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Does A Dash Cam Drain Your Car Battery? The Definitive Answer

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One of the most frequent questions we get asked is, does a dash cam drain your car battery? 

Safety and security are some of the luxuries we can improve since most of us spend a big amount of our time in our vehicles, dashboard cameras are one of the few things that can make us feel more secure when driving.

No matter how hard we try to avoid any accidents, sometimes they might happen because another driver was being reckless, and that is when the dashboard camera comes in handy. 

With the recording of the camera, you can now prove the fault to the insurance companies.

Dashboard cameras are a great addition to your vehicle, but there are some things that we have to tell you before you make a decision to get yourself a dashcam. 

So, sit tight and enjoy it because we are on a mission to explain it as simply as we can in the next few paragraphs.

Does a dash cam drain your car battery: How do dash cams work?

does a dash cam drain your car battery

First off, all dash cams need an external power source to work properly, you can charge them for future recording operations or simply keep them connected to the power source constantly.

Most of the dash cams are made to be controlled by the ignition, meaning they can turn on when you turn on the vehicle or turn off when you turn off the vehicle.

This is a great feature because you won’t have to worry about turning the dash cam on and off.

Types of external power sources for your dashboard camera

There are two types of external power sources to power your dashboard camera one is to power it through the vehicle’s cigarette adapter, and the other one is through the hard wire kit.

Hardwire kit as an external power source

The hard wire is the easiest way to charge up your dash cam, it uses two wires, one for power and one for ground, and they are typically plugged in into a fuse that charges when you turn on your vehicle.

By doing this you will not drain your vehicle’s batteries, but on the other hand, your dash cam will stop working once you turn off your vehicle.

There is also another way to use a hardwire kit if you are skeptical about leaving your vehicle without the dash cam while parked.

You can buy a hard wire kit with three wires, one for constant power, one for car battery power and the third one is for ground.

Now, this is a way that can drain your car battery, but on the other hand, most of the new dashboard cameras use motion sensors, which means they only turn on when they detect movement. 

This may drain your battery if there’s constant movement in front of the dash cam, but if you park it in a place where there’s minimal movement the dash cam might not even turn on many nights if there’s no movement.

Even though your car battery won’t be empty in the morning, a constant drain and recharge of the car battery isn’t healthy and will shorten its life span.

Cigarette adapter as an external source 

Using the cigarette adapter as an external source is very easy.

Since all of the dash cams on the market come with a power cord, also known as a charging cord you can use this cord to plug it in your cigarette charger.

The cigarette adapter works like the hardwire kit, it will get power when you turn on your vehicle, but it will also lose power when you turn it off.

Although, there are some vehicles that provide power to the cigarette adapter even when the vehicle is turned off.

So, if you decide to power your dash cam on the cigarette adapter, then you don’t have to worry about the dash cam draining your car battery since it will turn off when it loses power. 

If you have the type of cigarette adapter that has an always power on button, then the dash cam will get power even when your vehicle is turned off and it will drain your car battery.

External batteries 

Using external batteries for the dashboard camera is the best way to power it for people who want to keep the dash cam running even when parked.

It acts as an external power source.

These types of external power sources can be charged up at home and then plugged into your dashboard camera. 

There is a great variety of external batteries, but most of them can have enough power to charge up your dash cam for 50 hours.

Keep in mind that these batteries can take up to two hours to get charged up at home.

Does a dash cam drain your car battery: Other frequently asked questions

Where should I mount the dash cam?

Most dashboard cameras are mounted on the front, this will record everything that is happening in front of your vehicle.

But, we also suggest adding a rear view camera to record everything happening in the back of your vehicle.

Is it legal to use a dashboard camera?

Yes, in the United States it’s definitely legal to use a dashboard camera.

The law in the United States lets you record with your dashboard camera as long as you don’t invade anyone’s privacy.

As in other countries, you will have to check because the legality can vary from country to country.

Should I buy a smaller dashboard camera or a bigger one?

The answer to this question can vary on the things you prefer in your dashboard camera.

Buying a smaller camera and mounting it on your vehicle has its perks, since is smaller it’s more difficult to be noticed by car thieves.

On the other hand, having a bigger dashboard camera means you have more features.

Having these things in mind, the decision is ultimately yours.

What is the memory capacity of the dashboard camera?

This depends on the type of dashboard camera you decide to purchase.

All of them support microSD memory cards, but not all of them support 128 GB or 256 GB.

When out buying try to find a dashboard camera that supports bigger capacity memory cards.

Final Words

A dashboard camera is a great new feature for your vehicle for many reasons.

We tried to show you a couple of things to do and use to keep your car battery healthy while letting your dash cam function properly. 

There’s almost no difference between the hardwire and the cigarette adapter as an external power source because they both only provide power when the vehicle is turned off, meaning your car battery won’t get drained. 

For those who want to use the parking mode to keep their vehicle safe when parked, we suggest getting an external battery source, this way your car batteries will stay healthy and have a longer life span.

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