Can you use a GoPro as a dash cam? It’s a frequently asked question amongst people who have been interested in repurposing their electronics, Technically, you can, but it might not be the smartest decision in terms of convenience and cost. However, similar to any other piece of technology that you get your hands on, it’s important to think about the pros and cons of installing a GoPro for your vehicle’s safety and security.
What Is a GoPro?
The first thing you need to do is learn what a GoPro is and what it’s designed to do. Capturing live-action moments such as sports and other outdoor adventures became popular over the past years, but it would be relatively unrealistic to assume that you could use a large HD camera to capture videos. This is where the GoPro came into play, as it was manufactured to withstand extreme sports and extreme weather conditions.
A GoPro, similar to any other type of action camera, is designed to be lightweight, compact, but above all else, durable and waterproof. At first glance, all these specs might sound like something you’d like in your dash cam, but we can guarantee that a GoPro isn’t what you need for your car.
Why Shouldn’t You Use a GoPro as a Dash Cam?
It’s common for people to assume that they can use their electronics for more than one purpose, but when it comes to GoPros, there are a couple of negative aspects to take into consideration, and some of them are:
1. You’re responsible for turning your GoPro on
Unlike dash cams that can be hardwired to your vehicle, GoPros cannot, and as such, you’ll be responsible for remembering to turn the device on and off when you enter and exit your vehicle. If you’re the type of person that is particularly forgetful, it’ll be frustrating if you forget to turn on the GoPro and wind up in an accident with no video surveillance to help protect you.
On the other end of the spectrum, dash cams, once hardwired, will turn on and off when you start your ignition. Also, dash cams give you 24/7 surveillance, as they will likely record motion around your vehicle even if the ignition is turned off.
2. Short battery life
Unless you opt for a dash cam that runs solely off of an independent power source, such as a battery pack, you’re going to find that it’s difficult to deal with the short battery life of a GoPro. On average, it’s estimated that with a single charge, a GoPro will last up to two and a half hours of constant recording, depending on the settings you use. The higher definition of video recording you choose, the more battery life it’s going to consume.
This can be seen as a negative especially if you opt to have your dash cam hardwired into your vehicle, as you’ll never have to worry about battery life. Instead, the camera will have a constant source of power that doesn’t require any charging, giving you access to an always-ready recording device.
3. Failing under extreme temperatures
Even though GoPros were originally designed to withstand extreme weather events, you can guarantee that they’re not the strongest cameras in terms of extreme cold and heat. This means that in the middle of the summer when the inside of your car can reach temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, you can severely damage the sensitive components of a GoPro.
On the contrary, dash cams are specifically designed to withstand severe temperatures as they have the sole job of being stored in your vehicle. In fact, if you invest in a high-quality dash camera, you can guarantee that temperature-tolerant capacitors will be added to their design that can withstand temperatures over 100 degrees.
4. Losing parking mode
One of the biggest selling features for dash cams is surely parking mode, which is an advanced way to ensure that your vehicle is surveilled at all times of the day and night. When parking mode is engaged, your dash cam’s sensors will detect any movement around your vehicle, even if it’s turned off, and it will record the activity.
That is essential for people who are regularly dealing with dings and scratches in their vehicle due to neighboring cars. Once the movement has ceased, your dash cam will automatically turn off and enter an energy saving mode.
5. Increasing the chance of theft
You can easily argue that any type of camera that is mounted in your vehicle could increase the potential for thieves to target your car. However, not everyone is aware of how costly dash cams can be, which means they won’t be likely to put themselves in a bad position to break into your car for a random camera unlike GoPros, where everyone knows what they look like and how much they cost.
You’ll most likely mount the camera at your front or rear windshield, right in the line of vision of potential criminals, which is simply begging them to try to get into your car.
The final answer to the question “Can you use a GoPro as a dash cam?” is that you can, but you’ll be paying a lot more money for a camera than if you were to rely on a traditional dash cam. If you’re working with a tight budget, your best option is to opt for something that is not only specifically designed for in-car use, but that will also save you a couple of hundred dollars.
It’s Not recommended, but You Can
If you’re set on the idea of using a GoPro as your dash cam, you can easily find the perfect placement; just ensure that the camera is properly mounted, and press “record” whenever you’re on the road.
Even though it’s not nearly as convenient as using a dash cam, it can serve the same purpose of surveilling your vehicle. Next time you ask, “Can you use a GoPro as a dash cam?”, it’s essential that you consider the pros, cons, and figure out how to correctly install the camera so that it can record all areas surrounding the front and back of your vehicle.