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

RayK

Active Member
Apr 5, 2016
2,213
2,211
San Jose, CA
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?
Geez, nobody has provided the obvious response in over an hour???? What's wrong with you people??
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,934
6,014
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?
Blackvue provides a fairly handy table. The single camera setups draw around 2-3W depending on your connections, and dual camera setups draw 3.5-5.4W.
Dashcam Comparison Table - BlackVue Dash Cameras

Your typical USB TSA legal 100Wh battery bank provides 18 to 25 hours of battery life per camera. Note the largest pack (B-124X) Blackvue supplies is only 76Wh and costs a whooping $370, although they do offer $300 85Wh expansion packs (B-124E).

If you get third party generic power banks, note you have to find one that allows passthrough charging, which many don't. Also note the dashcams usually don't run on USB, they run on 12V, so you must get one that has 12V output if you want to use most dashcams (unless you shoehorn a security camera for the application like I do). Also most power banks have a charging time of around 8 hours, so your typical drive will not be enough to charge it.

For my personal application it simply won't work, as I will park well over that amount of time. My Wyzecams are actually more power efficient: 4 cameras + router only draw 7W. There are battery powered outdoor cams that draw less power, but note those usually use a separate motion sensor to save power and may actually miss the event that triggered it (instead records a few seconds after). The ones that have no delay or even pre-record, will likely draw around the same (2W per camera), given they have to have the camera on all the time (and for pre-recording needs to at minimum buffer to volatile memory). I'm guessing the OP wants something more like the battery powered outdoor cams, but in dashcam format.

The USB battery packs are not cost effective vs even a 12V LiFePO4 battery (lead acid ones are even cheaper if you can deal with the size and weigh). I paid $300 for two 30Ah units, which using Blackvue's 12.8V nominal accounting works out to 768 Wh of capacity, or $0.39/Wh. That means 100Wh banks would have to cost under $40 to be the same cost, and if you look around, that usually gets you generic ones that typically don't actually have 100Wh in battery cells inside, plus there is more conversion loss from stepping up from 3.7V nominal to 5V (probably 80% efficient for the good ones) vs stepping down from 12V (the 4 port module I use claims 95% efficiency).
 
Last edited:

lep8

Member
Jul 27, 2021
10
11
San Francisco
We need to use a USB / car battery that's rated for higher temperatures to avoid battery swelling, leakage, or fires. 12V LiFePo4 is what's usually recommended. Frankly I don't want to risk burning down a $50,000 car (and everything nearby) with a $200 Li-ion battery. Hopefully the ones designed for this won't cause a fire.

The two main dashcam batteries Cellink Neo and Blackvue Power Magic battery pack are lower Wh / mAh than alternatives like Beaudens and more expensive. I was looking at Jackery before I realized they're Li-on. Also beware that Blackboxmycar, who sell dashcams and these batteries, does a great job of promoting themselves on these forums and reddit, so read anything they say with skepticism. r/dashcam is full of their "information" that doesn't check out if you dig into Amazon reviews, Fakespot, etc.

This all feels like buying a mattress. Full of misinformation and marketing.

The RV community has been helpful to read since they face this battery problem with life on the road.

Most of the dash cams record always in parking mode so they capture the moments before the incident. Unfortunately that uses the battery very quickly. I'd be happy with recording whenever motion is detected, which would be much lower power consumption, and I'd just identify who did what afterward.

I wish Tesla would create a low power, motion activated Sentry mode.
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,934
6,014
We need to use a USB / car battery that's rated for higher temperatures to avoid battery swelling, leakage, or fires. 12V LiFePo4 is what's usually recommended. Frankly I don't want to risk burning down a $50,000 car (and everything nearby) with a $200 Li-ion battery. Hopefully the ones designed for this won't cause a fire.
You can put them in a flameproof box (like the ones used for document storage) if you are really concerned about fire, but you would probably have to have it in the trunk and route a wire to front, as it'll take up quite some space.
The two main dashcam batteries Cellink Neo and Blackvue Power Magic battery pack are lower Wh / mAh than alternatives like Beaudens and more expensive.
Yeah the Blackvue packs are LiFePo4 also. In general LFP is safer from a fire perspective. Small correction on previous post, a single cam can run for 50 hours on 100Wh (divided incorrectly for 2 cams to get 25 hours).

On a budget 12V LFP batteries are decent option if you are fine with providing your own charger (especially charging offboard) and wiring it up yourself.
I bought two of these 30Ah versions when they are on sale on Ebay for $150.
LiFePO4 12V 10Ah 20Ah 30Ah 50Ah 100Ah Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery
Just one is 384Wh (assuming 12.8V nominal, or 300Wh assuming 12V), a lot more than you can get with any of the other options with built in chargers/connections even if you assume true capacity is lower and may degrade with use. The 10Ah/20Ah versions seem to have poorer reviews however on Amazon. The capacity is also lower with higher power demand (cams are fine though, even with 4 cams and a router, I draw less than 1A).
There are lots of similar 12V LFP batteries at similar cost. But if you don't want to deal with that and go with a packaged product, you can spend more for the official dashcam packs.
Most of the dash cams record always in parking mode so they capture the moments before the incident. Unfortunately that uses the battery very quickly. I'd be happy with recording whenever motion is detected, which would be much lower power consumption, and I'd just identify who did what afterward.
Yeah, as I mention you are unlikely to find a dash cam with that kind of low power mode as all of the motion detection basically works using the camera and they don't have a separate motion sensor. There are some with g-sensors to detect the car shaking, but that might not trigger at all for more minor things like car dings. Best bet if you want that function is to find a battery powered security camera and find some way to mount it in your car (or if you have assigned parking, somewhere outside the car).
 
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lep8

Member
Jul 27, 2021
10
11
San Francisco
@stopcrazypp thanks for the additional pointers. I'm very fortunate to have no real budget but exceeding say $1,000 for the cam+battery wouldn't make sense from a repair/replace vs detect.

I'll keep looking for battery powered wi-fi optional security cams. That one you linked fakespottedd with a B and has some legit looking negative reviews.

Also discreet is key for a security cam, I don't have many hiding places and I'm fairly sure the neighbors will complain if I put an obvious cam above my parking spot. I asked the HOA to wire up more and they weren't keen. (There's a general lock of wiring/power in our garage that causes many of these silly issues.)

Thanks again!
 

runawaymonkey

Member
Mar 14, 2021
8
2
Vancouver, Canada
I am using the Aukey DR02D front & rear dashcam in my 2021 Model Y. I thought about getting a battery pack too but where will it go? How would I review footage for something like a ding that I maybe wouldn't notice until later? I think there will always be careless people everywhere, even when I park so far away, there is alwasy someone parked next to me. (Why?!?)

Something strange for me is the external dash cam seems to be on all the time, even when my car is parked. It's just plugged into the 12V outlet and the parking mode setting is off on the dash cam. Do I need to change a setting to prevent that from happening? Or I guess unplug it manually?
 

lep8

Member
Jul 27, 2021
10
11
San Francisco
Just to follow up for future google searches, I tried:

Garmin Dash Cam Mini but it was always on and not motion activated, despite what their marketing claims.

THINKWARE U1000 but it also was always on. The software is super screwy, the app is horrible, and the camera itself has a voice that won't shut up during setup.

I did the above with a LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery, which both cameras drained in hours.

Back to look at external security cameras.
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,934
6,014
Just to follow up for future google searches, I tried:

Garmin Dash Cam Mini but it was always on and not motion activated, despite what their marketing claims.

THINKWARE U1000 but it also was always on. The software is super screwy, the app is horrible, and the camera itself has a voice that won't shut up during setup.

I did the above with a LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery, which both cameras drained in hours.

Back to look at external security cameras.
Thinkware seems to claim much longer battery life if using Energy Saving mode, although that one only detects impacts (not motion based). There is a separate radar module that can be used to detect motion.
Thinkware U1000 4K WiFi GPS - Dash Cam | Thinkware USA

But as I found, I think you will end up going with security cameras with separate motion sensor (usually with built in battery) as those are the only ones that actually are designed for ultra low power consumption.
 

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