Dash Cam FAQ | Frequently Asked Questions
A dash camera is a video recording device for your vehicle that records onto an SD card or hard-drive to provide irrefutable evidence in the event of an accident or incident.
Dash cameras are programmed to continuously loop recorded footage on the memory card, overwriting the oldest footage when a current recording is made.
Many of our dash cameras are equipped with a feature called WiFi, which allows you to review/watch/share footage from the camera on your smartphone or tablet (when sitting in the vehicle).
You need a dash camera for a variety of reasons such as:
- Liability protection in the case of an accident (recorded footage of accident)
- Protection of the vehicle while parked (recording an incident while the vehicle is parked)
- Hit and Run evidence recording (capture video of the perpetrator)
- Protection from road rage incidents
- Liability protection for ride-share drivers (tax/UBER drivers)
- Cargo protection for fleet vehicles (reduce theft or damage of good by capturing video)
- Industry Compliance (snow plow operators etc. can capture video of work completed)
- Funny and Interesting videos
- Family protection (teen drivers, elderly drivers)
This is a question we get frequently from our clients, related to dash cameras and how they work when the vehicle is parked/turned off.
Parking mode is a mode many dash cameras have that allows the camera to record while the vehicle is off, and only record if motion or impact is detected. Most cameras that have the parking mode feature, will segment the recorded footage into a separate file folder on the memory card so the user can easily see footage recorded while the vehicle is parked.
In order for parking mode to work, the dash camera must be connected to a constant power source (ie the vehicle battery) that does not switch off when the engine/vehicle is turned off. Care must be taken though when using parking mode, as the camera will consume battery power from the vehicle battery, which can lead to a dead battery situation if the vehicle is left for prolonged periods of time. The amount of time it can take to drain a vehicle battery varies widely, based on numerous factors such as battery age, outside air temperature, driving habits, and the type of vehicle, and more.
There are a few ways to help protect your vehicle battery from discharging (going dead) when using Parkin Mode such as:
- Purchase a camera that has built in power management circuitry, cameras such as those from QVIA and Thinkware have this technology built in
- Purchase a power management device, such as the Power Magic Pro:
Learn what a power management device is HERE
- Purchase a dash camera battery, such as the Cellink B or the Blackvue B-112, see all of our dash camera batteries in the link below:
Dash Camera Batteries
Learn what a dash camera battery is HERE
This question has a multitude of answers, but the quick answer is YES and NO, as per below:
If the camera is installed and connected to an accessory or ignition circuit for main power, NO the dash camera will never drain your battery.
*PRO* Never have a dead battery due to a dash camera being installed
*CON* You will not have parking mode recording capability available to you when the dash camera is connected in this method
If the dash camera is installed and connected to a constant power (always on) circuit for main power, YES the dash camera will drain your battery, BUT there are things you can do to prevent this from occurring *see the above article: What is parking mode?*
*PRO* Parking mode video recording will be available to you, because the camera is always on
*CON* You risk draining your vehicle battery if you don't use a power management device or if your dash camera does not have built in power management features.
If the dash camera is installed and connected to a dash cam battery (see our article below: What is a dash cam battery?) then NO the dash camera will never drain your battery.
*PRO* You will never have a dead vehicle battery and will be able to take advantage of all features of any dash camera, including parking mode.
*CON* You will need to make the investment in a dash cam battery, as well as installation for the dash cam battery, which adds to the overall cost of adding a dash camera to your vehicle.
On many of today's luxury vehicles, such as BMW, Mercedes Benz, Range Rover/Land Rover, and MINI you may receive a dash board warning message as shown below:
If this occurs after you have installed a dash camera it is because the dash camera is drawing power (current) from the vehicle battery while the vehicle is off (the camera is running in parking mode).
You have 3 options to resolve this warning message:
- Disable parking mode and run the dash camera while the vehicle is running only.
PRO: You will never have the warning message ever again, and you will never have the chance of a dead vehicle battery due to the dash camera running in parking mode.
CON: You will no longer have parking mode recording, so no video will be record while the vehicle is off and parked.
- Reduce the motion and impact sensitivity settings of the dash camera. This will reduce the frequency of video recordings and thus reduce the power consumption of the dash camera.
PRO: Easiest *possible* solution without changing wiring or buying an expensive dash cam battery. But see below.
CON: This may not solve the problem, as the camera is still drawing current from the vehicle battery and thus the warning very well may come back up. The other problem with this solution is you may not record an incident in parking mode because the sensitivity settings have been reduced to their lowest level, so the camera may not trigger during an event.
- Purchase a dash camera battery (see our dash camera battery article HERE to understand what a dash camera battery is)
PRO: 100% solution that will get rid of the warning message, and allow you to maintain full sensitivity parking mode functionality of your dash camera.
CON: Cost for product + installation. Average price installed for a dash cam battery is $350 - $370 + HST
A dash cam battery is a stand alone battery pack that powers your dash camera when your vehicle is off. They are used to provide safe, reliable power to the dash camera for parking mode use (powering the dash cam when the vehicle is off).
Using a dash cam battery assures your vehicle battery (the one used to start the vehicle) will remain fully charged and ready to start your car. This is because power required by the dash camera is drawn from the dash cam battery, and not the main starting battery of the vehicle.
The vehicle only recharges the dash cam battery while the engine is running, when the engine is off, the vehicle does not send power (or consume power) from the dash cam battery at all. This is because the positive input of the dash cam battery is connected to an ignition or accessory power source, which only comes on when the vehicle is running.
Many newer BMW vehicles use a complex battery management/monitoring system that monitors the charge state of the vehicle starting battery, as well as the over-all current draw of the vehicle systems when the vehicle is off. When you add a dash camera, and have it running when the vehicle is off (parking mode), the battery monitoring system will detect this additional power (current) draw, and trigger a warning message notifying you of excessive power consumption while the vehicle is off. As the vehicle battery gets drawn down lower, the battery monitoring system will start to turn off vehicle accessories such as proximity key-less entry, puddle lighting systems, and more. Here is what the error message can look like:
The solution to this issue on BMW vehicles is to have your camera turn on/off with the vehicle OR if you wish to use parking mode, add a dash cam battery.
Dash cam batteries are not water proof, so they MUST be installed inside (interior) the vehicle, away from moisture. If there is room under the vehicle dash board, we recommend they be installed there. Alternatively the trunk of the vehicle or the spare tire area of the vehicle is a good mounting location as well. In BMW, Audi, and Mercedes vehicles, we recommend installing the dash cam battery in the trunk, either next to the vehicle battery (which is generally in the trunk of these vehicles), or near the rear fuse block location in these vehicles.
Dash cam batteries can be re-charged at home or outside the vehicle (adaptor purchase may be required), if this is something you wish to do with your dash cam battery then mounting location should factor this in and the battery should be mounted in such a way as to be easily accessible and removable.
Take a look at the picture below showing the install of a Cellink B in a BMW 5 Series:
In simple terms the difference is:
1 Channel = 1 Camera Lens
2 Channel = 2 Camera Lens'
Channel # is the number of camera lens the dash camera has
Generally 1 channel cameras are mounted in the front of the vehicle facing forwards (towards the road).
Below is a picture of a common 1 channel camera, the Goluk T1:
Here is what the GoLuk T1 looks like in a vehicle (this is also what a typical 1 channel dash cam would like in a vehicle:
Generally 2 channel cameras are mounted with one camera up front, facing forwards towards the road, and one camera in the rear (on the rear window) facing towards the rear of the vehicle.
Below is a picture of a common 2 channel camera, the LG Innotech LGD521:
Here is a what a typical rear camera (from a 2 channel dash camera) looks like when mounted in the rear window of a vehicle:
Many of our clients ask why they should go with a 2 channel (front + rear) dash camera?
There are many reasons to choose a 2 channel camera, one of the main ones being that the most common automobile accident type, is the rear end accident. Meaning you have a greater chance of being rear-ended (especially in city traffic) than you do of getting into a front end accident (as you are in control of your car, where you have no control of what someone does coming up behind you, to some extent).
For example, take a look at what happened to a client's vehicle on the 401 series highway here in Ontario, Canada (watch the video below):
As you can see from the video, the rear dash camera provides video evidence of exactly what happened, and had our client not had a 2 channel camera, he would not have had this evidence. Guess what? The driver of the red truck tried to tell the police our client cut him off, which is clearly not true as per the video.
Going the 2 channel route is always a great idea, and we look forward to showing you the latest and greatest in 2 channel dash camera technology.
Take a look at our selection of 2 channel dash cameras via the link below:
You should not be concerned about your dash camera being stolen. We have installed thousands of dash cameras over the last 5 years, and have seen a single (that's right, just one) incidence of someone attempting to steal a dash cam, and they were not successful in their attempt.
Why is this?
We believe it is because thieves do not notice the dash camera installed in the vehicle (when it has been professionally installed), and also because removing a dash camera is not that simple, as most are attached to the vehicle using very strong adhesives, and have cabling that is hidden throughout the vehicle. It is not an easy target for thieves, so they don't bother attempting to steal them. And without the mount, and cabling, the dash camera is essentially useless, and without value.
Also, by the very nature of it being a camera, it *could* be recording, and thieves do not want to be recorded committing a crime. There is definite chance they will not be successful in stealing your camera, and could very well be caught in the act on the video recording.
You do not need to worry about your dash camera being stolen. But if you want piece of mind, Lockdown Security does offer many different car security systems to make your vehicle safer, check our selection out below:
A WiFi equipped dash camera is one which is equipped with WiFi connection as a feature.
A dash camera with WiFi will also come with a downloadable smartphone (Android or iOS) app which you will utilize to:
- *connect* to the camera for reviewing the recorded footage
- setting up and managing the camera
- sharing your recorded footage.
In order to connect to the camera using the WiFi connection, you will need to be physically IN the vehicle. WiFi equipped cameras will not provide the ability to remotely view the camera, as the WiFi network that is generated by the camera has a very short/small range (vehicle interior only)
WiFi equipped dash cameras are generally more expensive and will have this a feature of premium model cameras only. With that being said, our most popular dash cameras ALL come equipped with this feature.
An LCD screen dash camera is one that is equipped with an LCD screen for viewing recorded video footage and setting up the camera.
Generally LCD screen dash cameras are easier to use and do not require the use of a smartphone to review footage in the vehicle.
The drawback to LCD screen dash cameras is they are larger in physical size to accommodate the size of the LCD screen. Exact size is determined by the size of the LCD screen.
Take a look at all the LCD screen dash cameras we sell in the link below:
We recommend you use the largest capacity card your camera can accommodate based on it's specifications. This will ensure you have the most amount of video recording time at your disposal.
Dash cameras are designed to loop their recordings (overwrite the oldest footage), however having a large memory card increases the time it takes to overwrite footage, thereby giving you more time to retrieve or save the footage if required.
Generally speaking, most dash cameras on the market in 2018 will have a maximum memory card capacity of 128GB, but some brands such as QVIA have camera models that can go up to 256GB or as high as 512GB (using a dual memory card system).
If you need more than 512GB capacity, you would be moving up to a DVR (digital video recorder) system that would be equipped with a hard drive, rather than a memory card.
Lockdown Security sells Thinkware and SanDisk Extreme brand SD cards. We have selected these brands based on testing we have performed which has shown that they work very well in the dash cameras we sell.
The reason is that dash-cams put microSD cards under higher stress than most electronic products such as action cameras or DSLRs is due to their constant loop recording. We test the cards we sell extensively before selecting them for inclusion in our products, to make sure that their performance is good and degrades as little as possible over time.
Using some third party microSD cards can affect dash-cams’ performance and in some cases, force the dash-cam to reboot randomly during recording. Although the basic requirement of the microSD cards for our dash-cams is Class 10 or U1 and that the SD card should be formatted as FAT32 [Windows] or MS-DOS (FAT) [Mac OS], * some of the cameras we sell may NOT be formatted in FAT32* we cannot guarantee the perfect performance of cards from other manufacturers, as even cards with same specifications may vary from batch to batch.
We highly recommend you purchase your SD card storage medium from Lockdown Security to ensure optimal performance of your dash camera, regardless of whether the dash camera was purchased from Lockdown Security or brought to us from an outside source.
Check out our memory card selection below:
Window tint does NOT have an effect on the view of your dash camera. We have seen no noticeable performance difference on *most* tinted windows. As long as your tint is not the darkest (20% or lower) you should see no degradation in performance of your dash camera.
The only real worry when it comes to window tints, is ensuring the placement of your dash camera is 100% correct, as you want to avoid peeling the double sided mounting adhesive on a tinted window, as you run the high risk of damaging the window tint film (peeling it off or tearing it).