Last updated on December 15th, 2019 at 11:07 pm
Starting with model year 2019, a backup camera system will be mandatory for all vehicles leased or sold in the United States. This decision was fueled by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and part of the 2008 Driving Safety Act, signed by President George W. Bush. The new safety regulations were triggered by the growing number of accidents, injuries and even deaths from reversing vehicles in the past years. In 2008, NHTSA reported 271 deaths and more than 18,000 injuries resulting from reversing drivers.
There are many variations of rear view backup cameras on the market today. Some brands use a Bluetooth connection to send video to the driver while others used a wired connection. Some have mounting or mirror mounting, warranty differences, price, lenses used and etc. There’s even a rear view camera that flips open when the car is put into reverse gear.
For those who have cars without a backup camera and have no plans of buying a new car, there are a number of moderately priced products that add the safety and convenience of a backup camera. Many aftermarket backup camera systems are sold with a display screen and can be installed easily with basic hand tools.
Best Rear View Backup Cameras
AUTO-VOX RVS-TW Quick Review
AUTO-VOX's RVS-TW wireless backup camera kit is our choice for this year's best rear view camera. Simplicity sells and that's the key feature that puts the RVS-TW in our top spot. The AUTO-VOX RVS-TW is a wireless system that streams a video feed from a license plate camera directly to a universal rear view mirror with a 4.3″ screen built into it. The kit includes everything you need to install a manufacturer-quality backup camera in little time and with little tools. It comes with a rear view mirror monitor, backup camera and a wireless transmitter. An IP67 waterproof camera with 6 LED lights provide clear views in both daylight and at night, while the 2.4G wireless clip-on rear view mirror monitor provides high quality video while you're reversing without turning your head.
Installation of this kit is simple for the DIYer. The license plate camera mounts directly behind your license plate and just needs power from your reverse light. It hooks directly into a wireless transmitter which transmits the streaming video directly to the universal rear view mirror and monitor. Simply strap the rear view mirror over your existing mirror and plug it into your accessory or cigarette lighter for power.
- Easy to install and use compared to traditional backup cameras
- Utilizes 2.4G WiFi signal to transmit video
- Night vision camera with LEDs and IP 67 waterproof rating
- Discreet license plate mounting (mounts behind the plate)
- Some user reviews have complained about premature screen failure
- Bright daylight use & glare can sometimes affect the reverse image
Rear View Safety Wireless RVS 091406 Quick Review
Our pick for the best wireless backup camera system is the Rear View Safety RVS-091406. This 0.8 lb digital wireless waterproof camera is capable of sending images from a distance of up to 70 feet and has a viewing angle of 130 degrees. The RVS-091406 includes a monitor that is powered from the 12v accessory socket. Resolution is advertised at 1440×234. The actual resolution is 480×234 per color (Red, Green, Blue LCD display).
The camera has 9 infrared lights for night vision and has a suction cup mount and has on/off grid lines. The camera powers on only when reverse is selected, making the system energy efficient. Installers can wire the camera to the vehicle running lights to enable this system to function while driving. This is a popular modification with RVers and trailer-haulers. The RVS-091406 works fantastic on boat trailers, too, because of the IP68 dust and water-sealed rating.
Hard-wiring the RVS-091406 will require the purchase of a longer video cable. Only RVS products work with this system.
- Wide viewing angles
- Easy to install
- Water and dust resistant
- Comes with monitor
- Short transmitter cable
- Some users report connectivity problems when used on large trailers. A boosting antenna is available.
- The monitor resolution limits the viewability. Some users reported that the image appeared flat.
- Guidelines are not adjustable.
Yada Digital BT53328M-1 Quick Review
The BT53328M-1 is an easy add-on. It’s IP67 rating camera attaches to the rear license plate and the 4.3 TFT LCD monitor suction cups to your windshield. It is powered by a 12V accessory socket.
The wireless camera mounts to the bottom of the license plate and operates at 2.8gHz for a stable, interference-free image. The transmitter features an advertised range of 50 ft. This system will work on 12v or 24v power systems, a big plus for RVers.
The unit also comes with a 1-year warranty if any issues come up.
- Wide viewing angles
- No interference digital signal
- Clear image quality and parking assistant help
- Price is a bit friendly
- Easily adjustable monitor
- Not 100% waterproof (although IP67 should cover any normal road conditions)
- Short 16” camera-to-transmitter cable
- Some users report lag and choppy image resolution under some conditions
- Wireless License Plate Backup Camera
- 4.3″ Wireless Monitor included
- Automatic LED-enhanced night vision
- 150 Degree View
|Buy on Amazon $299.00|
QuickVu Wireless Backup Camera Quick Review
If hard-wiring a backup camera seems too much of a challenge to make it worth the effort, look into this system from QuickVu. The camera mounts to the vehicle license plate frame while the color LCD screen simply plugs into any 12v accessory socket. That is literally all it takes. QuickVu includes an adhesive mount for the screen, however many users state mathatny vent-mount cell phone holders are adequate for the task.
The monitor comes on an adhesive pedestal mount and plugs into a 12V outlet in the cabin. The camera and screen come on as soon as they receive power, (when the engine is started.) The length of time they stay on is adjustable through an on-screen menu. To get an image from the camera at other times just press the button on the monitor.
The camera has a wide angle lens and the system includes “Night vision” LEDs for use at night. Grid lines are shown on the monitor to indicate scale and distance.
- Easy installation because there's no wiring
- Battery replacement is needed every once and a while
- Some users reported poor build quality and leaking housings
Falcon Zero F360 Quick Review
The Falcon Zero F360 is one of the best backup cameras in the market because it comes with a DVR accident video recorder, 2 cameras, and a 32GB SD card. In addition, the F360 features two 1080p HD cameras. Each camera can rotate 180 degrees to best take advantage of the 120 degree viewing angle. Both cameras feature night vision, an internal battery, and wide lens. Cameras can be mounted front and rear, or both in one direction for a super-wide 240 degree viewing angle.
The 3.5 inch display monitor has a preview feature, built-in microphone and speaker. Looping allows old recordings to be replaced automatically. Settings allow for light compensation. The system can be used with the provided mirror or by clipping over the existing mirror. It has a 1 year warranty and is easy to install and operate.
- Great picture quality
- Memory of up to 32 GB
- Easy to set up
- Loop recording
- Difficult to control menu buttons
- Whitewashed photos when exposed to excess light
HDE 336 Quick Review
The HDE E336 backup camera is a monitor-less system designed for those who are adding a camera to an existing screen (such as with this Sony XAV-AX7000 head unit). This budget system functions really well and can be used on any vehicle. The camera can display pixel ranges up to 828×686 and is user-adjustable to match the capabilities of your monitor. The color capabilities and speed of this system make it a top-pick, even before the incredible price.
- Best budget camera on the list
- HD picture quality and wide viewing angles
- Easy to mount
- Backup guide lines require driver to adjust to them
- Installation is more difficult than some systems
- Rear View Mirror Monitor & Backup Camera
- 480 x 272 pixel Monitor
- 688 X 488 pixel license plate camera
Chuanganzhuo 4.3″ Rear View Monitor & Backup Camera Quick Review
This backup camera uses a provided monitor/ rearview mirror combination. When the monitor is powered on, the image is displayed on the mirror. When off, the mirror functions as normal.
The kit comprises the mirror monitor, camera and two cables, one for power and one for the video signal. The camera mounts to the license plate. It's powered from the reversing light circuit, so some trim removal is needed to patch into the wiring. More trim has to come off to run the video cable up to the mirror in the front. (This cable also supplies power to the monitor.)
The 4.3″ monitor is smaller than what you might get with a separate standalone display, but still perfectly adequate. Plus, if you're already in the habit of looking up at the mirror when reversing it doesn't require you to do anything different.
Other features include:
- Camera and display come on when reverse is selected
- IR lEDs surround the camera for night time visibility
- Lines on the monitor display indicate distance
- No need to have a separate monitor or use your phone every time when reversing
- Great performance at the price
- Lines on the monitor display indicate distance
- Requires a bit of wiring and therefore may need you to consult a professional for installation
- Rear View Mirror & Backup Camera
- 170 Degree View Angle
- 4.3″ LCD Screen
- Night Vision
|Buy on Amazon|
Buyee T475 Quick Review
The waterproof Buyee T475 Wide Angle Rear View Car Camera has a 1.8mm/170 degree angle, day and night vision, and colored display. It can be installed on all types of vehicles and works under just about all types of outdoor conditions. It is equipped with a CMD sensor, display resolution of 628×586 pixels, 420 TV lines, and is IP67 and IP68. IT has automatic white balancing and comes as a complete unit with its own 6 meter video cable, power cable, camera, and monitor.
- Great picture quality throughout because of automatic white balancing
- Reliable features and functionality at the price
- Installation requires wiring
Esky EC170-11 Quick Review
The Esky EC170-11 is the world’s smallest high definition color CCD rear view camera. It’s waterproof, has a 170 degree angle. The EC170-11 is easy to install and very affordable, making it a great option for DIYers searching for a backup camera solution.. It features an NTSC TV system with 420 TV resolution and 628×586 to 510×496 pixels. This backup camera is intended to be hard-wired into a vehicle. It includes the power and ground leads, plus the video lead that is a generous 16ft long.
The EC170 uses a CCD sensor rather than a CMOS sensor like the old model. While CMOS sensors can produce a better image in ideal conditions, CCD sensors are better in low light and when sudden changes in light amplitude occur, like when bright headlights hit the sensor.
This camera does not use LEDs or an IR camera, so night vision is not going to be as good as models with these features. The high definition resolution and sensitive CCD sensor provide for acceptable night vision in most situations.
- Small, sleek and highly functional
- Easy to mount
- Good picture resolution
- Non-IR camera (lower quality at night)
Pyle PLCM 7200 Quick Review
The waterproof Pyle PLCM 7200 backup and rear view camera features night vision, swivel angle, an adjustable camera, grid lines and 7 inch 800x 480 LCD display monitor. You can clip the monitor to your rear view mirror and the mirror becomes a monitor when in reverse. The resolution is 360 TV lines and the camera has an IP68 rating. Other features include a Visual Assist Program for parking. Some users noticed a bluish tint when using at night.
- Good monitor – large display
- Wide viewing angle
- Comes with 1-year warranty
- Easy installation
- Not the highest quality camera
- Bad lens flare in some cases with sunlight
- Blurry images in continuous usage
Pyle PLCM38FRV Quick Review
The Pyle PLCM38FRV is a small and inexpensive cylindrical camera. It comes with a universal mounting bracket and can be mounted to the front or rear of your vehicle above or below the bumper. Many users have installed this camera flush-mounted, even modifying vehicle logos to fit the lens inconspicuously to their vehicle.
The kit includes a long video cable and the power cable but no monitor. Installation will involve removing trim to run the RCA cable up to a monitor at the front. The power lead also needs connecting: patch this into the reversing light circuit to have the camera power up only when reverse is selected.
The camera has a wide field of view (170°) and uses two small LED lenses to amplify night vision, but it is not IR-equipped.
- Wide field of view
- Low light sensitivity
- Affordable option
- Requires more work to mount than number-plate designs
Accele RVCPLMBS Quick Review
This is an affordable camera that needs a little work to install. The camera itself is built into a 10″ long bar that you secure in place by the same screws that hold your license plate. There is no monitor or display screen included so you'll need to buy that separately.
What you do get in the kit is a 23′ RCA video cable and a much shorter power cable. The RCA cable needs running up to the front of the car where you'll mount the monitor. Making a neat job will involve removing some pieces of trim. You'll also need to hook up the power cable to a 12V feed and ground. The manufacturer suggests using the supply to the reversing lights, because then the camera will only be on when reverse is selected. Despite the low price, this camera has some appealing features:
- Wide field of view (170°)
- Camera angle is adjustable up and down
- Low Light LEDs for night vision (Not IR)
- Displays grid lines to help with parking.
- Extra-long RCA cable
- LEDs to help with night vision
- Price is very friendly to the pocket
- Not easy to install because it needs some wiring
- Requires you to buy a monitor separately
How We Chose
We're continually updating our list and research the market for the best aftermarket backup cameras. The following car backup cameras were assessed based on the following criteria:
Features – Sure, you can buy a generic rear view camera but why settle for something ordinary when you can get extraordinary for a few more dollars?
Value for Money – It is important to many buyers to know that a product is a great deal not just because of its features but also because of its value.
Installation – One of the challenges of buying accessories for vehicles is being able to install it without incurring additional costs.
User-Friendliness – Backup cameras should be easy to install with instructions that come in acceptable English and straightforward instructions, right?
User-Reviews – Everyone has an opinion, we consider other expert and user reviews.
After Service – There is nothing more frustrating about a purchase than indifference from the vendor or manufacturer especially if you encounter problems on the first year.
Common Terms & Features
When you’re looking to purchase a backup camera, there are a few questions that you should first ask yourself:
- How will I be using the camera? – Will you be using it to reverse and park, for backing up trailers, etc?
- What features do I absolutely need? – Will night vision make or break the deal for you? Clarity? Adjustability?
Let us help explain a few of the key differences, features and terms of cameras that you should consider when you’re looking to purchase so that you can make an informed decision. Let’s start out with type.
There are two primary types of rear view cameras for cars: CCD and CMOS.
CCD (Charge Coupled Device): CCD cameras are the more expensive of the two cameras. They provide the higher quality image of the two types and operate the best in low light conditions. They typically aren’t ideal for high-speed imagery and don’t have as fast a frame rate as CMOS.
CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor): CMOS cameras were invented in the 1960s. It’s an ‘analog’ technology that’s typically cheaper than CCD, but the image quality is normally not as clear as CCD. They have a higher frame rate, but are not as good in low light applications. CMOS cameras are normally more compact than CCD, and offer a wider variety of applications because of their size.
Camera features are key to your decision making process. Like we mentioned earlier, figuring out what you’ll be using the camera most for will determine the features that you’ll need. Here are a few things to consider when you’re looking:
Camera Angle: The camera angle determines the width of view that you’ll see from the camera. The wider the angle, the wider image the camera will capture. Typically, backup cameras will be 120 degrees and higher. We recommend a 170 degree camera view for parking, and a smaller angle view for mounting trailers.
Night Vision: This is pretty critical for backup cameras. Without night vision, the camera is all but worthless in a low light, night condition. There are two types of night vision: Infrared and Night Vision. Infrared uses an infrared light to light up the area behind your camera as you backup, while the night vision cameras use a traditional night vision looking view.
Image Quality: Backup camera specs are great to read through, but judging the image quality based on what's on paper is tough if you don't know what you're looking at. Don't get distracted by claims of having an HD quality camera. True HD is rare and hard to come by. At the end of the day, the image quality needs to be clear with enough contrast, color accuracy and detail for you to see objects and road conditions. That being said, the best way to judge image quality without having it directly on your screen is to look at resolution. Here's a quick breakdown of typical resolutions to give you an idea of where backup camera resolutions lie in comparison to other video devices:
|Device Type||Quality||Resolution (Pixels)|
|Typical Backup Cameras||SD||720x480|
|Built-in webcameras||HD, 720p||1280x720|
|Stand-alone webcameras||HD, 1080p||1920x1080|
|High end dash cameras & recorders||HD, widescreen||2560x1080|
|High end smartphones||4K||3840x2160|
|High end compact cameras||20 megapixels||5472x3648|
Installation: There are normally two types of mounting for backup cameras: fixed and license plate. Fixed mounting are universal, meaning you can mount them almost wherever – on a bumper, the side of an RV, really any flat surface. Fixed cameras are normally a little more difficult to install. License plate cameras mount on top of your license plate. They’re incredibly simple to install and pretty universal.
Screen: Some cameras come with a screen included. Some are sold separately of the camera. There are two key types of screens for backup cameras: rear view mirror and stand alone. Stand alone cameras can be mounted anywhere – on your dash, console, etc. Rear view mirrors have to replace your current mirror. Typically installation of rear view mirror screens is more difficult. Sometimes, you don’t need a screen though if you have an aftermarket multimedia head unit. In this case we’d recommend a camera that doesn’t include a screen.
Looking for more details to help you install your new backup camera? We put together a detailed walkthrough on how to install a backup camera to assist all of the DIY people out there.