What Is an Auto Backup Camera?

What Is an Auto Backup Camera?

Many new cars come equipped with an auto backup camera. These devices are activated either by the driver or automatically when your car is put into reverse gear.

The idea behind the auto backup camera is to give the driver an extra way of looking behind the car–the auto backup camera is meant to give the driver peace of mind. Simply using rear-view mirrors or side mirrors isn’t always enough to see exactly what might be behind your car.

Backup accidents are common, especially for drivers of large vehicles or drivers who tow a vehicle behind their car. People who tow a boat will find the auto backup camera useful in that it gives the driver an unimpeded view of the tow hitch itself, meaning you have better control over the boat you’re towing.

Why Are Auto Backup Cameras Necessary?

What Is an Auto Backup Camera

Fifty years ago, cars were smaller. Sure, some people had big beefy Rolls Royce or Cadillac limousines, but for the most part if you owned a car, you weren’t all that worried about seeing behind yourself. Now that every suburban family has at least one gigantic SUV, auto backup cameras are necessary to combat the monstrous blind spots these vehicles have behind them. Auto backup cameras, also known as “rear camera systems” go a long way to preventing dangerous or even deadly backup accidents.

Different Types of Auto Backup Cameras

Like any auto accessory, there are lots of different varieties of auto backup cameras. You can spend anywhere from about $100 on a smallish camera with a limited warranty to several thousands of dollars for more advanced systems that include larger screens, rearview mirror displays, dimming lights, and other fancy features.

Backup Camera Systems

So called “backup camera systems” come with everything you need to install your camera, including cables, hardware, the camera itself, and sometimes even the tools required to install the camera itself.

A “low end” auto backup camera will come with just a few items that are generally less capable than the high end systems. A typical “low end” auto back up camera system will contain:

  • A 90-110 degree wide-angle camera
  • An automatic “on” switch for when the vehicle is placed in reverse
  • Wires for transmission or a wireless transmitter
  • An LCD monitor (usually around 2.5 to 3 inches)
  • A night vision setting for easier viewing in the dark
  • An externally-mounted camera bracket
  • A short warranty, on lower-end models usually about one year

The beauty of auto backup camera systems is that you can always find a cheap model that you can install yourself using a wireless transmitter. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The system described above will probably only cost about $100.

If you can spend a little more on your auto backup camera system or you want a device with a little more functionality, you can spend a few hundred more bucks for a backup camera system that is tricked out to include all the bells and whistles. Accelevision sells an auto backup camera system that includes three cameras total (one rear and two side), a high resolution screen, aluminum and rubber camera housings, larger viewing angles, and other treats. This top of the line auto backup camera system retails for around $700.

Individual Backup Cameras

Not every consumer is looking for the “install it yourself” auto backup camera kit. If your car came with a monitor in the dash (any monitor will do, from built-in navigation screens to in-dash monitors) you can simply install or have a backup camera installed, no need for the monitor and other junk.

There are three basic types of auto backup camera–bullet, license plate mounted, and surface mounted. The type you buy depends on where you want your camera, how you want to mount it, and how visible you want it to be.

Bullet Backup Camera

Bullet cameras are small, cylinder-shaped items that are usually mounted flush to the bumper or to any car panel. The bullet backup camera is ideal for SUVs or other cars with large bumpers. The idea of the bullet-style camera is to hide the camera and housing completely. A typical bullet backup camera costs from $30 to $250.

License Plate Mounted Backup Cameras

Like the name implies, these cameras are mounted directly to the license plate holder but without blocking the plate itself. These are the easiest backup cameras to mount, as all you need is a license plate. There are two different styles of license plate mounted cameras–one type mounts to the license plate holder and the other variety IS the license plate holder. These backup cameras will set you back anywhere from $40 to $250.

Surface Mounted Backup Cameras

These are the ugly members of the backup camera family. These large cameras are mounted to the surface of a vehicle, either under the bumper (for a little bit of discretion) or right to the car’s body or frame. This style of camera is the easiest to install, and you can really get fancy with the actual camera itself, with everything from FLIR night vision to built-in GPS systems. Expect to spend between $100 and a few thousands bucks for this style of backup camera.

Auto backup cameras are becoming standard on many models of car, and for owners of large SUVs, they are almost a necessity. Gone are the days of running over the bikes of neighborhood kids or (God forbid) the kids themselves. Backup cameras are easy to install, affordable models exist, and give you peace of mind when backing up.

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