Getting Power to a Wireless RV Backup Camera
Wireless RV backup cameras are becoming a standard accessory in the world of campers.
Most new travel trailers, 5th-wheels, motorhomes, and vans are pre-wired for RV backup camera kits in the factory.
A pre-wire means the electrical plug and mounting plate are already set up and ready to go. All you need to do is get the compatible brand of RV backup camera and plug it in.
But where are these backup cameras getting power from? And how do you get power to a camera you install yourself?
In this post, I’m going to talk about how RV backup cameras are usually wired to power and also give some tips on how to use these cameras as security cameras.
If you have any questions about rearview cameras or how to install them leave a comment below.
Connecting an RV Backup Camera to Power
So far, the best way to get power to a wireless RV backup camera is to connect it to one of the running/reverse lights on the back of an RV.
Usually, it’s the center one that’s directly above where the backup camera is installed.
This allows for easy installation that doesn’t require running wires through the entire camper. It also means the camera won’t stay on when the engine is turned off and drain the battery.
In most cases, the running lights of your camper have to be on in order for the RV backup camera to get power, or you need to be in reverse.
Note that some camper trailers don’t have the upper tail/running lights wired into the reverse lighting system and you will need to manually turn on the lights to use the camera.
Can I Install a Wireless Backup Camera on an Old RV?
Since the power supply can be easily accessed via a running light, installing an RV backup camera on older RVs and trailers is pretty easy.
The video signal is transmitted wirelessly so you won’t need to run any cables to the front of the RV.
To install, simply drill a small hole about 2 inches below the running light you are going to be using for power.
Once you’ve connected the camera wires to the running light feed them into the wall through the hole behind the running light. Then pull the wires out of the small hole you drilled.
You can now install the RV backup camera’s mounting plate per the instruction that came with it.
Once everything’s installed on the RV, make sure you reseal around the running light and the camera mounting plate to prevent leaks.
The backup camera monitor goes inside the cab of your vehicle and is powered by a 12 volt plug. There are usually a few mounting options included like a suction cup windshield mount or adhesive dash mount.
One thing to note is that because the backup camera is drawing power from a running light you will need to turn on the lights or go into reverse in order to get it to turn on.
If you want to use the RV backup camera while you’re driving the running lights will need to be on.
Using An RV Backup Camera As A Security Camera
In some cases, you may want to use your RV backup camera as a security camera.
It’s a good way to see what’s going on in places you can’t see from the inside or as a way to record activity around your RV while you’re not there.
Many RV backup camera manufacturers sell multiple cameras that can be placed on the sides and even over the front door.
Using a 3 to 4 camera system you will be able to see all around your RV which is also useful when driving because the side cameras help when making lane changes.
Many of the more common RV backup camera manufacturers like Furrion (click to view on Amazon) have multi camera systems that include what they call an over door security camera, but there is no recording feature.
Part of a good security camera is the ability to record.
The Haloview RV Backup Camera System (click to view on Amazon) has a recording feature and it can connect up to 4 cameras which means you can get a view of all 4 sides of your camper.
The recording feature is good for when you’re driving as well so you have recordings if you get into an accident with your RV.
The only downside to the Haloview system, when compared to the Furrion, is the night vision mode doesn’t work as well.
To use RV backup cameras as a security camera system you will need to wire things a little differently.
If you have a motorhome the camera monitor can stay put but if you have a camper trailer you will need to bring the screen into the trailer and have a way to power it.
How Do I Make It So My RV Backup Camera Stays On All The Time?
To use as a security camera the RV backup camera needs to be connected directly to a 12 volt battery so it can stay on all of the time and not just when connected to a tow vehicle with the lights on.
Even in motorhomes, regular RV backup cameras can only be turned on when the cab key is turned to the accessory position.
It will take a lot more wire but I recommend connecting the cameras you want to use for security directly to the RV battery.
Using electrical wire that’s at least 18 AWG (click to view on Amazon) and a 12V inline rocker switch (click to view on Amazon) you can connect the cameras to your RV battery.
You want to add a switch because if left on all of the time the cameras will slowly drain your RV battery. They use very little power but it could still be an issue if left for a long time.
To power the monitor I recommend the 12 volt outlet inside your RV that’s wired directly to the RV battery or using a power station with a 12 volt outlet.
You will have to manually turn on and off the RV backup camera system but this way it will stay on even if your tow vehicle isn’t connected.
When you are towing your tow vehicle should be able to charge the battery enough to keep the cameras running while you are driving.
Have any questions about powering an RV backup camera or using one as a security camera? Leave a comment below.