In this article we will explain if – and if yes, when and why – your dash cam can drain your car’s battery.
So, can your dash cam drain your car’s battery?
Short answer: yes. Yes, it can. But it doesn’t necessarily have to.
Before we get to the long answer to this question, we need to understand how a dash cam works. Dashboard camera, or dash cam for short, is a device that allows you to record what happens in front (and sometimes behind and inside) your car while you drive. To put it simply, it’s a camera that you stick somewhere on the dashboard or windshield of your car. Most of them (for example all BlackVue dash cams) record continuously when you drive, without you having to worry to turn it on or off.
But since they record all the time, there is the concern of draining the car’s battery (as most of the dash cams get the power from your car’s battery, of course). While it’s not an issue when you’re driving, it gets a bit more complicated when the car is parked.
Easy way to enable Parking Mode
If the dash cam is not hardwired nor connected to an external power source, it will simply shut down as soon as you turn the ignition off. As you can probably imagine, this is not an optimal solution for a car owner looking for complete dash cam protection.
This is why many dash cams can actually operate while parked – for BlackVue dash cams, this mode is called the Parking Mode and it comes in two variants. The Motion & Impact Detection Mode (triggered by a motion detected in selected regions or impact to your car) and the Time Lapse Mode with buffered Event recording (continuously recording at one frame per second, creating a time lapse when played back + regular Event videos upon impact).
Adding a power source to power your dash cam is pretty straightforward. All you need is a dedicated battery to power your dash cam – such as the BlackVue Battery Pack (B-112) or Ultra Battery (B-124X). The Parking Mode battery charges when you drive and keeps your dash cam powered once the ignition is off.
Please note: while all BlackVue dash cams can go into Parking Mode whether hardwired or not, models from other brands may require to be hardwired to do so. The Ultra Battery (B-124X), which can be hardwired, includes a cable to that effect, but the B-112 only provides a cigarette lighter power socket.
Native Parking Mode? Hardwiring?
But what about hardwiring the dash cam? This is when the danger of draining your car battery is the biggest. If your dash cam does not have a built-in voltage monitoring system or you don’t have a Parking Mode hardwiring kit, it leaves your car battery completely vulnerable as it lets the dash cam draw the power constantly.
Many of the BlackVue dash cams (such as the X Plus series, ie. DR900X Plus, DR750X Plus) offer native Parking Mode. It means that they come with a built-in voltage monitoring system. You can hardwire your BlackVue to your vehicle’s fuse panel using a 3-wire hardwiring cable. “3-wire” refers to the wires labeled Ground, Accessory (switched power) and Battery (constant power). In the compatible models (such as the DR900X Plus, DR750X Plus and DR590X Series), the dashcam itself can monitor your vehicle’s battery voltage level.
Alright, so what about dash cam models that do not have a built-in voltage monitoring feature? In the case of BlackVue models, you can still enjoy the Parking Mode thanks to an accessory called Power Magic Pro. In short, Power Magic Pro powers your BlackVue in Parking Mode using your vehicle’s battery. This accessory comes with both voltage cut-off and timer and has a handy ON/OFF switch. If the switch is ON, Power Magic Pro supplies your BlackVue dash cam with power even if the ignition of the vehicle is turned off, until it reaches voltage cut-off or timeout value. On the other hand, if the switch is OFF, Power Magic Pro supplies power to your dashcam only when vehicle ignition is on (not in Parking Mode).
To sum it up, although a dash cam can drain your car battery when your car is parked, there are simple ways you can prevent that from happening. You can get a Parking Mode hardwiring kit for your dash cam, a dash cam with a built-in voltage monitoring system or opt for a dedicated battery pack. The choice is yours and there are no right or wrong answers!