Best Backup Camera for your Money
High-end modern cars have a rear camera included in the accessories packet. However, not everyone can afford to buy a new and fully-accessorized vehicle these days. This means that many drivers are left guessing when it comes to backing up in a parking lot or in front of their house.
While most modern vehicles have parking sensors, the best backup camera gives you visual of the back side. This way, you can park like a pro and you can stop worrying that someday you’ll manage to bump your neighbor’s car.
Since there are lots of different products out there, we created a detailed and well-researched list with the best after-market rear-view cameras with monitors. Also, we’ll walk you through how to choose the best backup camera for your needs and your budget.
We consider this to be the best overall because it’s easy to install and turns on automatically when you shift into reverse. Even more, it uses a 2.4G digital wireless signal to prevent interference from other devices (especially ones with built-in Bluetooth).
The package comes with a wide angle weatherproof (IP67 rating) rear camera with night vision and a 4.3” LCD dash monitor. The monitor has a suction cup device, so you can easily install it in a position that’s most convenient on your dashboard/windshield. Still, the monitor fell off a few times during our review, so you may want to invest in a better mounting device.
The rear camera and the monitor communicate with each other, so you can have live footage of what’s going on in the back of your car. This reduces blind spots and you even get parking assistant features (guiding lines) to avoid crooked parking.
You’ll also get a power adapter for the monitor, which goes into the DC connector in your vehicle. The good news is that it will only receive signal from the camera when you’re in reverse, so it won’t disturb you while driving. Moreover, since this is an LCD monitor, you have the options to adjust color, contrast, brightness, turn parking guidelines on/off, and mirror the image.
The camera goes between the car and the license plate (for the best viewing angle), but you’ll need to splice into the wires in your rear lights to power it (it’s not difficult and you get a useful instruction manual to guide you).
However, you should keep in mind that this only works for regular vehicles. The wireless range isn’t powerful enough to be reliable on RVs or large trailers.
If you’re looking for a camera model that doesn’t require any drilling or splicing into wires, this is one of the best options on the market!
Reasonably priced, this rearview backup system only takes a few minutes to install because it uses batteries to power up the camera. This means you’ll have to switch the batteries from time to time, and the performance may be affected by extreme temperatures, so you should carefully consider the pros and cons before taking a decision.
Overall, the system is quite good as it comes with basic features such as automatic LED light for night vision, interference-free long-range transmission, and a wide 150-degree diagonal viewing angle.
Inside the car, the 4.3” monitor can be mounted on the dashboard using the pedestal mount with adhesive, but we recommend getting a suction cup. Because the monitor uses the cigarette lighter for power (so there’s no need to wire it in) there may be some tension created by the springy wire. During our review, this caused the mount to become unstuck quite often.
The image quality is clear and sharp, but there is a noticeable lag, so make sure to not back up too quickly. You also get controls for adjusting viewing settings and assistance lines for parking.
Since the camera is fixed in the casing that needs to be mounted between the vehicle and the license plate, the angle can’t be adjusted. Also, the camera turns on when the monitor receives power, so you can control it from inside the vehicle.
Compatible with most devices, this rearview camera can be used on RVs, trucks, and trailers. It’s also compatible with a wide range of personal vehicles, which makes it quite popular. Also, the system uses a digital wireless signal to communicate, so there won’t be any interferences from other devices.
The waterproof (IP69 rating) camera features a wide view angle (149 degrees) that reduces the blind spots to a minimum, increasing the safety of your parking experience. Also, the camera is equipped with 8 LED lights that automatically turn on at night, thus delivering a clear image even at night time.
The 5” monitor supports HD image quality and has parking guidelines features. It also offers controls for adjusting brightness, contrast, and other settings. To mount it in the car, you’ll find a suction cup support that can be used on the windshield or the dashboard.
Finally, to get everything going, you’ll have to connect the camera and the monitors to a power source. With the monitor, you can simply use the power adapter included in the package, but the camera needs to be wired in, so it gets power directly from the battery.
Now, it’s important to mention that this is a budget backup camera, so the installation instructions are not extremely clear. So, if you don’t feel ready for a DIY project, it’s best to ask for professional help.
If you’re looking for a more advanced backup camera system, we highly recommend the Auto-VOX X2! The system comes with impressive features but it’s also pricey, so it may not fit everyone’s budget.
But let’s have a look at the features that we’re sure will impress you. First, this is a 9.8” touchscreen that straps over the vehicle’s rearview mirror, so you don’t have to add yet another gadget on your dashboard or windshield. The rearview camera Is waterproof and goes over the rear license plate, like with all the products on our list. The camera connects to the touchscreen in the car and provides a clear view (wide 140-degree viewing angle) of the surroundings, with assisting guidelines.
However, there’s also a front camera that records in high resolution, acting as a dash cam with loop recording. Even more, the system is equipped with a G-force sensor which detects collisions and automatically saves the footage on the SD card (you need to purchase this separately).
So, if someone bumps into you or you get into an accident, the front camera will be there to witness and record everything. As such the Auto-VOX X2 system can just as well be used as a security camera.
Now, if this is not enough, you should know that the system also includes a lane departure warning system. The front camera scans the road and emits visual and audible warnings if it detects you’re going out of lane.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is only a rearview camera, with all the accessories it needs for installation. As such, you won’t get an LCD monitor in the package, so you need to purchase one separately or use the one you already have installed in your vehicle.
In terms of performance, the camera is waterproof (IP69K rating), features a 170-degree viewing angle, an F1.2 lens, and an HD resolution of 600TVL. The housing is metallic, and the camera is attached to a plate that will be screwed onto the vehicle, thus allowing you to manually adjust the angle. There’s also the option of guidelines, but it can be deactivated if you don’t want it.
The installation may be a bit tricky as you need to do some wire splicing, but you can always ask for specialized help. Given the low-cost of the product, the fact that it still works well in low-light conditions (0.01 Lux), and the high-level of compatibility with different length vehicles, the NATIKA backup camera is worth a try!
Best Backup Camera Buying Guide
As promised, we’ll walk you through the features that matter when selecting a rearview camera. This way, if you the products we reviewed are not a good fit, you can still go on and search for more.
Method of Installation
Most backup cameras will require some type of wire splicing since they need a permanent power source. However, depending on the type of transmission (wireless or otherwise) there may be more work involved.
Now, if you’re skilled at DIY electrical projects, this method of installation may not be that difficult. But if you’re not, we recommend asking for a professional’s help. The costs are not that high, and it is the best way to make sure nothing gets damaged in the process.
On the other hand, if you want something easy, you may want to look for a system that works on batteries.
Also, make sure to choose a camera that uses a secure mounting method (not adhesive based). This way, you don’t run the risk of losing the rearview camera after the first bump.
Viewing Angle & Resolution
The main purpose of a rearview camera is to reduce the blind spots when backing up and take the approximation and guesswork out of parking. As such, most of these cameras will boast a wide viewing angle (140-degrees and above), which is important in providing more clarity when it comes to what happens behind the vehicle.
Finally, the camera should have high-definition resolution so it can transmit sharp images with clear details.
It’s best to select a system that supports some sort of night vision for both driving at night and in low-light conditions (at evening, in dark parking lots, and so on).
For this, some platforms are equipped with LED or IR lights, while others have a high-quality lens that can provide an image even when the light is dim. Still, the latter won’t do you any good at night (without extra help from a lighting system), so make sure you understand the implications.
This is the part of the system that sits on your dashboard or windshield and displays the image from the camera. As you can see from the reviews above, the monitor varies in size, and use either a suction cup or an adhesive mount. We recommend the suction cup, as it’s more reliable.
Just like the camera, the monitor needs a power source. In this case, there are two options: the cigarette lighter with a power adapter or wire splicing so the monitor is connected directly to the car’s battery.
You should choose a monitor that allows the user to adjust settings such as brightness, contrast, and color. These are important as the light varies in your car, and you may want to improve the image accordingly. Also, the resolution is important, as you don’t want the image to be distorted.
The features mentioned above are pretty basic and are available in most affordable products. Still, if you have the budget for more, here are some to keep in mind:
- Parking assistance – guidelines on the screen to guide you while parking;
- Lane departure – the system emits an audio and visual warning when the car is about to switch lanes;
- Angle adjustment – so you can adjust the camera’s angle for a better view;
- Front view camera with recording options – some systems feature both cameras for increased security. This way, if you’re in an accident or someone damages your vehicle, the front camera will record everything.
- Collision detection – most recording systems work in a loop (recording over older footages) but if the system detects a collision, the footage is kept separately.
As we’re sure you know already, parking in a crowded city is a difficult endeavor, so you’ll need all the help you can get to make sure you avoid bumping into other people or cars by accident. Also, it will be easier to use that fancy garage door opener, now that you can back up the car in the garage without hitting the door sides.
An aftermarket rearview camera system can save you a lot of nerves and money on the long-term (even though it requires some extra effort). Moreover, an advanced system can also be used for protection against reckless drivers or thieves!