Best Backup Cameras: See What’s Behind You While Backing Up
Increase your rear view with these top backup cameras
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A good backup camera is an indispensable tool in today's high-tech world. Once reserved for high-end luxury cars, most modern vehicles now offer some kind of backup camera system for increased safety. For older vehicles that lack a factory-installed system, however, it's still possible to add this feature with an aftermarket camera system. If you want to increase your rear view safety, check out these best backup cameras.
- Best OverallLeeKooLuu Backup Camera and Monitor KitSummarySummary
The complete package for a backup camera and monitor kit that you can add to nearly any vehicle.ProsPros
Large monitor that doesn't require permanent installation inside a dashboard. High-quality image from the rear backup camera. Mounts onto the license plate with just a couple of screws.ConsCons
Routing the large video cable is difficult in smaller vehicles and may require a hole or two to be drilled in the interior.
- Best ValueeRapta ERT01 2nd Generation Car Rear View CameraSummarySummary
A good backup camera to purchase when you have an existing monitor or infotainment system.ProsPros
Wide viewing angle. Straps onto the license plate frame with the same mounting screws for easy installation. Good-quality low-light image using eight LED lights.ConsCons
The camera's color doesn't come across accurately on many displays. Night vision is limited in distance. The backup grid doesn't move as the car turns.
- Honorable MentionTOGUARD Backup Camera 7" Mirror Dash CamSummarySummary
This backup camera offers a convenient way to mount a display monitor inside the vehicle without major installation.ProsPros
The camera monitor is built into the mirror that replaces the rearview mirror inside the vehicle. The camera image is better than other options thanks to the 7-inch display. Good wide-angle image.ConsCons
The camera can be difficult to mount and position in the rear. The automatic collision detection feature triggers easily with a slight jolt.
Why Buy a Backup Camera?
- Increase your rear view. Vehicles are full of blind spots. While basic rear and side mirrors do a good job of reducing those spots, there are still areas that a simple reflective surface can't see. Backup cameras give you a low, straight view of the vehicle's rear that you may need to park safely in larger vehicles.
- Make parking a breeze. With a straight view of the rear, parking is much easier. When backing out of a parking space, you can see more of what's behind you without cranking your head around or readjusting the mirrors. You can also back into parking spaces more easily.
- Add rearview recording. Some backup cameras act like dash cams, recording events during an emergency. For rear fender benders or worse accidents, a rear view can help document the accident if it can't prevent it altogether in the first place.
Types of Backup Cameras
License plate backup cameras come in two distinct types, both of which mount in the license plate spot behind the car. Some cameras come built into a replacement plate frame that installs over the plate itself. Others are just a strap with holes that fit the existing mounting screws to sit on top of the existing frame and plate. In both cases, the camera is in a good position for getting a low viewing angle.
Mirror and dash cam backup cameras feature a built-in display that offers a good view of the rear action without requiring an additional LCD or infotainment panel. The camera itself is either a separate unit that mounts on the rear bumper, or is one built into the unit where the camera can see the interior of the car and out of the rear window.
Often the most basic option available, individual backup cameras are small units that lack a display or any means of mounting. Some require permanent, often professional, installation but can be easier to integrate into existing camera systems. This type makes it easy to find the exact image quality and connection options (wired or wireless) you want to install on your vehicle.
Top Brands of Backup Cameras
Auto Vox is a Chinese company that specializes in auto safety products. With several high-end backup cameras like its Wireless Dash Cam, Auto Vox is a good brand that has many years of experience with blind spot and rear view monitoring systems.
Yi has a history of bringing high-tech solutions to many spaces like auto safety products. Blending high-performance cameras, sensors, and artificial intelligence, its camera options like the Mirror Dash Cam offer a lot in terms of overall performance and safety. It also offers several high-quality action and VR cameras.
Backup Camera Pricing
- $50 and under: This budget range is full of simple, basic backup camera options. License plate backup cameras are the most common. Installing these budget options can be more difficult than more expensive wireless options.
- $50-$100: There's a good mix of a high-end license plate and mirror backup cameras in this range. A few lower-end wireless options also exist here.
- $100 and up: The top price range has fewer backup cameras than the less expensive categories, but the options here provide a lot of functionality. Wireless connectivity is common, and many cameras come as complete kits that offer everything you need for your car.
The main event of a backup camera takes place in the camera itself. Smaller than most action cams and digital camcorders, these cameras typically lack the HD quality of higher-end consumer products. Still, the quality of the camera will determine how clear the image appears in the monitor. Cameras with 480p and 720p recording resolutions are the most common.
To use a camera at night, extra light is required to illuminate the surroundings. Backup and rear car lights lack the capabilities to offer this illumination, so most cameras come with a few LED lights for assistance. The number and intensity of the lights will influence how bright the night vision image appears.
Enhanced Safety Features
Some backup camera systems offer more than just a good view of the rear area. Enhanced safety features include a backup line or grid to gauge distance, recording functionality, and collision detection. Higher-end cameras can also work with other front and side cameras to offer a near 360-degree monitoring coverage around the vehicle.
- Power Supply: All cameras require some kind of power supply to actually work since few come with built-in batteries. To use the car's power, the camera needs to connect to either the reverse lights, a fuse box, or the interior 12-volt cigarette lighter. Routing a power cable may be required.
- Monitor: To actually use a backup camera, you'll need some kind of monitor to see the image. Unless the camera has a built-in monitor (i.e. a dash cam) or can tie into an existing infotainment panel, you will need a separate screen or specialized rearview mirror for the display. Unless you have a wireless backup camera, there will also be a cord to the route.
Best Backup Cameras Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Backup Camera Overall: LeeKooLuu Backup Camera and Monitor Kit
LeeKooLuu's backup camera comes as a complete kit that includes the camera itself, a 4.3-inch LCD monitor, and a 12-volt power plug. As a result, this is the perfect option for bringing rearview camera capabilities to older cars that lack any kind of camera system or advanced electronics.
The camera quality is high for the low price. The 135-degree viewing angle offers a good, wide view of the rear on the LCD monitor. Installation is also a highlight of this backup camera. Fastening to the rear license plate, the camera mount offers a solid hold where the camera plugs into the backup lighting system or the car's fuse box.
The major hiccup with installation is the video cord. Using RCA connectors, the cord is large (1/2-inch diameter), meaning you may have to drill some interior holes to pass the cord through to the LCD monitor. The viewing panel also takes up some space on the dashboard, potentially leaving other devices like GPS navigators out of the mix.
Best Value Backup Camera: eRapta ERT01 2nd Generation Car Rear View Camera
The eRapta ERT01 is a backup camera meant to complete a car's existing camera system, meaning it requires a separate monitor or infotainment panel to work. While this may be a distractor if you're starting from scratch, it's the perfect option if you want ultimate flexibility in choosing a display (or working with an existing one) and saving some money at the same time.
The camera has a 149-degree viewing angle and comes with eight LED lights for basic night vision. It fits on the top edge of most license plates, fastening down with the same screws that hold the plate/frame. While it lacks the advanced features of more expensive options, it gets the job done with a clear image and basic backup lines in the video output.
Installation is a bit difficult with this camera. While mounting is easy, getting it connected to the power supply and monitor requires routing wires around the vehicle to the right spot. Professional installation may be required for the best results.
Best Backup Camera Honorable Mention: TOGUARD Backup Camera 7" Mirror Dash Cam
To avoid the complicated installation of some backup camera systems, it's best to go with a camera that reduces the number of installation steps required. That is the case with the TOGUARD Backup Camera.
As a mirror dash cam, this backup camera comes in two parts: a mirror display and the rear-mounted camera itself. The 7-inch display provides a great view of both the front and rear cameras. Like a regular dash cam, the unit also offers extended recording functions and automatic start/stop when it detects a collision.
The automatic recording does have a sensitivity issue at times, turning on with the slightest jolt. Installing the backup camera still requires some effort to get the camera mounted and the wires situated as well.
- Don't rely solely on a backup camera when driving. Just like your mirrors, it has its own limitations.
- Clean the lens of the camera every now and then, especially after snow or rain. The small lens can easily get blocked with dirt and debris.
- If you find a blank screen after installing the camera, there is probably an issue with the monitor itself or the connections.
- Larger vehicles like trucks and RVs may require more than one camera to get the best rear coverage possible.
Q. What are the colored lines for in the backup camera image?
A. Those lines give you a visual reference for how close rear objects are to your vehicle. For example, something that intercepts the red line is close to hitting the vehicle.
Q. Can I install a backup camera on an RV?
A. Yes. Many backup camera kits include a camera that can be placed in other positions further back from the monitor. Wireless kits are the best for this kind of placement since you won't need long cords.
Q. Can I install a backup camera myself?
A. Depending on the backup camera, yes. License plate and mirror cameras tend to be easy to install if you can manage the cords and power connections. Some, however, require some holes to be drilled for wires or the camera itself.
Q. Can I add more cameras to a backup camera system?
A. This depends on the monitor and the number of inputs it has. Some displays only have one input just for a backup camera. Others can handle more cameras for the front or sides.
Our top choice for the best backup camera is the LeeKooLuu Backup Camera and Monitor Kit. As a complete package, it's hard to go wrong with the included camera and monitor.
To save some money, check out the eRapta ERT01 2nd Generation Car Rear View Camera instead. Coming with just the camera, this option is a good choice for supplementing an existing display or infotainment system.
Give us your thoughts on our backup cameras picks in the comments below.
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