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Are Dash Cam Battery Packs for Parking Mode Worth It?

Are Dash Cam Battery Packs for Parking Mode Worth It?

Parking mode is probably one of the most important features a dash cam offers. But it is also one that requires a little more attention than just tapping some setting controls on an app. To properly run parking mode, you will need constant power sent to your dash cam. Typically, it means you have to hardwire the dash cam to your electrical system. But there are disadvantages to this method. Car batteries last much longer when stored in a charged state. But the constant draining and charging by your dash cam can damage the battery cells prematurely. There’s a name for this - battery sulfation.

Of course, the extend of damage depends on the age, capacity, and type of car battery. Most cars nowadays don’t have a massive battery, so right off the hop, power is already limited. And with the average driving duration of less than an hour daily for most urban dwellers, cars are being left parked longer. We see more problems to the life and performance of their car batteries.

Why you need a dash cam battery pack

Dash cam battery packs are exactly what the name suggests - battery packs specifically built for dash cams usage in vehicles. They are the best solution to power a dashcam safely without affecting the life and performance of the car battery.

Powered with Lithium Iron Phosphate (LifePo4) cells, a dash cam battery pack can sustain higher operating temperature than regular Lithium-Ion batteries, making them most suitable for hot climates. With the unique characteristics of LiFePo4, it could be charged rapidly with a higher current and able to maintain longer life up even with frequent deep discharge cycles.

1. How can a dash cam battery pack protect my car battery?

Your dash cam will draw power from the battery pack instead of your car battery, even if you have hardwired the battery pack to your car battery.

By hardwiring the battery pack to your car battery, you essentially provide the battery pack a means to recharge. The battery pack is designed only to draw power when you’re driving the car. When the ignition is off, the dash cam relies solely on the battery pack for power, eliminating the need to draw power from the car battery completely.

In other words, your car battery is only used to power things it is designed to power within the car when off.

2. Can’t I just set a conservative cutoff for the hardwiring kit?

The dash cam will typically record in parking mode for approximately 8 hours when hardwired, depending on the car battery and the voltage-cutoff setting. Once the cutoff threshold is met, the dash cam will power down to protect your car battery.

In other words, the dash cam’s voltmeter and battery protection settings will ensure you won’t return to your car with a dead battery - the cutoff will keep the battery safe. But what’s the point in parking mode if it cuts off. You know that an incident will occur after the voltage cutoff kicks in — Murphy’s Law.

With a fully charged dash cam battery pack, your 1-channel dash cam can run for up to 40 hours, or if you have a 2-channel dash cam, 25 hours in parking mode before needing to recharge the battery pack.

*numbers based on a fully charged PowerCell 8 dash cam battery pack.

3. Is it worth it to get a dash cam battery pack if I leave my car parked for less than 6 hours at a time?

Yes, it is. Even if you don’t often drive or long enough to get a full charge on the dash cam battery pack, it can still provide enough power for parking mode recording.

For instance, it takes about 50 minutes to charge a BlackboxMyCar PowerCell 8 dash cam battery pack fully. Say your drive is only about 15 minutes - that’s enough to charge the battery pack to 30% capacity, which gives you up to 12 hours of runtime for a 1-channel or up to 7 hours for a 2-channel dash cam.

4. Are dash cam battery packs safe to use in Texas or Florida that get up to 90+ degrees Fahrenheit in the summer?

Dash cam battery packs are built to withstand cold winters and hot summers. If you live in places where it’s constantly warm, we strongly recommend installing the battery pack out of the sun. For instance, under the driver’s seat or even in the truck, where it’s more likely to be cooler.

5. I found a power back on sale on Amazon - is it safe to power my dash cam for parking mode?

In theory, power banks are fine for operating a dash cam - that’s providing you use proper charging practices and avoid as much vibration, shock, extreme heat, and freezing temperatures as possible. And assuming the power bank is built with decent quality lithium-ion cells. But there is no guarantee that the lithium-ion cells inside that particular power back are of quality - and we’ve heard a few too many “exploding batteries” stories.

Also, you should never charge it when you are using it to power your dash cam. Power banks are not built to handle that kind of load. You will need to bring the power bank inside at the end of the day, let it rest for some time, and allow it to stabilize at room temperature. Then charge it using the designated charger.

Say your power bank is the best of the best, and you put great effort in making sure it’s charged properly - here comes the real problem - the charging to discharging ratio. For instance, to running 9 hours of parking mode, you will need to charge the power bank for at least 6 hours. If you’re using a BlackboxMyCar PowerCell 8 dash cam battery pack, you get up to 40 hours of parking mode in as little as 50 minutes or 100 minutes max. Even the smaller-capacity Thinkware iVOLT BAB-50 gets you 16 hours of runtime in as little as 45 minutes of charging time.

Want to know other problems you might experience with a power bank? Check out this video by Vortex Radar:

Dedicated Dashcam Batteries vs. Portable USB Battery Packs by Vortex Radar

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