Car audio requires a lot of power to run, and the more the power, the more the sound. If you need a huge bass response or want your music to be louder, then you’ll need to upgrade your car audio system, and this will come with extra power requirements. When designing the stock electrical system, car manufacturers’ do not plan for aftermarkets audio equipment, and that’s why it may not have enough power for that big bass note.
If you install a big car amplifier of subwoofer without making the necessary power adjustments, other car’s electronics may lack enough power as the car system tries to compensate for the extra power. The part of the car that is responsible for producing all energy is the alternator. The alternator charges the battery, which in turn runs all electrical systems. Often, the factory alternator that came with your car is enough to take care of your power needs, but it may not be big enough to accommodate the required power back-up in between bass notes.
The best way around it is to keep the sound system at a level the alternator can accommodate. However, there are a couple of options to consider if you want a powerful sound to go along with a powerful system. The idea here is not only about ensuring that there is enough power for your sound system; instead, it is a matter of ensuring that all other parts are receiving ample power without compromising your listening experience.
Bigger battery vs. adding a second battery
Ideally, the factory battery in your car is designed to power many functions of the vehicle, including lights, power locks, windows, and the sound system. However, there are a few tell-tale signs that you can use to tell if you need to upgrade to a bigger battery that can output enough power to meet all your needs.
For instance, when your lights begin to dim when playing music, especially when listening to songs with more bass, then maybe it’s time to get a bigger battery. You may also notice corrosion building up around the connection area, or the windows are moving more slowly than usual.
If you have enough room to replace your factory battery with something more significant, then this is one of the easiest ways to increase your power demands. This will allow you to use your stereo for an extended period before recharging your battery.
However, adding an auxiliary battery, specially dedicated to the car audio, helps relieve the load off the starter battery. A car audio battery will fill in the power gap by providing more power when your system needs it. The second battery also comes in handy if you like to play music without having to start the engine
It is always a good idea to use some isolator to prevent the stereo system from draining power from the starter battery. Additionally, both batteries are wired together to act like one unit but with twice the capacity. However, the car audio battery also acts as a second load since the alternator has to keep both batteries charged. As such, consider this option if you run a lot of electronics or play more music when your car is off.
Consider a high output alternator
As earlier stated, the alternator is the ultimate source of power for your vehicle. It charges your battery/b batteries so that they are to go every time you start the engine. If your sound system draws more power than your alternator can supply, then the best solution should be upgrading your alternator to a higher output one. This may be an expensive solution, but it one of the most effective ways of ensuring high-audio performance without compromising other car’s functions.
A good aftermarket alternator should offer between 250 and 300 ampere, which is more than enough current to run both your car system and your stereo too. The easiest way to determine the size of the alternator you need is by establishing the extra amount of power you need on top of the current supply. However, always consult your installer when deciding on the correct output size of your new alternator to make sure that it will meet the needs of your system.
Although this may not be the ultimate solution, adding a car audio capacitator may add little juice when everything else gets tough. This may be especially useful when you experience dimming lights and other minor issues that arise when playing at higher volumes. The capacitator acts as a reserve tank of emergency current to allow the amplifier to run at relatively higher output levels. But it is important to keep in mind that this will not be enough for robust sound systems. If your stereo is still drawing a lot of power, especially at low and mid volumes, the stiffening cap will not be a viable solution.
If you are not planning to make modifications to your stereo or add any extra electronics, then you are ideally just fine with your factory battery and stock alternator. Installing a beefed-up sound system can overload your power system, and you may lack enough power to go around. Getting a bigger or extra battery is a great idea, but in instances where you are considering a lot of power, a new alternator needs to be the primary consideration. The amp ratings of the accessories should give you a reasonable estimate of your car’s electrical load so that you can act accordingly.
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