What’s the best backup camera for campers and campervans?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve long ago covered up (in part, at least) the rear window in your campervan and whether you have or not, it’s still a van with limited rear view, and backing up is always a bit of a challenge.
In the grocery store parking lot, at the campground, at the trail head, the beach…
Are there kids running around? How about other campers, tents, bikes…? Or the simple, everyday issue of parallel parking?
With all the technology and gear I carry, I’m reluctant to add one more item to the list, but some things provide such powerful advantages that the long term dividends they pay make the cost and installation worth the effort.
A good backup camera for campers is one such a piece of gear
What and who is behind your campervan?
The value of knowing, without a doubt, that there are no small children directly behind your van as you back up, is priceless!
It’s also a wonderful feeling to be able to glance at the screen and see, with absolute certainty, how far your bumper is from the car or the Harley or the BMW M6… behind you.
In terms of safety, it’s right up there with your first aid kit and your spare tire.
So, based on personal experience with this powerful tool, I’m giving you permission to make this important purchase.
When you’re planning to buy a backup camera for your camper, there are some important points to keep in mind:
This brief guide will help you make an educated choice before purchasing a backup camera for your campervan.
Our Backup Camera Top Picks
How do Backup Camera Sensors work?
CCD VS CMOS for backup cameras
There are two image sensor technologies available for consumer market today: Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) and Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS).
CCD technology provides the best quality picture in normal and low light.
CMOS technology is camera-on-the-chip and it’s cheaper to produce, has lower resolution and poor picture quality in low light.
For those reasons, we don’t list CMOS results below. Instead, we focused on highly rated CCD cameras and camera + monitor kits for our research and found plenty of great deals on CCD camera systems, as you’ll see.
Backup Camera View Angle
Camera Angle defines the width of view that you’ll see from the camera. The more extensive the angle, the more image view the camera will catch.
Most rearview cameras will be 120 degrees. We suggest a minimum of 170 degrees for parking. A narrower angle is fine for mounting trailers.
What you’ll see most often is 1/3″ and 1/4″ and in most cases the 1/3″ supports the wider view angle.
Another factor determining view angle is lens size, which will be noted in millimeters.
Smaller lens “mm” provides a wider view angle. Greater size means greater distance or telephoto.
1.7 mm and 2.8 mm provide the widest view angle. Image sensor size and the lens affect view angle, so a 2.8 mm lens with a 1/4″ image sensor won’t give you as wide of an image as a 1.7 mm lens and a 1/4″ image sensor or 2.8 mm lens and a 1/3″ sensor.
Reverse Image & Mirror Image
Most backup cameras for campers include a reverse mirror image feature. This duplicates the reverse view seen in a rear view mirror.
This is important for campervan camera orientation and it’s important that either your display or camera include this feature. Some cameras have an adjustable reverse mirror image option.
Weather Proof backup cameras
For most cameras this is a standard feature. Keep in mind that “weather-proof” doesn’t include high pressure car wash jets or submersion.
The International Protection (IP) standard sets how well the camera resists solid objects and water penetration.
This can be a complicated issue. At a minimum, look for cameras with a minimum rating of “IP66”.
If you’d like to get further education, here’s a link to the Wikipedia article on this topic.
Shock Proof Campervan Backup Cameras
This is a standard feature that should be mentioned in any of the best backup camera for campers specifications listed on Amazon. Read carefully to be sure the camera you’re buying has good shock resistance.
Camera Electric Voltage Rating: 12 volt or 24 volt?
This seems like a no-brainer; your van’s electrical system is most likely 12 volts… but it’s a good idea to make sure the camera you buy is 12 volts and if you have different voltage in your vehicle, be sure to search for that in the cameras you’re considering.
Backup Camera Illumination Rating and Night Vision
The LUX rating is important and you’ll want to get the CCD technology to be certain you’ll be able to see in low light, as CMOS is very bad in the dark.
Here’s the wikipedia article on this subject that will set you straight on the technology.
The main thing to consider is that LED lights used to improve CMOS cameras don’t help as much as their manufacturers suggest. Better to stick with the better CCD night vision and many CCD cameras include lights as well, giving them yet another advantage over CMOS.
Unless you’re backing up trailers and getting help from someone outside the vehicle, sound is probably not necessary. If you do choose a backup camera for your campervan with sound, make sure the microphone is well sealed and meant to be exposed to weather.
Wired vs Wireless Backup Cameras
Bluetooth and Wifi backup cameras for campers are available, but the abundance of electronics in your van can interfere with the signal, so read the Amazon reviews carefully to make sure your camera will work with your van.
How are backup cameras mounted?
Flush mount or keyhole
- If you have a spare keyhole to mount a camera in, this can be a cool application, but it means removing the lock tumbler and there are lock type and vehicle make/model specifics to consider, so search for these by vehicle type on Amazon. Here’s an example: Ford Transit Backup Camera and Monitor.
- Surface mounting is simple; the camera is mounted on the surface of the body or other campervan part. This tends to be a conspicuous way of mounting the camera.
License plate mount
- Licence plate mounting backup cameras are available in several brands and models. This is much less obvious if you’re concerned about theft.
Vehicle Specific Backup Camera Mount
There’s a multitude of backup cameras for specific vehicles and they mount in a variety of ways (VW’s behind the logo plate for example).
At the time you purchased your van you may have passed on a camera upgrade (or bought the vehicles used, without it).
So there may be a camera that your playhead and other electronics.
Search Amazon for your vehicle make, model and year, plus “backup camera”.
Whichever mount type you choose, be sure that it’s weather proof.
Though cameras mounted on vans don’t tend to attract much attention, I like to keep things inconspicuous (to avoid theft), so I’m partial to the license plate mounted cameras and other well hidden options.
Screen Options for Backup Cameras
Some backup camera kits include a screen, while some are sold independently of the camera.
There are two primary kinds of screens for these cameras and they are rear view mirror and stand alone.
Stand alone cameras can be mounted on your dash, center console, wherever works for you.
Camera screens for rear view mirrors have a screen integrated into them, so they replace (cover) your existing mirror.
Installing a screen, finding a spot that works in your cab, fitting it to your rear view mirror… can be troublesome.
So if you have an aftermarket multimedia head unit, I suggest a camera that doesn’t include a screen.
Backup camera kits that include monitors
Backup Cameras that connect to your play head
Recap for Backup Camera for Campers and Campervans
- A quality backup camera for campers is a necessary safety accessory.
- Know with certainty that it’s safe before backing up.
- CCD vs CMOS: Get the better (CCD) technology, you’ll be glad you did.
- View angle: 120 to 170 is best for most vans without trailers.
- Reverse/Mirror Image is an important feature.
- Weather and shock proofing should be clearly stated in the product description.
- Know the voltage of your vehicle, and get the appropriate gear.
- Night Vision: CCD (not CMOS) is best.
- Get sound if you need to, but make sure it’s weather proof.
- Wireless is tricky: Read Amazon reviews carefully.
- Mounts: Keyhole, Surface and License frame options are available.
- Screens: Use your multi-media head, or choose a stand alone or rear view mirror screen.