How Does a Dash Camera Work?

Dash cams record video from the dashboard of your vehicle while you are driving, and in some cases even when you’re parked. There are so many benefits to a dash cam, including having firsthand footage of accidents in the event you are involved in one, deterring theft, etc. But how does a dash camera work?

How Does a Dash Camera Work?

A dash cam is usually powered either by the fuse box itself or via the 12v outlet (also commonly referred to as the cigarette lighter outlet). When you start the car, the camera starts too.

The footage is kept on a microSD card, so you need to be mindful of your storage limits if you do not want to lose data. For example, once the card is full, it will begin overwriting the earlier footage to continue recording. Just like taking videos with a traditional camera though, dash cam footage can be offloaded. Relevant buyers guide: Best 3-Channel Dash Cam 

For most people, losing the footage might not matter. However, if you are an enthusiast trying to capture your drives on the backroads, you will want to know how much you can record in one session without losing any footage.


Do dash cams record when the car isn’t on?

Dash cams can record even when your car is off, but it has to be set up to do so, and not all dash cams have this capability. Before purchasing one, be sure to read the specs and product description to make sure it has the features you want. Often, manufacturers will advertise that a dash cam has a parking mode if it records while the car is off.
Some dash cams are even set up to record only when motion is detected, making it more efficient power-wise. Others use an onboard battery that charges while you drive and runs off that battery when the car is off.

Do Dashcams have to be wired in?

Not necessarily. As noted above, many dash cams are simply plugged into your 12v outlet. Others are wired directly to the fuse box, which is a more involved process. You would have to purchase a wiring kit to do this, or have a professional perform the work.
Additionally, there are some dash cams that are wireless, running only on batteries. However, one downside is they usually are not able to record as long as their wired counterparts.

How much does it cost to install a dash cam? 

If you are doing it yourself, the cost is $0 after paying for the dash cam and any wiring accessories you might need. If you plan to hardwire your dash cam to your fuse box, you can purchase a wiring kit for under $20.
You can expect to pay up to $50 to have a professional install your dash cam for you. Of course, this price can vary based on where you live and the particular shop you choose, but this gives you a general idea.


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