Backup cameras for safer driving
All new cars in the United States have been required to have a built-in rearview camera since 2018, and there’s a reason: They make driving safer. Whether it’s getting a good view while trying to parallel park on the street, or just getting a better sense of your surroundings in a crowded area, a backup camera can make a big difference. The best backup systems have multiple cameras, which allow you to see everything that’s happening around your vehicle and monitor your blind spots. And some systems are even designed to integrate a dash cam for a more comprehensive aggregation of information.
Many of us are still driving vehicles made before 2018, but don’t fret if you’re feeling left out. There are plenty of aftermarket cameras designed for these older vehicles that you can install yourself. All you need to do is attach the backup camera to the rear of your car (preferably as close to the center of the car as possible) and send the footage to a monitor attached to a console display, your dashboard or an inset screen on your rearview mirror, giving you better visibility with no straining to see your blind spots while going in reverse.
Here are three of the CNET Cars team’s picks for the best backup cameras in a variety of categories, based on expert opinions and consumer ratings. For some pro tips on picking the right rear camera system for you, check out the full article with more recommendations at CNET.com.
BEST BACKUP CAMERA OVERALL: AUTOVOX CS-2 WIRELESS BACKUP CAMERA KIT
If you want easy installation and great picture quality, the Auto-Vox CS-2 offers the best of both worlds. As it’s a wireless camera, you should have no problem attaching the camera (with built-in wireless transmitter) to the back of your car or mounting the suction-cup-enabled screen on your dashboard. That means you can save money by avoiding installation fees with this wireless backup camera.
While wired cameras are more reliable than wireless ones on the whole, the CS-2 — like the other wireless cameras we’ve included here — is an exception to that rule. The camera uses digital wireless transmission, which means there’s virtually no interference from other signals and no distortion to the image. Plus, the signal is strong, with Auto-Vox recommending the camera for any vehicle less than 32 feet long.
It should be noted that the viewing angle for the CS-2 rearview backup camera is 110 degrees, which may be too narrow for drivers who want a very wide field of vision. However, for parallel and close-quarters parking, 110 degrees works well as it cuts down on the amount of image distortion created on the screen.
The Auto-Vox CS-2 is pricier than some other car backup camera systems, but the high performance and reliability ensure that customers will be satisfied with the purchase.
BEST BACKUP CAMERA ON A BUDGET: ERAPTA ERT01 AUTOMOTIVE BACKUP CAMERA
If your car doesn’t have a rearview camera and you’re looking for a less expensive alternative, it’s hard to beat the eRapta ERT01. This camera easily attaches to a car’s license plate and includes a 26-foot RCA cable that can connect to a screen with a compatible output. While there’s no screen included with the camera, many vehicles already have mounted screen displays that will work with the ERT01 — just make sure to check yours first, or you may end up needing to buy a separate screen.
As a wired camera, the ERT01 will be more difficult to install than the average wireless camera — but only slightly. User reviews on Amazon say the wired system of the camera is easy to set up, with only a single RCA cable necessary to connect the camera to the screen. The kit also includes a cable to power the camera.
The entire package is incredibly affordable, but that’s not the only reason why the ERT01 is Amazon’s top-selling backup camera. In addition to being easy to use, it’s a durable waterproof camera and has a 149-degree field of vision. Get a crystal-clear image in the dark with the Night Vision feature. All in all, it’s a reliable product offered at an affordable price.
BEST BACKUP CAMERA FOR RVS AND CAMPERS: REAR VIEW SAFETY BACKUP CAMERA SYSTEM
Unless you’re a professional truck driver, an RV is — by far — larger than any other vehicle you’ll ever drive. So it makes sense to spend more and make sure that you, your passengers and the people around you are safe.
Rear View Safety’s 4 Camera setup with quad view display allows RV drivers to get the most complete view of their surroundings — and they can take everything in all at once. There are four cameras in total: two to be mounted on the rear of the RV (with 130-degree viewing angles) and one for either side (with 120-degree viewing angles). The split-screen monitor can show feeds from all of the cameras at once, or just the feeds the driver chooses to see.
In addition to transmitting video, this
RV backup camera system also transmits audio, so even if you’ve got the air conditioner blasting or some music playing, you’ll be aware of the sights and sounds of the road. Plus, the fact that this is a wired camera system ensures the integrity of the transmission — and while you may need professional help to install this rearview camera, some Amazon reviewers reported that they were able to do it themselves without too much trouble.