We have guests with tiny panel van conversions up to large A-Class motorhomes. Some have saved cash and gone the second-hand route while others have splashed out and gone for a new motorhome. What each and every one of our motorhome guests have in common though is they each care deeply for their motorhomes and they don’t want them to get damaged. One of the trickiest aspects of manoeuvring a motorhome is reversing. In most cases, motorhomes have zero visibility through the rear. Side mirrors provide a little bit of visibility, however, you cannot see directly behind the motorhome when reversing. Therefore, something I see our motorhome guests having fitted more and more is reversing cameras.
There is an absolutely huge range of reversing cameras available online for motorhomes. Therefore choosing the right set up for your motorhome can be a real challenge: Image – Amazon
One of our motorhome guests who has fitted a reversing camera told me it took them several weeks to actually decide on what camera and screen to go with. They couldn’t decide whether to go wired or wireless? Where and how to fit the camera, the size of the screen etc. So with this post, I wanted to run through the various options a motorhome owner has when choosing a suitable reversing camera. You also need to consider how comfortable you are with DIY. If you have a little bit of experience with electronics/TVs etc you should be fine with 12V power/visual cables. If not you could have a reversing camera professionally installed. Alternatively, there is the WiFi reversing camera route. WiFi reversing cameras have various pros and cons which I’ll discuss below.
I hope you have the time to read this whole post on motorhome reversing cameras. If not please feel free to use the Table of Contents below to jump to a particular section. Enjoy 🙂
Introduction to Motorhome Reversing Cameras
More and more motorhome owners want a reversing camera fitted. Therefore this is not lost on motorhome manufacturers and dealers. Many new motorhomes will either come with a reversing camera fitted as standard. Alternatively, it may be offered as an optional extra. Furthermore, dealers will fit a reversing camera to pretty much any motorhome. However, there is obviously a fitting cost associated with that which you may think is a bit steep. Also, generally motorhome dealers are going to fit screens and cameras they are familiar with. Hence, there may be a different camera or screen that you want for your motorhome which a dealer won’t be able to fit. So what are the main options when it comes to motorhome reversing camera setups? Well, the video below from Practical Motorhome provides an excellent introduction to the topic.
From watching the video above, the benefits of a motorhome reversing camera should be clear. Every motorhome would have much better rear view visibility. However, if you ever tow a trailer or car behind your motorhome the benefits are even more significant. I’ll now discuss the individual components of a motorhome rear view reversing camera set up in more detail, starting with your choice of camera.
The Different Types of Reversing Cameras for Motorhomes
So as Dave shows in the video above there really three main different types of motorhome reversing camera. The first is sometimes referred to as a bullet camera. There are also fixed/titling wide-angle reversing cameras. Which camera is suitable for your motorhome will depend on factors such as your budget and where you wish to fit the reversing camera.
Bullet Reversing Cameras
Generally, bullet type reversing cameras are the cheapest you can purchase. Often they are located lower down on the back of the motorhome. Frequently around the height of the rear number plate. Product descriptions for bullet type reversing cameras often state ‘wide field of view’. However, they often don’t actually state what that field of view is. Also, they use marketing buzz words such as ‘High Definition’, but the specs then state a resolution of 648*488 pixels. If we go by the definition of High Definition when it comes to TV screens, you require a minimum of 720 pixels. Hence the reversing camera in the image below is not actually High Definition. Why the definition of the reversing camera matters I’ll discuss below.
A very cheap (less than £10) bullet type reversing camera such as this is often a false economy. It generally won’t provide a very clear image to provide you with confidence when reversing your motorhome: Image – Amazon
There are better quality/more expensive bullet type cameras. However, if they don’t provide a wide-angle of view it really limits their value as a reversing camera. What you will also notice from the example above is that it would be fitted flush with the back of the motorhome. So while you would be able to see obstacles behind you it would be very tricky to judge distances. Therefore while reversing you would not be able accurately to judge how much space you have between the obstacle before you hit it with your motorhome. For reversing up to a trailer tow hitch, a camera such as this would not be ideal.
Fixed/Tilting Wide Angle Reversing Cameras
This type of reversing camera is the favoured choice by most motorhome owners. The wide viewing angle when mounted at the top rear of the motorhome means you will be able to see both rear corners. If the camera has a wide enough field of view you would also be able to see the rear tow hitch if you have one on your motorhome.
This product is by no means the best example of a fixed wide-angle reversing camera. However, it does at least provide a 120-degree viewing angle: Image – Amazon
The particular example in the image above while it is able to be tilted, it is not a true tilting reversing camera. There are more premium products which actually have a motorised camera inside which can be tilted up and down from inside the motorhome cab. Say for instance you did have a tow hitch on your motorhome. You could angle the camera down at the tow hitch for coupling up. If you do not have a trailer on the back of your motorhome you could then raise the height of the camera from within your motorhome to look straight back.
I’ve been unable to find a UK website with a motorised tilt reversing camera for reference, I can only find this US example. The point being, if you want to go the route of a fully motorised tilting reversing camera (if you can find one) it will be several hundred pounds just for the camera.
Reversing Camera Features to Consider
Whichever type of reversing camera you choose for your motorhome there are a couple of features you should review and consider. I’ve briefly touched on them above, but I’ll quick summarise them in a bit more detail below.
How Wide is Wide When it Comes to Viewing Angles?
So the example wide-angle reversing camera above provides 120 degrees of view. Depending on the position of the reversing camera you should be able to view both rear corners of the motorhome. However, there are other reversing cameras that provide 170 degrees of view. What that means is you would be able to see beyond the rear corners of the motorhome. Where that can be of particular benefit is if you are reversing around a bend. You would be able to see obstacles sooner. Hence you would have more time to adjust your turning radius and speed.
This particular reversing camera has a wider field of view than many other cameras at 170 degrees. It also has High Definition image quality at 1080×720 pixels: Image – Amazon
Reversing Camera Image Resolution Is Important
So earlier in the post when discussing the cheapest reversing cameras you can buy (bullet cameras) I noted some products state they’re ‘High Definition’ when they’re not. I also stated High Definition requires at least 720 pixels to be accurately referred to as such. But why does it even matter? Well, if you are only using the reversing camera as a general indication of where large obstacles are, a low-resolution image may be sufficient. However, if you are trying to reverse the motorhome towing hitch up to a trailer you really need a high-resolution camera to judge position accurately. Furthermore, if you are trying to reverse the motorhome precisely up against a wall or other vehicle that’s going to be a lot easier with a higher resolution/high definition camera.
There is a big caveat to my comments above though. The reversing camera is only as good as the screen your viewing it on. In other words, its pointless using a high definition camera with a standard low definition screen. So whatever the resolution/pixel count of the camera, you want your screen to match or exceed the camera resolution. Furthermore, as Dave mentions in the video above, consider screen size. For instance, viewing a high-resolution image on a small diameter screen is by no means ideal. Really you want a screen at least 5″ and in high definition (above 720 vertical pixels).
Reversing Camera Waterproof IP Ratings
So every reversing camera you find will state ‘waterproof’, however, that’s such a general term you want to look into the specifics. Essentially, you want to look what the IP rating of the reversing camera is. IP stands for Ingress Protection, in other words how well protected the reversing camera is from moisture and other foreign particles such as dirt and dust.
Many of the reversing cameras online are rated as either IP66 or IP67, but what does that mean? Well, the first digit (6) means the reversing cameras are dust-tight. The second digit, in one example 6 indicates that the reversing camera is protected against ‘powerful water jets’. Hence, the camera is not only protected from rain but also if you clean your motorhome with a pressure washer. However, if the second digit is 7 that means the reversing camera has a 30-minute protection rating when submerged in water up to 1m.
Illuminated Reversing Cameras
You will find that some reversing camera are surrounded by a couple of LEDs. Now, when you put your motorhome into reverse your reversing lights will provide some illumination for the reversing camera to display an image on the screen. However, unless you have upgraded your motorhome reversing lights for bright LEDs the image may be a bit blurred. Hence, a reversing camera with its own additional light source is worth considering.
Wireless Motorhome Reversing Cameras?
Now, in the video above Dave is pretty dismissive of wireless motorhome reversing cameras due to their issues with poor image/signal quality. Generally, in most cases, I do agree with him. Yes, wireless accessories are improving, but in general, especially on the more budget end of the product spectrum, the don’t often live up to expectations. Therefore, if you can, go with a fixed wired reversing camera over a wireless camera. It may take more work and planning to fit it to your motorhome. But you are more likely to have a reliable and good quality image while your reversing.
There are some wireless reversing cameras with good reviews. However, I would generally avoid the cheapest wireless reversing cameras. The image quality and reliability is likely to be poor: Image – Amazon
Screens for Motorhome Reversing Cameras
Often reversing cameras for motorhomes come as kits including a camera and screen. However, purchasing an additional screen may be unnecessary. For instance, I’ve previously written a post on caravan/motorhome Sat Nav units. Well, in some cases you can connect a reversing camera to the Sat Nav. Therefore as many people already have a Sat Nav on their motorhome dashboard, it saves the need and space of another screen just for the reversing camera. So before you go ahead and purchase a motorhome reversing camera kit with a screen, check your Sat Nav manual to see if it will accept external video input from a reversing camera.
Another option is to replace the radio currently in your motorhome for one with a motorised screen as Dave has done in the video above. The benefits of this approach are it keeps clutter on your dashboard to a minimum, and screen can be retracted when not required.
When purchasing a motorised screen such as this be careful to pick a product that can accept a visual input cable from the reversing camera: Image – Amazon
Some of the wireless reversing cameras can display an image to a mobile phone or tablet, hence again removing the need for a dedicated screen. Whatever type of screen you choose remember that is going to be a lot easier to see what’s going on with a larger screen. Even if a wireless camera can display an image to a smartphone screen on your dashboard will that screen be big enough for you to view what’s going on behind you?
Conclusions on Motorhome Reversing Cameras
As you can see from the above, choosing the best reversing camera setup for your motorhome is not that easy. There are so many options to consider with regards to the types of camera and screen size etc. In most cases, a mid-range fixed wide-angle camera (wired) mounted at the top rear of your motorhome is going to provide the best solution for most people. In terms of what type/size of screen, well that’s really going to come down to your available budget. Swapping out your existing radio for a motorized screen media player is a nice neat option, but its also the most expensive. Furthermore, some people may struggle with the wiring on a DIY install.
Dave in the video above and my own comments are a bit dismissive of wireless motorhome reversing cameras. However, really it all depends on the product in question. If its a well made camera with good electronics the wireless signal may be able to carry a good image quality reliably. I would encourage you to also check the battery specs on wireless reversing cameras. A good wireless signal is only as good as the rechargeable battery it relies on. In summary, while I would describe a reversing camera as an optional motorhome accessory, it is one you should seriously consider.
Anyway, I hope you found this post on motorhome reversing cameras interesting/useful. I also hope at some point in the near future you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common. 🙂