The Best Backup Cameras: Your Rear Bumper Thanks You


Lisa Conant

According to Autoinsurance.org, as of May 2018, all newly manufactured vehicles in the US are required to have backup cameras with video displays as standard equipment. But if you’re one of the millions of Americans driving an older car that doesn’t have a backup camera and you are feeling left out, not to worry. Aftermarket backup cameras are affordable and effective. Many are straightforward to install and easy to use. This installation guide from TheDrive.com estimates that you can install your backup camera without professional help in about an hour—with little prior experience.  You may even get to pay a lower insurance premium, since adding a backup camera makes your car safer.

If you’re considering adding a backup camera to your ride to enhance your safety and the safety of those around you, choosing the best one can take more time than actually installing it since there are so many options out there. In order to help expedite the process, we’ve done a lot of the research for you and have come up with a list of favorites, like the Auto-Vox CS-2 Wireless Backup Camera, which provides high-quality, reliable imaging and is easy to use. 

5 Things to Consider When Buying a Backup Camera

1. Type of Backup Camera: Backup cameras aren’t a “one-size-fits-all” choice. You’ll need to decide if you want one that mounts to the license plate of your car or a separate small bracket-mounted unit that may require a bit of drilling to install. 

2.  Wired versus Wireless: As the term implies, some backup cameras require wiring into your vehicle in order to send the signal to the display that’s usually mounted on your dash. Others rely on a wireless transmitter in the camera to send a signal to a receiver in the display monitor without the need for pulling apart your car to wire the camera directly. The signal is often less reliable than a wired system, but the technology is constantly improving. 

3. Display Type: Most aftermarket backup cameras come with an on-dash suction cup mounted display. However, you can also choose from an integrated in-dash screen that is more discreet, a rearview mirror replacement that houses the display in the mirror itself, or even an integrated factory OEM (original equipment manufacturer) upgrade.

4. Amount of Illumination: Today’s backup cameras come with strong and bright LED lights that allow you to see accurately at night and in low-light conditions. The number and intensity of those lights will obviously dictate how well you can see your surroundings. Look for backup cameras that offer a minimum of six LED lights for decent nighttime illumination.

5. Enhanced Safety Features: Most of today’s top-quality backup cameras offer enhanced safety features, other than just a digital view of what’s behind your car. Look for an integrated backup grid or line system that helps you stay straight and gauge distance. You can also find cameras that include a recording function and collision detection for added safety. You can even get cameras that can be integrated with front- or side-mounted cameras to give you almost 360 degrees of viewing coverage.

We tried to consider all these factors when selecting our top choices for the best backup cameras.

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Our Picks

Top Pick

AutoVox CS-2 Wireless Backup Camera

AutoVox CS-2 Wireless Backup Camera

Best Backup Camera Overall

The  AutoVox CS-2 Digital Wireless Backup Camera offers a lot of the high-quality features you would expect to find in an OEM factory-installed camera at a relatively affordable price point, making it our top pick overall. This license plate-mounted camera offers a quick and stable wireless setup that’s ready to go relatively quickly. It gives you a decent 110 degrees of wide angle HD viewing, which isn’t the largest but is still plenty to provide accurate backup vision. It offers up to six adjustable parking grid line guides to choose from. The 4.3-inch display is great for small to mid-size vehicle owners who don’t want a huge screen taking up their dash. That said, it’s not the best option for large trucks, trailers, or RVs. This camera also features a solid IP68 waterproof rating and can function reliably in temps ranging from -4 degrees Fahrenheit to up to 149 degrees. Since it’s wireless, expect occasional transmission reliability issues.

Pros

  • Super camera installation
  • Clear imaging
  • Can be installed in multiple locations

Cons

  • Occasional reliability issues
  • Suction cup mount could be stronger
  • Not the best option for large trucks or trailers

Specs


AutoVox


Wireless


4.3 inches

Best Value

LeeKooLuu LK3 Backup Camera

LeeKooLuu LK3 Backup Camera

Best Budget Backup Camera

If you’re looking for a great backup camera that won’t cost an arm and a leg, check out the LeeKooLuu LK3 Backup Camera. This is an affordable, discreet, and reliably functioning camera that will ideally suit most sedans and compact SUVs. Adjustable grid guide lines can be turned off when not needed. Since it’s a wired system, it doesn’t suffer from the signal reliability issues that many wireless cameras have. The drawback is that installation is much more time consuming and potentially frustrating. You may want to enlist the help of a professional. The wiring that comes with the system is plenty long enough for most vehicles, but if you have a bigger truck, SUV, or RV, you’re going to need to purchase longer wires. The 4.3-inch monitor is pretty standard for backup cameras in this price range. This rearview backup camera also features an impressive IP69 waterproof rating and excellent night vision capabilities for nighttime or low light driving. We also like the two-year warranty.

Pros

  • Excellent night vision mode
  • Highly affordable
  • Clear HD 1080P imaging

Cons

  • Time-consuming to install
  • May require longer wires for larger vehicles
  • Installation instructions can be somewhat confusing

Specs


LeeKooLuu


Wired


4.3 inches

Popular

WolfBox 12-inch Mirror Dash Cam Backup Camera

Boscam SunGo Pro Solar Wireless Backup Camera

Boscam SunGo Pro Solar Wireless Backup Camera

Best Solar Powered Backup Camera

For the eco-friendly shopper, the Boscam SunGo Pro Solar Wireless Backup Camera is a great choice. This unit also makes a great gift for those who don’t have a ton of wiring savvy or know-how. This tiny 3.3-inch camera can easily be mounted in different locations on your license plate with the attached solar charging panel for a discreet yet effective backup camera option. With a reliable wireless signal, there’s no need for drilling or confusing, time-consuming installation. This camera is a good option for sedans, SUVs, small trucks, minivans, and smaller RVs. It does have some signal strength limitations that make it not ideal for larger vehicles. The 170-degree viewing angle gives you one of the most comprehensive views of your surroundings of any backup camera on the market, but its night vision capabilities are a little underwhelming. We like that this camera features highly adjustable parking lines for extra safety. This unit is also a little pricier than many options, but the stellar customer service makes it worth the investment.

Pros

  • Known for excellent customer service
  • Easy installation
  • Extra wide viewing angle

Cons

  • Less powerful night vision than some others
  • Requires USB charging on overcast days
  • Pricier than a lot of other options

Specs


Boscam


Wireless


5 inches

Popular

Chortau Dash Cam Front and Rear

Splurge

LeeKooLuu LK5 Wireless Backup Camera

LeeKooLuu LK5 Wireless Backup Camera

Best Backup Camera for RVs

If you have a camper or RV that you struggle to reverse confidently, adding a rearview camera like the LeeKooLuu LK5 Wireless Backup Camera can be a game changer. It’s a wireless system that’s designed to work with your RV’s prewired backup camera adapter. It has a signal that’s capable of reaching up to 270 feet, although it can be prone to cutting out in densely populated or wooded areas. The large 7-inch display monitor is just the right size for viewing what’s going on behind you and mounting to your dash without being bulky and blocking your view. The built-in grid guide lines are super helpful when reversing larger vehicles. This system also allows you to connect up to four cameras simultaneously to give you an almost full 360-degree view of your rig. The monitor is also capable of split screen functionality that lets you see all the cameras at once. The all-metal camera is waterproof and features 18 infrared lights for excellent night vision. It’s backed by a two-year warranty, which is good, but the customer service isn’t the greatest, with some customers complaining about delayed response times or lack of communication.

Pros

  • Ideal for large trucks, SUVs, and RVs
  • Can accommodate up to four cameras simultaneously
  • Large display is easy to see from a distance

Cons

  • Only works with prewired RVs
  • Not the most reliable signal
  • Questionable customer service

Specs


LeeKooLuu


Wireless


7 inches

Compare

FAQs

Can a backup camera be on all the time? 

If you want your backup camera to be on all the time, you must wire it into your car’s running light circuit instead of the reverse light circuit. That way, any time you have your running lights on, your backup camera will be functioning. This isn’t an option with wireless cameras. 

How long does a backup camera last?

We’ve seen backup cameras last anywhere from 10 days to 10 years. That’s why you want to go with a reputable manufacturer that offers good customer service and a solid warranty to protect you in the event of unforeseen circumstances. With proper care and maintenance, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that your backup camera will last three years or more.

Do backup cameras record in reverse?

Basic backup cameras don’t usually record footage at all. They’re meant strictly as a guide to help you reverse your vehicle without incident. If you want a camera to record, you’ll probably have to purchase a dual camera system.

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