Constant vs Switched Fuses: Understanding the Difference for DIY Dashcam Installation

If you're planning on installing a dashcam in your car, you'll need to know the difference between constant and switched fuses. Understanding this difference is crucial for ensuring that your dashcam is connected to the right power source and functions properly. In this article, we'll explain the difference between these two types of fuses and provide a step-by-step guide for installing your dashcam using either type.

Constant fuses provide a continuous flow of power to your device, even when your car is turned off. This type of fuse is typically used for devices that need to stay powered on at all times, such as your car's clock or alarm system. On the other hand, switched fuses only provide power when your car is turned on, making them ideal for devices that only need power when you're driving, like your dashcam. Understanding the difference between these two types of fuses is crucial for ensuring that your dashcam is connected to the right power source and functions properly.

Installing a dashcam in your car can seem daunting, but with the right tools and knowledge, it can be a straightforward process. Whether you're a seasoned DIYer or new to car electronics, this guide will help you get your dashcam up and running in no time.

Understanding Fuses

When it comes to installing a dashcam, understanding fuses is an important part of the process. The fuse box is where you'll find the fuses that protect your car's electrical system. Each fuse has an amperage rating, which is the amount of electrical current that can flow through it before the fuse blows and cuts off the current.

There are two types of fuses that you'll encounter when installing a dashcam: switched fuses and constant fuses. A switched fuse is one that only has power when the ignition is turned on, while a constant fuse always has power.

To install a dashcam, you'll need to use a fuse tap, which is a device that allows you to tap into an existing fuse slot. You'll need to choose the right fuse to tap into based on the amperage rating and whether you need a switched or constant fuse.

When installing a fuse tap, it's important to use a fuse puller to remove the existing fuse and insert the fuse tap into the slot. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and follow the proper installation procedure.

DIY Dashcam Installation

Installing a dashcam in your car is a great way to ensure that you have video evidence in case of an accident or other incident. With a DIY installation, you can save money and have more control over the process. Here are some tips to help you with your DIY dashcam installation.

First, you'll need to choose the right dashcam for your needs. Look for one that has good video quality, a wide-angle lens, and a reliable parking mode. You can purchase a DIY installation bundle that includes everything you need, or you can purchase the components separately.

Once you have your dashcam, you'll need to install it in your car. This will involve running wires from the camera to the fuse box and mounting the camera in a good location. You'll also need to connect the camera to a power source, either by hardwiring it or using a cigarette lighter adapter.

To make the installation easier, you can purchase an installation kit that includes all the necessary tools and accessories. This can save you time and ensure that you have everything you need to complete the installation.

As a DIYer, it's important to take your time and follow the instructions carefully. Make sure you understand the wiring diagram and know which fuses to use for constant and switched power. You may need to use a multimeter to test the fuses and ensure that you're connecting the camera to the correct power source.

Wiring and Connection

When installing a dashcam, proper wiring and connection are crucial to ensure that the device functions correctly.

To connect the dashcam to the fuse box, you will need a power cable and a ground wire. The power cable is typically red and should be connected to a fuse that provides power to the car's accessories. The ground wire is typically black and should be connected to a metal part of the car's frame.

When connecting the power cable, make sure to use a fuse tap that matches the size of the fuse you are tapping into. This will ensure that the connection is secure and that the fuse will not blow.

The yellow wire on the dashcam is used to connect to the rear camera if you have one. Make sure to run the cable along the car's interior and secure it in place with cable ties or tape.

Hardwiring Dashcam

If you want to hardwire your dashcam, you'll need a hardwire kit or a direct-wire harness. These kits are designed to connect your dashcam directly to your car's electrical system, allowing it to turn on and off with your car's ignition.

To begin, locate your car's fuse box and identify a fuse that is switched, meaning it only has power when your car is turned on. You'll want to use this fuse to power your dashcam.

Next, connect the hardwire kit or direct-wire harness to the fuse you've identified. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully, as the installation process can vary depending on the kit you're using.

Once you've connected the kit to the fuse, run the wires along the interior of your car, tucking them away neatly so they're not visible. Finally, connect the wires to your dashcam and mount it in the desired location.

Hardwiring your dashcam offers several benefits, including a cleaner installation with no visible wires, and the ability to record while your car is parked. However, if you're not comfortable working with your car's electrical system, it's best to leave this job to a professional.

Mounting the Dashcam

Mounting the dashcam is an important step in the DIY installation process. You want to make sure it is securely attached to your windshield and won't fall off while you're driving. There are a few different ways to mount a dashcam, but one of the most common is using adhesive pads.

To mount your dashcam with adhesive pads, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the area where you want to mount the dashcam with rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth. This will help the adhesive stick better.
  2. Remove the backing from the adhesive and attach it to the bottom of the dashcam.
  3. Carefully position the dashcam on your windshield where you want it and press down firmly to secure it in place.
  4. Wait at least 24 hours before using the dashcam to allow the adhesive to fully cure.

It's important to note that once you attach the dashcam with adhesive, it may not be easy to remove without damaging your windshield. So make sure you're happy with the placement before you attach it.

If you're not comfortable using 3M adhesive, there are other mounting options available, such as suction cups or a mounting bracket. Just make sure whatever method you choose is secure and won't obstruct your view while driving.

Power Supply and Current

When it comes to installing a dashcam, understanding power supply and current is crucial. 

Constant power supply means that the dashcam is always powered on, even when the car is turned off. This is useful if you want to use parking mode, which allows the dashcam to continue recording even when the car is parked. However, constant power can drain your car's battery if you don't use your car for an extended period of time.

Switched power supply means that the dashcam is only powered on when the car is turned on. This is the default setting for most cars, and it's useful for saving battery life. However, if you want to use parking mode, you'll need to change the power supply to constant.

When it comes to current, it's important to know the amperage of your car's fuse box. Most dashcams require a 5V/1A power supply, but some require more. You can use a multimeter to measure the amperage of your car's fuse box, or you can consult your car's manual.

Finally, it's important to note that some cars have a permanent power supply, which means that there is always power going to certain fuses, even when the car is turned off. If you want to use parking mode, you'll need to connect your dashcam to a fuse that has permanent power.

Testing the Installation

Now that you have installed your dashcam, it's time to test it to ensure that it is functioning properly. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Turn on your car and check if the dashcam turns on automatically. If it doesn't, you may need to check your wiring connections to ensure they are secure.
  2. Once the dashcam is on, check if it is recording. You can do this by looking at the screen or LED lights on the dashcam.
  3. Next, test the electrical flow by using a circuit tester to check if the power source is working correctly. This is important because a faulty power source can cause problems with your dashcam.
  4. Finally, take your car for a test drive and check if the dashcam is recording properly. Make sure to check the footage after your drive to ensure that it is clear and free from any glitches or errors.

Remember to test your dashcam regularly to ensure that it is always functioning properly. By following these steps, you can be confident that your dashcam is installed correctly and will provide you with reliable footage whenever you need it.

Safety and Precautions

When working with electrical components, safety should always be a top priority. Before attempting to install a dashcam, it is important to take the necessary precautions to ensure that you do not harm yourself or damage your vehicle.

Firstly, make sure to disconnect the battery before beginning any work. This will prevent any electrical shocks or short circuits from occurring. Additionally, be sure to ground yourself by touching a metal ground point in your vehicle, such as a metal ground bolt or metal prong. This will help prevent any static electricity from building up and potentially damaging your dashcam or other electrical components.

When routing wires, be sure to avoid any moving parts or areas that may be exposed to extreme heat or cold. It is also important to secure the wires using zip ties or other means to prevent them from becoming tangled or snagged.

Finally, be sure to double-check all connections and wiring before turning on the vehicle. If you are unsure about any aspect of the installation process, consult a professional or seek advice from a reputable source.

By following these safety and precautionary measures, you can ensure a successful and safe installation of your dashcam.

Professional Assistance

If you are not comfortable working with electrical components or have limited experience with car electronics, it is recommended that you seek professional assistance. A qualified technician or dealer can help you install your dashcam safely and correctly.

Before seeking professional assistance, review your car's owner's manual and the dashcam's user manual to understand the installation process and any potential issues that may arise. This will help you communicate effectively with the technician or dealer and ensure that the installation is done correctly.

When choosing a technician or dealer, look for someone who is experienced in installing dashcams and has a good reputation. You may also want to ask for references or check online reviews to ensure that you are working with a reputable professional.

Keep in mind that professional installation may be more expensive than a DIY installation, but it can provide peace of mind and ensure that your dashcam is installed correctly. Additionally, professional installation may be required to maintain your car's warranty, so be sure to check your owner's manual before proceeding with a DIY installation.

Excess Wire Management

When installing a DIY dashcam, it's common to have excess wire that needs to be managed. Not only can excess wire be unsightly, but it can also be a safety hazard if it gets tangled or caught on something while driving.

To manage excess wire, you can use a variety of techniques. One option is to use cable ties or zip ties to bundle the wire together and keep it neat and organized. You can also use adhesive clips or tape to secure the wire to the car's interior, keeping it out of the way of passengers and reducing the risk of it getting caught on something.

Another option is to tuck the excess wire behind the car's trim or panels. This can be a more difficult technique, but it can result in a cleaner and more professional-looking installation. You may need to use a trim removal tool to access the areas where you want to tuck the wire.

It's important to avoid cutting excess wire too short, as you may need to make adjustments or move the dashcam in the future. Instead, leave a little extra wire and use the techniques mentioned above to manage it.

Overall, managing excess wire is an important part of a DIY dashcam installation. By keeping the wire neat and organized, you can ensure a safer and more professional-looking installation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a constant fuse and how does it differ from a switched fuse?

A constant fuse, also known as a "hot at all times" fuse, is a fuse that maintains power even when the car is turned off. A switched fuse, on the other hand, only has power when the car is turned on. The main difference between the two is that a constant fuse provides continuous power even when the car is not in use, while a switched fuse only provides power when the car is running.

How do I identify a constant fuse and a switched fuse in my car?

To identify a constant fuse, you can use a multimeter to test the fuses in your car's fuse box. A constant fuse will show voltage even when the car is turned off. A switched fuse, on the other hand, will only show voltage when the car is turned on. You can also check your car's owner's manual or look for fuse diagrams online to identify which fuses are constant and which are switched.

Which fuse should I use for a DIY dashcam installation?

For a DIY dashcam installation, it is recommended to use a switched fuse. This is because a constant fuse can drain your car's battery if the dashcam is left running for an extended period of time. Additionally, using a switched fuse ensures that the dashcam only records when the car is in use.

What is the purpose of an ACC fuse in a car's fuse box?

An ACC fuse, also known as an accessory fuse, is a switched fuse that provides power to accessories such as the radio, power windows, and interior lights. It is typically used for devices that require power when the car is turned on, but not when it is turned off.

Can I hardwire a dashcam without using a fuse tap?

While it is possible to hardwire a dashcam without using a fuse tap, it is not recommended. A fuse tap is a safe and easy way to tap into your car's electrical system without damaging the wiring. It also allows you to easily remove the dashcam if needed.

What are the empty fuse slots in my car's fuse box for?

Empty fuse slots in your car's fuse box are there for future use. They are typically labeled with the amperage rating and location of the fuse that will be needed if a device is added that requires power from that slot. It is important to never add a fuse to an empty slot without first checking your car's owner's manual or consulting with a professional.