How does a parking surveillance by dash cam work?

Dash cams are useful gadgets for a security purpose. When you get a car accident, a recording can be evidence. It may help an insurance company determine which one of you is at fault. Accidents happen not only on the road but in a parking lot when you are not in a car. Dash cams work as parking surveillance when you park your car. There are different types of parking mode. And you usually need to buy an extra device as a power supply for parking mode to work. That’s because there is no power supply from a cigarette lighter socket when the ignition is off. This post explains the details of parking surveillance of dash cam.

How does a dash cam get power when the ignition is off

Most dash cams get power from a cigarette lighter socket. While you are driving, the socket provides more than 12V, which is enough for dash cams to operate. You never have to worry about the power as long as you are driving. However, when you park your car, dash cam shuts off because a cigarette lighter socket has no power when the ignition is off. To your dash cam work when the ignition is off, you will need to connect a dash cam to a constant power. Here are two types of solution.

MotoPark Multi Safer Low Voltage CUT OFF Hard Wire Power Supply BDP KIT

MotoPark Multi Safer Low Voltage CUT OFF Hard Wire Power Supply BDP KIT

Hardwiring Kit with Battery Discharge Prevention (BDP) device – Find two terminals in an interior fuse box. One has constant battery voltage (e.g., power seat, dome light), and the other for a cigarette lighter socket. Connect two wires each terminal. A device in the middle of the wires is BDP. BDP device monitors the voltage of vehicle’s battery and shuts off when the voltage gets low. So a car’s battery won’t be dead even after you park for a long time. For most hardwiring kits with BDP have a fixed voltage of 11.6 as a shut-off voltage, some sophisticated ones can be configurable and also set a timer.

THINKWARE TWA-SH Hardwiring Cable for THINKWARE Dash Cams

THINKWARE TWA-SH Hardwiring Cable for THINKWARE Dash Cams

You may use any manufacturers hardwiring kit with BDP as long as the connector fits your dash cam. So, if the connector of a hardwiring kit is a cigarette lighter socket, it fits any brands of dash cam. But, keep in mind that some dash cams have built-in BDP. One of dash cam brands, Thinkware sell a hardwiring kit separately for their dash cams X500 and F770. The kit consists of wires with inline fuses and no BDP because dash cams already have it. So, it’s always important to refer to instruction manual of your dash came before you buy a hardwiring kit.

See Also: Thinkware X500 Dash Cam ReviewThinkware F770 Dash Cam Review

External Battery Pack – It’s a small rechargeable battery for small electrical devices. It gets charging from a cigarette lighter socket while you are driving. This item, Blackvue B-112, offer fast charging and long hours operation. According to the company, it takes an hour to charge fully and provide 12 hours of power supply. The shape of its outlet is a cigarette lighter socket so that it can be used for other brands of dash cams. It also has two USB outlets for other electric devices. Usually, external battery packs are more expensive than hardwiring kits.

Three Types of Parking Mode


Basic Parking Mode – Either G-sensor or motion sensor wakes up a dash cam and gets it to start recording. This type saves a lot of battery power than other two types below. A big drawback is that it takes a while for the recording to begin after the sensor detects an event. So, it may be too late to capture an important scene like a license plate of car which damaged your car.

Buffered Parking Mode – In this mode, a dash cam continuously records. The recording is not stored in a memory card but internal memory. The internal memory is very limited. When nothing happens (no events detected by sensors), a dash cam overwrites the internal memory over and over. However, when sensors detect an event, a dash cam automatically stores the recording in a memory card. It’s not only after the event but also before the event (typically 5 to 10 seconds). And when you get back to your car, many dash cams with this parking mode notify you by LED, chime, or speaking that the events had occurred.

Time Lapse Parking Mode – A dash cam with Time Lapse shoots a picture every second so you can roughly see what happened when you are not in a car. Like basic parking mode, it may not be able to capture an important scene. For example, you park on curb, and someone’s car hit a side mirror of your car. If the other car was driving very fast, a picture of time lapse parking mode might not show the license plate of the car. Some dash cams automatically switch to a normal recording when sensors detect an event.


Having a dash cam with parking surveillance feature is good security against hit n’ run or vandalism incident. Most middle to premium dash cam has decent feature of parking surveillance. Buffered parking mode is the most reliable. Keep in mind that you will need either a hardwire kit or external battery pack to have your dash cam perform in parking mode. And they are usually sold separately.

Related Post: How to choose the best Dash Cam for your car

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