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Adding a Furrion (Observation) Backup Camera to the RV.

 


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A recent trend RV manufacturers have been leaning towards is the installation of a Furrion backup camera, or at least the RV being pre-wired for a Furrion backup camera. Pre-wired typically means the installation of the mounting bracket (with blank panel), and wiring the 12VDC power connection for use of a wireless camera such as a Furrion Backup or Backup/Observation camera. Several RV manufacturers are now including these as a pre-wired installation, including Grand Design, Keystone, Open Range, and Forest River.

That is how my fifth wheel was manufactured. It came with a mounting bracket and 12VDC pre-wired so all I needed to do is purchase the one of the Furrion cameras and install it on the bracket. Generally it was a straight-forward installation - but there is some important consideration you should make as to how the 12VDC power connection is configured. You may need to make a change.

Generally, there are 4 available configurations of the Furrion camera:

  • FOS48TAPK-BL, which is a Furrion Backup/Observation camera and a complete kit for new installs.
  • FOS48TA-BL, which is the same camera, but for use when your RV is pre-wired for a camera.
  • FRC12TAPK-BL, which is a Furrion Backup Only only camera and a complete kit for new installs.
  • FRC12TA-BL, which is the same camera, but for use when your RV is pre-wired for a camera.

 

Note:

Furrion is now calling the FOS48TA (Observation/Backup) Camera "Vision 2" and the FRC12TA (Backup Only) Camera "Vision 1".

 

I asked Furrion what the difference between the Backup and Backup/Observation camera was, and in the RV industry fashion, they never replied. Therefore, the differences I gleaned was by reading the different owner's manuals (which may or may not be totally accurate).

The Furrion Backup camera (FRC12) is intended for backup use only, and has a range of 100Meters or less, and a power consumption of around 220mA @ 12VDC. The monitor for this camera is somewhat different than the Furrion FOS48 Backup/Observation camera as it allows two backup cameras to be viewed - switched between the two by the UP/DN switches on the monitor.

The Furrion Backup/Observation camera (FOS48) is supposed to have a high-speed capability, and has a range of 300Meters or less, a power consumption of 300mA @ 12VDC, and the monitor can only support a single camera. It is also about 20% more expensive. I am not sure if the "high speed observation" feature means the refresh rate is faster or not, but my guess is that it might have some such capability to support watching the rear of the RV as you are traveling 60mph down the highway.

 

Warning:

Before installing an Observation/Backup Camera, check all laws governing use of a video monitor during vehicle operation.

 

I ended up purchasing the FOS48TAPK-BL which is the full installation version of the Furrion Observation/Backup camera and includes the bracket and power cable for the camera. I did not need these items, but the full kit was slightly cheaper than the pre-wired kit!

One word of caution: Placement of an observation camera in the cab of your tow vehicle may be illegal in some areas, if the driver can see the video. Therefore check your applicable laws in regards so such activity.

Power options. You can power the camera via backup light, clearance light, or dedicated power. Using the clearance light is a popular option if you are doing a new installation as you will typically locate the camera fairly close to the center clearance light. That way, the camera is powered anytime you have your tow vehicle headlights on.

The factory ended up wiring my camera with a semi-dedicated circuit (meaning they tapped off an existing overhead light). However, they did not provide any means to turn the camera off. I do not like this as the camera can use up to 300mA (especially at night with the IR LEDs on), and even with an 80AH deep cycle battery, you can discharge the battery below the 50% charge point in only a couple of weeks. So I have to figure out a way to turn the power off.

After some difficulty poking around the wiring (and using my trusty inspection camera and B&K clamp meter), I was able to locate where the camera tied into the wiring (it was connected to the overhead lights). From there, I was simply able to install a switch - which I did in the ceiling of a rear cabinet so that it is out of the way.

 

For you 2016 Reflection 29RS owners, the wiring for the camera is likely under this puck light on the right side of the rig, at the rear above the sofa (however, who knows if any two are built the same). Simply pull down on the light fixture and it should expose enough wiring that you will see the cable for the camera. If not, CAREFULLY pull on the wire so you do not rip anything out, and eventually the cable should be exposed.

 

 

Other models have a dedicated wire running up to the battery - which is ideal as you could put a switch into the front storage compartment.

Of course, even if you have the same coach as I do, there is no guarantee that your coach will be wired the same way. Different year/models may be different. You know, that old "Specifications Subject to Change..." thing.

On my coach, the power connection is not in the best location, as I cannot reach the switch unless the slide-outs are deployed. A far better location would be near the main switch panel, but I could not do that without a major project to run a set of wires - and I did not want to rip up a new RV. So I compromised on the switch location... at least now I can turn the camera off.

So again, the RV industry wants cheap - whether or not it actually works (or is the best solution).

 

 

Another common wiring scheme used by manufacturers is to wire the camera to one of the clearance lights. This works fine for both Furrion backup-only and Furrion observation-backup versions, and is one way to alleviate having to wire in a switch. The camera simply comes on when the tow vehicle lights are on (and turning your lights on while towing is not a bad idea anyway).

 

 

Caution:

The wiring color code differs depending on whether your trailer connector is a 7-pin or 4-pin. The RV industry uses the RV - not the SAE standard for 7-Pin harnesses, while the 4-pin harnesses typically do use the SAE standard.

For example, in a 7-pin connector, the YELLOW wire is the Auxillary (reverse) wire, while in a 4-pin connection, the YELLOW wire is for the LEFT TURN signal. So much for standardization!

 

And to make matters worse, the SAE standard 7-pin wiring connector uses a different color code than the RV 7-pin wiring color code. The SAE 7-pin and 4-pin wiring color code does match, but is different than the RV Standard. However, at least the pin-outs vs. function is the same with both 7-pin RV and SAE color codes, so to that degree they are compatible. Just be aware that when tracing wires, the color codes might differ as to their function.

One of my subscribers indicated their Forest River brand travel trailer had the Furrion camera pre-wire kit connected to the reverse light of the trailer. Of course, this means you cannot use a Furrion observation/backup camera as the camera is only powered when the tow vehicle is in reverse. This obvously only allows use of the Furrion camera for backup tasks regardless of which camera you actually buy.

Assuming you want to use a Furrion observation/backup camera, there are two possibilities here:

  • If the trailer has reverse lights, the camera might be tied into one of the lights. And if the backup bulb are integrated into those lights, you might be able to simply move the wire over to the tail light.

  • Most trailers don't have reverse lights, but most larger trailer lights have a 7-pin connector (which is where the reverse wire originates). So there might be a dedicated wire going from the camera to Pin-7 on the trailer connector. If this is the case, it might be possible to move the wire from Pin-7 (if you are very sure it only powers the camera) to the tail-light Pin-5 on the connector.

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Do not do this if you have backup lights or anything else but the camera connected to pin 7!

 

Warning:

The ideas here are presented as conceptual only. Re-wiring a trailer connector should only be accomplished by a qualified technician. Check all laws governing use of a video monitor during vehicle operation.

 


Project video.

 

 

 

 


Last reviewed and/or updated June 14, 2017