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Why You Need a Dashboard Camera for Your RV

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Steering wheel of vintage camping van, vanlife
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Why You Should Get a Dashboard Camera for Your RV

This article originally appeared on RVshare.com and is syndicated by Cheapism.


It can be fun to hit the road as soon as you pick up your new RV, and honestly, as long as you have the most basic necessities, that is just fine. That said, there are some upgrades you will want to make at some point soon after the purchase of your motorhome. These include things such as a better shower head, back-up cameras, tire pressure monitoring systems, and a dashboard camera.


Yes, you read that right: We highly recommend installing a dashboard camera in your RV. These little electronics are actually pretty commonplace in other countries, and there’s a good reason why. They are incredibly useful. Not sold on the idea? Read on to learn why you need a dashboard camera in your RV, what to look for in such a device, and which ones we think are best.


Related: 22 Important Things to Consider Before Buying an RV

Car video camera attached to the windshield to record driving and prevent danger from driving
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What Is a Dashboard Camera?

Before we go any further, let’s discuss what exactly a dashboard camera is. As you might have guessed, this nifty device is a camera that mounts to your dashboard (or to your windshield) facing out. It can then be used to capture footage of your surroundings as you drive down the road. 


These cameras record automatically and continuously, recording footage in segments that are 2–10 minutes long and recording over the oldest footage as it runs out of space. Many dash cams can sense when an accident has occurred and will lock that footage so it isn’t accidentally lost. It’s also possible to manually lock certain bits of video, should you see the need.


Related: The Must Have Ultimate RV Gadgets

Yellowstone USA bison
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Why Should You Get a Dashboard Camera?

So why do you need one of these for your RV? Well, there are actually a number of ways such a device can be helpful.


The most common reason people end up buying dashboard cameras is to record any accidents that may occur. This allows you to prove who was at fault. If you rent out your RV, a dashboard camera can be useful because it allows you to review footage captured during rentals, and could help you out by providing a peek into your renters’ trips.


Finally, we love having dash cameras in our RVs because they allow us to capture awesome road trip moments we might not get on video otherwise. For instance, if a buffalo or bear were to cross the road in front of you as you were exploring a national park, you would have a video of it to look back on. 


Related: Bucket List RV Trips for 2021

Camper front view
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What to Consider When Purchasing a Dashboard Camera

Let’s say you decide a dashboard camera is something you’d like to have in your motorhome. You’ll want to know what to look for in such a camera as you shop, and if you have no experience with dash cams, it can be difficult to know which features are most important. 


Lucky for you, we do have some experience with dash cameras, and we’ve compiled a list of things you will definitely want to look for in your new device. 


Related: 5 Helpful Gadgets to in Your RV Today

Driving on a country road
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Viewing Angle

Obviously, you want to capture as much of the area surrounding your vehicle as possible. For this reason, it’s best to get a camera with a wide viewing angle. Sometimes this will give the video a “fisheye” effect, but if you go for a higher quality camera, you should be able to find one that simply gives a wider image. 

RV Camper Van Accident
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G Sensor

This feature is super important. It’s the sensor that tells the camera you’ve had an accident and ensures the footage from that accident doesn’t get recorded over. Therefore, you’ll want to skip any camera that doesn’t offer this.


Related: You Won't Believe These 25 RV Horror Stories

Dash Camera or car video recorder in vehicle on the way
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Video Resolution

Generally speaking, when you’re shopping for a camera, the higher the resolution, the better. That said, if you only want your dash camera to capture accident footage, you may not need the best resolution out there. 1080p is the lowest resolution you should consider. (One thing to keep in mind while shopping is whether or not you can read license plates in a given dash cam’s footage. Read the reviews if you’re unsure!)

Male Fingers Holding A Micro SD Card With Tablet And Smartphone In Background, Extent Disk Space Concept
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Memory

The more video you want to hold onto, the more memory you’re going to need your camera to have. Fortunately, most cameras use microSD cards to store video, meaning you can choose the storage size to some extent. That said, most cameras do have a limit on SD card size. It’s also important to note that cameras that take higher resolution videos will require more memory than other cameras.

White commercial van speeding on a rural road at sunset in USA
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Nighttime Vision

We all know car accidents don’t only happen in the day. In fact, they might even be more likely to happen after dark. For this reason, it’s important that your dash camera has decent night vision. If you want to get extra fancy, consider purchasing one with IR (infrared) capability.


Related: 14 RV Night Driving Safety Tips

Manufacturer's Warranty
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Price

Of course, price is always an important factor to consider when buying anything, and dash cameras are no exception. You can find cameras for as little as $15 and as much as $700. Good, solid cameras can be had for $50–$100, and a nice high-quality one shouldn’t cost you more than $200.


Related: 18 RV Accessories to Buy at Costco

Camper rv on spanish coast
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Other Features

There are a few other things you might want to look for if you’re picky about your electronics. These things aren’t 100% necessary, and choosing a camera without them doesn’t mean you’ll have a poor experience, but they are things to consider.


Related: Our Master List of 20 RV Accessories We Can’t Live Without

    CCTV car camera.
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    Road trip
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    Recreational Camper
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    Rear Camera

    This can be helpful for recording things that happen behind your vehicle, like if you get randomly rear-ended on the highway or if you've loaded up the back of your rig with gear.

    Rewinding a dashboard camera app with flyover on display
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    Caravan in Torcal by Antequera, Spain
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    Parking Mode

    This mode uses a motion sensor to tell the camera to wake up and record should anything come close to your vehicle while it’s parked. Parking mode does require an external battery pack, or in some cases, a wiring mount to connect it straight into your vehicle’s power system (not a project for novices, that one).


    Related: Where Can I Park This Thing? RV Parking Tips

    Front camera car recorder
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    The Best RV Dashboard Cameras

    Don’t want to do your own shopping around? We’ve got you covered! In this section, we will discuss the best dash cameras for RVers. We chose each of these cameras based on a variety of factors, and feel confident one of them will be the perfect fit for you. 

    Garmin 010-02062-00 Dash Cam Mini
    Amazon

    Garmin Dash Cam Mini

    The best budget camera we could find, the Garmin Dash Cam Mini is the perfect choice for those who want a decent dashboard camera without breaking the bank. This is a relatively small camera, something we like to see in these devices. It also has built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth so you can upload footage directly to your smartphone.


    Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer the best video quality, and the night vision is even worse, but for the price, this camera really is a good buy. (And hey, anything is better than nothing at all.)

    Rexing V1 - 4K Ultra HD Car Dash Cam
    Amazon

    Rexing V1

    An ideal middle-of-the-line camera, the Rexing V1 is tiny, meaning that when it’s mounted under the rearview mirror, it’s completely out of sight. This is perfect for those who rent their RVs, as it is unlikely to be tampered with or damaged.


    This camera can record a full 170 degrees, meaning it has one of the wider camera angles on the market. Additionally, the Rexing V1 has an excellent reputation, so you can buy with confidence, knowing many others have had good experiences with the device.

    Vantrue N2 Pro Uber Dual 1080P Dash Cam
    Amazon

    Vantrue N2 Pro

    If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line camera that has the vast majority of features mentioned, the Vantrue N2 Pro is for you. This awesome little camera offers the highest resolution of almost any dashboard camera out there. It also has a second camera that records the cabin area, something that can be especially useful to those who want to take videos of their trip while also recording their thoughts. (We don’t advise using this feature for keeping tabs on renters, for privacy reasons.)


    We love that this camera has infrared technology for recording in total darkness, as it means you will have high quality footage to work with no matter the time of today. Additionally, we appreciate the wide viewing angle and the fact that the image is not distorted because of it. 

    man driving RV
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    Tips for Using Your RV Dashboard Camera

    Now that you know which camera to buy, let’s talk a little about best practices for using your camera. These little tips will help ensure you are using your dashboard camera safely and legally. 


    Related: 18 Reasons You Really Don't Want to Buy an RV

    Small black car camera
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    Don’t Obscure Your View

    Did you know it’s actually against the law in many states to obstruct the view out the front, side, or rear windows of your vehicle? It is, and since a dashboard camera could potentially be seen as an obstruction, it’s important to mount it somewhere out of the way. We recommend mounting yours to the windshield behind the rearview mirror. 

    Rear view of happy couple traveling by camper trailer.
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    Get Passengers' Permission

    Another thing many people don’t know is that it is illegal in many states to record people without their permission. Because most dash cams record sound in the cabin of your vehicle as well as video of the outside, you will want to make sure your passengers are aware they’re being recorded. This is particularly important if you plan to post the videos you make to the internet.


    Related: Things You Need To Know About RV Seat Belt Laws

    RV with speed limit
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    Learn About Speed Trap Detection Laws

    A few dashboard cameras have built-in speed trap detection. Since a number of states have laws against devices that let drivers know about speed traps and the presence of police officers, you will want to make sure this feature is legal wherever you go, and turn it off if it isn’t.


    Related: 12 Dangerous Roads You Should Never Drive in an RV