How to Choose a RV Backup Camera System
There are several features you should be aware of when selecting a backup camera. Most importantly, if you will be driving and/or backing up at night, make sure the camera you choose has night vision. This means that the camera has infrared lighting assistance, typically in the form of LEDs surrounding the lens of the camera, allowing night time vision. Also ensure the camera is waterproof. Hopefully you will always have fair weather during your travels but in the event of rain, you don’t want to ruin your camera by getting water in the internals.
Another consideration is whether you want a color or black and white capable camera. Color will provide a more realistic image and since most backup cameras have some distortion due to their wide angle lenses, the more realism the better. Mounting options include everything from an integrated housing to a simple bracket screwed to the back of your RV to a license plate bracket mount. Your choice will depend on how “clean” you want the install to look and what you want to observe behind you.
There are several options for displays including a CRT tube screen, standalone LCD flat screen, visor-mounted display, and rear-view mirror integration for tow vehicles. The most common is the standalone display since it is the easiest to install. It has a pedestal that uses Velcro to attach the base to the dash. This is very convenient but some RVs and/or tow vehicles may not have room for the standalone. In this case, the next best option is the rear-view mirror display. While a little harder to install, this option for tow vehicles works well since it is natural to look in your rear-view mirror when backing up.
Wide angle cameras give a wider viewing angle, and are generally more useful. 120 degrees or more gives a decent view, but smaller angles are still useful if mounted centrally.Look for a wide angle of viewing; you’re more likely to spot obstructions in the monitor. Wider angles often mean lower picture quality, but this is less important than seeing any obstructions in the first place.
Class A and class C motorhomes handle the RV backup camera installation a little differently. Most have an option from the factory with a display integrated in to the dash. This would the recommended way to go if you are ordering new. If not, components can be sourced to provide a clean and straightforward install. The visor-mount display can be used in both class A and class C motorhomes as an alternative but tends to not be as intuitive to look at when backing.
Connecting the RV backup camera to the display is either done by a special video cable or through a wireless connection. If you go wireless, be sure the video signal transmitter has a range of at least 60 feet, even if your trailer is only 30 feet long. A strong transmitter will ensure you get a clear picture with no interference since the signal will have to travel through and around the trailer to the tow vehicle receiver. This can be as far as 60 feet in some cases.