There is nothing more troublesome than walking up to your car in the morning, late for work, only to find that your dash cam has drained your car battery. How likely is that to happen, really? A few days ago, I ran into this problem and decided to look into it and share my findings with all of you!
So, what can make your dash cam drain your car battery? Is that even possible? Yes, dash cams can drain your car battery, if connected to a 12-volt “cigarette” socket that is always-on. A dash cam can also drain your car battery if it is hardwired using 3 wires (constant fuse, ignition-powered fuse, and ground) to use parking mode features. This is very bad for your car battery.
There is a little more that goes into dash cam setups that drain your car battery. Let’s take a deep dive into the subject and see what we can do about this pesky situation!
How Do Dash Cams Drain Your Car Battery?
Your dash cam draining your car battery is an ostensible cause of concern. Dash cams usually do not require a lot of power, but over time, even small voltage demands can drain your car battery.
A large number of dash cams available on the market today do not have their own power source. This means that they will need to draw upon your car battery for power.
A dash cam can connect to your car battery one of two ways:
- Through a 12-volt socket and a cigarette lighter adapter (CLA).
- Through hardwiring into your car’s fuse box.
Let us examine these scenarios in more detail.
Dash Cams Installed Through CLA
When a dash cam is connected to your car’s battery through a 12-volt socket, also called an auxiliary power outlet, it will usually do so through a power cord. This “car charging cord” will ensure that the dash cam turns on only when you switch on your ignition, and the outlet gets power.
Most modern cars stop supplying power to their 12-volt sockets when they are shut off, so the dash cam will not drain your car battery in this particular case.
Some American cars have always-on 12-volt sockets, such as vintage Fords, Chevrolets, and Chryslers. As these sockets constantly receive power from the battery, even when the ignition is off, a dash cam attached this way will drain your car battery.
To check if your 12-volt socket is always-on, plug in a car phone charger when your ignition is turned off and see if you can charge your phone through it.
Watch this video to learn how to convert your 12-volt socket to only turn on with the ignition and save your car battery from being drained by your dash cam!
Dash Cams Installed Through Hardwiring
Connecting a dash cam to your car’s battery through hardwiring can be done in one of two configurations:
- Through a 2-wire setup (red for power, and black for ground)
- Through a 3-wire setup (red for constant power, yellow for car battery power, and black for ground).
In the case of the 2-wire configuration, the dash cam will only receive power when the ignition is turned on, and so it will not drain your car battery.
However, the 3-wire configuration is generally used for dash cams that have a parking mode feature. Parking mode allows the dash cam to capture footage even when the car’s ignition switch is turned off. However, recordings are only made in case there is an impact of some kind on some models. On others, recordings can be made throughout the time the car is parked.
Dash cams will usually store parking mode footage in a separate part of their storage so that you can review it quickly and conveniently.
When connecting your dash cam to your car battery with the 3-wire configuration, your dash cam will definitely drain your car battery.
How Can I Protect My Car Battery from Draining?
There are many ways in which you can protect yourself from your dash cam draining your car battery. Let’s take a look.
Buying the Right Dash Cam
Getting a dash cam that requires less power or comes equipped with power-saving features is usually your best bet to prevent car battery drain. For instance, some dash cam manufacturers equip them with a sleep mode that conserves energy instead of constantly recording.
This dash cam buyer’s guide is an excellent resource to help you navigate the world of power-saving dash cams. Check it out!
Buy A Dash Cam Battery Pack
A dash cam battery pack acts as a go-between your car battery and your dash cam. It charges while your car is running, storing power to deliver to your dash cam when your ignition is turned off.
These devices are perfect for people who drive less or travel to different cities frequently and have to leave their cars parked for longer periods.
Here’s a quick comparison of three popular dash cam battery packs to get you started:
|Egen Cellink NEO||BlackVue Power Magic Ultra (B-124X)||Thinkware iVOLT BAB-50|
|Battery Capacity||6,000mAh 76.8 Wh||6,000mAh 76.8 Wh||4,500mAh 57.6Wh|
|Charge Time||45 min (Hardwire) 1 hr 20 min (Cigarette Plug)||40 min (Hardwire) 80 min (Cigarette Plug)||45 min (Hardwire)|
|Power Supply||1-CH: up to 45 hours 2-CH: up to 25 hours||1-CH: up to 45 hours 2-CH: up to 25 hours||1-CH: up to 20 hours 2-CH: up to 16 hours|
|Operating Temperature||14°F – 149°F||14°F – 140°F||14°F – 140°F|
|Compatibility||12V||12V / 24V||12V|
Buying A Power Management Device
If you have purchased a dash cam that comes without any power-saving features built-in, consider buying an external power management device. Devices like the Power Magic Pro are an excellent and affordable way to stop your dash cam from draining your car battery.
Keep Your Car Running
The most common reason car batteries get drained is when things are left to charge while the engine is switched off. A dash cam, lights, and radio will all draw power. Because the alternators in your wheels require the car to be driven to charge the battery, this will drain your battery or cause it harm.
Alternators can charge a car battery completely by driving on a highway for a half-hour or for a full hour on busy city streets in most cases. So, to reduce the risk of a dash cam draining your car battery even further, try to drive every one or two days.
If you anticipate that you will not be driving your vehicle for a few days, consider either unplugging your dash cam or using one of the methods described above.
What to Do in Case of a Car Battery Drain Warning
In case you find yourself with a warning on your car that tells you that your battery is being drained, chances are that the culprit is a dash cam running in parking mode. To fix this problem, do one of the following:
- Disable parking mode. This will all but eliminate any chance of your car battery draining away but will result in a lower level of security, as your dash cam will be blind when your car’s ignition is switched off.
- Turn down the impact sensitivity and motion settings on your dash cam. This reduces the number of times video is recorded and lowers the power requirements of your dash cam. It may be the simplest solution to your car battery drain problem, but it doesn’t solve the problem entirely. Your dash cam will still keep drawing power and may yet drain your car battery.
We hope that these tips will be helpful as you learn to prevent your dash cam from draining your battery. Safe travels!