If you like free energy and power, you love solar panel technology. Only a few years ago this technology was not viable for the average consumer. Even though there were solar products on the market, there were less than efficient, expensive and not widely adopted.
Nowadays, that has all changed. Solar panel charging can be used in all sorts of applications and today we’re talking about how to create a solar powered dash cam. This dash cam powered by the sun can be utilized the exact same way with all the same features, such as parking mode.
There’s going to be a few hoops you’ll have to jump through but with knowledge and a little bit of effort, you’ll be right on your way to harvesting the sun for all of your electronics.
Benefits for Solar Panels
Use less energy – Be Green
The most “green” benefit to using solar is that you are less reliant on traditional power sources. Especially on the road, your gasoline vehicle recharges your car battery which then powers on your portable electronics such as smartphones, power bank and more.
Using solar means you are more independent and depend less on the electrical grid. Solar technology is an investment for the long term future for yourself and the planet.
Living in a sunny area and having your car parked is a common occurrence for many people. Dash cams are supposed to protect your car, but if you are parked overnight or leave your car out for hours, then no one is watching it!
Parking mode allows you to rest easy because your dash cam is recording any and all incidents that involve your vehicle. All dash cams have the capability to record once a shock or crash is detected. Other dash cams have motion detection ability which will record if it sees anyone walking around. Be careful with this feature as it can pick up a lot of false positives if the dash cam is pointed at a busy sidewalk or if trees are swaying.
If you are out on the road a lot camping, traveling or even living in your vehicle, then you know how resourceful you need to be. Whether it be taking a vacation in a RV or living the tiny home live in a sprinter van, you’ll need a source of power anywhere you go.
This is a great project to start your adventures into solar power and you’ll be amazed on how many other things you can power up with these essentials.
How to use Solar Power for your Dash Cam
I mentioned earlier that solar technology has come a long way, but I will also honestly admit that you will have to do some work in order to power a dash camera with the sun.
Currently, there is no panel capable to directly power a dash camera due to the lack of power. That being said, you CAN use a solar panel to charge a power bank, which can in turn power a dash cam.
The first step you need to do is find a solar panel setup that is capable of charging a power bank. This 50W SOLPERK Solar Panel is more than enough to help power your setup. What’s great about the SOLPERK is that its waterproof so you can mount this outside of your car with no worries.
Additionally, this brand uses super effective solar technology to maximize efficiencies. It also provides a good amount of connectors and accessories to help charge various batteries.
Dash Cam Battery
With the solar panels you will be charging the BlackVue Power Magic Ultra Battery (B-124X). This battery is specifically made for BlackVue dash cams and is designed to act as a power source when the car is off. Typically, the B-124X can last for 24 hours on its own, with the dash cam always on.
But now with the ability to charge this battery, depending on the sun conditions, you can have a constantly charged dash cam battery. At the very worse, the battery capacity will last you several days before a full charge is needed. I do want to mention that you are at the mercy of the sun, so if the panel placement or the sun coverage is not optimal, your setup won’t power on.
Solar Panel Adapter Accessories
Depending on what solar panel you end up with, you’ll need to make sure you can connect it to the BlackVue battery. The easiest way to go about this is buying an adapter that allows a female cigarette adapter to be paired with the male cigarette adapter from the BlackVue Battery.
Finally, you will want to make sure you have a dash cam that has all the features you want, including parking mode. We won’t go into detail on this aspect as we assume you already have an idea what dash cam you want to use.
The first step we want to do is be able to find a spot to mount the solar panel. Ideally this is on your vehicle’s roof. This provides the most direct sunlight and thus power to your battery. Other alternatives are in the car windshield, or your sun roof.
Depending on your brand, consider the flexibility of the material along with the weatherproofing aspects. Connect all the modules to the solar panel and route it towards the area you want to install the battery.
The most popular position to install the BlackVue Battery (B-124X) is in the glove compartment, but you can also mount it on the side of the center console or anywhere else you would like. Installing this is a breeze.
Input power is going to come from the solar panel and the cigarette adapter you installed. Output power is going to go to the dash cam.
Dash Cam Installation
We aren’t going to go into the details of how to install a dash cam or the best placement for a dash cam. But in order to power your device, you need to plug-in the cigarette power adapter to the BlackVue’s battery.
And there you have it, a complete solar powered dash cam solution. The few things to keep in mind while using this setup is to always park where the sun will reach the solar panels.
Alternatives you may consider
You now have the knowledge to install a complete solar panel setup, what’s the problem? There could be several issues that are particular to your condition that you may have to consider.
The cost can quickly add up, but do note that this solution is multi-faceted. They can help power your car battery or help with other electronics.
Mounting solar panels permanently or semi-permanently on the roof of your vehicle can be intrusive. On a RV or sprinter van it may be more acceptable, but will be a lot harder on a sedan.
We’ve come up with a few solutions you can try to maintain enough power to utilize the device when your car is off for maximum car security.
One alternative is to directly tap into your car’s battery via fuse box. A car’s battery is plenty enough to power your camera when parked and many hardwire kits come with cutoff voltage systems so that your car doesn’t completely drain. You can also use an OBD kit in order to constantly draw power as well.
In many situations, this is super cost effective and will just take a bit of knowledge in order to install one yourself. Alternatively, you can always pay a car professional to do it for you. They would be able to hide all the wires and mount your camera to perfection.
Dash Cams with Internal Battery
If hardwiring isn’t a preferred method for whatever reason, you can always look at dash cams with an internal battery. Yes, there are battery powered dash cams that can record when the car is parked and monitor your vehicle for any suspicious activities.
The drawback to this solution is that these internal batteries don’t have the biggest capacity, so you’ll see that they’ll be depleted after a night or so. So if you are a daily driver and commuter, then this solution should work for your needs.
Is there a solar powered dash cam?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a solar dash cam on the market right now. Even with advancements in technology, solar energy cannot consistently power a dash cam itself, especially at night when there is no sun.
One workaround is to use the solar panels to power a battery, which can then power a dash cam.