Guide to Parked Recording with Dash Cameras
Updated: Oct 18, 2020
Does your car have mysterious scratches and dents when you return to your parked car? Ever wonder if it’s vandalism or was it a hit and run?
You may be interested in a camera system which records while your vehicle is turned off. You’ll need a little more time in order to get it done. This guide covers what you need from equipment to installation.
Parking Mode Overview
What is Parking Mode?
Parking mode is a fancy term for any recording done while your engine is off and your car is parked. The camera should have a special space-saving mode to minimize how much is written to the memory card while still capturing any accidents or vandalism.
Examples Where Parking Mode Helped
Damaged Mirror -- No Note
A learner driver drove too closely and broke their mirror. The owner was able to reclaim the deductible from their insurance company.
Vandalism -- Parking Lot
A man discovered his ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend pushed a cart into his vehicle after discovering a dent in his vehicle.
Is Parking Mode Worth the Time and Money?
We see parking mode as extra insurance for most people. How comfortable are you with risk and how much do you want to spend? If you’re in the minority where vandals are intentionally damaging your vehicle it could pay off right away (We suggest you look into CCTV cameras). For others it’s a personal decision based on a number of factors (budget, density, time, etc)
It Costs More Money to Do Well
The cheapest non-parking dash camera we recommend the A118-C costs $45. The cheapest parking setup we recommend (Thinkware F50 + Hardwiring Cable) costs $120 with lower video quality. Better setups cost $300 and up. Parking mode requires a camera that is heat resistant, energy efficient and reliable which costs more money. You will need to install the camera as well which requires electrical knowledge that may require a professional.
How Long Can You Record?
There’s no simple answer. There are many factors influencing recording time which include your battery size, voltage drop off, temperature and the energy efficiency of your camera. Using a safe voltage cut-off at 12.2V (more on that later) I got 7 hours of recording time using the Vicovation OPIA2 on my 2012 Honda Fit.
Larger vehicles will have larger batteries which extend recording time. Some cameras like the Blackvue DR650GW use more power. Drivers looking to extend recording time should purchase a temperature safe battery like the Cellink-B
Picking a Dash Camera
We wrote a general guide on how to pick a dash camera which looks at the features most people are looking for in a dash camera. There’s two features you need:
Automatic Parking Mode -- Required
Parking mode represents a number of special features which saves memory card space while reliably capturing incidents that happen. To be effective your camera has to automatically enable/disable parked recording by detecting if you have stopped moving using the G-Sensor.
Should Be Easy to Use
On cheaper cameras you have to manually switch on/off this mode. If you leave parking mode on, you can lose footage while driving. Most people won’t always remember especially in a rush, which is why we think automatic parked recording is a mandatory feature.
Great -- Automatic、Activation Uses the G-Sensor to detect if you have
Not Good -- Hardware Button Press a button to disable/enable parking mode. Very
Poor: Menu Activation The most annoying and most common way of activating parking mode. Not Recommended.
Motion Detection Setting
Motion detection is the most popular parked recording mode. The camera is continuously recording to its memory so nothing is lost but only saves that video to the memory card when motion is detected.
Ideally you want a camera that can control the detection sensitivity so you can fine tune it to a setting where it captures people and cars but not smaller objects like birds.
In advanced models the 5-10 seconds prior to the motion being triggered are also saved to the memory card. This is useful if motion is detected late or there are conversations happening off screen. Buffered recording is not required but it’s a nice feature to have.
Timelapse records a video frame every 1/10/X number of seconds. This avoids any failures which can happen with motion detection especially under low light. The downside is that you may miss details like license plates depending on speed. As well no audio is captured which could identify people who may have damaged your vehicle.
In most dash cameras the G-Sensor is always running. When an impact is detected most cameras will switch back to normal recording.
Capacitor Design -- Required
What a Capacitor looks like inside the G1W
You need a camera that uses capacitors and not lithium ion batteries. While both have the same function to save videos after power is lost, capacitors are more reliable and far safer under hot weather. Due to the greenhouse effect your car can easily rise to 60°C in even mild temperatures. Lithium ion batteries wear down in hot weather and could be a danger.
High Temperature Limit
Most dash cameras have a max operational temperature limit of 60°C but for parked recording cameras we suggest a minimum 70°C operational limit unless you live in a cool location.
Nice Features to Have
A camera that uses less power is better especially for smaller vehicles as they have smaller batteries. You can record for longer without draining your battery as much. My Blackvue front/rear camera uses 30% more power compared to my single camera Vicovation OPIA2. That’s consistent with online reports. I’ll be doing a lot more testing over the next few months and I’ll release updates as I get them.
Partition Recording Space
Many Korean cameras like Thinkware or Blacksys will give you the option to partition different amounts of space for parked, normal and events like emergency recording.
Some users give more parked recording space which is useful as you may not be there to save the video. This offers protection against overwriting the file if you don’t notice the damage right away. With normal recording you are there to swap the SD card or transfer the files right away to your phone.
$100 Thinkware F50 showing the built-in voltage cutoff settings. One of the few budget cameras to have this feature.
Built in Voltage cut-off // Thermal Protection
Some dash cameras come with a built in voltage-cut-off chip which means you can use a basic hardwiring kit saving you $20-$50. As well some have thermal protection which turns off the camera when a set temperature is exceeded.
Cameras I’ve Reviewed
Both are good parking mode cameras but I don’t know how great they are compared to other models on the market. So far I’ve been satisfied with both and each has unique features which you may find useful.
Thinkware F770 + Rear Camera | $400