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Extra dashcam for parking mode, long battery (third party?)

lep8

Member
Jul 27, 2021
10
11
San Francisco
Could anyone recommend a third party dashcam with parking mode and a long duration battery? (Or battery pack.) i.e. a way to record incidents during many days parked.

I park in a shared garage with tight spots and the risk of someone dinging my car is high. We're all happily wealthy here but statistically half of us must be a**holes.

I was disappointed to find my new M3 Sentry Mode burns 4% - 5% battery overnight if I leave it on. Gotta record 'em to make 'em pay. Sentry Mode isn't an option with that battery usage.

I've read through these forums discussing Blackvue and Thinkware and the battery pack add ons, as well as reading the amazon reviews and fakespot. All of the available cams seem to have problems and none of them do a good job of "parking mode" or similar lower power consumption, motion detection to start recording, with multiple days of battery life.

I have some seemingly simple requirements:
  • No wiring to the car battery
  • Dash cam battery or add-on battery pack lasts more than 3 days
  • Can recharge dashcam battery via 12v cigarette lighter while driving
  • Doesn't catch fire or melt at 100F
  • Doesn't cause the car's 12v battery to need replacing every couple of months
  • Doesn't otherwise break the car
  • (Nice to have) Uses SD cards so I can swap in a high durability 256GB card
Thinkware's supposedly got a "parking mode" that lasts 7 days but if you believe the reviews it doesn't actually work. I'm technical but I have other hobbies and don't want to raspberry pi a dashcam.

Does Tesla have any plans for a low power parking mode with Sentry? I can't be the only person with this problem. (There are 8 other Teslas in my garage alone!)

Suggestions welcome, thank you!
 

lep8

Member
Jul 27, 2021
10
11
San Francisco
You could also install a stand alone security camera,
on the wall somewhere above or near your car, and that you can access with your phone.
Thanks! I appreciate your suggestion.

Unfortunately the wifi in the garage is spotty and unreliable. I'd rather not have to also setup storage and constant wifi communication to my home. That's how I ended up on dashcams rather than wifi security cams, though a battery powered spy cam over the parking space might work.

I'm also looking at a Garmin Dash Cam 57 with Parking Guard and constant power from a battery pack, but it all seems like a hack.
 

RayK

Active Member
Apr 5, 2016
2,213
2,211
San Jose, CA
The problem with any dashcam mounted inside your car is that it will have limited coverage for documenting damage. You're not going to see exactly how your car gets dinged on the sides. Yes, you might see the adjacent door headed to the side of your car but unless the impact is large enough to shake your car (and therefore your dashcam), it might not be good enough to substantially prove it was the culprit.

Assuming that you have an assigned parking space, the best coverage would be to have two external cameras aimed at each side of your car. Positioned to capture the vehicle next to you, as well as your own. WiFi coverage could be possible if you have an uninterrupted line-of-sight to the parking garage and use a highly directional high gain parabolic antenna. If that's not possible, then a camera which has it's own WiFi access point would work (if they even make something like that) so that you can join the camera with a laptop or phone and view or download the video clips.
 

Watts_Up

Active Member
Mar 4, 2019
3,706
2,682
In a galaxy far, far away
I put some molding all along the side of my car, from the side camera on the front fender to the rear lights on the rear panel.

This provides a good protection from other car doors, I had several sentry recordings showing my car been hit, but I could not find any mark.

Of course, if you get a big dent, this would not be sufficient... !!!
 
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stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,934
6,014
Thanks! I appreciate your suggestion.

Unfortunately the wifi in the garage is spotty and unreliable. I'd rather not have to also setup storage and constant wifi communication to my home. That's how I ended up on dashcams rather than wifi security cams, though a battery powered spy cam over the parking space might work.

I'm also looking at a Garmin Dash Cam 57 with Parking Guard and constant power from a battery pack, but it all seems like a hack.
For what it's worth, I also researched this and couldn't find a good solution, especially with remote viewing, not just local wifi review, (like you, I only found Blackvue and Thinkware). I am using it more for street parking (around a week at a time) and Sentry is too big a drain for that.

I did think of going with battery powered wifi cams, but I had two Wyzecam V2s (only $20-30 each when I got them) already spare, so I used those. I bought a TP-Link TL-WR902AC portable router, installed Open-WRT on it and used it to connect to Xfinity wifi signals (available in many places in SF) as WAN for internet for the cameras.
Connect to client Wi-Fi network
The portable router is necessary since Xfinity wifi is 5GHz-only now, while the Wyzecams are only 2.4GHz (plus the router allows easy logging in the xfinity portal, which needs to be done at least once per detected MAC address). It works decently well, but I may be looking to modding the router to add a more powerful antenna to connect to more marginal signals. The router allows me to also add a mobile connection in the future (the USB port supports a USB modem), but I found it unnecessary in the places I regularly park.

I did add two Wyzecam V3s ($35 each) and they are much better in low light (don't even need infrared lights on to get a clear view, I have all the infrared lights off on the cameras).

The Wyzecams have a microSD slot that can record even when there is no wifi/internet, but they do require an internet connection to connect to the cameras for remote viewing or liveview (does not work over local network only). It also includes 12 second motion clips stored in the cloud for 14 days for free (in case your card/camera breaks or is stolen). It's fairly full featured for such a cheap camera and also allows setting custom motion detection zones.

I bought two 12V 30Ah LiFePO4 batteries that I have in the compartment in the trunk, routed a power cable to the front to a 4 port 12V to USB adapter to power the cameras and router (the router has one USB port that I use for one of the cameras). If I have the time, I may try to tap into the 12V connection near the hazard light button as other dashcam users do, but the current solution is fine for me and avoids damaging the car's 12V battery.

I get 105 hours of battery life (12V 60Ah total), so the 4 cameras + router average about 7W of drain total, working out to only about 1.8W per camera even with router overhead. This is way less than Sentry mode (I also wish Tesla had a low power version).

I do agree with others however that in car cameras are of only limited utility. I got a couple door dings and even with 4 cameras (1 front, 1 cabin, 1 each pointing out left and right front windows) and it's not possible to directly see the door ding, so it's hard to make a claim based on camera footage. It's really only useful for bigger accidents (where it's very obvious the car smashed into yours even looking from inside) or someone getting into your car or breaking a window. I use mine more for remotely checking on the car and seeing if there are any special events where I might have to move my car quickly (a paper on my dash).
 

TexasTezla

Member
Feb 28, 2020
254
215
Texas
4-5% per night...thats like up to 10 days before needing charging...seems pretty good to me? Cant you just charge it up every week? Now, I dont know your circumstances but it sure seems like external and internal cameras are not going to do what you need unless they can be powered. Battery powered ones have a tendency to miss the important footage...i.e. they start recording when motion is detected and often that is too late OR you have them far back enough to capture all motion and the battery drains real fast! Good luck
 

Watts_Up

Active Member
Mar 4, 2019
3,706
2,682
In a galaxy far, far away
4-5% per night...thats like up to 10 days before needing charging...seems pretty good to me? Cant you just charge it up every week? Now, I dont know your circumstances but it sure seems like external and internal cameras are not going to do what you need unless they can be powered. Battery powered ones have a tendency to miss the important footage...i.e. they start recording when motion is detected and often that is too late OR you have them far back enough to capture all motion and the battery drains real fast! Good luck
Sentry provides side camera recording but you don't want to keep it running all the time when you park.
When my Model 3 is parked in my garage, after two weeks without using Sentry, the propulsion battery drain is around 3%.

When I park in the street, I use my Blackvue DR900 dashcam connected to a Car Jump Lithium Battery, this was way cheaper than the Blackvue battery.
The dashcam can be set using motion detection, sequences of small time lag, or continous recording, I use the last option.
I have a WiFi router in my car so I can connect the dashcam to the cloud. I receive alerts on my phone and I can access the dashcam remotely.

I keep the Car Jump Lithium Battery charged using a Bestek 150 Watt Power Inverter that I connect directly to the car battery.
I also bought a Bestek 300 Watt Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter that I use to charge my laptop, which uses about 70 W.
You can buy both Inverters on Amazon as a bundle and you get basically the smaller inverter for free.
Both inverters have a switch so you can turn them on only when needed and you don't have to disconnect anything.
 
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TexasTezla

Member
Feb 28, 2020
254
215
Texas
Sentry provides side camera recording but you don't want to keep it running all the time when you park.
When my Model 3 is parked in my garage, after two weeks without using Sentry, the propulsion battery drain is around 3%.

When I park in the street, I use my Blackvue DR900 dashcam connected to a Car Jump Lithium Battery, this was way cheaper than the Blackvue battery.
The dashcam can be set using motion detection, sequences of small time lag, or continous recording, I use the last option.
I have a WiFi router in my car so I can connect the dashcam to the cloud. I receive alerts on my phone and I can access the dashcam remotely.

I keep the Car Jump Lithium Battery charged using a Bestek 150 Watt Power Inverter that I connect directly to the car battery.
I also bought a Bestek 300 Watt Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter that I use to charge my laptop, which uses about 70 W.
You can buy both Inverters on Amazon as a bundle and you get basically the smaller inverter for free.
Both inverters have a switch so you can turn them on only when needed and you don't have to disconnect anything.
Leaving sentry on when I park in the street is fine for me. It records front, back and side cameras from the outside of the car rather than from the inside with no view of the side. With 4-5% drainage its no biggie. I wouldn't leave my car overnight on the street for days on end of course.
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,934
6,014
Leaving sentry on when I park in the street is fine for me. It records front, back and side cameras from the outside of the car rather than from the inside with no view of the side. With 4-5% drainage its no biggie. I wouldn't leave my car overnight on the street for days on end of course.
Of course, if you only park it for a short while, it doesn't matter as much. But if it's for up to a week like I do, then that's a lot of charge loss just to run a few cameras, especially if I don't always have the car charged at the start of the week.
 
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TexasTezla

Member
Feb 28, 2020
254
215
Texas
Of course, if you only park it for a short while, it doesn't matter as much. But if it's for up to a week like I do, then that's a lot of charge loss just to run a few cameras, especially if I don't always have the car charged at the start of the week.
Just trying to understand use here...are you saying you would leave your car on a street (and we are not talking outside your house, in which case you would just get a camera fixed on your house pointed at your car, or if you lived in an apartment building I assume you have parking?) for up to a week and you want some way to monitor it? Best thing to do is place it where there are other cameras...like near a gas station, bank etc..they always record and you can ask to see the footage!
 

lep8

Member
Jul 27, 2021
10
11
San Francisco
I appreciate the continued discussion and suggestions. Thank you all.

My condo's garage situation is very secure from a break-in perspective, but the layout of the garage and the tight spaces and corners mean my M3 is at great risk of getting swiped, dinged, or bumped. Existing security cameras are blind to most parking spots and primarily cover entrance/exit.

I have no power outlets available in the garage so I can't wire new security cameras. I could hide a battery powered security camera. Unfortunately the wifi in the garage is unstable and low bandwidth as a result.

I charge the M3 infrequently (once every few weeks, yes I know that's not great for the battery). Adding Sentry drain to that would be worse. I've also found Sentry drops key moments in the video, fails to activate, etc. so it's very much a beta. (I'm using a high endurance SD card not SSD.) I do leave Sentry on when I'm parked out on the street for an hour here or there but I don't want to solely rely on it.

I've seen other discussions cautioning against 3rd party battery packs as a possible fire hazard, especially when connected to the Tesla's battery. I've also seen posts saying that wiring directly to the battery voids Tesla's warranty but I haven't confirmed that.

This is one of those situations where the tech should exist: a battery powered dashcam with ultra low power parking mode, local storage, and many days of charge. Maybe it's a business opportunity. As it is, I think I need to remove constraints (no wifi, no power, etc.) in order to solve my problem.

Does anyone happen to know if r/dashcam recommendations are worthwhile? They push Viofo hard so I can't tell if they're just selling it. I'm hunting for the lowest power dashcam so I can just hook it up to a battery pack.
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,934
6,014
Just trying to understand use here...are you saying you would leave your car on a street (and we are not talking outside your house, in which case you would just get a camera fixed on your house pointed at your car, or if you lived in an apartment building I assume you have parking?) for up to a week and you want some way to monitor it? Best thing to do is place it where there are other cameras...like near a gas station, bank etc..they always record and you can ask to see the footage!
Yes it's on the street away from my home and somewhere where there is no street cleaning (so I don't have to move car) and a residential permit allows unlimited parking in a given neighborhood (other than when neighbors complain in which case there is a notice that is put on the car and it must be moved within 72 hours, or there is suddenly an event/construction). Anywhere near businesses is not viable given those places tend to either not have all day parking (only for offloading passengers or cargo) or they would be metered.

The most probable risk it protects me is from towing, where the city fees cost $500+ plus per day storage fees. I've had my old car towed before when it was less expensive and even back then if this camera system saves me from even one such tow it'll have paid for itself already (including the batteries).

In my old car, I also had a case where some car smashed into whole row of parked cars (including mine). Luckily that driver did leave his insurance info on the dash for the cars he damaged and took responsibility, but if I ever encounter something like that, I have footage to provide to my insurance agent to make a claim even if they ran. For something that obvious, even in cabin cameras are enough.
 

TexasTezla

Member
Feb 28, 2020
254
215
Texas
Yes it's on the street away from my home and somewhere where there is no street cleaning (so I don't have to move car) and a residential permit allows unlimited parking in a given neighborhood (other than when neighbors complain in which case there is a notice that is put on the car and it must be moved within 72 hours, or there is suddenly an event/construction). Anywhere near businesses is not viable given those places tend to either not have all day parking (only for offloading passengers or cargo) or they would be metered.

The most probable risk it protects me is from towing, where the city fees cost $500+ plus per day storage fees. I've had my old car towed before when it was less expensive and even back then if this camera system saves me from even one such tow it'll have paid for itself already (including the batteries).

In my old car, I also had a case where some car smashed into whole row of parked cars (including mine). Luckily that driver did leave his insurance info on the dash for the cars he damaged and took responsibility, but if I ever encounter something like that, I have footage to provide to my insurance agent to make a claim even if they ran. For something that obvious, even in cabin cameras are enough.
Certainly seems a niche requirement but if the cameras and batteries solve your problem, all strength to you! regarding city, business cameras...they are surprisingly everywhere! Most people have video doorbells nowadays! In fact, it would be difficult to find a place where you are NOT recorded!
 

TLLMRRJ

Active Member
Dec 19, 2019
2,034
2,429
Houston
Or you could get an external battery pack for your sentry mode, lol

1630008491239.png
 
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stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,934
6,014
I have no power outlets available in the garage so I can't wire new security cameras. I could hide a battery powered security camera. Unfortunately the wifi in the garage is unstable and low bandwidth as a result.
Note if I didn't have my Wyzecams already, this would have been the battery powered wifi cam I would have gone for. It has microsd recording also, so you aren't 100% dependent on wifi:
https://www.amazon.com/Wireless-Rechargeable-Detection-Waterproof-compatible/dp/B07PM2NBGT
It's not a dashcam, but I didn't find dashcams that offer similar functionality (plus dashcams with true internet monitoring tend to cost a ton more).
I've seen other discussions cautioning against 3rd party battery packs as a possible fire hazard, especially when connected to the Tesla's battery. I've also seen posts saying that wiring directly to the battery voids Tesla's warranty but I haven't confirmed that.
I picked 12V LiFePo4. They are less likely to catch on fire and I'm charging them externally with a separate charger at home. I wouldn't connect them to the Tesla 12V battery directly (wiring this would be a challenge anyways to pass through the firewall). I did previously make a connection on the battery that can plug into the cigarette port and charge the batteries that way, and there is no reason for that to be warranty voiding, especially given the cigarette port is fused.
 
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KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
3,748
3,483
Maine
Surely, you can use a USB backup battery to run your dashcam 24/7, no? And have the USB backup battery charge when you drive? How much power do these dash cams draw?
 

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