We all know the benefits of dash cams while driving. You can capture awesome footage of a long road trip, you can record a terrible driver or any road incident, and you’re protected in case you get into an accident.
But all of this is done when you are actively driving. There is nothing protecting your car when you are away from the car and not present. You’ll need a solution that can power your dash cam to utilize parking mode to record when your car is off.
Dash cam recording when your car is off?
When your car is off, you aren’t in or even near your car. What happens to your car when you are at work for 8 hours? Or when you are asleep at night? Or when you leave it in a mall parking lot when you are shopping on a busy holiday?
Tally up all the hours you actually spend in your vehicle and subtract that from 24 hours and you will find out how many hours you leave your car unsupervised.
Most newer premium dash cams can be set up to record when key is not in the ignition, turning it into a 24/7 surveillance system, always monitoring your car for suspicious activity. You will need a dash cam that records while parked.
In order install a dash cam that records when the car is off, you’ll need to first think about how to power the dash cam.
Normally, a dash cam is powered through the cigarette adapter – but this method doesn’t work for most dash cams when the car is turned off. Here are a few ways you can get around this.
Internal Dash Cam Battery
There are many dash cams that have internal batteries, but these batteries are used to help maintain date, time and settings and most don’t have the capacity to record footage.
The VAVA Dual Dash Cam has a built-in 320mAh battery that can record events even when the engine is off. Installation for this setup is super easy as once the entire unit is charged, you can sleep easy knowing the dash cam will record up to 15 seconds of footage if an incident occurs.
Hardwiring is the process of powering your dash cam through your car’s internal battery. By utilizing the car’s battery, the car doesn’t have to be on in order to use the Parking Mode functionality. It is a little bit more work, but otherwise, you are leaving yourself vulnerable whenever you are away from the car. If you commute 3 hours a day, that’s 21 hours where the car is unsupervised! Take the extra time and utilize the dash cam’s full potential surveillance capabilities.
There are two ways you can go about hardwiring. The first way is using a universal hardwire kit that is compatible with most cars. These kits involve the same few steps:
- Identify and locate your car’s fuse box
- Connect 2 wires to the correct fuse slot.
- 1 wire goes to a fuse that provides constant power, even when the car is off; we call this the constant fuse. You will have to crimp the correct fuse tap to your hardwire kit.
- 1 wire is hooked up to a metal bolt for grounding purposes
- (Optional) Instead of the first wire going into the constant fuse, you could have 1 wire go to an ignition-based fuse where power will flow only when the car is on
- Connect your dash cam and hide wires along your car’s panels or webbing.
The second way you can hardwire a dash cam into your car is to utilize the ODB-II port that is found on most cars. ODB-II ports are present in cars made since the late 1990s. This is a simpler solution to the hard wiring method as it pretty much is plug and play without having to fuss with the car’s fuse box. These power adapters also have a breaker built into them so your dash cam doesn’t discharge your battery to the point that your car won’t start! Here are instructions to get your dash cam setup to be able to record when the car is off.
- Find the OBD Port. This is typically to the left of your steering wheel underneath near the pedals.
- Plug in your OBD cord and plug that into your dash cam. Test your dash cam.
- Hide wires along your car’s panels or webbing.
When you’ve got your compatible dash camera wired into your battery directly, you can set up “Parking Mode”.
In Parking Mode, whenever your camera detects motion, it will start recording. So if someone comes up to your car, it’ll detect the motion and start capturing footage.
This mode is very handy for when your car is parked and someone crashes into a parked car.
A dash cam can even manage to capture the offending car’s license plate, so you are covered.
The last solution isn’t the most efficient, but may work for you depending on your situation. Instead of using your car battery to power up your dash cam, you would actually use a mobile battery pack. A power bank would allow you to run your dash cam for most of the night and this setup would be ideal if you wanted to angle your dash cam in a less traditional direction or orientation. For example, if you wanted to have your dash cam film out of the side window, a typical hardwire setup would be a logistical nightmare.
With a battery powered solution, you are more mobile. All you would have to do is plug your dash cam into a power bank that is meant to power dash cams.
To operate a dash camera as a surveillance dash cam, you need the following devices:
- A dash cam with a motion sensor to trigger auto recording. If you need to live stream from the camera, you need a wireless/3 G dashcam. These dash cams can stream live recordings when the car is off.
- A micro SD Card with a maximum capacity, 128 or 256 GB so footage won’t be erased.
- And most important, you need one of the mentioned solutions whether it be a hardwire kit, ODB2 kit or a battery power bank.
Best dash cameras for recording when car is parked
BlackVue DR900S-2CH Wireless Dash Cam
BlackVue DR900S is a 4K Wireless dash cam which you can rely on even when your car is parked, or away on a business trip. This dash cam includes the hardwiring kit as well, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues.
The video quality on this camera is quality and it can record day and night without any problems. The 4K 30fps recording quality allows you to see the smallest details of an unwanted event like a license plate number or a hit and run. In terms of recording when you are away the car, the BlackVue is Cloud connected meaning you can check in with the dash cam at any point. So, if its motion detection feature picks up anything, it can alert you via the BlackVue App.
This dash cam is an expensive one, but if you need a superior level of protection for your car when you’re in traffic when your car is parked or when you are not around, this model is a must.
THINKWARE F800 2-Channel Dash Cam | Front and Rear
Thinkware F800 is one of the best front and rear dash cams that records both videos in Full HD quality at 30fps.
This dashboard surveillance camera incorporates advanced safety technologies like the collision warning, lane departure, and a camera alert warning system.
It also offers WiFi so you can control and check videos directly on your smartphone.
The parking mode feature uses the device’s inbuilt G sensors and Motion sensors to detect motion or vibration that further triggers the dash cam to record quick footage.
Thinkware F800 records a fast 30-second video when it detects motion and also secures it from being overwritten.
The dash cam pulls power from the cigarette lighter. If you require permanent recording when the car is parked, hardwiring it to the vehicle’s inbuilt battery could be a great option.
This dash camera also comes with a hardwiring kit if you need complete video recording at all the times.
Vantrue N2 Pro
The Vantrue N2 Pro is a solid dual lens dash cam made by one of the most reputed dash cam manufacturers in the world. It is easy to use and captures really high-quality video. This is a perfect dash camera setup for those who participate in ride sharing frequently. Equipped with infrared sensors and an interior cabin camera, you can protect yourself by recording inside the car with low light availability.
The Vantrue features motion detection, parking mode, auto start and record.
When coupled with the Vantrue Dash Cam Hardwire Kit, it can function as a car security camera and will record motion even if your car is off. The Vantrue N2 Pro has a 170 degree field of view or viewing angle, ensuring maximum coverage.
The front dash cam has superior night vision with WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) and a F/1.8 lens meaning it takes in a lot of light.
Rexing V1P Pro Dual
The Rexing V1P is a compact and high quality dash camera made by another great dash cam manufacturer, Rexing.
Rexing has dual cameras, each recording 1080p @ 30 fps. Both cameras feature 170 degree wide angle lens. One important feature incorporates a GPS location logger. It allows you to mark your location, time and speed at any point. This is helpful if you are wrongly pulled over for speeding. You can show footage to the judge to waive the ticket.
Just use the WiFi feature to view, share and save dash cam recordings into your mobile device via an app interface.
It also features technology to combat extreme hot and cold climates ensuring your dash cam will never shut down or overheat.
Separately, you can purchase their own Hardwire Kit to connect to your car’s fusebox to ensure the dashcam is running at all times.
Roav by Anker Dash Cam C2 Pro
Roav by Anker is a cheaper alternative to many of the dash cams listed on this page. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as the other products, but what it does deliver is a superb image quality, clear night vision and easy playback.
The built in WiFi allows you to review any footage necessary. So no need to remove that tiny MicroSD card!
The Roav is specifically designed to withstand hot weather, so no overheating issues. The mount also allows you to position the camera in any way you see fit.
Anker provides stellar customer support if you run into any issues or have questions about the device. As always, if you want to run your dash cam while it is off we recommend a generic
Protecting the car’s battery from discharging
Dash cameras use a small amount of current to operate, and you can use the car battery itself to power the dash cam.
If your car battery is old, it could discharge when using the dash cam for surveillance.
Hardware fuse kits are used to turn off the dash camera before the car battery drain out. As an alternative, you can buy a different dash cam hardwire fuse kit.
Dash Cam Hardwire Fuse Kit
The hardware fuse kit is perfect for parking mode and in fact, helps protect the car’s battery.
This dash cam hardware fuse kit can connect the camera directly to the fuse box for constant power from the vehicle’s battery for surveillance mode. If the car’s battery voltage drops to 23.5V, the hardwire will immediately shut off power to the dash cam and prioritize the car battery.
What is Parking Mode?
We want to turn your dash cam into an auto security camera where a front and rear camera system can detect motion and automatically record. This feature is called Parking Mode.
If you have a dash cam, chances are, there is a Parking Mode feature. But not all Parking Modes are the same. Parking Mode is an overarching term that encompasses automatic recording when motion or vibration triggers the dash cam.
Reading the description is super important because some dash cams will only begin recording if a shock or vibration is detected, whereas some dash cams will detect motion such as a person walking by. Look for terms like motion activated or motion detection when browsing for dash cams.
And finally, some dash cams come with Buffered Parking Mode. This mode has similar features but will save footage 15 seconds before the incident occurred. Most other dash cams will only begin recording once an event is triggered.
Streaming dash cam’s videos to your smartphone
Going a little further, you may want to live stream your dashcam to the smartphone wherever you are.
This function could help you see in real time what happens to your car when it is parked.
Live streaming dash cams are cameras that connect to a wireless or 4G mobile network and stream live videos to your smartphone using a proprietary app.
Most manufacturers use a cloud service that allow you to see real time videos from your dash cam, alerts when the car is hit or other unwanted events. While some cloud services are free, others charge you a monthly fee for all these features.