Always-On Cigarette Sockets and Different Hardwire Kit Types

The 12V/cigarette sockets in most vehicles are ignition switched but in some vehicles, particularly domestic brands like Ford, Chrysler and Chevrolet may have sockets that are always on, even when the vehicle is switched off. Customers are curious if this means they don't need to hardwire their camera to take advantage of parking mode. In some specific cases, this setup may work but generally we recommend against this due to two main issues.

Issue 1: Lack of Voltage Detection/Cutoff

Many always-on cigarette sockets are not sophisticated enough to detect the voltage and switch itself off should the car's battery drop too low. With most passenger vehicles, a 2-channel dash cam can drain a vehicle's battery down from 12.6V to 12.0V in 12 hours or less. When the vehicle's battery drops below 12.0V it may have issues or hesitation upon start up and causes extensive wear and tear on the battery due to deep-cycling. This means that on most vehicles, if they're parked overnight, the battery can drain to a point that is hard on the car and battery.

Car jump start

The user can bypass this by unplugging the camera when the vehicle is parked overnight, but this is a lot of hassle on the driver's part to do it on a daily basis. If the driver forgets, they run the risk of needing to jump start the car in the morning. With dedicated hardwire kits on parking mode dash cams, voltage cutoffs can be set to protect your battery from extensive deep cycling.

Issue 2: Lack of Ignition Switched Power Feed

If you were to cut open a dash cam's cigarette power adapter, it would have two wires inside, a positive and a negative. Because of this, the camera only knows whether it's receiving power or not and can't distinguish from when the car is switched off. If the car is switched off and the cigarette socket stays on, the camera will still assume the car is running. In contrast, cameras that use direct hardwire kits have cables with three wires so the camera can be powered while the car is off but also lets the camera know when the engine switches on and off.This is required to activate parking mode on many parking mode capable dash cams, otherwise they can only record in continuous mode. 

hardwire vs cigarette

By that same token, if you have a hardwire kit that outputs power using a female cigarette socket, such as a Power Magic Pro or Multi Safer, you will have the same issues with permanent continuous recording on direct hardwire dash cams. For that reason, you should not use a camera like the Thinkware F770 with the Power Magic Pro.

There are multiple downsides to recording permanently in continuous mode:

  1. Videos get overwritten a lot more quickly as they aren't only triggered when motion or impacts are detected.
  2. Power consumption in continuous mode is typically a fair bit higher than in parking mode
  3. The G-sensor sensitivity in parking mode will be a lot more sensitive as the car should not be in motion, this is important for picking up light bumps like door dings or parking impacts.

Some parking mode dash cams such as the BlackVue DR650S-2CH don't need this ignition switched feed to switch into parking mode. The BlackVue dash cams switch into parking mode based on the G-sensor and when it senses the car hasn't moved for a number of minutes. In these cases, you still need to be concerned about the potential for battery drain.

What Hardwire Kit Does my Dash Cam Need?

These are the types of hardwire kit that some popular dash cams need in order to switch into parking mode. If you are thinking about ordering a Cellink Battery B, make sure to choose the correct output type. If you are ordering the Cellink as a bundle we'll make sure to get you a compatible combination by default.

  Cigarette Socket Output (PMP, Multi Safer, etc.) Direct Hardwire Cable (Constant AND Switched Power)
BlackVue DR650 Series N/A
Thinkware Dash Cams N/A
BlackSys CH-100B (Use external power setting must be enabled)
LG Innotek LGD521 N/A
VicoVation OPIA2 N/A