Shopping for a dash cam can be daunting. Facts and figures are thrown around, there’s technical jargon you’ve never heard before and there are features you didn’t even know existed.
With all of the noise, it’s easy to overlook one, simple and very functional feature: A battery.
- Built-in 320mAh battery for overnight surveillance
- Cabin Camera included
- WiFi and GPS included
A good onboard battery is a key consideration when shopping for a phone, a portable speaker, or a regular camera. The same goes for a dash cam.
We’ll be talking about the benefits of a good battery (things like parking mode and motion detection). We’ll also list some of the best dash cams with a good onboard battery and some other power supply options, such as an external battery pack.
Loss of Power Due to An Accident
An accident on the road is something we all worry about. It’s why a lot of have bought or are looking to buy dash cams.
This is where an internal battery comes in useful. Most dash cams have limited power options. Their power usually comes from one of two places:
- Your vehicle’s 12v outlet, or;
- The car battery via a hardwire
The issue with 12v outlets is that they only provide power when your engine is on. Depending on what kind of accident you’re involved in, your engine could be off, meaning you won’t be recording any footage. Even if the engine is still on, 12v power adapters can become dislodged in the event of an impact.
Power from your car battery is also unreliable in the event of a crash. If the battery housing or your vehicle’s circuit board are damaged during the incident, it could affect the power supply to your camera.
A good internal battery can address both these problems. A hardwired dash cam will usually keep filming for around five minutes after it loses power. However, the footage captured after these five minutes can still be useful in establishing fault.
When you get pulled over, the first thing you’re usually asked is to turn off your engine. This can be problematic for dash cam users for several reasons.
Many people like to record their interactions with the police. Dash cams are often built with rotating mounts, night vision, and internal-facing cameras for just this reason. But with 12v power from an outlet or a hardwire from your car battery, you won’t be able to record for very long once your engine is switched off.
Your dash cam could go into parking mode. In this mode, dash cams don’t generally record audio or provide any useable footage (unless you want a time-lapse of your traffic stop).
Again, a good onboard battery or good external battery solves this issue. Your dash cam will keep recording and it won’t go into parking mode.
We recently published an article that goes into more detail about why you might want to record your interactions with the police, which you can find here.
Parking Mode and Unattended Vehicles
Surveillance for your unattended vehicle is a commonly cited reason for buying a dash cam. There are important factors to consider if you’ll be using your dash cam for this purpose.
Good, high-quality video, a wide field of view, and both front and rear coverage are essential. As are good parking mode options, but a dash cam’s parking mode is only as good as its power supply.
Using a 12v outlet means you won’t be able to use parking mode. Your dash cam will need a constant power supply in order to detect impacts and start recording when it needs to.
A hardwired dash cam that uses the power of your car battery is the best option for parking mode. Your dash cam will always be powered and if done correctly, it won’t drain your car battery.
However, the process of hardwiring your dash cam by yourself can be daunting. It only recommended if you have experience with modifying cars. Getting a professional to help is an option but doing so will incur labor costs.
A battery pack or a good internal battery means that you don’t have to worry about either of these issues. With a dash cam that runs off of its own isolated power system, you can ensure uninterrupted power when you need it.
VAVA Dual Dash Cam
- Onboard Battery
- Well Designed
- Limited battery life
The VAVA Dual dash cam is a two-in-one offering that’s well designed and has lots of great features.
It has a rechargeable battery incorporated into its design. The battery charges whilst you’re driving and when you’re not driving, it will use the battery to run in parking mode. Dash cams use a ‘G-Sensor’ to detect impacts and start recording. Normally this requires hardwiring to your car battery. However, the VAVA Dual’s 320mAh battery means you don’t need to do this.
This dash cam is a dual-channel camera. This means it records two feeds at once, i.e. the front and rear cameras. The VAVA Dual has a 2k front-facing camera and a 1080p cabin-facing camera. The front camera’s wide field of view is perfect for filming the road in front. The narrower viewing angle of the interior/rear camera is perfect for capturing the inside of the vehicle. It also has night vision, which is useful for delivery and taxi drivers.
Overall this is a great dash cam that’s easy to install. Its internal battery pack means no hardwiring, and the interior camera means there’s no need to run cables to a second camera.
AUTO-VOX Dual Dash Cam
- Aesthetically Pleasing Design
- Can Run Normally On Battery Power For A Limited Time
- Video Quality Is Unremarkable
The AUTO-VOX Dual dash cam has a similar feature offering to the VAVA Dual with a few key differences. Like the VAVA, it has two cameras (front and rear) in one single unit. It also has excellent low-light capabilities and a parking mode.
However, unlike the VAVA, the front camera video quality on the AUTO-VOX is only 1080p. This is ok but not great. License plates will be visible up close but probably not at a distance.
Despite this, the battery capabilities on this dash cam are far more impressive. The VAVA Dual has to be plugged in to record regular video. The battery is only powerful enough to support its parking mode. On the AUTO-VOX, the battery is large enough for 19 minutes of video recording with no other power sources. The battery is also large enough to support parking mode for a whole night.
This combination of features means installation and maintenance are very easy for this dash cam, likewise for the VAVA Dual.
BlackVue B-124X Power Magic Ultra Battery Pack
The Blackvue B-124X Power Magic Ultra Battery Pack is a universal battery pack that will work with nearly any dash cam. Usually, dash cams and their manufacturers make all of their hardware proprietary (meaning it will only work with other hardware from the same company). This Blackvue battery pack is the exception.
This external battery has a large capacity and can be hardwired to your vehicle’s battery via your car’s fuse box. With your engine running it will charge within 40 minutes. Once fully charged, it will power your dash cam in parking mode for up to 20 hours without draining your car battery. If this isn’t long enough, it’s possible to connect multiple battery packs in sequence to expand their capacity.
Battery packs are useful if you don’t drive your vehicle every day but you still want to use your dash cam’s parking mode. This one can be hardwired so you may need to factor in the extra time and cost of getting it installed. This battery pack can also run off your car’s cigarette lighter, but the charge time is roughly doubled.
Hardwire Kit For Dash Cams
If you choose to hardwire either your dash cam or your battery pack, you’ll need a hardwiring kit to do so. This kit, like the Blackvue battery pack, is universal and will fit most vehicles and dash cams.
It’s possible to install this kit yourself, however, a professional will be able to do it within a few hours. There are many benefits to using this kit on your dash cam. For example, you won’t have to worry about recharging your unit in order to use it in parking mode.
This kit also has a built-in low voltage sensor. This means that if your vehicle battery is low, it will stop drawing power so you can still start your engine.
A good battery is important. It’s not essential, but finding a good, reliable power solution for your dash cam is.
If you’re running cables for front and rear dash cams, things can get messy. A simple, elegant, self-powered solution is appealing. But, as you can see from our comparisons, every benefit has a drawback. It’s up to you to find a dash cam with a set of features that works best for you.
Check out some of the other articles on our site to help understand what dash cam features are important to you.