If you have a dashcam installed in your car, you’ll naturally want to get the best footage from it. Connecting a dashcam to the cigarette lighter to save the recording straight onto your smartphone is an easy and convenient solution for many people. However, with increasing vehicles coming equipped with USB ports, there’s no need to stick your camera into the lighter section anymore.
The process to connect your dashcam to your car’s USB port is relatively simple and can be accomplished within minutes, without any external power source aside from the 12-volt cigarette lighter. This article will discuss the benefits and connecting capabilities of a dashcam with the USB slot.
What is a Dashcam?
A dashcam is a simple video camera that you can mount on the windshield of your car. The main purpose of installing a dashcam in your vehicle is to record any incidents while driving. Incidents include changing lanes, getting cut off, getting rear-ended, running a red light and others. In short, a dashcam can be used to record your journey on an automobile.
Components Of A Dashcam
A dashcam consists of the following components:
・ An internal power source.
・ A video and audio recording circuit board (a.k.a., the camera).
・ A USB connector with a cable to connect the battery pack to the camera’s circuit board.
・ A microSD card as a storage device.
1. Internal Power Source
The most important component of the camera is the battery. It helps to provide energy and power to record videos and take pictures. Although a dashcam can be used without its own individual power source, it will only last for the length of time it has been plugged into your vehicle’s USB slot.
To make a dashcam work, you must first attach it to an external power source such as your car’s charging slot. This provides power directly to the camera’s circuit board via the USB connector on the camera.
2. Video and Audio Recording Circuit Board (Camera)
The camera is the main component that records videos and takes pictures. It has its own internal power source. In addition to that, the camera, at times, needs the power from your car’s battery to record videos and take pictures. The video and audio recording circuit board’s dual power source allows it to record all the details of your journey without any problem.
3. Connecting the battery pack to the camera’s circuit board
Connecting the USB connector on the circuit board allows the camera to be mounted underneath your windshield or even on your car’s dashboard. It allows the camera’s battery to be charged using power from your car’s cigarette lighter or charging slot.
4. Micro SD Card For Storage
The microSD card is the main component of the camera that records videos and takes pictures. It has its own internal power source and is connected directly with the camera’s circuit board for recording videos. The MicroSD card can be upgraded to exceed 256GB in size. It also has its own USB connector with a cable to allow you to connect it to your computer for downloading files from the camera’s memory.
Sections for Dashcam Connectivity
Cigarette Lighter Section
This is the main component of your car’s power supply. It delivers power from your car’s battery to all the other components in your vehicle. The cigarette lighter section is a round socket with a protruding prong plugged into an electrical vehicle charger or a 12-volt power adapter.
USB Port Section
This section is located in the front panel of many vehicles and houses all electronic devices connected to it. It usually has many ports labeled as USB, AUX, VIDEO, and other similar ports. To get a better idea about the connection capabilities of your car’s USB port, you can refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual or check with your service center.
Can A DashCam Work With USB Port Section?
Yes, it is possible. However, some factors should be considered:
1. The manufacturer’s instructions suggest that you need to use USB ports with a minimum wattage of 2A. The manufacturers of many car models with a USB port have not specified the minimum wattage and, hence, you should check with your vehicle’s service center or owner’s manual.
2. The USB port that you are using must be compatible with the dashcam’s circuit board. In most cases, an open slot is compatible with the camera; however, a close-fitted slot could also be compatible with your camera’s circuit board if it has a long enough USB port cord to connect it to your camera’s circuit board.
3. The USB port in your car must be able to provide enough power for the camera’s circuit board. This, in turn, will ensure that your dashcam can take pictures and record videos without any hiccups.
Different Methods of Connecting a Dashcam
There are different methods on how to connect a dashcam.
1. Wiring Method
a) Draw out the wire to the cigarette lighter, then connect it to your dashcam. This method is optimum if you plan to keep your dashcam in a fixed position or for an extended period.
b) Cut the wire and connect it to your dashcam directly. You can do this if you’re planning on using a dashcam for a short period.
c) Make a connection with the car fuse box. Work on this point if you’re planning on moving your dashcam from place to place.
d) Tap into the car’s fuse box. This method should only be used by a professional. If you’re not an expert, don’t try this method because it might cause harm to the whole electrical system of your car.
2. USB Cable Method
a) Connect the dashcam with a USB cable. You can use one that fits into the cigarette lighter. The other end should have a USB port that can be connected to your camera’s circuit board.
b) Connect the dashcam directly with your laptop or computer using an HDMI cord. This method is best if you plan to do long videos or take pictures in different locations.
3. RCU Remote Cord Method
a) Connect your dashcam to your RCU if you’re planning to connect it to the vehicle’s computer system. It will enable you to control the dashcam from your vehicle’s Bluetooth dashboard.
b) Use a remote cord for connecting your dashcam with other devices in your car. This method is recommended if you want to connect the camera with a GPS, iPod or other electronics.
4. With a DVD Player
a) Connect your DVD player to the dashcam using an HDMI cord.
b) Use an optical cable from your DVD player to the dashcam that has a compatible connector. This method is ideal if you want to play movies and pause while recording videos.
Different Types of Cords for Connecting Your Dashcam
The dashcam has a power cable that connects it to your car’s cigarette lighter or the charging slot in your vehicle. This cable is about 6 feet in length and is equipped with a USB connector at the other end. The USB connector allows you to connect the dashcam’s circuit board with the power cable. You can plug it into any USB port and make sure no other device is connected to that port.
This cord is a cable connection that allows you to control your dashcam from another location. There are also RCU remote cords that you can use to connect your camera with other devices in your car. These include key fobs, electronic dashboards and others.
This cable can be used to connect your dashcam with your car’s video player. It enables you to playback all the videos that you have recorded. The other end has a jack that can be connected to the video player in your car.
Steps of Directly Connecting to a USB Slot
There are two methods on how to connect your dashcam to a USB slot. One is through the USB slot on your car, and the other is through a power bank. Find which one is convenient for you.
1. By using the slot on your car
This method requires plugging in your dashcam’s USB cable, and it will start charging right away. You don’t need any special tools or adapters for this method. However, this method can only be used when your car is turned on.
2. Using a power bank
You can use this method when your car is turned off. The dashcam will get charged as soon as it’s plugged in the power bank.
Benefits For Using The USB Charging Port On A Dashcam
1. Limitations Of Cigarette Lighter Socket
Using a cigarette lighter socket might not be ideal for your dashcam. It’s not recommended if you’re planning to do long videos or take an extended period of time with your camera. Your dashcam may not be able to generate enough power or stay connected.
2. Better Quality
It is possible to get better quality videos and photographs using the USB connection because it’s safer than using your car’s cigarette lighter socket. You won’t need to worry about your dashcam getting damaged because of the heat produced by the cigarette lights. Also, you can use your dashcam’s USB port to charge various other devices like mobile phones, laptops and other gadgets.
Another advantage of using a dashcam’s USB connection is the flexibility that it provides. You can use the dashcam as a USB/camera/power bank, and you will be able to save a lot of money when traveling. The USB connection comes in handy when you’re traveling by car, boat or plane because it works anywhere with a 12V DC adapter.
Benefits of Using Cigarette Lighter Socket for Your Dashcam
Using cigarette lighter sockets is more cost-effective than using a USB connection. When the cigarette lighter socket is used, it only requires a car charger, but you will need a micro USB to HDMI cable if you’re using a USB port.
It is more simple to use the cigarette lighter socket for your dashcam. You only have to plug it into the car’s cigarette lighter, and you don’t need any additional adapters or cables.
3. Charging Other Devices With Cigarette Lighter Socket
Cigarette lighter sockets are designed to manage multiple devices at the same time. It can be used for charging your portable MP3 player, GPS, camera, among others. You can also use it as an emergency charger in case of a power outage.
4. Readily Available
The cigarette lighter is readily available in all cars. So in case, there are no USB ports around, it would be much easier to connect your dashcam with a cigarette lighter. There are no special instructions on how to do it, and it does not have any extra power consumption.
USB Port Vs. Cigarette Lighter: Which Is Better?
In general, as long as you don’t have a lot of accessories or devices on your dashcam, the USB port is more convenient than using the cigarette lighter. USB ports have lower power consumption compared to cigarette lighters. You will only need minutes to recharge the battery. However, if you use other USB gadgets in your car, such as mobile phones or iPad devices that require a lot of power, it would be better to use a cigarette lighter.
Secondly, the USB port on your dashcam is safe to use because you will not overheat it. The cigarette lighter is a common issue for dashboard cameras. If you use the cigarette lighter, then your dashcam gets extremely hot.
Thirdly, you have to purchase a USB unit before connecting your dashcam with the car. However, if the cigarette lighter is used, no additional accessories are needed since it’s already built into your car’s system.
In conclusion, it is up to you to use the USB port or the cigarette lighter adapter. In case of rare electrical problems, it would probably be better to use the USB port.
Since there are many pros and cons of using a cigarette lighter socket in your car, you should always consider the areas where you use your dashcam. If you live in an area that does not have a lot of sunlight or park your car in a place without any electricity supply, it is better to use the USB method. On the other hand, if you have many gadgets that need to be charged, you should use the cigarette lighter adapter. Whichever method you choose, make sure to get the best camera for your car and if you’re looking for one, then take a look at our list of Best Dash Cams.
Q. What causes the battery to drain?
A. Battery drain is caused by leaving your dashcam running and disconnected from a power source. The camera will continue to run until the battery has drained out.
Q. Why do I have to use a microSD card with my dashcam?
A. A microSD card is required to store your important files before the memory of your dashcam is full. If you connect your dashcam to a computer, you can transfer files from the microSD card to your computer.
Q. How to convert the VGA resolution into HD resolution?
A. To convert from VGA to HD, you need to take a photo of the full-screen video. Then upload it as a single file, and it will be in HD format.