Backing into tight campsites, and sometimes simply maneuvering an RV, can be quite a hassle. I remember many camping trips, standing around nervously as my short-tempered grandfather tried to back in the Jayco Eagle fifth wheel while my grandma tried to guide him as best she could. It always took several attempts, and the tensions always ran high, which is probably the worst way to start a camping getaway! This was in the early 2000s, and luckily we have come a long way with our RV technology. Installing a backup camera will make it easy to see what’s going on behind you, hitching up, backing up, and even driving with your RV! These handy tips for installing a backup camera on your RV will make it easier than ever to maneuver your rig!
TYPES OF BACKUP CAMERAS
If you decide to simplify your RV travel experience with a backup camera, you’ll have to decide which type of camera you’d like to install. Backup cameras come in two main types—wireless and wired cameras. Your decision will probably depend on your confidence in your DIY and electrical skills!
Wired Backup Cameras
You guessed it: A wired backup camera uses wires to connect the camera unit to the monitor inside your tow vehicle! This involves a little handy work, as it requires running a cable either along your RV’s roof rafters or under the RV! Some consider a clear picture and the fact that this type of backup camera doesn’t need its own power source make it a worthwhile investment, but that’s a decision that’s up to you!
Wireless Backup Cameras
Unlike wired backup cameras, wireless cameras rely on an antenna-receiver system to transmit video feed to your backup monitor. They can come in either analog or digital signals, with analog being the less expensive option. Despite its lower price, analog backup cameras also have a less stable and easily-interruptible signal. Digital backup cameras will have a clearer picture quality and won’t have as much signal interference, but they also cost more than analog cameras. Wireless cameras are also relatively easier to install, but you’ll need just a little electrical know-how to get your camera connected!
HOW TO INSTALL A WIRED BACKUP CAMERA
If you’ve chosen a wired backup camera, you’ll want to dedicate a considerable amount of time to insure proper installation—around a few hours! It’ll require some drilling and possibly some removing of interior paneling, so keep that in mind!
What You’ll Need:
- Drill with a 3/4” bit
- Silicone sealant
- Split loom tubing (if running cord under the RV)
- Wired backup camera kit
- Decide where you want to place your camera, and determine where you’ll want to run the cable, either along the roof or under the RV. Make sure to avoid heat sources or areas that could pinch the cord.
- Use a pencil to mark the spot where the camera’s bracket will go.
- Drill a sizable hole where the cable will enter the wall, and use the 3/4” bit to pre-drill the holes you marked with the pencil. Make sure not to split the fiberglass while drilling!
- Attach the mount bracket using screws, and use the sealant to further secure it to the RV’s walls.
- Snake the cable into the larger hole, running it up or down your RV and across to the front of the unit. Drill additional holes and remove panels, seats, or anything else that may be in the way.
- Bring the cable to the front of the RV, securing it to the frame every few feet if you’re running the wire under the rig.
- If you’re in a motorhome, find a hole or drill one yourself to bring the cord into the cockpit to attach to the monitor. If in a towed vehicle, make sure that you’ll have enough length for the cord to reach the cab of the truck. Wind any leftover cord around a tongue jack or secure it so that extra cord will not drag on the ground, but will not be too tight and cause damage during turning.
- Mount the monitor in your cab, bring the cables into the cab through your preferred method, and connect the cables to the monitor.
- Seal the large rear opening to prevent moisture from coming in, and you’re done! Most kits come with a grommet you can secure around the cord to protect the opening.
HOW TO INSTALL A WIRELESS BACKUP CAMERA
Although installing a wireless backup camera is considerably easier than installing a wired one, you’ll still want to plan ahead and make sure of a few things before you start!
What You’ll Need:
- Drill w/ drill bits
- Silicone sealant
- Wireless backup camera kit
- Choose your camera’s location. Many backup cameras are positioned just below the top middle clearance light.
- Remove the clearance light, along with the bracket that holds it in place, and disconnect the light to reveal the wires.
- Use a pencil to mark where you want the bracket to go, and use a 3/4” drill bit to pre-drill holes.
- Drill a hole in the top molding below the clearance light so the cord can access the space behind the light.
- Use silicone sealant to attach the bracket to the sidewall, then screw in the screws into the drilled holes.
- Follow the manufacturer’s directions for attaching the camera to the bracket.
- Feed the cord through the drilled hole and bring it up through the opening for the clearance light.
- If the camera kit comes with a grommet, install it in the cord’s drilled hole.
- Connect the cameras wires to the wires coming from the RV. If you're unsure about which wire is positive and which one is negative, test the wires first before joining them. Be sure to reattach the clearance light’s cables too.
- Once the cords are successfully joined, replace the clearance light bracket and cover. Make sure that the camera’s antenna is in the upright position for optimal reception.
- Find a convenient location for the camera’s monitor in the cab of your tow vehicle. Mount it any way you wish, connect it to your car’s power source, and enjoy easy backing up!
IMPORTANT TIPS TO REMEMBER
- ***Adding a backup camera by drilling into your RV’s sidewalls may void your RV’s warranties! Give us a call here at TerryTown RV before you begin so we can help you determine whether this will void any warranties or not.
- Always make sure to check your RV’s walls before drilling to avoid hitting any existing wires or studs.
- Keep your RV and tow vehicle’s total length in mind when choosing a wireless backup camera. Some cameras have a short range, so you’ll want to ensure the signal will be strong enough.
- Before you start any installation, test your camera and monitor to ensure that they are working correctly. It’ll be a huge pain to go back and uninstall items to fix or replace them!
- Many newer model RVs, including many new RVs for sale in Grand Rapids here at TerryTown RV, already come with rear backup prep, so all you have to do is purchase a unit and connect it to the wiring.
- When shopping for a backup camera, consider whether you’d like to add sideview cameras as well. These are helpful for easy maneuvering while backing up, but also in travel when changing lanes on the road. Many cameras feature extra connections for additional cameras, so if you’d like to add sideview cameras, be sure to purchase a system with these connections.
If you think that installing a backup camera on your RV will make life incredibly easier, follow these tips and you’ll enjoy incredible convenience! I wish my grandpa was still here to enjoy easier maneuvering with this simple and extremely useful RV technology!
Shop our large inventory of new RVs for sale in Michigan to find your perfect travel trailer, fifth wheel, or toy hauler with handy backup camera capabilities that will make your RV trips totally hassle-free! Stop by or browse online, and leave us a comment to let us know how much simpler a backup camera has made your camping experiences!