There’s obvious advantages of fitting a reversing camera to your motorhome. However, the thought of running cables the entire length of your vehicle may put you off. Let me introduce you to the Garmin BackUp camera. This is a clever bit of kit that wirelessly transmits live images from reversing camera to your corresponding Garmin Sat Nav screen.
I first looked into fitting a reversing camera after my insurer told me I could reduce my motorhome premium by approximately £60 per year if I had one. This won’t be the case for all insurers but it is worth asking. After I found the most competitive premium I asked what else could be done to reduce it. With all the normal security upgrades fulfilled, the next biggest saving was made by installing a reversing camera.
Traditional Wired Reversing Camera
Lets face it campervans are small spaces jam packed with fittings and fixtures. Finding a sensible cable run throughout the entire length of your motorhome could potentially be a very involved and time consuming job. It also usually means fitting another screen on the dashboard. Most of us use sat-nav units, so the idea of this screen doubling as my reversing display instantly appealed.
The Garmin BackUp Camera
The Garmin ‘BackUp’ reversing camera is sold in two different kit forms. Be careful, a lot of merchants don’t make the difference clear between either kit. There’s an ‘additional camera’ kit available which includes the camera, transmitter and the mount, fittings and wiring. The other is the ‘full Kit’ with all of the aforementioned plus the BC30 receiver lead.
If you already have a Garmin Sat Nav, check to see if it has a ‘Back Up’ camera function. Garmins website shows 67 compatible units. Next, check if the 12v power lead is the BC30 power lead with the integrated camera receiver. If you already have the BC30 power/receiver lead then you’ll only need to purchase the ‘additional Back Up camera kit’. If not, buy the ‘full kit’ as the receiver lead separately costs an eye-watering £63!
Fitting the Garmin BackUp camera kit
The official advice from Garmin is as follows
- Test potential camera and transmitter positions before fixing
- Installing the camera higher provides a better viewing angle
- Some vehicles don’t provide a constant minimum voltage, in this case fit a relay.
Positioning the Garmin BackUp transmitter
Garmin say that the transmitter will successfully provide signal to the receiver up to 13.5 meters away. I’ve even heard of completely reliable performance through timber bulkheads. However it is worth given some thought to the transmitters position. I opted for installing just below window level on one of my Transits rear doors where I could make use of a pre-drilled hole. Garmin also recommend that the flat face of transmitter face towards the sat-nav and receiver
- Remove door panel
- Feed transmitter cable through wiring sleeve into rear pillar
- Leave transmitter loose
- Leave door panel off
Power supply to your Garmin BackUp camera
You can wire your camera two ways. If you want your camera display only when you put your vehicle in reverse then you’ll need to take power from your reverse lights. You can also power your camera with a constant power feed, this will then need you to manually select your camera from your sat-nav screen when you want rear view to be displayed. I chose to wire into my reverse light feed, just in case having to select the camera manually didn’t satisfy my insurers conditions.
- Remove the rear light assembly on the side you plan to mount your camera
- Locate reversing bulb and trace the wires from it.
- You can test the wiring with a multimeter, when reverse is selected you should have over 12 volts
- Make connection, I found snap lock connectors ideal for this
- Leave light assembly loose
Test Garmin BackUp camera connectivity
For the time being use the cameras number plate mount to position it and temporarily plug the camera cable into the transmitter around the door. This will allow you to test the whole system.
- Plug in the BC30 receiver cable to your 12v dashboard outlet
- Turn on ignition (some vehicles require this to power 12v socket & reverse lights)
- Power your Garmin sat-nav
- Select reverse gear
- Your sat-nav should quickly switch to rear view display
Fixing off & finishing up
Once your happy the transmitter has power and it’s signal is being received and displayed you’re ready to start drilling holes!
- Drill hole behind number plate and run cable for camera.
- Wrap wire connectors with insulating tape and tidy wiring within rear light void and replace light assembly
- Tidy excess transmitter/camera wire within rear door void and replace panel
- Position transmitter (self adhesive pad) and camera (number plate clip)
- When happy with positions fix off with self tapping screws.
- Form a downward loop in the camera cable behind the number plate so water drips off
- Seal cable holes with clear silicone
- A cable grommet cut in half makes a good packer for the number plate screws to allow for the cable behind.
Setting up your Garmin BackUp Camera
With your ignition on and in reverse the camera can be adjusted and checked. The camera bracket allows a good degree of adjustment, once happy with your displays view, tighten the two side bolts.
From your satnav you can decide whether your display shows parameter guide lines or not. If so, the guides can be adjusted so they are parallel. Simply park tight to a straight road curb and set your guide lines parallel to it.
I installed my Garmin BackUp camera almost five months ago (at time of writing) and it’s performed perfectly. I’ve had no issues with it, the image has been crystal clear at all times and the display switches from satnav to reverse view quickly. Installation is as easy as a wireless system should be, the camera is discreet and no need for a dedicated monitor is a real plus for me. Highly recommended all round.