Choosing the Right Backup Camera System

By doing your homework, setting high standards and keeping the future in mind, you will end up with a backup camera system that is rugged, reliable and able to grow with your business.

Matt Van Kirk

Backup cameras are becoming the norm in the waste industry these days. But with so many options on the market, and each with their own set of features, how do you determine which system is right for your application? This is a question that plagues many operations, and mistakes can be costly, particularly when looking to outfit a large number of vehicles. But regardless if your operation is large or small, the need for reliable, easy installation and maintenance, and cost-effective backup assistance remains.


Look for commercial rear vision cameras that are built to withstand the day to day use/abuse that the commercial waste industry can throw at them. These are vastly different from the camera on the SUV in your driveway or the RV you take on vacation. Commercial cameras are designed and built specifically to endure the rigors of the waste industry all day, every day, all year long, as you run your routes.


Most of these systems are hardwired, and for good reason. When safety is one of your primary goals, the last thing you need is a camera system that starts having interruptions or interference while you are trying to use it. If you can’t rely on your system to work when you need it, what’s the point? Your camera system should be there for you at all times. Hardwired systems decrease the probability that you will encounter the interference that so many wireless systems are plagued with. With a large metal truck, boat, or train full of electronics, there are numerous opportunities for interruption and interference, and who’s to say when that is going to occur? By hardwiring your system with shielded cables and connections, your chances of interference are all but eliminated.


The camera system you select should offer a wide variety of monitor and camera options including night vision and low light capable cameras. This will allow you to pick various solutions to work for your entire fleet, all from one source, no matter what style loader, truck, trailer, container, barge or rail car you use. In addition, the mounting options offered should allow you to mount your components and get the view you need easily without having to create a custom bracket or weld a variety of attachments onto your equipment.


Having a system that fits your needs is just the starting point. Once you have found a commercial camera system that meets your fleet’s demands, you then have to consider the environmental conditions the components themselves will have to endure. While most commercial systems can handle average precipitation and temperature, you have to factor in the extremes, since that is typically when you rely on your cameras the most. You should look for a system that works in all climates ensuring that it is rated to be airtight and waterproof. This rating is typically referred to as an IP rating for protection from solid objects or materials and liquids. You want a camera rated no less than IP67K on this scale to protect the system from dust and dirt as well as pounding rain and heavy snow. However, it is not just your cameras that needs to be protected from the environment. Your cables and connections should be just as robust. Be sure that your system comes with shielded heat and cut resistant cables as well as deep collared, metal screw-type connectors with waterproof sleeves to cover the connection. These will help to ensure that your connection is secure even in the worst conditions.


With many camera systems, adding in a side or in-cab camera to assist in lane changing or monitoring driver behavior can be a huge problem. Your system may not be capable of adding the additional channels needed to support these changes. The camera system you choose should allow you to add additional cameras or audio channels in a plug-and-play fashion at any time. By ensuring that your system has extra channels available at the initial purchase, you can expand quickly and efficiently minimizing the amount of down time and expense as you retrofit your fleet vehicles to ensure the most comprehensive coverage possible.


Expandability can be more than just adding cameras and audio. When looking to purchase your system, take into account any future needs of your company. By deciding to incorporate a solid-state digital video recorder with continuous recording into your backup system, you can actually increase your revenue streams for minimal additional expense as well as provide a great return on your investment. DVRs can be used to audit route activity, protect against false customer claims, reduce corporate liability and customer complaints, and provide evidence in case of an accident. Choosing a solid state system means there are no moving parts to break like a hard drive, so you won’t have the downtime and additional expense while you’re waiting to get your trucks up and running again. In addition, a large number of insurance companies are now decreasing premium rates for companies that have continuous recording systems running on their vehicles. As a result, the system ends up paying for itself in no time at all.


This is great when coupled with a strong warranty program that shows the manufacturers confidence in their product. Selecting a system that has a warranty of several years, and is not full of conditions and fine print should be part of your checklist. Five years is not uncommon, but not every manufacturer stands behind their product for that length of time, and when they do, most of the time the systems have additional requirements that have to be met to prevent voiding the warranty. A company that is truly out to service the customer and takes pride in their product is certainly one worth doing business with.


While camera systems that are built as aftermarket products for SUVs and RVs can be purchased for a rather low cost, camera systems that are rated for commercial use usually run a little higher in price. The starting price for a quality commercial camera system is usually in the range of $300 to $500. Anything you find for less on various discount Web sites should be looked at closely as it may not meet the demands that you are going to make of it. This will, in the end, cost you more money for a less superior product.

Be Sure to Do Your Research

Check out sample videos on company Web sites to be sure you know what you are getting. After all, if they don’t have samples of what their product can do, how do you know it’s going to work for you? Make sure the products that are offered will be durable enough to take a beating as you run your routes, and the connections are secure and watertight to prevent the interference that so many wireless systems encounter. Select a system that has a camera and mounting solution for every type of vehicle in your fleet, and be sure they are rated for all weather and climate conditions. Plan for the future by ensuring the system you select can expand with your needs as well as offer you future revenue streams. And finally check out that warranty. Make sure that you understand what you’re getting, and you can feel confident in the product you choose. By doing your homework, setting high standards and keeping the future in mind, you will end up with a backup camera system that is rugged, reliable and able to grow with your business.

Matt Van Kirk is the Marketing Manager at PRO-VISION Video Systems (Byron Center, MI), named as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America by Inc. Magazine. PRO-VISION has grown to be a global leader in engineering, manufacturing, supplying and installing commercial video systems for a diverse group of industries. Founded by veterans of the waste industry, PRO-VISION is a pioneer in waste vehicle video recording systems. Matt can be reached at (800) 576-1126 or visit