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Protecting Your Electric Vehicle

Dash cam EV guide & insights

Protecting Your EV

Electric vehicles, or EVs, are no longer uncommon on the road. In fact, the US administration says that roughly 3 million cars in the country are electric, accounting for approximately 1% of the total. And in the automotive news room, car brands make headlines with the launch of fresh hybrid and electric editions of their best-selling vehicles, while Tesla remains king of EVs, plenty of other brands are making their own shocking spin on electric vehicles, from the BMW i5, Audi A6 e-tron, Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle, and even the Apple Titan EV. All thunderstorms, brewing on the horizon of the future.

Can I install a dash cam for my EV?

With the increasing popularity of EVs, one of the most common questions we hear is, "Can I install a dash cam in my electric car?". Well, the good news is you totally can install a dash cam in an EV! In this article, we'll go through the benefits of having a dash cam, as well as concerns and insights to keep in mind before installing one in your vehicle.

The vast majority of the world's drivers drive gas-powered vehicles, and many are unaware that having a dash cam also works in the case of EVs. So to finally put an end to this question, we say yes – you can install a dash cam for your electric vehicle.

In reality, no matter how smart dash cams are, these devices have no idea what type of car they are mounted in! Whether you’re driving a sedan, a truck, an RV, a sports car, or an EV, your dash cams will perform their task accordingly – which is to record footage while you’re driving or parking. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re driving a Toyota or a Tesla – dash cams know no brand, but it knows one thing, which is to provide you with evidence on the road.

Still, there are some distinctions in how dash cams should be used. But this is due to the design and operation of the electric vehicle, rather than the dash cam itself.

Despite its tech advancements and new driving safety features, electric vehicles still need to be protected by dash cams. Some other EVs already have cameras installed within the vehicles, but they don’t perform as functionally as real dash cams.

So, in terms of video resolution, security protection, video coverage, storage, and the overall features? There’s no other way to go but to choose a dedicated dash cam. Check out the reasons why we think dash cams are more efficient, effective and exciting than other EV cameras.

Need more convincing? Why should I get my EV a dash cam?

Since EVs are designed to be more expensive and modern, they tend to be more appealing to thieves. And because of the improved video quality, a dash cam installed in your EV can effectively catch any potential break-ins, vandalism, or theft attempts, providing crucial evidence to law police. Need it 24/7? Dash cams also have a feature that watches over your EV all-day, all-night. Thanks to parking mode recording.

You should also get a dash cam for your own driving safety. Dash cams like Thinkware also have capabilities such as driver behaviour monitoring, lane departure warnings, and collision alarms that are unavailable with the vehicle's built-in cameras. Moreover, dash cams frequently have their own storage capacities, allowing them to record even if the vehicle's built-in cameras or systems are not working properly or do not have internet connectivity.

Finally, the advantage of installing a dash cam for your own vehicle is to have it based on your personal need. Unlike EV cameras that are already built-in, having a separate dash cam enables you to choose your own preferences for features, video quality, and form factor.

Dash cams in gas-powered vehicles vs. Dash cams in EVs

Now let’s differentiate how dash cams work for conventional vehicles versus electric vehicles. In terms of mounting and installation, the method used in a gas-powered vehicle versus an electric vehicle is largely the same, but there are a few crucial considerations.

First, hardwiring and parking mode. Dash cams in a gas-powered car are normally powered by the vehicle's electrical system or cigarette lighter connection. So, as long as the vehicle's battery is charged, this power is immediately available. If you wish to enable parking mode, then you can easily activate this feature by hardwiring the dash cam and connecting it to the car’s fuse box.

Now, here’s the thing, while electric vehicles have 12V cigarette lighters which you can use for plug-and-play dash cam driving mode, some models don’t have a fuse box or a power source. Some electric vehicles, such as the Tesla Model 3, lack a fusebox, making hardwiring a dash cam for parking mode impossible. Meaning, not all EVs will enable you to hardwire your dash cam and enable parking mode by normal means.

On the other hand, if your EV does have a fuse box, it typically contains a small 12V auxiliary battery that powers the vehicle's electronic components. However, when hardwiring a dash cam to this extra battery via the fuse box, the quantity of recording time is extremely limited. Therefore, it is recommended to have another source of power such as external dash cam battery packs.

Moreover, it’s also important to note that when installing a dash cam in an EV, you may need to be cautious about the wiring route in order to prevent interfering with the vehicle's high-voltage systems.

What EV owners fear the most: Dash Cam Draining the Battery

Here’s another question we get all the time. Possibly, a dash cam can drain your EV's battery just like any other car. Since dash cams continuously record, there is always the risk of exhausting the car battery. While this isn't a problem when driving, it gets more difficult when the car is parked, especially for a long period of time.

The good news is it can be avoided. Fortunately, Thinkware and BlackVue dash cams include voltage monitoring devices. This is intended to power off automatically if the voltage level falls below the configured value in order to prevent car battery drain. But not all dash cams have this feature. So, what we really recommend is to use an external battery pack, such as the BlackboxMyCar PowerCell 8 battery pack - suitable for all dash cam brands.

Yes, it is strange that it is recommended to use a separate battery when a massive one powers the whole vehicle. But through this accessory, you will be able to maximize your park mode recording time and minimize any hardwiring issues in an EV. Additionally, these batteries also have USB power outlets where you can connect the dash cam or any other device for charging. While it may seem redundant to install a battery in an electric car, doing so will prolong the life of your accessory battery as well as increase protection for your vehicle.

Top Things to Consider When Buying a Dash Cam

1. Dash Cam Specifications

You must have a requirement, expectations or list of what you want - whether it's high image quality, advanced safety features, Cloud connectivity or all of the above. Dash cams with built-in voltage monitors like the BlackVue DR970X and Thinkware U3000 are highly recommended.

2. Parking Mode Features

Parking Mode is simply a term for any recording your dash cam makes when the ignition is turned off and your vehicle is parked. Other terms for parking mode include sentry mode, parking surveillance, and parking guard. Simply put, it’s your electric vehicle’s 24-hour protection. If you are concerned about hit-and-runs or vandalism to your parked EV, parking mode is a very useful feature to have.

And this can be activated through hardwiring. In this process, the Dash Cam draws power from the car battery via the fuse box and shuts down when a preset low-voltage cut-off is reached. This keeps the car battery from draining to the point where it can't be started. But the concern is - not all electric vehicles have fuse boxes.

3. Dedicated Dash Cam Battery Packs

To get extended parking modes for your electric vehicles, we highly recommend you to get a dedicated battery pack for your dash cam - like the BlackboxMyCar PowerCell 8 or the BlackVue B-130X in case you are installing a BlackVue.

If you’re wondering how this works, the battery pack would be connected to either an ignition-switched or ACC fuse that activates when your vehicle is turned "ON" or a similarly switched 12V socket in the cabin. Since it’s an additional power source, it helps you avoid battery drainage. Even though it might appear unnecessary to put a battery in an electric car, doing so will boost your vehicle's protection and the lifespan of your accessory battery.

4. OBD-II Power Cable

Here’s another option for you. If you don't want to hardwire your EV or utilize a battery pack, then an OBD cable might work for your EV. Customers who want a more user-friendly option to the conventional hardwire method can always consider this.

An OBD cable simply has to be connected to the vehicle's OBD port rather than the fuse box, which requires three wires. After completing this, your dash camera will be able to record in parking mode just like if you had hardwired to the fusebox.

OBD is not only a standard plug-and-play fit and present in all automobiles made after the late 1990s, but is also physically more convenient to access than the vehicle's fuse box.

5. Professional Installation

Electric vehicles operate and are built differently compared to conventional cars. They could be more sensitive, and this is the reason why some shops and dealers tend to decline customers who want to avail dash cam installations for EVs.

While there are a lot of tutorials and guides online, having a professional dash cam installer for your EV is also recommended. Sure, you can do it yourself too! But if you want a seamless procedure, trusted dash cam installation service centers are ready to help you not just in installation, but also in determining which exact dash cam is best for your EV needs.

Curious how a professional wires into an EV? Check out our Mercedes EQS installation here.

But my Tesla already has its own cameras - do I still have to get one?

We love Tesla EVs - the style, the tech, everything about it. However, we do believe that the TeslaCam is not sufficient when it comes to capturing important evidence.

The Tesla is equipped with eight lenses, and the resolution of each lens is 1280 x 960 - only a little higher than the 720P HD. The TeslaCam records at a fairly low resolution, compared to most dash cams. At this resolution, a license plate can only be read when the car in front is about 8 feet or less in front of you, and we all know that resolution is king when it comes to any type of surveillance camera.

Currently, the resolution of our dash cam is typically greater than what the Tesla cam offers - ranging from Full HD, 2K, and even 4K. Because it can recognize the license plate as well as the characteristics of individuals and around objects, we believe the difference in "resolution" is required for an extra dash cam installation.

Check out our Tesla Installation