Can a Dash Cam Drain a Car Battery?

Can a Dash Cam Drain a Car Battery?

In the days of ridesharing, personal security has become paramount. Not just for the individual but also for their vehicle and belongings. If you are one of those people who want to keep themselves, their car, and valuables safe, you may want to invest in a dashcam for your vehicle. Are there any potential drawbacks to using one?

Do dash cams drain your car’s battery? Dash cams can drain a car’s battery, but this only takes place in rare occurrences, such as placing one in a vehicle that has not been driven in a long time or if you require the dash cam to be used for recording while the car is parked. For these instances, it is best to invest in a dash cam battery.

Dashcams have grown in popularity in recent years due to the rideshare industry and commercial business needs.  It’s critical to monitor the driving habits of fleet vehicles in the case of an accident or dispute among workers in the transportation sector. Also, cautious individuals may want to keep their property safe. We’re going to examine the use of these pieces of technology.

Dash Cams and Their Effect on a Car’s Battery

When considering the use of a dashcam in your vehicle, one of the main things you should consider is the effect of the device on the battery of your car.

  • When are you planning to have the dash cam recording?
  • Is it going to be when you are driving, making deliveries, or picking up customers?
  • Do you need the dash cam to be actively recording even when the vehicle is parked?

Depending on your answers to these questions, it is going to give you a good idea as to the potential effect it will have on your car battery. If you are only planning to use the dash cam while you are driving your vehicle, you won’t need to worry about your battery being drained.

On the other hand, you may have an issue if you don’t drive the vehicle very often and need the camera actively recording while the car is not running and parked. 

In these cases, there is a strong possibility that the dash cam will drain your car’s battery.

Get a Dash Cam Battery

 When:

  • You plan to keep the car running while it is parked
  • You want the security of seeing who is checking out your car
  • You are the type of person who forgets to turn things off

A dash cam battery is handy for those who need to record videos in their vehicles when they are not in them. The great thing about a dash cam battery is that it can be connected to various locations within the interior of the vehicle. Even more of a benefit is that the dash cam will automatically switch over to the dash cam battery when the car is shut off, keeping the car battery from becoming drained.

This “smart” energy usage will allow you to keep your vehicle, belongings, and, if necessary, your reputation intact in any situation where video recording may be required.

Where Should a Dash Cam be Mounted?

When it comes to mounting a dashcam in your vehicle, there are two things that you need to keep in mind:

1. The legality behind the location of the dash cam in your vehicle

2. The safety to yourself and others depending on where the dash cam is placed.

Placing a Dash Cam on the Dashboard of Your Car

A lot of people believe that the best place for a dashcam is the dashboard of your car. There are several reasons why this is not a good idea.  One reason is going to be the dashboard itself.  Since not all vehicles have a similar design or construction of their dashboards, the dashcam may obstruct your vision, making your driving less safe.  It may also be difficult to mount on some dashboards, making your cam more likely to fall and break.

Note: The legality of mounting dash cams on dashboards or windows is subject to change at any time. This applies to any state and jurisdiction, meaning, what is legal today can easily be illegal by tomorrow. Before mounting a dash cam on your dashboard or window, check with an attorney or read the relevant codes yourself, to prevent legal ramifications.

Mounting a Dash Cam to Your Vehicle’s Windshield

The windshield is often the preferred location of many drivers to place their dash cam. It’s popular because it provides the user with an unobstructed view of the road while recording the interior or exterior of the vehicle.

When placing the dash cam on the windshield, often the best place to put it is going to be behind the rearview mirror. This location is usually the best choice for drivers because the rearview mirror already provides a front-facing obstruction of the road, and a dash cam often will not add an additional obstruction in that location.

Rearview Mirror Dash Cams

The rearview mirror dash cam is a response by dash cam makers to the preferred user location.  With the rearview mirror dash cam, the risk of potentially obscuring your vision on the road unnecessarily or illegally is removed.  The camera is designed to clip right onto the rearview mirror with little complication.

How to Select a Dash Cam for Your Vehicle

Every dash cam is going to come with some pros and cons. With that in mind, it’s difficult to tell you which one will be best, as everyone is going to have their reasons and needs revolving around using a dash cam. However, based on the information provided below, you will be able to make an educated decision regarding what type of dash cam is going to suit your needs.

Dash Cam Video Resolution

At the bare minimum, a dashcam capable HD 720p recording is going to be required for you or your fleet if you run a transportation business. This type of video resolution ensures that footage is sharp enough to make out license plates, makes and models of vehicles, and even faces, if necessary.

With the trade-off of larger video files for an even sharper image, HD 1080p and 2K resolution dashcams are available as well.

The Storage Capacity of the Dash Cam

As you have just learned, there is a trade-off for better clarity in dash cam videos. The higher the resolution, the more storage space you need to record the same amount of footage on a dash cam. With this issue, it is essential to invest in the proper MicroSD card to store the footage the dash cam acquires. For best practices, invest in a MicroSD card that has at least 64GB.

Note: If you use an HD 720p dash cam, you are looking at roughly 2GB of storage used for an hour of recorded footage. If you elect to use an HD 1080p dash cam, you are going to use about 6GB of storage to record that same hour of footage. Keep this in mind when choosing a dash cam as well as the size of the MicroSD card you select.. 

Make Sure the Dash Cam has a Night Vision Function

No matter how careful of a driver you are, you have to keep in mind that an accident can happen at any time, despite what precautions we may take. That is especially true at night. When you are going to be driving at night, do not take the chance to assume that the streetlights will illuminate everything enough for your dash cam to pick up. There may also be no streetlights in the area. Don’t risk it.

Look for a Dash Cam That Turns On and Off With the Car Engine

If you need your dash cam to record when you are driving and don’t want to have to remember to turn it on every time you get into the car, a dash cam with the auto on and off feature will be extremely beneficial.

This feature eliminates the need to remember to turn on the dash cam when you get in the car and also provides the additional benefit of not draining the car battery if you happen to forget to turn it off when you step out of your vehicle.

Note: Remember the dash cam battery that we spoke about earlier? If you are looking to keep your dash cam running and recording video even when you are not driving, the dash cam battery is a valuable resource. When the engine is turned off, the dash cam will switch over to the dash cam battery, preserving your car battery and recording video even when your vehicle is off.

The Size of the Dash Cam

Keep in mind that anything that obstructs your view of the road presents a potential hazard to you while driving. When you are choosing a dash cam for your vehicle, it is important to keep the size of the device reasonable enough that it is not going to obstruct your view of the road.

Note: Some legalities need to be observed where the size of the dash cam is concerned. If the dash cam is too large and is deemed to be a severe obstruction of a driver’s view, you may risk getting pulled over and receiving a ticket. In the case of the dash cam, bigger is not better.

The Dash Cam Has the Ability to Loop Footage

One of two things typically happens when a dash cam maxes out its storage capacity. The dash cam will stop recording entirely, or it will loop back and record over the older footage.

While this function may delete something that might have been previously useful, you cannot deny the importance of the continuance of recording when your storage becomes full. If something happens like an accident or a dispute that needs to be recorded, you can be sure that a dash cam with this function will still capture the necessary footage.

Look for a Dash Cam With an Impact Sensor

Some dash cams can record an accident starting several minutes before the actual incident occurred. This feature is essential if you need to provide information to your insurance provider in the event of an accident.

When you have a dash cam that comes equipped with an impact sensor, you will be able to show what exactly happened leading up to the event of an accident instead of it being your word against some other person. This capability is particularly useful for transportation companies needing to record an accident involving one of their drivers.

Dash Cams With GPS Tracking

A GPS tracker can also be useful.  It provides evidence of the location os an accident or incident.  If you are a parent or a fleet owner, this can provide excellent background information.  It can help you keep track of your vehicle and make sure your child or driver went where they said they were going.

Consider Mounting Front and Back Facing Dash Cams

Depending on the type of coverage you need, you may want the ability to record video in the front of your vehicle and behind it. Some dash cams come in pairs, allowing you to record footage in front of the vehicle and behind it.

The best location for these types of dash cams is the front and back windshields of the car. This type of setup provides great coverage front and back in case of an accident.  If you are involved in a multi-vehicle accident, this setup can save the day.  Also, if you are concerned about vehicle security while your car is parked, this gives you complete coverage.  

Does the Dash Cam Come With a Built-in Mount?

Most dash cams on the market today typically come with mounts. However, occasionally you may come across one that doesn’t come with a mount because they are designed to sit directly on the dashboard. If you paid attention to the safety and legal concerns earlier in this article, you might prefer to pass that one up or purchase a different mount for it.  

If you get a dash cam that doesn’t come with a mount, you can purchase a universal mount that will work.

The Legality of Dash Cams

The laws governing dash cam usage vary widely from region to region.  In fact, in some countries, you may not even be allowed to use surveillance equipment within your vehicle. For example, if you go to Switzerland, there are data protection laws that render dash cams illegal. Also, if your dash cam records audio, it may not comply with local laws and regulations. 

Dash cams are legal in most locations, but it is critical to know the local rules and regulations for their use. 

Final Thoughts

This article provided all the information you need to determine your needs when it comes to selecting a dash cam.  If you require security coverage when your vehicle is parked for days at a time, you should probably invest in a dash cam battery.  If you only need video evidence while driving, then a standard front & back recording dash cam that runs on the car battery should suffice.  If you have special needs like rideshare or taxi service, then you will probably opt for front-facing and inside cabin recording with audio. 

The key is to determine your needs, shop around to find the perfect fit, and make sure you comply with the legal requirements in your area.  Be safe out there!

Dan Ferrantelli

I'm Dan Ferrantelli. I discovered rideshare through my wife and daughter who used the service a full year before I decided to try it. Now I am a part-time Uber & Lyft driver and love sharing my experiences with others. I'm also an entrepreneur who has developed several businesses and I have a passion to write! I hope you enjoy the articles I post. Kind feedback is always welcome.

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