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Rear View Cameras

Using a rear view camera system with a trailer caravan.

Published in Practical Caravan Readers Workshop February 2010

 

Rear view camera systems are common on large motor homes but not often seen on trailer caravan outfits.

With a rear view camera installed, rear vision is greatly improved, this is particularly marked in dense traffic where vehicles close behind would be invisible in wing mirrors. The two photos taken when halted at traffic lights show rear vision both on the screen and in the mirrors.

 
 


Lane changes are much safer, as is pulling in after overtaking. Hitching up or pitching is also easier and the partner doesn’t need the lungs of a sergeant major to tell one that the brake lights are working or “mind that tree”. It is however not a legal substitute for mirrors and for distance I find the image too small to rely on.


The system can be either wired or wireless, but wireless systems can be prone to spasmodic interference and wired is more reliable. A kit comprising Camera, Monitor and cable can set you back around £300 according to spec but it might be possible for the more technically inclined to get the individual components cheaper. When buying its important to check that the monitor can be switched to “mirror” as without this the image of cars appearing to pass on the nearside is most disconcerting even dangerous.

 

Fitting a wired system presents the following issues for the DIY caravaner.

  • Mounting the camera at the rear of the outfit.
  • Connecting the car and caravan CCTV cables together.
  • Powering the system and mounting the monitor on the dash.

 

 

Mounting on the rear of the caravan

Cameras are usually supplied with a bracket intended to be screwed to the van, but as there are already enough ways for water to enter or warranties to void, it’s worth applying some ingenuity to avoid drilling.   I currently mount mine outside on a rear bike rack and pass the cable through the window, but not too many vans have this facility and a good alternative is to mount one inside the van looking through the window. A method I have used is to attach the camera to some sort of mount (I use a strong plastic box) and clamp this to a work surface in the washroom with large spring clips. This has the advantage of being out of the weather, but at times heavy rain or spray will obscure the view.

 

 
 


Note

Since this article was published we have changed the caravan and now own a Lunar Clubman without facility for a bike rack and without a rear window. I am now mounting the camera on the roof using a modified mobile phone suction mount and passing the cable through a skylight.

 
 

Connecting the system

Most kits will come with 18 meters of cable that should be enough to run the length of the outfit. This will need to be broken at the tow bar and reconnected with a plug and socket, an additional 12N.or 12S can be used for this. It is important to cut the cable in the right place the cable is not cheap if a mistake is made.

After threading the cable from the rear end of the caravan, through or under the van, strip the end and couple the individual wires to the 12N plug and those from the car to the socket in much the same way as normal towing electrics. They are colour coded and provided the same wiring pattern is used in the socket there should be no problem. Threading the cable through both car and van is tedious but it’s worth spending the time to lose the cable behind trim or under carpets for the finished result.

   
 
 
 

At the Dashboard

A mount will usually come with the monitor but again a little ingenuity will avoid drilling or disfiguring car trim with adhesives. Part of the mount can be used in conjunction with a suction mounted mobile phone holder.

Power for the monitor come from the cigarette lighter and no separate supply is needed for the camera.

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