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.
All Dash Cams generally come with an included 3 to 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 “12V 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.
Most Dash Cams will only stay on and record whenever they are plugged in and 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/12V 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/12V 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.
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 supplies the correct 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.
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 continuous 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.
There are 2 types of hardwire kits.
One type is called a “native” hardwire cable whereby the cable runs direct from the Dash Cam and to the fusebox.
The other is a standard hardwire kit (older technology) which is a small device consisting of a small module, wires for the 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). The low voltage cut off point is set in the module itself, external to the camera.
The native type hardwire cables do not have a box on them for setting the low voltage cut off point. The low voltage trigger point is set in the camera settings.
Most Dash Cam brands are now moving to native type hardwire cables that are specific to the Dash Cam. This type of cable does away with the external control box allowing for a tidier installation.
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 and is installed into your electrical system, it could potentially void a new car warranty. Check with your dealership.
NATIVE TYPE HARDWIRE CABLE (low voltage cut off set in camera settings)
STANDARD HARDWIRE KIT SETUP (low voltage set on external box)
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?
if installed and setup correctly, it won’t drain your battery to a point where you cannot start your car. Dash Cam hardwire kits have low voltage cut off trigger 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 – Which hardwire kit do you sell?
BlackVue Power Magic Pro Hardwire Kit (click here to view it)
The Power Magic Pro hardwire kit is a more basic and traditional 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.
The Power Magic Pro is designed for use with BlackVue Dash Cams however most of our other brands like FineVu and Lukas QVIA now use the native type hardwire cable. This means you can purchase the specific hardwire cable for these cameras and set the low voltage cut off in the camera settings.
Question 9 – What is the difference between a hardwire kit and a native hardwire cable?
Some Dash Cams, like our FineVU, BlackSys and our Lukas QVIA Dash Cam range have their own dedicated hardwire cables. You don’t need to use the power magic pro. These hardwire cables cannot be used on other Dash Cams, they are only designed for the specific Dash Cam brand. There is no need for a control box with these hardwire cables because all the voltage and timer cut off settings are cleverly configured in the Dash Cams settings via smartphone App or manufacturer PC viewer. This allows for a neater installation as you don’t have to mount a control box anywhere in your car. When using these hardwire cables, the Lukas, FineVU and BlackSys Dash Cams are hardwired directly into the fusebox, so you can do away with the standard cig lighter power cord.
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:
You can compare our most popular parking mode Dash Cams by reading our dedicated blog by clicking here
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/12V accessory socket and charges up while you drive. The Dash Cam power cord connects Cellink NEO 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 and no use of your car battery.
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. The Power Magic Pro hardwire kit has a switch on it 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 CH-300 Dash Cam you can also still use the BlackSys hardwire cable for a neater installation and simply turn power off from the camera ON/OFF switch if parking in a secure area.
This is the same for the FineVu LX2000-2CH. If you don’t want to record while parked, simply turn the camera off at the switch.
With the Lukas QVIA Dash Cams you can still use the Lukas QVIA hardwire cable and simply turn the switch on the camera to ACC. This means the Lukas QVIA hardwire cable will only supply power when the engine is ON.
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 Dash Cam 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) 9350 2605 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on our Live Chat tab on the site.