Powering Your Dash Cam…What are the options?

This is one of the more common questions we receive. There are a number of ways to power your Dash Cam depending on your car, how you want the installation to look and the features you want to use on your Dash Cam.

Straight out of the box, all our Dash Cams come with an included 4 metre long power cord. One end of the power cord plugs into the Dash Cam and the other male adaptor end plugs straight into your cigarette lighter socket (nowadays called an “accessory socket”). Once connected this way, the Dash Cams will automatically turn on and off with your ignition. The cigarette/accessory socket in your car will provide power when the engine is on, and lose power when the engine is off.

Note: 99% of cig/accessory sockets in cars are “switched”, which means they only have power when the engine if on. If your cig/accessory socket is “constant” it will always have power and provide it to the Dash Cam even when the engine is off. This can cause some hassles because you would have to unplug or switch off the Dash Cam every time you park to prevent your battery from draining. Keep reading for ways around this type of constantly powered socket.

Dash Cams will only stay on and record whenever they receive power from the cig lighter socket. Dash Cams do not have large batteries that can be charged up like a smartphone. When power is cut to the Dash Cam from the cig lighter socket (engine off), the Dash Cam will shut down and then turn on again once power is resupplied (engine on).

Question 1 – Can I use a different power cord to the one supplied in the box?

Unfortunately not. The manufacturer’s supplied power cord is made specifically for your chosen Dash Cam model. The male adaptor on the included power cord supplies the correct voltage and amps to the Dash Cam. If a different power cord is used, it could damage your Dash Cam and/or car by supplying different voltages and amps and void your Dash Cam warranty.

Question 2 – Can I use a USB cord to power the Dash Cam?

Unfortunately not. The manufacturer’s supplied power cord is made specifically for your chosen Dash Cam model. The male adaptor on the included power cord supplies the correct voltage and amps to the Dash Cam. If a USB cord is used, it could damage your Dash Cam and/or car and void your Dash Cam warranty. Some Dash Cams can be connected to a computer via a USB cord, however it will not power up the Dash Cam and record. When connecting a Dash Cam to a computer via USB cord, it only allows for file transfer.

Question 3 – I don’t want the Dash Cam power cord male adaptor sticking up out of my cigarette/accessory socket on the console, what can I do?

Most newer model cars have multiple cigarette/accessory sockets. In addition to the socket generally near the gear stick, there might be one in the centre console or the glovebox. Plugging the Dash Cam power cord into these areas can hide the adaptor more discreetly. The 4m cable length is generally enough to reach either of these areas.

If you don’t have multiple cig lighter/accessory sockets but still want to free up the one near your gear stick, you will need to visit a qualified auto electrician. They will be able to add in another “switched” female cig lighter/accessory socket somewhere else for you. Depending on your car, one could be added in your glovebox or passenger footwell areas. Adding another “switched” socket is also a good idea if your current socket is “constant” as discussed above. Just make sure that adding another female cig socket will not void your new car warranty. Also make sure that the 4m long Dash Cam power cord will reach your newly installed socket.

If you are happy to use your existing socket near your gear stick but need to run multiple devices, you can purchase a 2-way or 3-way adaptor.

 

Question 4 – Can I hardwire my Dash Cam directly into the fusebox?

Yes you can but not in a traditional sense. YOU CANNOT CHOP THE MALE ADAPTOR OFF THE SUPPLIED POWER CORD AND DIRECTLY WIRE IT INTO THE FUSEBOX. This will do 2 things:

1. Damage your camera completely

2. Void your Dash Cam warranty

Why? All our Dash Cams (most in fact) can only take 5V and the correct amps as specified by the manufacturer. The male adaptor on the manufacturer’s power cord houses a fuse which steps the voltage and amps down to the specific level required for the Dash Cam. If the male adaptor is chopped off and the bare wires fed directly into the fusebox, the Dash Cam will receive the full 12 volts from the car battery. This will essentially fry the Dash Cam. Same goes for 24 volt truck batteries.

As depicted below, chopping the male adaptor off the power cord and feeding the wires directly into your fusebox will damage your Dash Cam and void your warranty:

If you want to hardwire your Dash Cam you can do so via a dedicated Dash Cam hardwire kit.

Question 5 – What is a Dash Cam hardwire kit and what does it do?

Hardwire kits are optional Dash Cam accessories that are generally only purchased for Dash Cams with a dedicated Parking Surveillance mode (click here to read our Parking Mode article).

When installed correctly, a hardwire kit will provide continuous power to your Dash Cam, even when the engine is off. Because the hardwire kit is installed into your fusebox, it draws continous power from your car battery and provides it to the Dash Cam. A hardwire kit is only required if you want to keep recording when your engine is off and your Dash Cam has a parking surveillance mode feature.

If you only want to record while driving when the engine is on, there is no need for a hardwire kit. Simply plug the Dash Cam power cord into a cig lighter/accessory socket.

A hardwire kit is a small device consisting of a small module, wires for installation into your fusebox and a female cig lighter attachment. Rather than your Dash Cam power cord plugging into your car cig lighter socket, the Dash Cam power cord plugs into the female cig lighter socket on the hardwire kit (see example below).

It is highly recommended that any Dash Cam hardwire kit be installed by a qualified auto electrician with hardwire kit installation experience. The hardwires need to piggyback of particular circuits in the fusebox. You don’t want to be playing around with essential safety circuits like your airbags or braking systems.

Before installing a hardwire kit also check if it will void any new car warranty. As it is not an original part of the car, it could potentially void a new car warranty. Check with your dealership.

Question 6 – So if the hardwire kit draws power from my car battery to power the Dash Cam, won’t it just drain my battery?

It won’t drain your battery to a point where you cannot start your car. Dash Cam hardwire kits have low voltage protection points which you can set. The hardwire kit monitors the car battery voltage and when the chosen cut off voltage has been reached, the hardwire kit will kill power to the Dash Cam .

Question 7 – My cig lighter/accessory has constant power, even when the engine is off. Do I still need a hardwire kit?

Yes. Eventhough your cig lighter socket has constant power when the engine is off, there is nothing monitoring your car battery for low voltage while the Dash Cam is recording. This could potentially drain your battery to a point where you have to jump start it. Dash Cam hardwire kits monitor your car battery voltage and cut power to the Dash Cam when the set low voltage point has been reached.

Question 8 – What are the differences between your hardwire kits?

We supply two universal hardwire kits:

Vicovation Power Plus Hardwire Kit (click here to view it)

The Power Plus is a more advanced Dash Cam hardwire kit (picture above). It has 7 low voltage cut off points to choose from and optional timer cut off points, making it more customisable for your needs. It also has an LCD screen to make settings adjustments easier. It has additional protection features for your Dash Cam like high temperature cut off and surge protection.

BlackVue Power Magic Pro Hardwire Kit (click here to view it)

The Power Magic Pro hardwire kit is a more basic Dash Cam hardwire kit. It has 2 low voltage cut off points and timer cut off points also. Settings are controlled by changing dip switches up or down in various combinations.

Question 9 – What is the difference between a hardwire kit and a direct hardwire cable?

Some Dash Cams, like our BlackSys Dash Cam range have their own dedicated BlackSys hardwire cable (optional accessory). This hardwire cable cannot be used on other Dash Cams, it is only designed for BlackSys Dash Cams. There is no need for a control box on this hardwire cable because all the voltage and timer cut off settings are cleverly configured in the free BlackSys smartphone App. When using this hardwire cable, the BlackSys Dash Cam can be hardwired directly into the fusebox, you don’t need the standard cig lighter power cord. The BlackSys hardwire cable has all the fuses in the cabling to provide the right voltage and amps to the BlackSys Dash Cam.

Question 10 – I do want a Dash Cam with a Parking Surveillance Mode and I want to hardwire it, what do you recommend?

The following Dash Cam recommendations have the most reliable parking mode features, the choice really comes down to additional features you are looking for and your budget. Here they are:

1. Pair the BlackSys CH-200 Dash Cams with the BlackSys Hardwire Cable

 

2. Pair the BlackVue DR750S Dash Cams with the Power Magic Pro Hardwire Kit

 

3. Pair the Vicovation OPIA 2 or OPIA 1 with the Power Plus Hardwire Kit

 

Question 11 – I do want a Dash Cam with a Parking Surveillance Mode BUT I don’t want to/can’t use a hardwire it, what do you recommend?

If you don’t want to install a hardwire kit into your fusebox or can’t because of a new car warranty, your option is the universal Cellink NEO battery pack. The Cellink NEO has its own power cord that plugs into your cig lighter/accessory socket and charges up while you drive. The Dash Cam power cord plugs into the Cellink NEO female cig lighter socket and receives power from the NEO when the engine is off. This is a more expensive option however installation is DIY and there no need for hardwiring.

Question 12 – I don’t want/need to record while I am parked, but I like the neatness of the hardwire kit, can I still use one?

Yes you can. Both the Power Plus and Power Magic Pro hardwire kits have a switch on them that disables power to the Dash Cam when the engine is off. When the switch is off, the hardwire kit only supplies power to the Dash Cam in sync with the ignition.

With the BlackSys Dash Cams you can also still use the BlackSys hardwire cable for a neater installation and simply turn the parking mode feature off in the App. This way, the BlackSys will only turn on and off with the ignition.

NOTE: If you are considering using a hardwire kit only for a neater installation and not for parking mode recording, it might be more cost effective to just have a qualified auto electrician install another female cig lighter/accessory socket someone hidden. You can then use the standard power cord into this socket. However, having the hardwire kit installed does give you more flexibility to use it if need be.

 

If you have any further enquiries or would like more assistance please do not hesitate to contact us on (03) 9338 8772 or info@dashcamsaustralia.com.au or on our Live Chat tab on the site.

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