Primarily, you want an auto backup camera to eliminate the blind spot behind your vehicle and reduce the chances of an unfortunate accident. In order for an auto backup camera to do this effectively it needs to provide a clear picture of the area behind your car or truck.
If you’ve read any of our backup camera articles, you know that we are not fans of wireless backup camera systems. The reason is specifically that they are unreliable in delivering a clear picture to the rear of your vehicle. So why are so many aftermarket auto backup camera systems wireless?
What are some considerations when buying a wireless rear view camera system?
A rearview camera system is an exercise in conflicting engineering goals. First, most people don’t want to spend an additional $200 or $300 to install an auto backup camera that they just paid $100 or less for. To save the money, they want to install it themselves. For that to be possible, the installation process needs to be easy.
Interested in learning about other popular backup camera systems? Be sure to see our other articles about some of the best!
The easiest backup cameras to install are wireless. They aren’t technically wireless. For most wireless backup cameras, you still need to wire them into the electrical system at the back of your vehicle usually connecting to the reverse wiring so that the camera activates automatically when you’re backing up.
The wireless part of a wireless backup camera system is the elimination of the video cabling that you must run from the camera at the back of the vehicle to the video display on your dash. That video signal is transmitted wirelessly from a transmitter near the camera to the receiver in or near the display.
The problem with a wireless camera system is interference. Life is a constant process of discovering a signal amongst the noise. In this case, the receiver must find the camera’s transmitted video signal in all the interference generated by the outside world. The video signal is typically transmitted over a 2.4Ghz carrier frequency that just happens to be the most common frequency for wireless electronic devices there is.
That means that the video signal has to compete with everything from microwaves to telephones to other signals inside your car and more often than not, it loses. It may not completely be lost, but the signal may be degraded and any degradation can make the view to the rear of your vehicle unusable.
The wireless transmitter sends a video signal from the back to the front of your vehicle where the receiver picks it up and displays it on the monitor. The distance from the back to the front of your vehicle is a significant factor in the viability of that signal and the quality of the image. The larger the distance, the more chance for interference as the signal gets weaker. If you have a compact car, you’re more likely to be satisfied with the performance of a wireless auto backup system than if you have a big SUV.
License plate bracket cameras are convenient and easy to install. The problem is that the transmitter is probably integrated into the camera. That means the signal from the transmitter not only has to cover the distance from the back to the front of your vehicle, it also must overcome the big metal obstacle that is the back of your vehicle. Some models separate the transmitter from the camera so you can locate it inside your vehicle. That can make a significant difference in video quality since the signal no longer has to get past the big metal barrier.
Ideally you want the largest display possible to get the best picture to the rear of your vehicle. For an aftermarket car backup camera, the problem is where to put it. Most people don’t have room on their dash or on the windshield for a 14-inch display monitor, if they were available in that size. 7-inch display monitors are available, but they are so large, that they really only make sense in a truck, RV, Bus, tractor, or construction equipment. For a car, most people find that a 5-inch or less diagonal display is about the largest that comfortably fits.
That presents a problem for both wired and wireless reverse cameras. The display is so small that even if the camera and system are presenting the perfect picture, the display is so small that it may be difficult to use it for eliminating the blind spot with certainty.
Wired vs. Wireless
The monitor size aside, in almost every case, you will be happier with a properly installed wired system than a wireless one. The wired system will give you the best picture with no interference and you will be able to count on it every time without worrying about a change in video quality when you change locations and encounter varying levels of interference.
Rear View Mirror Systems
Probably the least intrusive rearview camera displays are the in-mirror or rearview mirror display. Many can be mounted over your existing mirror. They function as a normal mirror until you shift to reverse and then a small display monitor appears inside the mirror displaying the view to the rear. These displays are typically very small and so it may be difficult to make out objects in your field of view.
There are two main components of any rear camera system. There is the camera that is mounted at the back of your vehicle and the display mounted near your dashboard. We talked about the display, but we haven’t mentioned the camera. Truth be told, the camera is the most important component in the system. Its produces the video signal that is displayed on the monitor and so no matter how big or how impressive your monitor is, if the camera sucks, the picture will be bad.
If you’re planning to install the camera yourself, the easiest camera to install is a license plate bracket mount. In most cases, you simply remove your license plate and mount the camera bracket behind the license plate bracket.
Even though they are easiest to install, license plate bracket cameras have their limitations. The license plate on most vehicles is fairly low to the ground. That means the camera may not have an ideal angle to the rear. License plate cameras also don’t have as much height adjustment if they have any adjustment at all. Almost all don’t pan from left to right.
Standalone cameras can be mounted anywhere on the back of your vehicle and can be larger to provide more features like high quality night vision, shades to reduce glare in bright sunlight, and larger pan and tilt angles. Many high-quality reverse camera systems come with larger cameras that are typically designed for trucks and RVs. You may find that they don’t complement your car’s aesthetics the way you would like
Our recommendation is to get a high quality wired system and have it professionally installed. Buying a cheap wireless camera system and installing it yourself may save you money and may be easier, but if the picture turns out to be unusable and your greatly disappointed, did you really save money or accomplish your objective of eliminating the blind spot?
That being said, if you can’t afford or don’t want to afford the installation costs and you don’t feel comfortable running the video cable from the front to the rear of your vehicle, then you will need to buy a wireless system.
We searched automotive forums, customer review sites, retail sites, consumer sites, social media, and manufacturer sites to find the most popular and highly rated rearview mirror backup camera system.
Take a look at our choice and see if this popular model from Pyle is the best backup camera for your needs!
Auto Backup Camera: Popular Budget Wired Rearview Mirror Backup Camera System
The Pyle PLCM4550 Rearview Mirror Backup Car Camera features a space-saving display design integrated into a rearview mirror that attaches directly to and replaces your existing rearview mirror. The camera mounts using your existing license plate screws and connects to the backup lights wiring at the rear of your vehicle for power. You run a video cable through your vehicle from the camera to the mirror monitor to display what the camera sees. The replacement mirror with monitor attaches to your existing rearview mirror and connects to an available 12VDC power port. It functions as a normal rearview mirror until you shift into reverse which activates the auto backup camera view. Rearview mirror Installation is easy using universal clips that will fit most rearview mirrors. The system is a kit that comes with a high-quality license plate bracket mounted reverse camera, 4.3-inch color LCD display with built-in distance scale lines, and all the cabling and wires you need for installation. The camera angle is adjustable to help you achieve the best view to the rear of your vehicle and the camera has low light capability for backing up at night.
Auto Backup Camera: Features
- Auto backup camera system with replacement rearview mirror with integrated 4.3-inch color LCD display and marine-grade, IP67-rated, night vision-capable, license plate bracket-mounted color camera
- 4.3-inch, 16:9 aspect ratio, color LCD mirror monitor display features accurate distance scale lines to help you judge distance while backing up or parking
- Marine-grade camera construction features 656 x 492p (420 TV lines) resolution, a 170-degree wide field-of-view, IP67-rated water, dust, and fog resistance, 0.2 Lux low light performance, true color reproduction, white balance, and tilt adjustability
- Camera installs easily behind your existing license plate or bracket and has low-profile, slim bar styling
- Replacement rearview mirror installs easily over your existing mirror using universal sized clips
- System activates automatically when you shift into reverse
- Rearview mirror has the ability to accept up to two video sources using RCA video connection types
- Monitor display on/off switch
- Replacement mirror dimensions are 10.6L x 3.5W x 1.8H inches
- 1-Year limited manufacturer’s warranty and 30-day, full-refund satisfaction guarantee
1 – Set installation cables/wires
1 – Backup/reverse camera trigger
See Pyle PLCM4550 Rearview Mirror Backup Car Camera Customer Reviews >>>
- Excellent value
- Mirror and camera are easy to install
- Mirror is OEM quality
- Excellent quality video
- Distance lines don’t follow angle of the car
- Mirror monitor can be difficult to see in bright sunlight
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How to add a backup camera to your car or truck >>>
Auto Backup Camera
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A reverse camera can eliminate the big blind spot directly behind your vehicle that can contribute to unfortunate accidents. We sincerely hope that this article has provided you with valuable information that helps you find the best auto backup camera for your needs!