Parking mode is a feature that allows the dash cam to record when the vehicle is turned off. How it works will vary by manufacturer but there are three types of parking modes that most dash cams use, buffered, standard (usually impact detection), or time lapse. We will cover them in detail here along with the advantages and disadvantages of them.
What is Buffered Parking Mode?
In a buffered parking mode, the dash cam is constantly recording but does not save the video to the SD card unless an event is detected. This will usually be motion or an impact such as someone walking around your vehicle or backing into it.
If that happens, the dash cam will begin normal recording and save the previous 10 to 15 of footage to the memory card. The advantage of this mode is you will have video and audio leading up to the event. Buffered parking mode offers the most comprehensive protection but it does come with some drawbacks.
The main complaint is battery life. Like any parking mode, the dash cam must have a constant power source, usually the car battery although you can use an optional battery pack that will recharge as you drive your vehicle.
The other downside is if you park your vehicle in a busy area like a parking garage. Movement will activate the camera it will record a lot of video, taking up space on the memory card and using more battery power. You may have to change the sensitivity settings, especially if you do not drive your car every day.
It is important to have a low voltage cutoff switch if your dash cam does not have one if you are using the buffered parking mode.
Buffered Parking Mode versus Standard Parking Mode
In a standard parking mode, the dash cam is basically turned off and will not begin recording unless an impact is detected by the G-sensor. When that happens, the dash cam will wake up and begin normal recording.
Standard parking mode is the most energy efficient but there are some drawbacks. The main issue is it will take a few seconds for the camera wake up and begin recording. By that time the vehicle that hit you may be out of sight. Some dash cams use a motion sensor to activate the dash cam.
The standard parking mode is ideal if you do not drive your vehicle on a daily basis or leave it in a busy parking garage where using the motion detection may not be feasible.
Buffered Parking Mode Vs Time Lapse
Time lapse is a middle option between buffered and standard parking modes. In this situation, the dash cam takes a photo at a low frame rate between 1 to 15 FPS. The main advantage of time lapse is the camera is always on and you will have some evidence before the impact. Time lapse is ideal in busy areas where the motion sensor may activate the camera too often.
The main downside to the time lapse mode is you will not have video footage or audio prior to the event. It also uses more battery than standard parking mode but less than buffered recording.
Time lapse is ideal if you park in a busy area, don’t drive every day, and still want to have evidence of an event that may be missed by the standard parking mode.
Does a dash cam with parking mode drain battery?
Parking mode will drain the battery although it will vary depending on the dash cam, settings, and your car’s battery. Using the motion sensor or having Wi Fi enabled will use more battery as well. Also, a 4K dash cam will use more energy than one that records at 1080P.
Most dash cams have a voltage cutoff that will deactivate the parking mode if the car’s battery gets below a certain level. However, you can also connect the dash cam with a battery pack that will recharge when you drive the vehicle to avoid this issue.
VIOFO A129 Pro Duo 4K Dual Dash Cam
- Excellent video quality
- Reasonably priced
- Decent parking mode
- Fairly large
- 4K video files are fairly large
- No cloud support
The Viofo A129 Pro Duo is one of the best dash cams for the money. The main feature is the excellent 4K video recording thanks to its Sony Exmor R Starvis IMX 317 front and IMX 291 rear sensors.
The front camera video footage is crisp and clear with license plates being clearly legible. The amount of detail is among the best available for any 4K dash cam. The rear camera records at 1080p and the video quality on par with more expensive dash cams. Night vision for both cameras is above average as well.
The Viofo A129 also has a parking mode although it lags behind the BlackVue and Thinkware. The main complaint is no cloud support or the ability to receive notifications on your phone in the event of an incident. However, it does have the basics.
Event detection (buffered): The camera is constantly recording but does not save the footage to the memory card unless movement or an impact is detected. At that time, it will save the previous 15 seconds of footage and 30 seconds after the event.
Time lapse: Records at a rate of 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, or 15 fps although there is no audio.
Low bitrate: The camera is constantly recording video and audio at a lower resolution to save space on the memory card.
Who is the Viofo A129 for?
Anyone who wants excellent video quality without paying a premium price. The Viofo A129 Pro Duo is arguably one of the best dash cams available in terms of video quality. It has a good set of features like Wi Fi and a decent parking mode.
The main drawback for some may be the large size due to it being a wedge dash cam and the limited features for the parking mode and the lack of cloud connectivity.
4K Dash Cam, Blueskysea B4K
- Excellent video quality for a budget dash cam
- Decent parking mode
- A lot of features for the price
- Complaints about the app
- Video quality could be better
For a budget dash cam, the Blueskysea B4K packs a lot of features like Wi Fi, buffered parking mode, and 4K recording. The video quality is quite good and above average for its price range and equal to more expensive models.
The videos are crisp and detailed with license plates being fairly legible at a distance with good night vision. The parking mode is decent and it has the basic features, like a buffered mode that can be activated by motion or impact and it will save the previous 10 seconds before the event and 20 seconds after.
The main downside to this dash cam is the lack of cloud connectivity and the fact it comes as a 1CH only although a 1080p rear cam can be purchased separately.
Who is the Blueskysea B4K for?
Anyone on a budget that wants 4K video recording, Wi Fi, and parking mode. The Blueskysea B4K is probably the cheapest dash cam that offers these features.
Blueskysea B2K Dashcam
- Good budget dash cam
- Decent video quality
- Fairly discrete
- No GPS
- One channel only
The Blueskysea B2K is another excellent budget dash cam. In fact, it is arguably one of the best in the under $100 category. This is a single channel dash camera that records at 2K and the videos are surprisingly quite good and detailed. Day and night video quality is better than average in this price range and license plates are legible.
Despite being a budget dash cam, it has a lot of features like a parking mode with buffered recording and motion detection that will save the 10 seconds before the event and 20 seconds after. There is also WiFi and audio alerts.
However, there are a few issues. This is only a 1CH dash cam and it does not have built in GPS. The 1.5 inch screen is fairly small and will only be of limited use for reviewing video.
Despite that, if you are looking for a basic dash cam with better than average video in this price range with parking mode the Blueskysea B2K is one of the best budget options available.