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Dash Cam Installation – To Hard Wire Or Not?

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Dash Cam Installation - To Hard Wire Or Not?

With dash cams growing in popularity, more and more people are asking the same question.

“What’s the best way to install a dash cam?”

In this article we’ll take you through the different dash cam installation methods and share details of the pros and cons of each.

What Are The Options Available For Installing A Dash Cam?

Typically you can use a dash cam straight out of the box by connecting it to your car’s cigarette lighter or charging the device’s battery.

The other option that’s becoming increasingly popular is to have your dash cam installed so that it becomes a permanent part of your interior.

There are pros and cons to both types of installation:

Unfixed Dash Cam Installation

  • Flexible
  • Easily removed when not in use
  • Can be powered via the cigarette lighter
  • Most feature a battery that can be charged
  • If the battery fails or your cigarette lighter is in use, the camera won’t work
  • With some insurers an unfixed device won’t deliver cost savings
  • When used with the cigarette lighter, an untidy lead could get in your way
  • You’ll need an adapter if you want to use more than one device with the cigarette lighter

Fixed Dash Cam Installation

  • Can help reduce Insurance Premiums
  • No untidy wires that could get in your way
  • The dash cam is always on, leaving no concerns about running out of battery
  • Your cigarette lighter is kept free; handy if you need it for other devices
  • There is an extra cost to having them professionally fitted
  • If you sell your vehicle you’ll lose your camera unless you have it uninstalled
  • If a technical issue occurs with the camera, it’s less easy to fix or replace

So, Which Installation Method Should I Use?

A key factor to consider is how often you intend to use your dash cam. If it’s once in a blue moon during a short journey, you might be better off keeping it unfixed; using the internal battery or the lead supplied coupled with your cigarette lighter.

If, however, you intend to use it frequently, for longer journeys, or you have multiple devices that might need to use the cigarette lighter to power them, having your dash cam hard wired could make more sense.

Another thing to consider is whether you're hoping to get insurance premium discounts by using a dash cam. If so, a number of insurers have a prerequisite that the dashboard camera is a properly installed, permanent fixture, within your car interior. 

How Do You Fit A Dash Cam?

An unfixed installation can usually be done quite quickly, straight out of the box. Most dash cams are attached to the back of the rear view mirror.

Fitting a dashcam

This is normally done with either double-sided tape or suction cups. If using your car cigarette lighter to power the device, you’ll need to connect the lead for the camera to work.

A fixed installation or hard wired install means the dashboard camera becomes a permanent feature in your car.

The power cable is connected directly to the car’s fuse box and you don’t have to worry about unsightly wires or power running out at a crucial moment.

With the added complexity of having a dash cam fitted like this, it’s recommended to get professional help.

Are There Garages That Specialise In Fixed Dash Cam Fitting?

There are a number of larger garages and car part retailers that offer to fit your dash cam, upon purchase. Dash cam fitting specialists who provide aftermarket solutions also exist. Some of these are mobile fitters who can come to you at a time to suit.

Installations like this can be very fiddly and, unless you have experience of auto-electronics, it’s advisable that you use an expert if you want your dash cam fitted permanently.

What Are The Benefits Of Having A Dash Cam Professionally Fitted?

A professional fitter will be able to install your camera faster and more safely because they do it everyday. Practice makes perfect, as they say! From a time-saving point of view, hiring a professional is definitely the best way forward.

If you use a reputable garage or retailer, you’ll also be covered via their insurance if anything goes wrong with the installation (i.e. if they damage your interior or break the camera etc).

As if their expert advice and guidance isn’t enough, most will be able to help with the camera set-up too, as part of the install process. This will give you the opportunity to get the most out of your device as soon as you drive away.

For more help on the right dashboard camera to buy check out our dashcam reviews section.