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All cars are equipped with a rearview mirror and a pair of side mirrors, but it can still be hard to judge the distance between your back wheels and a curb, or your bumper and the car behind you. Modern cars are equipped with backup cameras, which are mounted on the back of the vehicle and send a live video feed to a screen on your dashboard.
If you want the same functionality in an older car, you need a wireless backup camera. These cameras are typically made up of two parts: a screen you attach to the top of your dashboard, and a camera that’s installed onto the backside of your car.
The camera needs to be installed into your car’s electrical system (if you don’t feel comfortable with this, call a mechanic or use Amazon’s Installation service), and wirelessly sends a signal to the screen by establishing a connection on the 2.4Ghz frequency. That’s the wireless frequency used by many WiFi routers and wireless phones, so it’s a tried and true solution.
If you want some help judging the distance between you and another car — especially in the dark — a wireless backup camera is an excellent investment. It’s one of the biggest tech upgrades you can make to an older car, and one you’ll use every time you get behind the wheel.
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Wireless Backup Camera
There are many factors to think about when choosing the right wireless backup camera for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Resolution: The video quality of your backup camera doesn’t need to be pristine, but the clearer the image, the easier it’ll be to avoid obstacles. Our picks range from 240P through 720P, but each will offer a good experience.
Field Of View: A camera’s field of view signifies how wide of an image it can capture. The wider the field of view, the more of the curb, car, or parking space you’re able to see. Our minimum requirement was a 110 degree field of view, which is the standard for many smart security cameras.
Screen Size: The quality from the wireless backup camera doesn’t matter if you’re not able to view the footage easily. Our picks all have a screen that’s over four inches large, which is the industry standard.
Durability: These cameras are going to be outside of your car all the time, so our picks were designed to withstand difficult weather conditions.
1. Pyle Wireless Backup Rear View Camera
Pyle’s Wireless Backup Rear View Camera has the right mix of tech specs to be the default choice for most people.
Its camera has a respectable 628 x 586 resolution, and a wide 170 degree field of view. It has a night mode that automatically turns on when it’s dark, and parking assistance, which displays two lines on the display to help you back into a spot evenly. Taken together, these features will give you a wide, clear image of what’s going on as you back up.
Pyle says this camera has earned an IP67 durability rating, which means it’s dust-proof and waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about it getting damaged in the rain. It comes with a license plate mount, which makes it easy to attach to the back of your car. Again, both the camera and display will need to be connected to your car, so you should consult a mechanic if you’re not comfortable with auto repairs.
The screen Pyle pairs with this camera isn’t a standalone display. Instead, it’s built into a rearview window designed to replace your old one. Once it’s installed, you’ll be able to use one half of the rearview window normally, and see the camera’s point of view from the other side. Having two perspectives will allow you to see two angles as you back up. If you think this type of screen would distract you while driving, consider our other recommendations.
Pros: The camera’s resolution, ultra wide field of view, and night mode will give you a clean, large picture of what’s going on while you try to park.
Cons: The screen built into the rearview window may be distracting to some drivers.
2. AUTO-VOX CS-2
If image quality is your biggest concern, AUTO-VOX’s CS-2 is the right backup camera for you.
The camera’s 720P resolution is the highest on this list, but that’s slightly balanced out by its smaller 110 degree field of view. The tradeoff is seeing less space more clearly, which may be an issue if you do a lot of parallel parking. If you need help backing up, the camera can display parking lines on its screen to help you even out.
The CS-2 has earned an IP68 rating, which means it’s the most durable option on this list. The difference between IP67 and IP68 is pretty slim, but if you’re caught in a massive rainstorm, you can count on this camera to work.
This wireless backup camera comes with a more traditional screen. Instead of replacing your rearview mirror, the 4.3 inch display gets stuck onto your dashboard or windshield with a suction cup, and powered via an adapter that gets connected into its cigarette lighter. The adapter has an additional USB port, so you can plug in your phone.
Low field of view aside, AUTO VOX’s CS-2 is a very good backup camera. Its high-resolution alone makes it well worth considering, but its IP68 rating and easy to install suction mounted display also set it apart.
Pros: The camera can capture HD video and its IP68 waterproof rating ensure its survival in harsh weather conditions.
Cons: It has a narrower field of view than our other recommendations.
3. Garmin BC 30 Wireless Backup Camera
Garmin’s BC 30 is unique as it’s the only backup camera in our guide that doesn’t come with its own screen. Instead, you can stream video from the camera to your existing Garmin GPS (check to see whether or not the one you have is compatible).
This makes it a good option for people who already have a Garmin GPS, and don’t want to have a second screen on their dashboard. If you got a Garmin GPS before moving over to using a navigation app on your phone, this camera is also a good way to repurpose it.
Garmin says the camera’s maximum resolution is 240p, which is a little low, but its 140 degree field of view will allow you to see a wide scene as you back up. The company doesn’t give an exact IP rating, but says the BC 30 was designed to handle “harsh weather.”
This camera’s standout feature is that it can be integrated into a larger camera system. Garmin allows you to pair up to four BC 30s with your GPS, which you can toggle between to see different angles. If you want a comprehensive view of what’s going on behind you as you back up, that would be the best choice.
Pros: The BC 30 uses the Garmin GPS you already have instead of a screen. You can connect four of them to your car at the same time to view four different angles as you back up.
Cons: Not the right choice if you don’t have a Garmin GPS