Upgrading Your Vehicles Electrical System
Adding a high powered car audio system to your vehicle could definitely make your driving sessions much more enjoyable, but it can also do some damage to the electrical system if you do not upgrade. Most vehicles electrical systems are 12 volt DC systems, when the vehicle is not running, the primary source of power is the battery or power cell. When the vehicle is running, the alternator is the primary source of power. Depending on your car’s factory electrical system, you may not have enough power to run your aftermarket stereo system, that’s when it’s time for an electrical system upgrade. There are a few different options when upgrading such as adding another battery, upgrading your alternator, or adding a capacitor.
Adding a Second battery
The main function of your cars battery is to start the vehicle and provide power when the vehicle is not on. Many people are under the impression that adding a second battery will cure their electrical problems; this is not the case at all. Adding a second battery to your vehicle will only provide you with more “parking-lot” listening time when the vehicle is not running. After the vehicle is started, the second battery becomes another load on an already overworked factory alternator. If you are trying to correct a problem such as an overload of the charging system from the stereo system, it will not be eliminated by adding another battery. However, if you do decide to add another battery, you must decide whether you want to use a battery isolator, or to simply wire the batteries in parallel. If you are using two different types, models, or ages of batteries, it is necessary to use an isolator. The isolator will allow the alternator to charge each independent battery as needed as opposed to seeing both batteries as a single load. Parallel wiring does not require an isolator, but the first thing to consider in parallel addition of batteries is that it is absolutely essential that both batteries be the exact same type, model, and should be as close to the same age as possible. If you do decide to add another battery, I suggest adding a Stinger SPV70 Power Series Battery. This dry cell battery is perfect for high power systems up to 2100 watts.
Upgrading Your Alternator
The alternator is the primary source of power when the vehicle is running and the single most important modification you can make when upgrading your electrical system. If you experience frequent dead batteries in your vehicle, it is a good indication that your electrical system isn’t providing enough power and it may be time to upgrade your alternator. When you add a high powered audio system to your ride, the factory alternator is usually too small and has to look to the battery for some extra power, which shortens the batteries life-span. Upgrading your alternator will provide your vehicle with more juice to run all of your electrical components, including your car audio stereo system, without drawing power from the battery.
Adding a Power Capacitor
Car audio capacitors are a great addition to any aftermarket car audio system that is in need of a little extra power. A power capacitor stores power until needed for high electrical demands such as heavy bass notes. Most capacitors usually consist of two metallic plates separated by a dielectric. If you have a problem with annoying dimming headlights every time your stereo is cranked up, a capacitor is just what you need. The dimming is caused by a voltage drop created by the large power demands of your amplifier. The power capacitor helps fill in the gaps for the energy required by your amps. Capacitors use the measurement unit “farad” to determine the size and power output. Here at Sonic Electronix, we like to use the ratio of “1 farad equals 1000 watts” to determine the size of capacitor needed to supply enough power to an amplifier. When adding a power cap, try to use one that is equal to or close to the power output of your car audios system, using a larger capacitor will not damage the audio system, but it will put an unnecessary strain on the vehicles electrical system. Tsunami Capacitors are known for being high quality and we have plenty on our website to suit your needs.
Upgrading your electrical system is one of the most overlooked aspects when adding a high powered car audio sound system to your vehicle. Depending on your situation and the type of system you installed, be sure to to enhance that electrical system for ultimate performance.