Dash cam battery packs give you access to parking mode, a must-have feature
Are Dash Cam Battery Packs 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. 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 extent 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.
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.
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.
The battery pack is designed only to draw power when the vehicle is on and you’re driving. 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’s battery, along with any wear-and-tear it may cause.
In other words, your car battery is only used to power things it is designed to power within the car when off.
Can’t I just set a high cutoff for the hardwiring kit?
A 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 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 35 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. Numbers will vary based on camera power consumption, and are averages.
But I don’t do long drives. Is short driving enough to recharge my battery pack?
Yes, it is. Even if you don’t often drive for 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. Alternatively, you can charge the Battery pack inside with a Power Inverter.
I park my car for less than 6 hours. Do I still need one?
Even if you don't park your car for longer periods of time, a dash cam battery pack is still extremely useful. A dash cam battery pack provides a more consistent power supply than relying exclusively on the car battery, lowering the risk of emptying the car battery or potential voltage fluctuations that could impair dash cam performance, as well as helping with the general health of your car battery, giving it a longer life-span.
Are dash cam battery packs safe to use in Texas or Florida heat 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.
Modern Battery Packs do have built-in heat monitoring, which will automatically disable the battery when temperatures have exceeded its safety levels. This can be monitored in the respective battery manager app. Battery packs generally stay rather cool, as they stay shaded in compact areas.
I found a USB power bank on Amazon - is it safe to power my dash cam for parking mode?
Indeed, if you search "Power Banks" on Amazon, you will be presented with a plethora of options, some users prefer over dash cam battery packs due to the anticipated savings and portability. However, while Amazon Power Banks are less expensive, there are some things to keep in mind before getting one.
The primary difference between a USB power bank and the PowerCell 8 is the battery technology. Portable USB battery packs are made of lithium-ion. It is critical for safety reasons because lithium-ion batteries tend to "expand" and even explode in extreme cases due to heat. At best, high heat can reduce the longevity and capacity of the battery, which is known to happen with lithium-ion batteries.
On the other hand, dedicated battery packs are better for longer recording times because they are safer to use in extreme temperatures. They are built with the safest battery technology, LiFEPO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate), which will keep your dash cam running in parking mode for longer hours in extreme weather conditions. Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries are built with being reliable in high-heat in mind.
Another significant difference between USB power banks and Battery Packs is the recharge times and capacity.
For a USB power bank, the number of charging cycles vary depending on the battery cells. For example, a 20,000 mAh power bank can do 300-500 charge cycles. Meanwhile, because of the unique properties of LiFePo4, the BlackboxMyCar PowerCell 8 could be charged in 50 minutes while also maintaining a longer life of up to 2,000 cycles even when subjected to frequent deep discharge cycles. In contrast, power banks are designed to be recharged overnight. To fully recharge one, it can take hours and hours and hours, but that depends on the model.
Maximum Operating Capacity
When powering dash cams and recording footage, USB power banks may be useful for short-term recording, which is helpful in case of an accident or violation. On the other hand, having a dedicated battery pack like the BlackboxMyCar PowerCell 8 provides a maximum operating capacity of up to 35 hours - which is higher compared to other battery packs like the Cellink NEO at 32 hours and the new BlackVue B-130X that only offers 30 hours maximum.
Functions and Reliability
Lastly, it's important to know about how dash cams are used specifically as opposed to how phones are used - which USB power banks are mainly built for. With dash cams, you want your camera to record continuously. So with the PowerCell 8, you start your car, and the battery pack begins charging itself from your car while also powering your dash cam.
The key point here is that the dash cam is always on, which is not how power banks are supposed to work. Power banks are intended to charge your phone throughout the day, and then plug it in. and recharge it overnight after you've finished using it. USB Batteries don't have the ability to power something while also charging themselves. In other words, dedicated batteries like the PowerCell 8 have the benefit of being designed to work in the background, as it draws more power overall, plenty for itself and anything connected.
A power bank is a good accessory for emergencies, such as recharging your phone while travelling. However, we do not believe they are the best for dash cams. Regarding safety, reliability, and capability to power up your dash cam, we highly recommend using a dedicated battery pack like the PowerCell 8.
Shop the PowerCell 8
The BlackboxMyCar PowerCell 8 was designed by BlackboxMyCar and is manufactured by Egen Inc, the world's largest and most trusted dash cam battery manufacturer, which also produces the Cellink NEO battery packs.
Like USB Power Banks, the PowerCell 8 battery pack can also be used to charge your laptop, smartphone, and other USB-powered devices. The BlackboxMyCar PowerCell 8 includes a 5V USB 3.0 power outlet, making it simple to add a mobile router to the dash cam setup in vehicles - ideal for those who have a Cloud-ready dash cam.
The BlackboxMyCar PowerCell 8 also has built-in Bluetooth and comes with a free Battery Manager App that you will use to monitor the status and the manage settings of the battery pack with just a few taps of your finger even if the battery pack is installed out of sight.
With the PowerCell 8, you can have a better experience by doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling the capacity with an extended battery pack. The BlackboxMyCar PowerCell 8 is compatible with the NEO Extended Battery Pack as well as the BlackVue Power Magic Ultra Battery Expansion Pack (B-124E).