing angle with that sweet spot we mentioned earlier – 130 degrees. It also has a built-in microphone.

It’s waterproof with a rating of IP69K and has vibration and shock ratings that are the highest in the industry.

The power harness has three ports to connect two additional cameras if desired.

This RVS system includes a 3-power-port harness, monitor mount, a 66-foot camera cable, a remote control, an RCA adapter, and an installation kit.

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Wireless Options

Now let’s take a look at a few wireless backup camera options.

DoHonest Wireless Backup Camera

This is an HD 1080P Bluetooth backup camera system with 2.4G digital wireless signals that connect the backup camera to the monitor via a wireless transmitter.

This system supports a second camera. It comes with a 7″ LCD monitor with adjustable brightness and contrast and a 140° wide angle view. Reviewers report being impressed with the quality of the video.

The waterproof rating of this camera is IP69 and it has high and low-temperature resistance ratings of -4°F~149°F.

The system comes with an installation video and the manufacturer offers a 45-day money-back guarantee as well as a 2-year warranty.

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Haloview MC7108 Wireless RV Backup Camera System

This camera system offers a 120° viewing angle and a wireless line-of-sight range of up to about 1,000 feet.

It has a 7″ LCD digital monitor and a built-in recorder for real-time recording with audio and video playback. 

This kit comes with one 720p HD camera and one monitor, but the system can support up to four wireless camera inputs. 

The Haloview MC7108 offers night vision, split mode, auto-scan mode, and single-display mode along with five different viewing options. It has the highest IP rating for waterproof status (IP69K).

A sun shield and all necessary installation items are included.

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Furrion Vision S 4.3 Inch Wireless RV Backup System

This unit has a 720p x 480p camera with a viewing angle of 120°, infrared night vision, and the ability to live stream.

This kit comes with one rear Sharkfin camera and a Furrion mount for the windshield. It has a 4.3″ anti-glare monitor with a touchscreen but it’s also available with 5″ or 7″ monitors.

2.4GHz wireless allows for long-range signal strength.

The camera has a microphone with audio. A motion feature detects movement behind your RV that automatically “wakes” the display. The system also offers marker lines to help with safe backing.

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.

Do You Have a Favorite Backup Camera System for Your RV?

If you’ve purchased a backup camera for your RV that you really love, give a shoutout in the comments so others can benefit from your experience. Be sure to tell us what type of RV you have and why you love yor backup system!

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Bruce

Monday 10th of October 2022

We love our back up camera, especially to watch for vehicles coming up from behind when we're about to make a lane change with our travel trailer. It works for backing up but we get out and check just to make sure the height and distance. We went with an under $100 wireless model found on Amazon instead of the $700 quoted by the dealer. It fit right in the Furrion mount and we soldered and shrink tubed the wires together to insure a reliable connection. We had to play with the antenna mounting a bit as it was attached to a wire which we then taped onto the top of the roof so it wouldn't flail around.

Dan

Sunday 9th of October 2022

We have a Nissan Titan Pro-4X towing a Rockwood Mini-Lite 2516S, I didn't want a wired camera, so we opted for the Haloview Byte Tango 7 Plus 3-Camera 1080P HD Wireless Observation Camera System ($538).

I rarely use it for Trailer parking/backing up, but mostly while driving. It adds a measure of safety and has excellent resolution. The Byte Tango series is newer and has a hi-Res screen.

We did have an issue with one of the side cams not working, and it was 2 weeks of back and forth before the Tech believed that it didn't work. However, after that bit of a fiasco, all has been well and we're happy that we bought it.

TheRVgeeks

Monday 10th of October 2022

Sounds like a great system, Dan. Glad you’re happy with it!

Gay RV Enthusiast (Jason)

Sunday 9th of October 2022

I like the idea of having a reverse camera. My 2017 Mazda CX-5 has a back-up "reverse" camera. It helps when you put the car in reverse. You still have to use the mirrors as well. But that's okay. There's some technology today I like, particularly when it helps in safe driving.

Virgil Pearce

Sunday 9th of October 2022

Have a Furrion Vision S 7 3-camera wireless system on my 76 GMC Birchaven since Aug/21. Blind spots on both sides are covered when driving down the road and the microphone pickup let's me hear Any comments when backing up with assistance! Check it out!

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