I made my first big investment in my life back in September: buying my first car. The car I bought is nothing special; it’s a 2008 Honda Civic. No matter what car I drive, I want to be able to protect my investment if I get into a not-at-fault accident. This makes having a dashcam a great idea.
Why a Dashcam?
Most people, like me, bought a dashcam due to one major reason: Cameras tell the truth. If you get into an accident, insurance companies will take the video footage and adjust fault. The video footage acts like a witness to the action. Although it may not always work out in your favor, having a dashcam can still help you. For example, in some countries like the United Kingdom, you can get a discount on your car insurance just for using a dashcam. Unfortunately, my insurance provider in the US doesn’t have this kind of deal, but it’s nice to hear that it does exist.
There are quite a few companies out there that make dashcams, such as Garmin, Blackvue, Thinkware and Viofo. Most of these dashcams range in cost from about $50 to over $300. I personally use a dashcam from the cheaper end of the spectrum: the Viofo A119. I bought mine off eBay as a ‘return item’ for $50. It has built-in GPS, and records 1440p video at 30fps, as well as 1080p at 60fps. Unlike some of the cheaper cameras, the Viofo A119 is also uses a stealthy design that blends in to the windshield.
When you start to go above the $100 mark, you’ll find some higher end cameras from brands such as Blackvue and Thinkware. Some of these dashcams offer dual cameras, so you can get a video of the front and back of the car. Some of these cameras also offer Wi-Fi, so you can download video footage right off the camera for instant playback.
If you live in a hot climate, I would highly recommend not getting a cheaper (under $50) camera unless it uses capacitors instead of a battery. A lot of cheaper dashcams have batteries that can expand under intense heat. One of these cameras to avoid if you live in a hot climate would be the Yi Dashcam. The A119 I use uses a capacitor, so it can withstand the heat.
In order to find the right dashcam for you, a good place to start is r/Dashcam on Reddit. The sidebar contains a list of commonly recommended cameras fitting your requirements.
Installing a dashcam
Installing a dashcam is quite easy. Most dashcams come with an adhesive mount, suction cup mount, or both. When mounting, it’s the best idea to put the camera as close to the center of the windshield as possible, ideally behind the rear-view mirror. This isn’t as necessary if your dashcam has an adjustable camera, like the Viofo A119 I use.
When it comes to powering the dashcam, you have 2 options: running it off a 12V socket, or powering it from the fusebox, which is called hardwiring. Hardwiring is the preferred method for most; it’s more permenent and allows for a cleaner install. It also allows the use of parking mode features, as the camera can be left powered on while the car isn’t running.
Which budget dashcam should I get?
These are my recommendations for budget cameras.
- I want the best overall cheap camera. Viofo A119 ($90)
- I want a camera that performs very well at night. Viofo A119S ($120)
- I want a cheap dashcam with parking mode. Thinkware F50 ($90)
- I want a cheap camera that has Wi-Fi. Yi Dashcam ($50)
- I want an action cam/dashcam combo. Mobius ($80)
Which premium dashcam should I get?
I didn’t do much research on higher end cameras; check r/Dashcam for suggestions.