A backup camera for your RV? “Wireless” may not be best

10
By Russ and Tiña De Maris

If you’ve bought a car in the last few years, chances are it came with a rear view or “backup” camera system. Does your RV have one? They’re a really handy innovation, not only from the standpoint of the safety of kids and pets (not backing over them) but for ease of backing your rig into a campsite or other area. There’s another great “handy” to add to the list: We put one on the back of our tow rig, and now hitching up the travel trailer is easy — the pilot peers into the monitor and slides right under the hitch — no shouting, and no endangering a spotter.

When considering a system, there are plenty of rearview camera options, but one of the first to consider is going with a “wired” or “wireless” system. As it sounds, the choice is between a rearview system where the camera transmits the image up to the driving area through the air (wirelessly) or by permanently installed wiring. If you’re going to do the installation yourself, the wireless system probably sounds most enticing. But hang on — there are considerations to be made.

Our own experience with a wireless system may shed some light. We already had a major-brand GPS navigation system, especially designed for RVers. The company soon told us about a new add-on: A wireless rearview camera system. Install the camera at the rear of the rig, plug a receiver between the GPS unit and the power outlet, and as soon as you shift into reverse, the GPS map image would be replaced with a view from the rear-mounted camera.

We fired off at the project with great enthusiasm, and soon had the new backup camera installed. After hitching up the trailer, we went off for our first trial run. The first time we hit “reverse” with the tow vehicle, our GPS image miraculously did — nothing. The map of our location sat there looking at us in mute testimony that something was wrong. We tested and retested and found we’d done everything right. The only time we ever got the wireless backup camera image to “come up” on the GPS unit was on a rare occasion when we were completely jackknifed. Our 23-foot travel trailer in combination with a long-bed pickup was just too long for the signal to run up to the cab.

Other problems with wireless systems that users frequently report are interference related. Do you have satellite radio? Use a cellular telephone or other data device? Drive on the same roads with folks who use CB or Ham radios? Get ready to expect interference issues that can make your clear backup camera images get lines and fuzz, to complete breakup and uselessness.

Like the wise man wrote, “Everything having been heard” — wired backup camera systems fix all those problems. They are a bit more complicated to install, and if you’re working with a fifth wheel or travel trailer, it’s another set of wires that you’ll have to remember to connect when you hitch up, but you won’t ever worry about distance limitations or RFI (radio frequency interference) spoiling the picture.

##RVDT1300

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

10 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sharon B
3 months ago

I keep my rear camera on all the time while in route. It is a wireless system and I have the power hooked up on the license place light wire for a constant power source without interruption. I want to see what’s going on behind me. Also I can drive forward or backward without any issues. The system I bought has a long length wavelength way beyond the length of my TT and pick up truck so I am ok with the distance of the signal. I also recommend using silicone or something on the camera so water does not enter the camera box. Another thing I do is to remove my camera when not in use and cap the electric source to keep it dry and clean.
My first camera was not wireless. It was never hooked up correctly and would have interruptions when I braked, obviously not done right. Had it redone and it still did not work right. Finally the camera got water in it and died.
So I love my new wireless and got it on Amazon. Had email support from the company in China asking me if I ever have any problems just email them and they will help. So far all is well. They also have a YouTube for correct installation. You can also get more cameras and they can be viewed on the screen. LOVE IT!
Amazon Amtifo FHD 1080 Digital WIreless. 7″ monitor with split screen $159.99

Tony F Stekar
3 months ago

I wired a back up camera to my camper ; 32 feet . Ran cable to front of trailer as wireless won’t read. With it at the front it came in but with line in it. Come to find that hooking it in too the tail light pulled a lot of power from them ;which dim park lights down along with dash lights. I tried too have it run as I traveled down the road to see what’s behind me easier , after 36 hours of combination of time’s doing this the camera burn out. I’m am now trying a observation camera that is wireless haven’t hook up yet so not sure if it will do better? First trip will be in may won’t now till then.

Dave J
3 months ago

I have one of the $100 2.4 gig wireless units. Camera is on the rear of our 34 foot 5er. I extended its transmitter all the way forward to under the forward vent cover. Power from the 12 volt power in the trailer. Interesting to see all the “other” signals that often “capture” my receiver as we travel. Baby monitors, security cams, hot tub cans, and even more “sensitive” views. I often wonder how many people with these cams realize that what they transmit “others” can see. What I really want is a wired system with 3 cans. One looking at 5th wheel for hookup. One on top of trailer looking at the UTV trailer we pull and traffic behind and the last one looking at the hitch on the rear of the 5er to used when backing in to hook up to the UTV trailer.

Phil Atterbery
3 months ago

Without a doubt, adding my “hitch cam” to the rear of my 38N Bounder, was the best money I’ve ever spent. First pass success to connect my car hauler is the best.
Yes, chasing in the coax was a pain but well worth it.

Steve
3 months ago

I overcame the wireless distance problem by removing the camera’s antenna, making a long extension cable and reinstalling the antenna (zip tie) to my front a/c shroud. Running the cable across the roof is a lot easier than running the hardwire cable underneath with a plug to the truck. Mine now works great on a 42′ TH and is wired to clearance lights so stays on when lights are on.

David
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve

What type of cable did you use & how did you connect it to the camera?
Thanks.

George Sylvia
3 months ago

I bought a wired system it came with enough cable to reach from the rear of my fiver to my truck cab. The hardest part was putting the wire from the trailer to the hitch. I put a separate cable plug so I could plug it in to the truck. It works great I don’t have it hooked to the backup system so it is always on but if I get a second camera that will work with the backup system for the hitch view. Then I will be able to switch between the two cameras. I originally bought this system to test it as it only cost $50 dollars and came with a seven inch monitor with the sun shield and 60 feet of cable with the one camera and was cheap enough if I screwed up it wasn’t too expensive. It also came with a in dash mounting housing but I opted for the on top dash mount. It works great as a backup and also as a rear view camera it did have some interference from my engine but a choke on the incoming power took care of that. All in all it worked better than I expected for such a low cost system.

Tom
3 months ago

There are repeaters available that help transmit the RF output over further distances. Having said that, remember that these devices operate on un-controlled frequencies. You may even see the view from another system near you. A friend of mine was backing his RV, while watching a nearby stationary camera. Can be scary.

John Goodell
3 months ago

I had the same experience with a “2.4G Wireless AV Cable Transmitter And Receiver For Bus Car Video Monitor Truck Reversing Rear View Backup Camera 200m Range” that I got from Amazon. I liked my backup camera on the truck and car so much that when I realized my GPS had a video input, I started experimenting to see if I could get it to work with a backup camera on my 35-foot 5th wheel. These transmitter/receivers and a camera are pretty inexpensive. It works, sometimes. I originally had the receiver on the dashboard between the GPS and windshield, but had to move it out a few feet to the right due to poor reception. As I said, it works well sometimes. There is lots of interference, and it usually works OK if we are not moving. So it has been useful in a limited way if I need to check behind me before I back up. Previously my wife or I would hop out to double-check before backing, and the camera now gives me a quick ‘snapshot’ view before the picture fades out to static. I wouldn’t have bothered with this setup if I knew it would work so poorly, but as I said it didn’t cost much. I assume the system in the article above is the Garmin video add-on, which I was considering as a purchase i I ever bought the Garmin GPS. I’d like to see a more analytical review of the Garmin, but with this info I would not buy it without a positive technical review.

Robert
3 months ago

I opted for the hard wire set up when doing mine. Didn’t trust the reliability of a signal from the back of the TT to the cab. I bought two cameras and 1 screen. I have a Pickup and TT. The truck didn’t come with a camera. So i ran a RCA video cable from the rear of the trailer to the hitch, Installed a camera on the back of the truck and on on the trailer. Using RCA plug in the truck I can now switch between the cameras so I have video on the back of the trailer when towing, and on the truck when not towing