The 7 Best Dash Cams With Parking Mode 2020

If you want to keep your car safe from vandalism or hit-and-runs while it’s parked, you may be wondering which dash cam is best fit for this purpose. A dash cam with parking mode can record video even when the car’s engine is off.

Modern dash cams provide various levels of parking protection: The more expensive models support connecting remotely to your camera over the cloud, so you can see video and receive an alert on your phone when something happens. The more affordable cameras support the classical buffered and other parking modes, but don’t have cloud connectivity.

Let’s start with an overview which level of protection you can expect for what price.

Overview: Dash Cam Prices Vs. Parking Protection

Thinkware U1000 dual dash camBlackVue DR750S-2CH dual dash camThinkware F800 Pro front and rear car cameraViofo A129 Pro 4K dash camViofo A129 front and rear dash camViofo A119 v3 car cameraVava CD-001 dash cam
ModelThinkware U1000BlackVue DR750SThinkware F800 ProViofo A129 ProViofo A129 DuoViofo A119 v3Vava CD-001
Approx. Price$540
Amazon
$370
Amazon
$350
Amazon
$250
Amazon
$170
Amazon
$120
Amazon
$120
Amazon
Remote ViewYesYes-----
Cloud AlertsYesYesYes----
Buffered ModeYesYesYesYesYesYes-
Time-LapseYesYesYesYesYesYes-
Simple ModeYesYesYesYesYesYesYes

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Contents

What Is Parking Mode?

Dash Cams Ordered By Levels Of Parking Protection

What Is Parking Mode?

You’d like to learn just how exactly parking mode works? What the difference is between buffered and time-lapse parking mode? And how to power a dash cam when the car is off without draining the car’s battery? Then make sure to read the following sections before you buy.

Put simply, parking mode allows you to keep your dash cam running while your car is parked and the engine is off. That way, you’ll have video footage in the case of a hit-and-run or vandalism incident.

In order to not fill up its memory card with useless files in which nothing is going on, the dash camera should only save files when it detects an event. An event can either be an impact that is detected by the camera’s G-sensor, or a motion that is detected visually in the camera’s field of view.

All modern dash cameras have a G-sensor that can detect impacts to your car, but only some of them also support optical motion detection. Keep in mind that using motion detection makes sense when you’re parking in a quiet spot. On a busy street however where people are walking by all the time, it may lead to your camera recording all of the time, wasting precious battery power as well as storage space.

Different Kinds Of Parking Mode

1. Simple parking mode: If an impact or motion is detected by the camera, it will come alive and start recording, hopefully catching the perpetrator. This type of parking mode is by far the most energy efficient of the three. The problem with simple parking mode is that in the time it takes the camera to wake up and start recording, whoever damaged your car might already be gone.

2. Buffered parking mode (recommended): The camera records continuously, and saves the video footage to internal memory. When an impact or motion is detected, a video clip typically starting 10 seconds or so before the event (and ending 10-20 seconds after) will be saved to the camera’s SD card. The clip will be placed in a special write protected folder so it can’t accidentally get overwritten. The camera will also show an alert when you get back to your car, so you will be aware something happened.

3. Time-lapse mode: An alternative to the above modes is time-lapse mode, in which the camera shoots a still picture every second or so (1fps). This allows you to watch a time-lapse version of what was going on around your car while you were gone. Some cameras may also switch to normal recording for a certain period of time if they detect an event.

So which of the three modes is best?

Usually, we prefer buffered parking mode, as you’ll get a video of everything that happened before and after the event that triggered recording.

However, when you’re parked on a busy street or in a parking lot with lots of movement, motion detection might kick in all the time and fill your memory card with scores of useless videos. In that case, time-lapse parking mode is better.

When parking for long periods of time (several days), simple parking mode is preferable, as it consumes the least amount of energy.

Choosing The Best Dash Cam For Parking Mode

A dash cam that will be used for parking surveillance should fulfill the following criteria:

  • Should be dual channel ideally (but see below).
  • Discreetness: You probably don’t want your dash cam to be too visible, especially if you will be using it for parking surveillance. In a sketchy neighborhood, a large shiny camera might attract the attention of thieves.
  • Video quality: Should obviously be as good as you can get. If going for a dual channel dash cam, get one that records at least 1080p resolution both ways. 4K resolution is better at day, but can perform worse during the night.
  • Reliability: This one is huge. You don’t want a dash cam that you can’t rely on, especially if you’re going to have it running for long periods of time.
  • SD card: Last not but least, make sure to get a memory card that’s made for heavy use. For further details, refer to our article about Which SD Cards Last Longest In Dash Cams.

Single Channel Or Dual Channel?

For maximum protection when parked, a dual channel (front and rear) dash cam is very much preferable as it doubles your field of view and therefore increases your chances of seeing who damaged your car.

That being said, single channel dash cams cost less, often record at higher resolutions, and have better video quality than dual channel devices. Also, if you usually park backed up against a wall, a single channel dash cam can be sufficient.

If you’re really going for optimum protection, you could even get two single channel cameras to have the best of both worlds. However, this also doubles the installation and maintenance work that will have to be done. You’ll also have two SD cards to deal with that won’t be synchronized, so this option is probably a bit over the top for most people.

Power Supply: How To Avoid Draining Your Car’s Battery

Most dashboard cameras’ internal batteries have a very low capacity, mainly intended to allow the device to shut down gracefully and not lose any footage in case of a power cutoff. For the camera to keep recording even when ignition is off, the dash cam needs to be connected to your car’s fuse box with a hard-wiring kit instead of simply plugged into the cigarette lighter.

Modern hard-wiring kits will protect your car’s battery from depletion.

A fancier, but also more expensive, solution is to install an external battery pack that powers your dash cam. The battery pack holds enough charge to keep your dash cam running for anywhere some 12 to 24 hours, depending on which model you choose and how much power your camera consumes.

A battery pack eliminates the risk of depleting your car’s main battery. Also, there won’t be a load on the car battery while the car is off, which some modern cars may interpret as “parasitic” which may cause them to cut the circuit.

This setup basically serves as an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for your dash cam. It will recharge while your car is running, typically charging in less than an hour.

Popular, high quality battery packs include the Cellink NEO and Blackvue’s B-124.

Cellink NEO Battery Pack for Dash Cams

The Cellink NEO is a high-end battery pack with more than 76Wh capacity. Charges in 45 minutes. Order from: Amazon US / CA / UKeBay US / AU

For even higher capacities, expansion batteries are available both for the Cellink and BlackVue battery packs. You can even connect several expansion batteries in series to achieve the desired overall capacity.

Note that external batteries are completely optional. A simple hard-wiring kit is sufficient for parking mode to work.

Dash Cams Ordered By Levels Of Parking Protection

Now let’s have a look at the best dash cams with parking mode, ordered by the level of protection they provide. We’ll start with the highest level of protection, and work our way downwards to the simpler setups.

Best Protection: Live View & Alerts Over Cloud

Dash cams that support live view over the cloud offer by far the best level of protection. These cameras will send you an alert when they detect an incident. You can check the video feed from your parked car at any time on your phone, and take action if necessary as in move your car out of harm’s way, contact law enforcement, call up your biker buddies… (just kidding!).

Of course, dash cams with remote live view are also the most expensive. Dual dash cams with this feature start around $400. If you only need a forward-facing camera, you can get it for about $100 less.

For cloud connectivity to work, you need an independent wireless access point in your car so the camera can be connected to the internet at all times. Access points are usually not included with the camera.

Thinkware U1000: Live View & Alerts Over Cloud (4K)

Thinkware U1000 True 4K Dash Cam

Price: Amazon US / CA / UKeBay US / AU (affiliate links) – more countries & vendors

Resolution: 4K front, 1440p rear

Forward Video Quality: Very Good

Rear Video Quality: Fair

Reliability: Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple, Time-Lapse, Buffered* (*needs extra radar module)

Other Features: Live view over cloud, alerts over cloud, integrated GPS, Wi-Fi, capacitor, lock file button, overheat protection, CPL filter (optional)

Power Supply: Hard-Wiring Kit ($30, protects car battery) or External Battery Pack

Full Review: Thinkware U1000 Review

Thinkware’s flagship camera, the U1000, is one of the most advanced dashboard cameras on the market today. It can record at 4K resolution forward, and up to 1440p to the rear. One of its unique features is its radar-activated buffered parking mode (which needs an extra radar module though, priced around $100).

This is one of the most expensive dash cams currently available, and you can spend quite a bit more on all the optional extras (you’ll need at least a hard-wiring kit for parking mode to work, or a battery pack). If money isn’t an issue, this is the best parking mode dash cam you can get at this time.

BlackVue DR750S: Live View & Alerts Over Cloud (1080p)

BlackVue DR750S front and rear car camera

Price: Amazon US / CA / UKeBay US / AU (affiliate links) – more countries & vendors

Resolution: 1080p front and rear

Forward Video Quality: Very Good

Rear Video Quality: Good

Reliability: Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple, Time-Lapse, Buffered

Other Features:  Liver view over cloud, alerts over cloud, integrated GPS, Wi-Fi, capacitor, lock file button

Power Supply: Power Magic Pro (BlackVue’s trademark hard-wiring kit, $40, protects car battery) or External Battery Pack

Full Review: BlackVue DR750S Review

The BlackVue DR750S is a classic. It’s been the first dash cam to support remote live view over the cloud, and it is still a best seller. Make sure to get it with a Power Magic Pro or a battery pack if you’re going to use the DR750S in parking mode.

A great feature of the BlackVue dash cams is that you can select which areas of the field of view should trigger an event when motion is detected. This is to reduce unnecessary recordings that might be triggered by trees moving in the wind, etc. Check out this graphic that explains the concept:

BlackVue's region-based motion detection

A word of caution: This camera has been known to suffer from overheating, so if you live in a hot climate, you may want to consider a different model.

There’s also a 4K version of this camera, called BlackVue DR900S. It can record up to 4K front and 1080p rear. Overall, we found that the DR750S is better though.

High Protection: Cloud Alerts Only

Some dash cams, like the Thinkware F800 Pro, can send an alert to your phone when an incident is detected, but do not support remote viewing over the cloud. At $300, the dual channel version of the F800 Pro is about $100 cheaper than the Thinkware U1000, so you can save some money if you don’t need the live view feature.

Thinkware F800 Pro: Alerts Over Cloud

Thinkware F800 Pro all black front and rear car camera

Price: Amazon US / CA / UKeBay US / AU (affiliate links) – more countries & vendors

Resolution: 1080p front and rear

Forward Video Quality: Very Good

Rear Video Quality: Very Good

Reliability: Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple, Time-Lapse, Buffered

Other Features: Alerts over cloud, Wi-Fi, integrated GPS, overheat protection, capacitor, lock file button

Power Supply: Hard-Wiring Kit ($30, protects car battery) or External Battery Pack

Full Review: Thinkware F800 Pro Review

Thinkware’s F800 Pro can connect to the cloud to send you alerts when an incident is detected, however it doesn’t support remote live viewing. It does support buffered, time-lapse, and impact-triggered parking modes though.

Good Protection: Buffered Parking Mode

If cloud connectivity sounds like overkill to you, the next best level of protection is a dash cam that supports buffered parking mode. Buffered mode gives you the best chance of finding out whoever damaged your car in your absence.

Front and rear dash cams with buffered parking mode start around $150.

Viofo A129 Pro – Buffered Parking Mode, 4K Resolution

VIofo A129 Pro front and rear dash cam

Price: Amazon US / CA / UKeBay US / AUAliExpress (affiliate links) – more countries & vendors

Resolution: 4K front, 1080p rear

Forward Video Quality: Very Good

Rear Video Quality: Good

Reliability: Very Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple, Time-Lapse, Buffered

Other Features: 2″ screen, Wi-Fi, capacitor, lock file button, overheat protection. Optional extra remote lock file button. Optional CPL filter.

Power Supply: Hard-Wiring Kit ($15, protects car battery) or External Battery Pack

Full Review: Viofo A129 Pro Review

Viofo have become the go-to brand in the mid-price dash cam sector. All of their cameras now support buffered parking mode, so we wholeheartedly recommend them if you don’t need (or don’t want to pay for) cloud connectivity.

The A129 Pro records high-quality 4K video to the front, and 1080p to the rear. Like the other Viofo dash cams, it supports all three types of parking mode (buffered, time-lapse, and impact-triggered).

Viofo A129 Duo – Buffered Parking Mode, 1080p Resolution

Viofo A129 Duo front and rear car camera

Price: Amazon US / CA / UKeBay US / AUAliExpress (affiliate links) – more countries & vendors

Resolution: 1080p front and rear

Forward Video Quality: Very Good

Rear Video Quality: Good

Reliability: Very Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple, Time-Lapse, Buffered

Other Features: 2″ screen, Wi-Fi, capacitor, lock file button, GPS included in mount. Optional extra remote lock file button. Optional CPL filter.

Power Supply: Hard-Wiring Kit ($15, protects car battery) or External Battery Pack

Full Review: Viofo A129 Duo Review

The A129 Duo is another great front and rear dash cam by Viofo that records good quality 1080p video, both front and rear. It looks quite similar to the A129 Pro from the outside, but it is slightly smaller. Also, it is about $100 cheaper than its 4K brother.

If you prefer a taxi cam (that records the interior of the car instead of the view through the rear window), check out the Viofo A129 Duo IR.

Viofo A119 v3 – Buffered Parking Mode (1080p, Forward Video Only)

Viofo A119 v3 dahs cam with GPS and CPL

Price: Amazon US / CA / UKeBay US / AUAliExpress (affiliate links) – more countries & vendors

Resolution: 1080p

Video Quality: Very Good

Reliability: Very Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple, Time-Lapse, Buffered

Other Features: 2″ screen, optional GPS in mount, optional CPL filter, capacitor

Power Supply: Hard-Wiring Kit ($15, protects car battery) or External Battery Pack

Full Review: Viofo A119 v3 Review

If you don’t need a rear camera, the Viofo A119 v3 is an excellent choice. It supports buffered, time-lapse, and simple parking modes, and records very good 1080p video. Extras such as a CPL filter and GPS are available.

Basic Protection: Other Parking Modes

Many dash cams support non-buffered parking modes, such as time-lapse or impact-triggered modes. There are too many of these to list here, just have a look at the links if you’re interested.

Easiest To Install: Internal Battery Powered

Maybe your priority isn’t to have optimum protection, but to get a relatively low-cost dash cam that’s simple to set up and that supports a basic parking mode so you have some evidence in case anything happens? In that case, you may want to consider a dash cam with an internal battery.

Internal batteries are not ideal in dash cams because they are relatively heat sensitive. High quality dash cams usually come with a capacitor instead that can hold just enough charge to safely power down the camera in case of a power cut. If you live in a hot climate, we don’t recommend internal batteries.

However, if you’re living in a relatively cool region and are looking for a dash cam with parking mode, and can’t be bothered to get an extra battery pack (or hard-wire your camera to the fuse box), dash cams with an internal battery make for a really quick and easy installation. Just stick the camera to your wind screen, plug the power cable into your cigarette lighter plug and you’re ready to go.

One of the most popular battery-powered dash cams with simple (impact-activated) parking mode is the Vava Dash Cam, which is available in single and dual channel versions.

Vava Dash Cam – Internal Battery Powered, Quick & Easy To Set Up

VAVA Dash Cam VA-CD001

Price: Amazon US / CA / UKeBay US / AU (affiliate links) – more countries & vendors

Resolution: 1080p

Video Quality: Fair

Reliability: Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple

Other Features: Wi-Fi, internal GPS, remote control button, can easily rotate the lens 360 degrees

Power Supply: Internal Battery (included)

Full Review: Vava CD-001 Review

The Vava Dash Cam is available in single or dual channel versions (i.e. front only, or front and rear). It is one of the most popular dash cams that can run on an internal battery, so setting this one up for parking mode is dead easy. A nice feature is that you can swivel the lens 360 degrees around a vertical axis, so you can record the driver’s or passenger’s windows, or to the rear when needed.