I used to think only rubbish drivers needed a rear-view camera on a coachbuilt. I could place my 'van perfectly, just using the rear-view mirrors, and reversing and hazard lights, plus a loud beeper, would warn everyone of my manoeuvres.
One day, reversing onto my drive, a 'sixth sense' made me slam on the brakes, get out and walk around to the rear - to find I had missed hitting a boy by inches.
He was deaf and busy watching our dog 'performing' in the front window of the house. What alerted me was that, in my peripheral vision, I had noticed his Mum running and waving her arms about to try to save him.
Within an hour, I'd booked in to have a camera and monitor fitted. The incident is burned into my memory.
Some motorhomes are fitted with a rear-vision camera as standard. Our Advance wasn't, leaving us two options: have the dealer add one before delivery, or go to a specialist fitter.
We chose the latter, as we wanted some other work carried out as well, and went to Dave Newell Leisure Vehicle Services.
Before researching the market, decide what you want the set-up to achieve. Don't be persuaded to spend lots on a dual-lens or motorised camera if you don't need it. Often, the longer lens 'view down the road' is covered by the exterior mirrors, anyway.
In my experience, wireless set-ups fitted to test vehicles didn't perform as well as hardwired systems.
- Talk to fellow motorcaravanners and read reviews in Practical Motorhome to see how cameras work in real life
- Give equal consideration to both camera and monitor
- Deal-maker is the viewed image. Some small and dual-lens cameras distort the image
- Position the monitor so it offers glare-free viewing and doesn't intrude on the view through the windscreen
- Most cameras give a widescreen image, so it is best to fit a widescreen monitor (16:9) for optimum coverage
- For a stand-alone installation (as opposed to linking up with an existing head unit), choose a complete kit from one manufacturer - then if it ever comes to a warranty claim, one manufacturer can't blame the other!
- Before making your final choice, have a chat with the supplier about reliability and aftersales service. Often, paying a little bit more will get you a much better product and/or back-up. As always, one wants the best value, not the cheapest.
Gentleman Jack chose to fit a Camos CM-200 camera kit with a mirror-mounted 7" monitor (RRP including VAT £350), and had it fitted by Dave Newell Leisure Vehicle Services. Address: Unit P, Courtworks Industrial Estate, Bridgenorth Road, Tweedale, Telford TF7 4JB. Tel: 01952 857 702. Web www.davenewell.co.uk. Labour including VAT and additional fittings came to £150.