Monitor Your RV Surroundings Using Observation Cameras

In order to monitor the area around you while driving your RV, you would obviously need cameras. There are several types of cameras available for RV use:

  • Dash Cameras
  • Backup Cameras
  • Rear Observation Cameras
  • Side Marker Cameras

Dash Cameras

Dash cameras are mounted on your windshield  and record what you are seeing in front of you.  This is helpful if you have an accident and need evidence that someone pulled in front of you, and it is also fun to have one to record your travels and the incredible views you will encounter.

There are several brands of dash cameras available, but most have the following features:

  • Ability to continuously record what is going on in front of the RV
  • Screens to see what the camera is recording
  • Night vision 
  • Ability to loop new recordings over old video when you reach the SD card storage limit
  • Ability to add larger SD cards to allow for longer recordings
  • Ability to save clips of a recording for later use to ensure they are not written over
  • Sensors that automatically save the recording when a impact is detected
  • Apps to allow you to control settings and view recordings using your phone

We use and recommend the Garmin Dash Cameras, and we will go into more detail about the 4 models they offer in another article.

Backup and Rearview Observation Cameras

Backup Cameras are mounted on the rear of your RV and they record what is going on behind your RV and display it on a monitor near you.  These camera systems are powered by your backup lights and only operate when you are in reverse.  They are helpful for backing your RV up, but don’t provide visibility while you are driving.  

Motorhomes usually come with a built-in camera on the back and a monitor in the driver’s compartment, but almost all trailers and fifth wheels only come with a pre-wired mount for a camera, and the buyer has to add the camera and monitor if they want to utilize this feature.

Rear Observation Cameras are mounted in the same place as a backup camera and are often the same type of camera, but the difference is that they are powered by your running lights and are on all the time, even when driving.  You will have a monitor with you to see what the camera is recording.  

This type of monitoring camera is helpful for rear visibility since you can’t usually see behind your RV using a rearview mirror.  This type of camera helps monitor your towed vehicle as well. Again, many motorhomes come with this pre-installed, but travel trailers and fifth wheels only have the pre-wiring and mount in place for this.  It is the responsibility of the buyer to add the camera and monitor.

Backup and rear observation cameras vary depending on the brand and model, but most have the following features:

  • Wireless connection from the camera to the monitor
  • 12V power connections designed to be connected to backup or running lights
  • Ability to monitor several cameras at a time
  • Ability to record video of what the camera is capturing
  • Monitors ranging in size from 5 to 9 inches

Side Marker Observation Cameras

Side Marker Cameras are cameras that have lights on them and are mounted on the side of your RV.  They are powered by your side marker lights so they are running while you are driving. These cameras provide side visibility on your RV and are very helpful when changing lanes.  They must be used with a monitor in order to see what the camera is recording. 

As with rear cameras, most motorhomes come with these, but trailers and fifth wheels do not.  We use and recommend the Garmin and VisionWorks Cameras, and they offer different ways to monitor your surroundings while driving.

Read more about the features of the Garmin Dash Cams, Backup Cameras and the VisionWorks Rear Observation Cameras by clicking here.

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