How to Power a Dash Cam: The Top Power Options

How to Power a Dash Cam
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Dash cams, like most other technology, require a source of power to work. No matter if you’re driving down the highway or parked at home, the camera will need power.

Understanding how to power a dash cam is relatively simple, especially when you look at the technical specs of your device. There are a few different power options that you can choose from based on preference and convenience. At the end of the day, as long as your camera has a reliable source of power, it will protect you and your vehicle.

How Does a Dash Cam Use Power?

The first thing that you need to think about is how your dash cams use power. Understanding this will give you a clearer idea of how you should install them.

There are two main ways that a dash cam uses power, while parked and while driving. This is also dependent on the type of dash cam that you order, as some devices are built differently.


Drivers who own a camera with a parking monitor will notice that there is a battery inside of the camera. This battery is designed to give you optimum protection, even if you are away from your vehicle. When your car is turned off, the camera will turn on if any activity is detected around your car or truck.

As there likely isn’t any power being provided to the camera, the battery does all of the work for your car. You may also find it can give you the ability to unplug your dash cam and run solely off battery power.


The second way that dash cams use power is to be hardwired to your vehicle. This is the type of power that can be used when your car is parked or driven. However, it depends on how you wire the camera.

If you opt to choose a fused outlet that only receives power when the car is on, hardwiring isn’t as useful. On the contrary, if you choose an outlet that regularly receives power, the camera will run solely off your vehicle.

Hardwiring is often the most popular option since you won’t have to worry about recharging batteries. Your dash cam will always be ready to be used in the event of an emergency.

What Power Options Are Available During Installation?

Once you’ve found the perfect dash cam and are getting ready to install it, you’ll need to choose the right power options. Learning how to power a dash cam is simple as there are two basic choices, a 12V outlet or hardwiring.

Most drivers choose hardwiring because they find it’s easier to hide the wires and it’s more convenient. You certainly won’t have to worry about taking up your 12V outlet every time you’re driving.

One of the most important things to think about is the type of camera you’re investing in. This is because some models are designed for plug-and-play only and others need to be hardwired. In some cases, you can find devices that offer both options so that you can alternate between the two.

Connecting a Dash Cam to a 12V Outlet

The easiest installation method is to simply plug your dash cam into a 12V outlet or cigarette lighter. You won’t have to worry about wiring any cables to your fuse box. Additionally, you don’t need to hide any wires to protect the aesthetic of the inside of your vehicle.

With these cameras, all you need to do is find the proper placement for the dash cam and then plug it in. Typically, your camera will come with the connectivity cables you need. Otherwise, you’ll have to buy a 12V adapter that fits into your camera.

Hardwiring a Dash Cam

Hardwiring is more of an in-depth approach, though it might be simpler than you think. If you’re someone who isn’t comfortable with working with electricity, you’ll want to hire a professional.

Professional installers not only make sure that your camera is wired properly but that the wires are hidden as well. Although it costs more than a DIY installation, it can be well worth the cost.

It’s always important that you review the dedicated installation instructions for your camera. This is because some cameras require extra steps, as compared to others. However, the following steps are relatively universal and make hardwiring easier.

  • Step One

First, you’re going to want to find the appropriate place for your dash cam. It’s important that the camera has the widest field of view possible.

You’ll also want to make sure that it’s placed perfectly, so there aren’t any obstructions. Once you have found the correct placement, temporarily put the camera in place.

  • Step Two

Taking the hardwiring cables, run them to your fuse box. This will give you an idea of how much slack you have to work with.

There are plenty of places inside of your vehicle where you can hide the wires. Make sure that you refer to your driver’s manual to learn about the internal panels that can be removed in your car.

  • Step Three

Connect the wires to a fuse that is the least used in your vehicle. We found the easiest fuse was the one for the 12V outlet, though it depends on what features you see to be the most important in your car. Finish the hardwiring by taking the ground cable and wrapping it around a grounding screw.

  • Step Four

Now that the hardwiring is complete, replace the interior panels and/or tuck the wires away so that they are out of sight.

Final Thoughts

Understanding how to power a dash cam is simple as there are two basic methods. Most people either choose between using their 12V power outlet or hardwiring the device.

If you’re aiming for the most aesthetically pleasing option, we recommend hardwiring. However, using the 12V outlet allows you to remove the camera easier if you use it in multiple vehicles.

The most important thing is to make sure that you buy the right dash cam for your needs. Some models are multi-purpose when it comes to power, and others are dedicated to one power type. Without the right choice, you’ll be stuck without a choice between using your cigarette lighter and hardwiring.

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