Getting one of the best backup cameras into your vehicle can save you a lot of trouble. Reverse your car into a wall or any kind of physical barrier, and you can cause $1000s of damage to both your vehicle and the thing you've backed into. It's even more necessary if you have a pickup or an RV - those are large things to maneuver, and denting or scratching them can be costly to fix. While some modern automobiles come with backup cameras built in, not all do, so if you don't already have one it's a good idea to buy a device to help you park.
So, picking up one of the best backup cameras for a couple hundred bucks could make a lot of sense. No matter how tough your car unexpectedly backing up onto something hard will almost always ruin your day. These devices will not only show you a feed of what's behind you, but will also beep if you're going to come into contact with something.
Such is the effectiveness of backup cameras in reducing accidents, federal regulations were introduced in 2018 requiring that all new cars sold in the US must come equipped with a backup camera. While you're not obliged to install a backup camera in older vehicles, the benefits of the best backup cameras for cars will make you wonder why you've not invested in one before.
If you already have a display or camera in your car, some of these backup cameras will connect to it, so you don't have too many screens on your dash. However, most come with their own display, which will also feature guiding lines to help you get the angle right when you're backing up.
As an added safety feature you'll also be able to see people walking behind you, and they will also trigger the alert sound if they get too close. Never mind money - you really don't want to hit a person when you're trying to park at Target.
Equipping your vehicle of choice with technology can be a real help when driving, providing you don't overdo it. If you need guidance on routes, we have a list of the best car GPS devices, and if you need new rubber on your car, we also have a guide to the best tire brands.
1. Yada Digital Wireless Backup Camera: Best backup camera overall
The Yada Digital Wireless Backup Camera is quite simply the best backup camera you can buy at a very reasonable price. Designed specifically to reduce blind spots when you're backing up, the camera covers a 110-degree area to give you ultimate confidence that there’s nothing at all in your way. It will automatically switch to night vision if the light is starting to fail, and it’s built to withstand the harshest of weather too.
The 4.3-inch monitor is 12V/24v compatible, so can be powered by your car’s cigarette lighter, and will automatically turn on when you start your car. Automatic pairing with the camera saves you valuable time, and there’s no lag behind the images that the camera sees and them being relayed to the monitor. Almost everything can be adjusted to suit you too, including the brightness, color and contrast, while there’s five handy buttons on top to quickly toggle between having parking guidelines on or off, and switching displays.
If you’re uncertain about wiring the camera to the reverse light during setup, there’s an installation video and helpline that’ll offer all the support you should need. But other than that, installation is quick and simple, leaving you with an excellent backup camera at a really great price.
2. Auto-Vox V5 Pro: Best backup camera and dash cam combined
If you want an excellent backup camera and an equally excellent dash cam too, the Auto-Vox V5 Pro will be for you. When it comes to reversing, the 150 degree angle on the rearview camera makes blind spots virtually redundant. Then there’s the 1080p video, night vision, special sensors and blue light resistant glass that guarantee what you see will never be impaired.
And at the same time, you’re getting a dash cam, and the ability to record all of your driving activity as you go. If the V5 Pro senses an accident or your vehicle is being broken into, it will automatically switch to record mode too, so that your version of events are there for all to see.
What’s more, with the display taking up the position where your rear view mirror would normally be, you’re not cluttering your car, and the touchscreen display is right where you would want it. The Auto Vox V5 Pro might cost more than a standard backup camera, but if you’re looking for something extra, then you’re definitely getting it here.
3. QuickVu Digital Wireless: Best backup camera for easy installation
If avoiding the hassle of a long and complicated installation process is your priority, the QuickVu Digital Wireless is the backup camera for you. As the QuickVu backup camera is battery operated, there’s no need to wire it into your reverse lights or drill holes so that you can thread wires throughout your vehicle. In fact, the biggest inconvenience with the QuickVu is that you’ll need to replace the two AA batteries once a year, and that’s surely a job that even the most reluctant DIYers can do.
The camera itself offers a wide 150 degree viewing angle of whatever’s behind, and when it’s dark outside, six LED lights will automatically turn on to illuminate the immediate area where you’re reversing. The digital monitor is 4.3 inches in size and will rest happily on any dashboard, providing the means by which to toggle between parking lines, and more. You can also set how long the system will remain on once it’s activated, allowing the more competent parker of a car to extend their battery life ever so slightly.
As you might expect, there are better backup cameras than the QuickVu when it comes to display quality and the range of features. But if you only want to spend five minutes getting your backup camera in place and ready to go, there’s none faster than the QuickVu for installation.
4. Esky Reversing Backup Camera: Best budget backup camera
If you’re looking for a backup camera on a budget, and you already have a monitor to hand, the Esky Reversing Backup Camera is a device that offers a lot for its very low price. There’s no drilling required when you’re attaching the Esky to your car, and the camera position can be adjusted through 45 degrees so that it sits just right.
An impressive 170 degree viewing angle makes short work of blind spots, and if it’s a little dark where you’re reversing, there’s seven bright LED lights to illuminate the area too. The Esky Reversing Backup Camera is also strong, and built to prevent the worst of the weather spoiling your backup view.
As you might expect, the Esky has its limitations too. However, when you’re paying less than $20 for a backup camera, there’s inevitably going to be some compromises compared with the very best backup cameras around. If you bear that in mind, you shouldn’t be disappointed with the Esky and what it delivers.
5. Amtifo FHD Backup System: Best backup camera for RVs and campers
If you have an RV or camper that you need assistance in helping to park, the Amtifo FHD Backup System is a great choice. Suitable for vehicles up to 80 ft in length, the 1080p camera will give you eyes where you need them most when you’re looking to maneuver. The 150 degree viewing angle reduces blind spots and there’s 16 LEDs that illuminate automatically when conditions are too dim to see, to provide infrared night vision.
Everything is relayed seamlessly to the 7 inch HD monitor that sits up front. All the settings are controlled from here, including the turning on and off of backup lines, while images can be switched and flipped at the flick of a button.
If you buy a second, third or even fourth camera, the monitor has a split screen option too, allowing you to keep tabs on everything that’s happening all at once. The cameras are built to last and designed to deliver the perfect image whatever the weather, so you’re free to take your camper wherever you please.
6. Pruveeo D700 Touch Screen: Best budget rear view mirror backup camera
The Pruveeo D700 Touch Screen Backup Camera is the value for money choice if you' want a rear view mirror backup camera on the cheap. And as it doubles up as a dash cam as well, you're really getting an excellent bang for your buck.
The 7 inch rear view mirror screen fits inconspicuously into any car and can display a single image with footage from one camera, or picture-in-picture display from both cameras. Its one-touch switch design means you can flick quickly between views, and installing it is remarkably easy - simply fix the display over your existing rear view mirror, plug into the cigarette lighter, and you're ready to go.
The 480P rear camera is not the sharpest around, but it's weatherproof and will still help you into those tight or dark spots. The front-facing dash cam is 1080P in resolution and has a wide 150-degree wide angle lens. Rather strangely, you will need to buy a separate extension cable to connect the mirror to the rear camera to the mirror. But as long as you remember to do this, the Pruveeo D700 Touch Screen Backup Camera delivers rather well for what you pay.
Why buy a backup camera?
All new vehicles that have rolled off the production line since May 2018 must come complete with a backup camera preinstalled, by law. If you have an older car you may be tempted to wait until your next car, but it’s an important safety feature that makes driving easier, quicker and safer.
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 a backup camera protect children,” she added, “But backup accidents happen all the time, and no one wants to pay for a crazy expensive new bumper.”
What to look for in a back-up camera
The whole point of a backup camera is being able to see what’s behind your car, so you should look for a camera with a wide field of view. All the rear-view cameras 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 backup cameras can also be mounted in different spots to get the ideal placement 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 the decrease in light means the feed from the camera’s edges are lost in darkness, but this provides a much clearer image than reversing blindly would.
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.
Wireless or wired
Wireless camera systems are the most popular type of backup camera, providing greater flexibility and usually an easier installation and set up process than their wired counterparts. Wired systems are more permanent fixtures due to them being wired into the car, so if you are looking for a portable system, that you can use between different vehicles or even different drivers, a wireless system is usually better.
Wired backup cameras also usually require professional installation, but they can make it easier to add other cameras into the system, that don’t interfere with each other’s signal. For this reason, wired cameras are sometimes preferred to wireless on bigger vehicles that require more cameras.
The image quality of the backup camera determines the clarity of the blind spot your backup camera will display. The best backup cameras systems will provide a camera that can capture an image in a variety of conditions such as night, heavy rain, or snow. It should make the obstacles in the road clearer.
Monitors come in various sizes, so you'll need to find one that suits you. Larger monitors are better easier viewing, but will take up more space on your dashboard. To keep in-car clutter to a minimum, some of the best backup cameras now come with rear-view mirrors with integrated screens. These simply replace your existing rear-view mirror, blending into the normal surrounds of your car.
Backup cameras need to be installed, and is a task that many people tackle are happy to take on themselves. Step by step instructions and video guidance have made the job easier, but it can be daunting nonetheless.
Wired and wireless systems both require you to run cables from the back bumper to the dashboard or, in some cases, the battery. We don’t recommend removing door panels and splicing wires if you don’t have any experience with DIY automotive projects. However, if you have a few sizes of screwdrivers, pliers and wire strippers, try following these good step-by-step instructions on how to wire a backup camera system.
Most of the backup cameras we tested have mounts that attach to a license plate frame or directly to the top of a license plate; these are the easiest to install. If you choose a backup camera designed to flush-mount into a bumper, the process is a bit more involved.
If you're not confident installing a backup camera yourself, then it's best to get a professional involved. Check with local installers, and online at sites such as Amazon Home Services and Best Buy's Geek Squad to find the cheapest price.