Best Backup Cameras of 2018

Rebecca Armstrong ·
Phones & Networking Writer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We spent more than 40 hours testing and researching the best after-market rear-view cameras with monitors for your vehicle. We recommend the Yada Digital Wireless back-up camera as the best overall because it is easy to install, turns on automatically when you shift into reverse and uses a digital wireless signal to prevent interference. It’s reasonably priced, but you can save a few more dollars if you go with our best value pick, the Peak PKC0BU4, which also performs well. Both of those options require splicing into the wires in your rear lights to power the camera – which isn’t as difficult as it may sound – but if you want to avoid that altogether, we recommend the QuickVu backup cam for its super easy installation.      

Best Overall
Yada Digital
The Yada Digital wireless backup camera uses a 2.4G digital wireless signal, so you can view your rear blind spot without interference.
View on Amazon
Best Value
Peak PKC0BU4
The Peak back-up camera offers a less expensive alternative to pricier options while still being easy and effective.
View on Amazon
Easiest to Install
QuickVu Digital Wireless
The QuickVu backup camera doesn’t require drilling holes or messing with the wires in your tail lights but still lets you check your rear blind spot.
View on QuickVu

Product
Price
$124.99Wal-Mart
$74.99Amazon
$109.99Amazon
$119.88Amazon
$199Quickvucams
$149Amazon
$172.28Amazon
$169Wal-Mart
OVERALL RATING
9.1
9
8.7
8.6
8.5
8
7.4
7.3
Performance
10
9.3
7
7.3
8.8
6.6
7.8
7.3
Camera
8
8
10
10
9
9
8.5
6.3
Monitor
7.8
7.8
7.8
10
7.8
7.8
10
6.8
Ease of Installation
A
A
B+
D
A+
B
D
A+
Ease of Use
A
A
B+
B+
B
B-
B
C+
Wireless
True
True
True
False
True
True
False
True
Field of View
110°
110°
170°
170°
142°
140°
130°
120°
Distance Guides
True
True
True
True
True
True
False
False
Night Vision
True
True
True
True
True
True
True
True
Weatherproof
True
True
True
True
True
True
True
True
Screen Size
4.3
4.3
4.3
7
4.3
4.3
7
3.5
Cigarette Lighter Power Option
True
True
True
False
True
True
False
True
Best Overall
The Yada digital wireless backup camera is a great blend of affordability, simplicity and usefulness. It is easy to install and use, and it lets you see a 110-degree display of your rear blind spot.
The backup camera system comes with a camera attached to a small plate with adhesive on either side that fits between your car and the license plate. You can adjust the angle of the camera up or down to suit your vehicle. It is equipped with infrared LEDs that illuminate the area behind you when it’s dark. It connects to your reverse lights for power and turns on whenever you put your car into reverse. You may need to drill a small hole in your car to run the camera’s wires into your trunk. The camera connects to the 4.3-inch monitor using a 2.4G digital wireless signal. Digital signals are better than analogue signals because they have fewer problems with interference. Because the Yada camera system uses a digital signal, you can use it in vehicles with built-in Bluetooth. The wireless range is wide enough to make the Yada camera work with a range of everyday vehicles, but not for larger trailers or RVs. The included 4.3-inch monitor features an LCD display. You can turn parking guidelines on and off, adjust color, brightness and contrast, as well as mirror the display image. It can either be wired in or plugged into your vehicle’s DC connector for power. It powers on when you turn on your car and receives wireless signals whenever your car is in reverse, so using it is super easy. You can also manually turn it off and on, though it flashes when it isn’t receiving a video signal. The monitor comes with a suction cup-style dash mount. The monitor fell several times during testing, so we’d advise figuring out a better mount style for your monitor so it doesn’t keel over just when you need it.
Pros
  • Wireless digital signal
  • Turns on automatically when car is in reverse
  • Wired-in or DC outlet monitor power options
Cons
  • Installation may require a small drilled hole
  • Monitor dash mount isn’t the best
  • Not suitable for large vehicles like RVs
$126.09Amazon
Read the full review
Best Value
While some backup camera systems cost over $300, Peak’s sub-$100 option is an inexpensive and easy-to-use alternative that effectively shows you the area behind your car.
The Peak wireless backup camera comes with a 4.3-inch LCD monitor. This uses a suction cup mount to stick to your windshield or dash. During testing, the stand held up, but it feels flimsy. The monitor draws power from your vehicle’s DC outlet but, for a more permanent installation, it can be wired in. It powers on with your car and displays footage from the camera when your car is in reverse. The product we tested works with a digital wireless signal, but also has the same product number as a previous iteration that uses an analogue signal, which does not work well in Bluetooth-enabled vehicles. The digital model also features six infrared LEDs on the backup camera, which help illuminate the area behind your vehicle for better night vision. The camera is mounted on a bar, which screws in above or below your license plate. You can adjust the camera angle up or down to fit your vehicle’s needs. You need to wire it into your reverse lights for power so it will come on automatically when you put your car into reverse. This may require drilling a small hole for the wires to go through into your trunk. The camera shows you a 110-degree shot of what’s directly behind your car. It automatically senses lighting conditions and switches to night vision when things get too dim – this narrows your field of view but still shows you the area directly behind your vehicle. After you shift into reverse, the camera and monitor come on, but you should wait a moment before moving, as it can take the display a moment to stabilize the image. There is also a small delay in the feed, so still rely on peripheral vision as necessary.
Pros
  • Comparably inexpensive
  • Good balance of simplicity and performance
  • DC outlet or wired monitor power options
Cons
  • Confusing serial number refers to two different versions
  • Included stand feels wobbly
  • Image takes a moment to stabilize after camera engages
$84.99Amazon
Read the full review
Easiest to Install
The QuickVu Digital Wireless Backup Camera system is supremely easy to install and start using. Its battery-powered camera mounts above your license plate and activates whenever you turn on the monitor.
The system is just those two parts: the camera and monitor. They connect automatically when both are powered via a digital wireless signal. Digital wireless signals work better than analogue signals over longer distances and without interference from other signals like Bluetooth. Unlike most of the other models we tested, the QuickVu camera doesn’t wire into your vehicle’s rear lights for power. Instead, the camera uses AA batteries, which you have to swap out periodically – about once a month according to the user manual. It’s a little more high-maintenance than other systems that draw power from your car, but that’s the trade-off for the easier installation. The rear camera houses the wireless transmitter and batteries as well, so it is a little bulky, though it won’t obstruct your license plate. The camera angle isn’t adjustable – as the housing is all one solid piece – so we advise testing out camera placement to make sure it adequately covers the area behind your car. The camera has a light sensor and seven LEDs that light up when it’s dark, so you can back it up at night as well as during the day. The monitor features a 4.3-inch LCD display that plugs into your cigarette lighter. The standard mount that comes with the set uses adhesive to stick to your dash, though other mounts are available. We tried out a suction-cup style mount, and it worked well. The camera activates whenever you turn on the monitor – so it works as soon as you start your car for a set amount of time, or you can manually turn it on or off using one of the three buttons on the back of the monitor. We liked this option, as you don’t start reversing as soon as you start your car – and it allows you to check your rear blind spot whether or not your car is in reverse.
Pros
  • Easy Installation
  • Wireless
  • Works without being in reverse
Cons
  • Batteries require periodic replacements
  • Camera angle not adjustable
  • Bulkier than other cameras
$199.00QuickVu
Read the full review

Why Trust Us

We researched all the features you want and need in a backup camera system, and we only tested products that fit those parameters. For our assessment, we specifically looked at rear-view cameras with included monitors.

In addition to extensive online shopping and research, we physically test each system to find out things you can only learn by hands-on experience, such as which monitor mounts actually stay where they’re supposed to or whether the camera’s night vision mode severely restricts your field of view.

How We Tested

We spent over 40 hours getting to know these backup cameras, studying their specs and features and testing them in our lab. We picked out 10 of the best and most popular backup camera and monitor sets in the market, got our hands on them, and tested them to find their strengths. We further narrowed down our selection to the top eight when two products didn’t stand up to our evaluations.

We tested the functionality of each product by powering them up in our lab. We used a few types of DC converters to power up each camera and monitor set, went through each system’s setup process and examined their performances in both bright and dark lighting conditions. We quantified our hands-on testing by assigning each product grades based on ease of installation, ease-of-use and tested performance.

These grades include product details, such as form factor, desirable features and price. We calculated scores and finally formed our ranked list of the top eight backup cameras. From our ranked list, we recommended top-performing products and products that particularly stood out during testing.

Why Buy a Backup Camera

Most new vehicles have a built-in backup cam, but all new vehicles will include backup cameras as a standard feature as of May 1, 2018, because of the Rear Visibility Standard. If you have an older car you may be tempted to wait until your next car, but it’s an important safety feature you can have now. Amber Andreasen of Kids and Cars, a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping children safe in and around vehicles, told us, “You don’t have to wait. Because they’re standard in all vehicles now, after-market ones are affordable – there’s a backup camera out there for everyone. So it’s a small price to pay for such an important safety feature.” KidsandCars.org reports that backovers are one of the leading causes of non-traffic vehicular child deaths, with 44 reports of children under the age of 14 dying from backovers in 2017. “Not only will it protect children,” she added, “But backup accidents happen all the time, and no one wants to pay for a crazy expensive new bumper.”

Visibility
The whole point of a backup camera is being able to see what’s behind you, so you should look for a camera with a wide field of view – all the products we looked at had at least a 110-degree scope, with some expanding up to 170 degrees. For context, a human’s horizontal visual field falls somewhere between 114 and 130 degrees. A larger field of view is better than a narrower one, but it’s also important to take into consideration things like the camera’s angle and how far you can see behind you. Some cameras we tested can be aimed further up or down. These are better than fixed cameras, generally, as the same angle isn’t ideal for both a low-to-the-ground sedan and a taller SUV. Many products can also be mounted in different spots to get the ideal configuration for your vehicle.

Another important factor to consider is a product’s night vision performance. Nighttime is when you need as much visibility as possible, so be sure to purchase a camera only if it has night vision. Most backup cams we tested use infrared LEDs to help illuminate the area behind you, in addition to the light from your tail lights. You have a smaller field of view at night, as areas off the sides get lost in darkness, but it’s much better than reversing blind.

Weather-Proof
Most quality backup camera systems advertise their IP rating and safe operating temperatures. IP ratings are made up of two numbers. The first, you want to be a six. This means the device is protected against dust, which is important since the camera will be hanging out behind your car. The second number is its water rating, which you need to be a three at the very least (rated for heavy rain), though we recommend finding something with a six or higher (rated for high pressure water from any direction). If you live in an area where the temperature regularly drops below freezing, it’s worth checking to make sure your backup camera will work at lower temperatures. Most products we reviewed have advertised operational temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius to 50 degrees Celsius, or 14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wired Vs Wireless
Most of the products we tested are wireless systems, though both the Pyle and Rear View Safety models are wired. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both styles. Wireless systems are less reliable and more prone to interference, especially systems that transmit data using analogue signals. Wired systems are more permanent fixtures. They usually require professional installation, but since the connections are wired, it is easier to add other cameras, like a dash cam, to the system. We prefer wireless systems for their flexibility and DIY installations.

id:902