Reversing cameras, sometimes called wireless backup cameras are available as standard equipment on many new cars, RVs, and lorries. But wireless reversing cameras can also be added to older vehicles to gives you the opportunity to add the same advanced safety system to your vehicle. It’s easy to fit, and it eliminates blind spots, giving you a much greater field of view than you can get from the driver’s seat. There are plenty of cameras to choose from that are suitable for almost every vehicle from the smallest compact to the largest RV. The only challenge is in deciding the right model for your car or truck.
That’s where BestReviews comes in. Our in-depth research is designed to give you the answers you need. Our recommendations highlight the best of the price and performance options available, and in the this buying guide we examine the specifications in more detail.
You’ll get a great view with a reversing camera, but bear in mind that it doesn’t have audible proximity warnings, so you still need to pay attention!
RF vs. WiFi
Originally, all wireless backup cameras used radio frequency (RF) signals, but numerous WiFi systems have now become available.
RF: With RF models you usually get a full kit, both camera and monitor. There’s also a greater choice among permanently installed RF models.
WiFi: With a WiFi system, you’re expected to use your own portable device, either a smartphone or tablet. As a result, entry-level WiFi models can be among the cheapest wireless backup cameras on offer.
There’s some misunderstanding that WiFi systems are a problem in areas where the internet connection is poor or nonexistent. In fact, the transmitter built into the camera creates its own WiFi signal, so it can work anywhere. The drawback with the cheaper models is that pairing them with your phone can be slow and inconsistent, leading to frustration among many owners. There’s also the fact that they tie up your device while you’re backing up, and that you need a separate mount to hold it in a convenient position.
Analogue vs. digital
Technically speaking, all RF signals are analogue, but it’s possible to digitally encode them. As far as wireless backup cameras are concerned, this has a big impact. While the analogue signal can be subject to interference from any other RF device, the same is not true for the digital signal.
Why are both available? Many analogue devices are half the price of digital, and the amount of interference depends on a wide range of factors, so some users may never experience problems. On the other hand, if you park in areas with lots of radio waves (which can be a frequent problem in urban areas) the image can be very poor. If you’re on a tight budget, analogue is better than nothing, but if you can afford it, we strongly recommend digital.
It’s important to pay attention to the specified range — and to take a stated maximum with a pinch of salt. The maximum is invariably quoted as “in ideal conditions.” Err on the side of caution by about 20% and you should minimise any connectivity issues.
"The most common problem with wireless backup cameras is a dirty camera lens! A quick wipe with a soft cloth works wonders."
Cameras: These can be mounted in numerous positions. The most discreet are almost invisible, but they do require you to drill a small hole in the rear of your vehicle. If you don’t like that idea, there are others that mount across the top of the license plate or replace the holder completely. Others can be fixed to the chassis using cable ties, 3M tape, or bolts, the latter being the most secure option with multiple camera systems designed for fifth-wheel and big rig setups. Most cameras are adjustable, so you can get the view you need regardless of the camera’s mounting position or the height of your vehicle.
Monitors: Monitors are usually mounted on the dash or provided with a suction cup for the windshield (some models offer both). The third option replaces your rearview mirror. It’s a very natural place to look when reversing, but it does restrict the screen size.
Naturally, all manufacturers claim their cameras are waterproof, but you need to check the ingress protection (IP) rating. If the camera doesn’t have one, it hasn’t been independently tested. The most common are IP68 and IP69. The first number is for dust, and the 6 means dustproof. The second number is for liquid, and 8 means it can be submerged to about 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. A 9 means it will survive a high-pressure water jet or even steam. You might also want to check operating parameters, the plus and minus range within which the camera will function.
Some cameras are fitted with LEDs to provide extra light when reversing. There are two kinds. Standard LEDs simply provide extra brightness. Infrared (IR) LEDs provide true night vision, but the image is black and white.
Almost all wireless backup cameras provide a parking grid — on-screen guidelines. Often this is adjustable to suit your vehicle, but not always. On some cameras, it can be turned off completely.
Cameras are generally set up to come on automatically when you engage reverse gear, and a sensor needs to be wired in for this to work (into the rear backup light). Some also have an “always-on” option. We found only two fully wireless backup cameras, but without being wired to the backup light, these need to be turned on and off manually.
The angle of view can be anything from 110° all the way to 170°. Problems with edge distortion can occur on some cheap cameras that offer extreme angles, and 120° to 140° is as much as you really need.
Monitor sizes are generally 11 centimetres, 12.7 centimetres, or 18 centimetres. The last is usually found on systems that use two or more cameras and offer split-screen views. Image resolution should be checked carefully because what one manufacturer calls “high definition” (HD) isn’t necessarily what you take it to mean. Many entry-level wireless backup cameras have a resolution of 480 pixels, and a lot of users feel that’s sufficient for the purpose. Also, 720p is fairly common, and a few are 1080p, though it’s debatable whether you really need 1080p resolution on a backup camera. If it’s incidental to the price, it’s a bonus, but we wouldn’t feel the need to pay extra for it.
Some cameras give you the option of a true image or reversed image. You’re used to seeing a reversed image when you look in your rearview mirror, so we don’t see the need for a true image. In fact, it can be quite disorienting.
Wireless backup camera prices
Inexpensive: The cheapest wireless backup cameras are small WiFi units that cost around $35 to $50. For the same price, you can get full RF kits. Range should be acceptable for cars and small pickups, but the RF models are analogue systems, so interference can be a problem.
Mid-range: There are many excellent digital backup cameras in the $80 to $150 range, including WiFi models, and we expect most people will find what they need here.
Expensive: High-resolution 1080p monitors and multiple camera/split-screen systems increase the price. There are several at around $250, but setups for big rigs can reach $500.
Other products we considered
In case you don’t find what you need in our matrix, we found a few more. The LeeKooLuu Wireless Backup Camera is a low-cost system that’s worth considering. If you have a modest-size vehicle, this camera has all the features you’d expect, and it’s very affordable. The most interesting aspect of the Pyle Wireless Backup Camera is the monitor, which replaces your rearview mirror. It’s an ordinary mirror until it’s turned on, and then it becomes a 11-centimetre monitor just where you would naturally look. The camera is rated IP67 and is tilt adjustable. Finally, the iStrong FHD Backup Camera System is specifically designed for RVs, trucks, and trailers. It has an 18-centimetre monitor that can run split-screen, displaying images from both cameras at once, and it can support up to four cameras. The cameras provided are rated IP69 with a 150° view. There is also IR night vision and a constant-monitoring option.
Don’t get into the habit of relying 100% on your backup camera. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says, “Rearview video systems are not a replacement for mirrors or turning around to look; rather, they're an added safety tool for revealing hidden dangers.
Q. Does bad weather interrupt the wireless signal?
A. Technically speaking, wireless and WiFi signals can be affected by wind and rain, but the short distances involved mean it’s unlikely with backup cameras. However, the camera itself has a temperature range, so it could get too hot or too cold to function properly. These are usually quite extreme, but you might want to check specifications if you spend a lot of time in the snow, or in the desert!
Q. Can a backup camera make my vehicle battery go flat?
A. It’s possible but unlikely. If the battery is in good condition, it would have to be left on for several days. Most monitors are powered from your vehicle’s internal 12-volt socket (cigarette lighter). They have an on/off switch or can simply be removed after you’re parked. Those that are direct wired are automatically turned on and off with the ignition.
Q. So wireless backup cameras don’t need any wiring at all, right?
A. Not exactly. Most still need a little quick and easy wiring to hook the transmitter up to the rear backup light so your camera will activate when you put your vehicle in reverse. Some units are completely wireless, but you have to turn them on and off manually.
- Best Overall. Wolfbox G840S Backup Camera. $117 at Amazon. ...
- Best plug-and-play. LeeKooLuu Backup Camera. $48 at Amazon. ...
- Best Truly Wireless. EWay Wi-Fi Magnetic Hitch Wireless Backup Camera. $110 at Amazon. ...
- Best ultra-wide-angle. Garmin BC 40. $121 at Amazon. ...
- Not worth your money. Auto-Vox CS-2 Wireless Backup Camera.
Many wireless backup cameras use an analog signal and are prone to static or signal loss. Sometimes, interference can cause poor image quality. Some wireless backup cameras provide a digital signal, which is more reliable.How do I choose a wireless backup camera? ›
Vehicle type: Some backup cameras may only be equipped to work with certain types of vehicles, like sedans, trucks, or even RVs. Viewing angle: The viewing angle is important because it determines how wide your field of view will be. Generally speaking, the larger your vehicle, the wider the viewing angle should be.What is the difference between a backup camera and a rear view camera? ›
Backup camera – a camera that turns on when you put your vehicle in reverse. Rear-view camera – a camera that you can turn on at any time to see what's behind your vehicle.What are two disadvantages of using wireless cameras? ›
Certain drawbacks of the system are that, like wireless security cameras, they are dependent on how strong the Wi-Fi signals are. The weaker the signal, the less reliable the system can be. They are also susceptible to hacking and can be tampered with and moved easily since absolutely no cables are involved.What are the cons of wireless security cameras? ›
Cons. While wireless home security cameras are easy to set up and get online, they also have a less reliable connection. They are prone to losing connection if your wireless network goes down or is unstable for any reason. This can leave you in the dark and unable to access your camera during internet outages.Which is better a wireless or wired backup camera? ›
Generally, even where both types of cameras are installed, wired options tend to have better picture quality. The professional installation, reliability, and better picture quality of wired caravan cameras tend to give drivers more peace of mind than wireless options.What are the easiest wireless cameras to set up? ›
What is the easiest home security camera to install? If you just want to place a security camera on a shelf or counter, indoor cameras like the Blink Mini, Wyze Cam v3 and Cam Pan 2, Arlo Essential Indoor Cam, GE CYNC Cam and others are generally the easiest to install.What is the easiest wireless camera to install? ›
- Reolink Lumus. Price: $49.09. ...
- Reolink E1 Pro. Price: $49.24. ...
- Kasa Smart 2K Security Camera. Price: $44.99. ...
- EVERSECU HD 2K Wireless PTZ Security Camera. Price: $83.10. ...
- Reolink Argus 3 Pro. Price: $95.99. ...
- Eufy SoloCam E40. Price: $123.99. ...
- Wyze Cam Floodlight Pro.
We rate the AUTO-VOX CS-2 as the overall best backup camera for its competitive price, relatively simple features, and easy installation. This backup camera kit comes with a 4.3-inch monitor display, and its wireless connection removes the labor of hiding wires underneath your car's trim.
Do aftermarket cameras work well? It's hard to replace the OEM camera system with a backup camera that works as well as the factory unit, but installing a camera in a car that did not have one before can be a huge benefit. Backup cameras help avoid accidents and can make your daily drive much safer and easier.What is the difference between a backup camera and a 360 camera? ›
Top-down image: In other words, it's a bird's-eye view of your vehicle and several feet in every direction around it. Split-View screen: A rearview or backup camera only displays the area immediately behind your car when in reverse. The 360 camera includes your vehicle and the surrounding area in every direction.How long do backup cameras last? ›
Based on what vehicle owners say in online forums, it could be as long as 10 years or as short as 10 days. Some owners report problems with cameras conking out or working only intermittently even before the new-car smell wears off, while others say they've received years of reliable service.How much does it cost to add a backup camera to your car? ›
For a vehicle that already has a screen, cameras range from $150-$400. Count on $400-$600 for labor. If your car doesn't have a screen, there's additional cost, of course: $150-$200 for a screen alone and $500-$1,500 for new head unit with a screen.