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40v13: Cameras and Security

Table of Contents

Backup (rear view) Camera

Previous RV

On the last trailer I had installed a Haloview backup camera, which I really liked having.  It came in handy when backing into campsites of course, but it was super useful when backing in a parking lot or other public travel way as well.  Brenda has been wonderful about jumping out to keep watch and that is super helpful, but it is also really nice to have a view back there from the truck.

This RV

On this trailer I wanted the camera to pull double duty – if I was going to shell out a lot of money for it (the backup cameras I looked at were between $400 and $800!!) I wanted to use it for both backing up and also for security.  

Since I was could not find any rear observation cameras that could be integrated into a security system, that left me eyeballing security cameras that could double as a backup cam.  


  1. Access to the camera while driving.  I can’t depend on internet access while traveling, so I need to access the security camera on ‘local’ Wi-Fi (meaning neither the phone app nor the camera require internet, but can talk to each other with both connected to the RV Wi-Fi).
  2. The RV Wi-Fi would need to remain on during travel days, and therefore run on the 12-volt DC power.
  3. I would want to have profiles I could switch between – one for travel (acting as a rear view camera) and one for security mode (activating alerts, security lights, recording motion, etc). 
    Note:  The Reolink does not meet this requirement and I have to change a handful of settings each time we travel (changing capture resolution, turning off notifications, motion detection, etc)
  4. I would need to be able to disable the camera lights (e.g. I didn’t want the camera motion detection triggering the camera floodlights while traveling!) 
  5. A camera that can be powered from the RV 12-volt system.   I found that at some (Reolink) of the battery powered cameras by design cannot live stream for more than 5 minutes.
  6. Size and type of mount.  Many of the security cameras I looked at were considerably larger than the dedicated backup cameras.
  7. Horizontal flip:  I need the camera to support flipping the image (“mirroring” it) so that it appears reversed to me while driving.   Our brains are trained for the reversed image of a rear view mirror while driving, so it is jarring to instead see the image as if you were turned around facing backwards down the road (which is the default for a camera that is indeed facing that direction!)
  8. Whole system — If the backup camera was also acting as a security camera when camping, then it seems logical to consider the system as a whole when narrowing down camera options.  In other words, if the system would require a base station then I would probably need to consider power for it while traveling.  The system would need to have all the features we wanted (see below for details of that). 
  9. Display.  I wanted to have a dedicated screen in the truck to use while in ‘backup camera mode’.  I happened to have an old smartphone that I could use, but I also considered mounting a tablet or larger screen in the truck.

Speaking of the display (in the truck): 
Even though I did not end up going with a dedicated backup camera (made solely for that purpose I mean), I will include this in case someone finds it helpful.  There are adapters I found that seemed to work, allowing me to display a camera on the in-dash (stock) truck display.  
In my case, this was particularly difficult with a 2018 RAM (I guess later years had better options?)

Note: I did not purchase and test any of these, so I cannot vouch for them.  In the end I opted to go with a security camera and use it for backing.

  • CameraSource CS-DFW-FI $300 adapter & wireless camera – view on stock radio, toggle between tailgate & trailer cam
  • The product I was eyeballing on CameraSource has since been removed from their site but there are tons of other options there.
  • Naviks harness $290 w/o camera
  • $216 – Crux wire harness – seems to add multiple RCA video inputs
  • $545 – BobsMirrors wiring harness (auto switching), w/ camera, 66’ cable, quick connect kit (PNs: 500601+2001WHT+4020+4302)
  • Zorg 4313 – Uses a manual switch to toggle between the  tailgate camera and trailer camera

I prefer having a wired camera (ethernet connecting it to the RV Wi-Fi router), as it will generally have the best image and update speed.  Unfortunately that also adds more requirements. 

  • If I were to use a PoE (powered over ethernet) camera I would then need to have a 12-volt powered NVR (Network Video Recorder),  PoE switch, or a PoE injector to power the camera.
  • Whether PoE or standard ethernet I would have to find wiring paths between the rear camera outside and the network equipment inside.   

Enough blabber, I just wanted to convey how much of a struggle this was to narrow down! 
The two systems I liked most were Reolink and Lorex.  


In addition to security cameras, Lorex offers integration with a few other sensors (like motion detection, door/window sensor, etc).  That was very appealing to me!  A few issues stuck out though, ultimately driving me to Reolink.  It seems the Lorex PoE cameras cannot be used with the Lorex Home App, at least not directly.  This would require me to keep the NVR powered in transit, instead of just a PoE switch.   
Lorex does have some Wi-Fi 6 cameras, which I also found very appealing, since I was after rapid updates in backup camera mode.
One of the biggest issues I found was finding Lorex items in stock!  


Reolink overall seemed to be less expensive, perhaps with slightly lower camera specs and a lot less models to choose from.  They are also rated IP66 versus IP65 in the Lorex cameras.   The Reolink cameras I was investigating looked like they would patch directly into the 12v trailer power source (cutting off the power brick and splicing wires), where the Lorex ones might require the USB power brick(?)

In the end, this is the manufacturer I decided to go with, specifically the Reolink RLC-511WA.

This is the Reolink spliced into the 12v Valor power supply.  Alliance (like most RV manufacturers these days?) pre-wired power to this spot (“backup camera prepped”).  Thankfully, Alliance took it a step further and added an on/off toggle switch in the control panel so I can easily cut power to the camera when it is not needed. 
I have this camera operating in Wi-Fi mode, though perhaps someday I might see if I can run ethernet from the router to it.

When I had the router mounted in the cabinet above the control panel (just inside the main entry and perhaps roughly mid-way between camera and truck cab), I was able to connect to it from the truck cab.  When I relocated the router to the garage, I lost the ability to connect to the camera from the truck.  I ended up adding a Peplink  Wi-Fi Access Point and that fixed the problem.

The display is on my old Pixel 2 XL phone, using the Reolink app and attached to the rear view mirror using this mount.


Security Systems

Sigh.  Another very long research project!   

I really wanted a unified system that had:

  • Outdoor security cameras
    • high resolution
    • activity zones (to block triggering/recording areas outside our campsite)
    • facial recognition (to avoid alerting when we are outside)
    • good night vision
    • pet detection (ignore our dogs)
    • cloud storage of videos
  • door sensors
  • smoke detector sensors
  • temperature sensors (for the pets — in case the AC fails when we are away)
  • 12-volt power.  It would be lovely to run security when the RV is parked in storage

I found it surprisingly challenging to find products that addressed all this!   It seems to me there are some with truly great cameras (Reolink, Lorex, Eufy) and excellent features, but they do not have the other sensors and work as a full system.   
Then there are the systems that include many of the sensors but don’t have the same camera features.
To make the search even more difficult I wanted to find one where the monthly subscription was optional and the system would retain most of its functionality without it.

The ones I narrowed it down to (subscription optional) were


Ooma did not offer cameras so that dropped off immediately.

I could not find temperature sensors for Ring and Simplisafe.  Don’t take my word for it, but I couldn’t find anything that clearly stated the “freeze detectors” they offer could also alert for high temperatures too(?).  

I was very drawn to the price and simplicity of Wyze, but it seems you do need a subscription IF you want to be alerted for things like their temperature sensors.

And yes, before you come at me with pitchforks and torches — I could have opted for a separate temperature system like the Temp Stick.  In fact, I had one in my Amazon cart before deciding that I really wanted a unified system.  I was already (very begrudgingly!) facing the fact that I might have to go with separate systems for the cameras and the sensors.  🙁

In the end I chose Abode.  They don’t require a subscription, do have the sensors I want, integrate with some Z-wave devices, etc.   One thing to note:  If you have Abode at home, you can add a separate account, but it is several clicks in the app to switch between them, and clicking on alerts on your phone won’t automatically take you to the correct account/profile (home vs RV).  

Update:  I ended up subscribing to the cheapest service they offer 🙁   This is the “Standard Plan” at $7 per month.  the reason?  It is a requirement for the Automations, which is what I need to set thresholds for the temperature sensor.  Grrrr.   Also, without a plan it just sends notices saying “something happened”.  With a plan those become useful like “Side door was opened”.   And lastly, it now sends camera video to the cloud so even if someone makes off with the camera I will still have the footage.  Another option would be to buy (and hide!) an NVR but that is a consideration for another day…

I do like the system but knowing now that I ended up buying the monthly service I might have looked more closely at the competition.   


I added the Abode hub to the “network closet” =)

I did cut the power adapter off and direct wired it into our 12v system so it would remain functional even when boondocking, in transit, etc.  But I did not add an external power switch for it like I did the router and network switch.  My reasoning was that the power cable in the back of the Abode hub is very accessible to simply pull out. 

I placed a piece of soft foam underneath it to cushion from rough roads and then Velcro’d the device to the wall.  


I added door/window sensors to all entrances, as well as the outside storage access doors.  Each is named so that when alerts come in I can identify which sensor was tripped.

We use a “power outlet switch” just to monitor shore (or generator) power.  

Even though the coach has two smoke detectors, we added a Z-wave First Alert so that we’d get (smoke and carbon dioxide) notifications from it even if we were away.

I put a keypad in next to the main entry just for convenience — in case we didn’t want to use phones to arm or disarm the system.  It also comes with a keyfob but I’m not convinced that will be convenient to carry around.   Alternatively we could use geofencing to automatically disarm the system when we return to the campsite.  Which would be great!  Until we parked it at home between trips and wanted the security system to remain armed.

We don’t use the motion detector much (unless the RV is in storage), but it is combined with the temperature sensor as one unit.

I added an indoor cam to the garage and detailed that on this page.


There are much better and more comprehensive reviews out there so I will try to limit this to just the things that apply to us.

I am disappointed the system only offers “home,” “away,” and “standby” (disarmed) modes.   I can’t add modes such as “home, but at night,” or “home, but outside”.  I can’t rename “home” mode to “camping”.   I wanted to set different notifications depending on the mode — “away” (alarms active) could mean Away for a Day Trip (when camping), or it could mean In Storage.  An example setting change would be that I arm the motion sensor while in storage but since we have pets, I don’t arm it when just leaving for the day.

I have no problem with the door sensors for door application, but they were challenging to install on the storage baggage doors.  The inside panel of the doors are not flush with the inside walls when closed, so I had to add material to the door side of the sensor for them to extend far enough inside to reach the other (wall mounted) half of the sensor.  Lego blocks seemed to work nicely!  =)  Lightweight but strong and reasonable in appearance.  I super glued them together and then to the door.

I wish there was more granular control over notifications.  I can’t recall now what options might not have been enabled without paying for a monthly subscription, but it seems like there was some sort of caveat there (other than only getting the generic “something happened” notifications).   Perhaps it was that it would only send push notifications to a mobile device, and not email?   I digress.  
My complaint on notifications is that they are based on mode.   Such as “When in Away mode send Brent a notification on his phone when the main door is opened.”  I had to create an Automation (which requires the monthly subscription) to send me a notification when someone opens a door and we are in Home mode, but only at night.



As mentioned above, I went with Reolink for the rear observation camera.  

Also mentioned above, I went with Abode for the security system and indoor cameras.   

While I desperately wish there was strong connection between them, I have not found that ability yet.  I would love (for example) to be able to set the Abode security system into armed mode and have that automagically arm the Reolink cameras as well.
I would also like more automation within Reolink (or profiles!) that allow me to quickly change modes (backup camera to security cam, for example).  Instead I have to update two or three settings each time (turn notifications off when we are outside, turn camera recording on/off, etc)

I made a dumb mistake on the side camera.  I bought another Reolink camera, thinking to at least stay with the same brand (and therefore mobile app) as the rear camera.  But I bought a model that I assumed was a PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) model because of the housing.  It is not!  I hate it when I do stupid things like that!   It is still a good camera and it works.  

The killer was installation!  I spent a [very!] long time eyeballing it but could not come up with a good way to wire the silly thing.  I am using PoE (power over ethernet) so it is just the network cable going to it, but even still it was tough to get a solution I liked!   

It perches atop the door side slideout.  My options:

  1. Running it under the trailer and through the wire loom into the slideout.
    A lot of work:  Removing the underbelly panels, drilling through several panels inside the slideout, feeding the ethernet cable to the outside of the slide to the camera. 
    Not secure:  I could not find a suitable place high enough to be away from would-be intruders, but low enough that I could easily plug it in at the campsite.
    Waterproof:  running the cable from inside the slide to outside could interfere with slideout operation and bulb seals.    
  2. Across the roof 
    Maybe.  With the awnings there, the cable would have to run between them, include a visible drip loop, and then be attached to the underside of the awning mount.   
    But this leaves an ethernet connection point exposed to the elements, and the waterproof connectors are a right pain in the arse to keep connecting and disconnecting.
    Also, where do we store the 3 feet or so of extra cable while traveling?  
  3. Through the RV sidewall
    Honestly this seems to be the neatest in appearance, most convenient to plug/unplug the camera, and waterproof.  They sell “outlets” or “ports” made for this purpose.  
    But this is extensive work on the sidewall and that terrifies me! 
  4. Through the ceiling inside, then feeding a short ether cable from the camera through the slideout seals when opening the slide.
    This is the direction we took, at least for now.  The ethernet connection is inside and does not need to be waterproof.  I have to go on the roof to sit the camera on the slideout when we arrive, so I may as well stay up there and feed the ethernet through to Brenda as she opens the slide.