Dashcams and Parking Mode: All You Need to Know

Dashcams and Parking Mode: All You Need to Know

Posted by Jessy Tran, Multimedia Producer on 12th Dec 2018

Curious about what "parking mode" is, and what it can do for you or your business? You've come to the right place! Please watch the full video above, or scroll down to read along and learn all about dashcam parking mode.

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Many types of incidents can happen while you’re away from your vehicle. From a simple door ding in a parking lot, to a hit-and-run accident by a careless driver, or a smash-and-grab burglary your car is essentially a “sitting duck” when it’s unattended. Whether it’s your family’s only means of transportation or one of your companies’ fleet of several vehicles, you can never be too prepared for when things go wrong. A dashcam with "parking mode" provides proof and security by watching over your property, even when you can’t.

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This video and blog post will cover just about everything surrounding a dashcam’s parking mode feature. We'll explain the basic concepts of a dashcam’s parking mode and more, such as:

  • What is parking mode?
  • Why would parking mode be useful? (for personal & commercial fleet vehicles)
  • How to enable your dashcam’s parking mode feature

What is Parking Mode?

Parking mode is a loosely used term for when a dashcam remains powered on inside a vehicle that isn’t being operated. This feature goes by a few names depending on the brand of the dashcam. The BlackVue and Avic brands refer to this feature as “Parking Mode” while the brands DOD Tech & Thinkware refer to this feature as “Parking Surveillance.” For the sake of continuity, I’ll refer to this feature throughout as simply: parking mode.

In both cases your dashcam becomes a surveillance system when you’re not operating your vehicle. One less thing you need to worry about!

It’s important to note that true “parking mode” means that the dashcam is capable enough to know when the vehicle is parked, usually with the assistance of built-in GPS positioning. Brands that we recommend for true parking mode are BlackVue and Thinkware.

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The dashcam can then enter a different mode of video recording than what it is usually in. What this means is that instead of constantly recording video files to the memory card, which is what happens when you’re driving, a dashcam with true parking mode functionality means the dashcam automatically detects that your vehicle is parked. From that point on, the dashcam is on alert for movement or motion, but it is not actually recording anything to the memory card yet.

When a person or other object passes near your vehicle or if an impact to the vehicle is detected via the built-in G-sensor, the dashcam then springs into action and saves those important events to the memory card. This way, you don’t end up with hours of useless recordings on your memory card; only events of interest are stored for your review.

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Now, less advanced dashcams without true parking mode functionality can be wired in a manner that they stay on while the car is parked. Instead of being on alert for motion and impact, it will simply record all the time regardless of what may be happening in your vehicle and its surroundings. The drawback of this approach is that your memory card needs to be large enough to hold numerous hours of footage. Otherwise those important events may be overwritten before you return to your vehicle and save the footage you want to keep. Furthermore, it’s time consuming to review numerous hours of footage sorting for that one moment that is important to you. Therefore, you want to find an advanced dashcam that features true parking mode functionality, if keeping an eye on your vehicle while you’re away is important to you.

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Why Would Parking Mode Be Useful for Personal Vehicles?

Burglary of your vehicle usually happens while you’re from your car or possibly while you’re sleeping. Normally, there isn’t much you can do about it besides perhaps purchasing an expensive alarm system. Now instead you can use your dashcam as an anti-theft device by using it as a deterrent or even as evidence against whomever broke into your car.

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Imagine someone sideswiping your vehicle while you’re parked on the side of a busy street. Without a parking mode enabled dashcam an insurance claim would have to be paid for by your own insurance company, rather than by the culprit or their insurance company. The parking mode feature of a dashcam can provide evidence for insurance claims in hit and runs even when you’re not operating your vehicle.

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Parking mode acts as a surveillance system when you’re not operating your vehicle, so you can have peace of mind when you leave your vehicle unattended. A visible camera lens or blinking light may avert vandalism and force people to take ownership in hit in and run situations. Dashcams in parking mode can also capture other types of events on video such as amazing time-lapse imagery or lightning and thunderstorms just to name a couple of examples.

Why Would Parking Mode Be Useful for Fleet/Business Vehicles?

Using a dashcam’s parking mode isn’t only beneficial for personal use, it’s just as valuable for commercial fleet vehicles. Not only can you check on your drivers while they’re on the road but, with the parking mode feature enabled you can check in on your vehicles when they’re off the road and the vehicle’s engine is shut off. Also, as a commercial vehicle thieves often target fleet vehicles in hopes of stealing the cargo. Whether you want to hold your drivers accountable or monitor your vehicles and their cargo, parking mode provides that security even while parked.

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These are only a handful of the reasons why it can be valuable to have a dashcam with parking mode. Our customers provide us with new stories almost daily of how their dashcam’s parking mode truly “saved the day” for them! Some example customer feedback is shown below:

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Powering Your Dashcam to Enable the Parking Mode Feature

Dashcams typically operate in unison with the vehicle’s engine, switching on and off with your ignition key, only recording while your vehicle’s engine is running. If you’re powering your dashcam with a cigarette outlet plug, which in most cases uses switched power, then your dashcam shuts off when the engine shuts off. On the other hand, using “parking mode” requires that your dashcam be connected to a constant power source. In this mode your dashcam operates even when your vehicle’s engine is off. But, most vehicles don’t have a power outlet that provides a constant power source because, it leaves your vehicle at risk of having a drained battery if devices are left plugged in for too long without the engine recharging the battery. So, how do you safely enable parking mode in your vehicle? The best solution is to hard-wire your dashcam, but there are other options as well.

First off, hard-wired dashcams are connected from the fuse box and are hidden behind a vehicle’s interior panel, leaving a less cluttered aesthetic with no loose wires in sight. With this installation method it is recommended that you use the power magic pro or similar brand-specific hard-wire kits to safely take advantage of your dashcams parking mode feature.

For BlackVue dashcams it’s recommended that dashcam owners that want to use the parking mode feature purchase BlackVue’s “Power Magic Pro" to minimize the risk of having a drained battery. The Power Magic Pro is a small control box that ties in with your vehicle’s electrical system. Operating as a battery discharge prevention module, it constantly monitors your vehicle’s battery and automatically turns off your dashcam if the battery levels fall below a specific threshold. It is recommended that our customers set their Power Magic Pros’ power threshold to cut off at 12 volts and the time threshold to infinity so the dashcam will stay on as long as possible; turning off only when the voltage threshold is reached.

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Thinkware dashcams actually have this low voltage protection built into the dashcam itself, so you don’t need a separate control box to safely enable parking mode. You do however need to utilize the Thinkware direct wire harness which connects to the fuse box rather than plugging into the cigarette lighter outlet. You will then configure the battery monitoring settings in the Thinkware software app.

If you plan on installing a dashcam yourself or you just want to learn a little bit more about constant and switched power sources, you can learn more by checking out our video on “How to identify constant and switched fuses”, which is part of a three-part video series on identifying major components of installing a dashcam in a vehicle. Starting with how to identify your vehicle’s fuse type, then identifying constant and switched fuses, and then ending with how to identify a proper ground point.

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If you don’t want to use a Power Magic Pro or a direct wire harness which relies on your car’s battery, you can use a dedicated battery pack such as the B-124 from BlackVue. The external battery pack will plug into your switched power cigarette outlet and will charge up as you drive the vehicle. Then when you shut off the engine the battery pack becomes the source of power for the dashcam. There are pros and cons of using a dedicated battery pack for your dashcam as opposed to a hardwire installation that uses your car’s battery pack while parked.

Pros of using an external battery pack:

  • Slightly easier installation
  • Zero chance of draining your car battery
  • Works great when the vehicle is driven regularly

Cons of using an external battery pack:

  • Installation isn’t as clean, I.E. always having something plugged into your cigarette lighter
  • You need to hide a sizeable battery pack, somewhere in the vehicle’s interior
  • Limited duration, it won’t last as long as using a larger vehicle battery
  • Requires time to charge between parking mode sessions. Short commutes won’t fully charge the battery pack
  • Additional expenses of purchasing the battery pack itself
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In Conclusion

Now that we’ve learned a bit about dashcam’s parking mode feature, I hope you can now make an informative purchase. If you ask us for a recommendation on the best dashcam with parking mode, we’re going to point you to a model from BlackVue or Thinkware. These two brands have proven to have outstanding parking mode performance and additional parking mode features, such as automatic event upload to the cloud, or time lapse functionality.

NOW AVAILABLE, a new and improved next-generation Power Magic Pro, the BlackVue Power Magic EZ (click here to view), which now allows users to plug and play using an OBD port instead of tapping directly into your fuse box! Image below:

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Thank you for checking out our blog and as always, drive safe!


If you have any questions, please contact us!

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