Choosing a car battery can be a daunting task. Last week I wrote a blog on understanding car batteries. It would appear that you folks want an instructional on how to choose a battery as well. Look no further. We are here to feed your blog cravings and put a rest to all the confusion! If you have an audio system that is roughly 800 watts or more, than you will most likely need a battery. Sit back, relax and get ready to receive some priceless knowledge to your cranium!
1500 Amp 12V Power Cell
The RMS wattage of your system is capable of will determine how big of a battery you will require. All you need to do is take the CA (Cranking Amps) and match it to at least the amount of total watts your system is pushing. For example, if you have a 1400 watt system, you will need at least 1400 cranking amps. It doesn’t hurt to go a little above to say 1800 cranking amps. Simple right? The Kinetic HC1400 would be the perfect choice for said system.
You might at first be hesitant to choose a battery because you are not sure if it will fit in the stock location under the hood. There are two steps to ensure the dimensions are compatible with your vehicle. First, measure the overall height including the posts of your current battery. You want to make sure that your replacement battery does not protrude or surpass the battery posts of the stock battery. In some cases, the aftermarket battery posts can be taller than the stock battery and still fit in the location. Also, keep into consideration the post configuration to ensure you do not incorrectly connect the positive and negative terminals. You must really use your own discretion because every vehicle is going to be different. Second, check the length and width of the aftermarket battery to make sure it fits in the stock battery housing. Once these two steps are completed, then you can compare your dimensions to the dimensions listed on our website.
Starter Versus Secondary Battery
200 Amp Battery Isolator
A lot of people are under the misconception that just adding a secondary battery instead of replacing the starter battery is the best way to go. If you add a secondary battery but keep the stock starter battery, than you will still have an inefficient lead-acid battery eating up all your alternator power. There are a lot of advantages to replacing the starter battery first. Your vehicles entire electrical system will be more efficient, your headlights be brighter, and you won’t have to deal with corrosion. The typical reasons for which you should add a secondary battery are if your system is extremely high wattage, or if you are a pretty serious SPL competitor. If you must add a second battery, then a battery isolator will only be necessary if you want to run your system with your vehicle off for extended periods of time. The isolator will ensure that the secondary battery is the dedicated battery for your audio system and will make sure that the starter battery is not drained. It would be wise to choose a deep cycle battery for your secondary battery, if you’re using an isloator, as it will possibly be drained multiple times. It never hurts to do the big 3 upgrade, too! Attached is a knowledge base article to show you how: “Big 3 Upgrade“
There you have it. Hopefully this clears up a lot of questions and has set you on the right path to choosing a battery that is right for you. Upgrading your battery will cause your sound system to be great success, very nice!
These little guys should be your best friend. These are the most rock solid way to terminate a wire into another. Simply insert your two wires into either end of the connector, and crimp each end really tight. These connections are the most popularly used in stereo installs due to their reliability and durability.
When you need to rout some power cable down the chassis of your car, use a distribution block to spit off your connections. If you are installing multiple amplifiers, run a main power wire to the location they are mounted, and use a distribution block to properly downsize and split your main power cable.
One of the most important things to do when making wire connections is ensuring they will not come loose. You do not want your connections making contact with any other wire or bare metal on the vehicle, unless you want a fireworks show in your car. Heat shrink is very important when using ring terminals on large power cable, and also when running wires through and around your engine bay.
You don’t need to go crazy. Sometimes, all it takes is the use of a little sound dampening material on your license plates and behind each speaker to drastically reduce vibrations that naturally occur during your thumpin’ music. Use as much or as little as needed, but never overlook this material. If you find that your car has more rattle than a lance-headed rattlesnake, then it’s time to go shopping.
It is important to not strain any portion of your electrical system. Relays can be used to create a switched 12v positive power source that is hard wired directly to the battery. In fact, you can run almost all of your accessories off a relay. If you have multiple accessories that are triggered on by your car stereo’s remote turn-on wire, it will only be a matter of time before your components start malfunctioning due to too much current draw on your head-unit.
Fuses & Fuse Holders
Be sure you fuse every power wire for every accessory that is added into your vehicle. Nothing would be worse than having one of your electronics short circuit, and cause a fire within your vehicle. There are many different types of fuse holders for every gauge wire.
Split Loom Tubing
For bundles of multiple wires, use split loom tubing to make a “group” of wire that is easily manageable, and easier to look at. Split loom tubing helps with organization of wires, and with the use of zip ties it will protect the insulation on your wires from things like heat, corrosion and sharp corners or screws.
Installing a car audio system for the first time can be a lot of fun. It can also be a great learning experience if something goes wrong and the installer has to figure out what happened. This blog contains 7 common mistakes first time installers make and how to avoid them.
1. Lack of Planning
Before you buy anything or pull off any vehicle panels, make sure to plan out exactly what you want. The better the initial plan is, the better (and easier) the installation will be. Ask yourself these questions to help you plan:
What do I want in my car?
What is possible to install in my car?
How much am I willing to spend?
These simple questions will help you have a vision of your upgraded car, provide a realistic outcome, and establish a budget for the project.
2. Not Disconnecting the Battery
Whenever you do anything with the electrical system of a car, always remember to disconnect the negative battery terminal. This will prevent an electrical short within the system and allow you to safely work on the car.
3. Mismatched Subwoofer and Amplifier
Installing incompatible equipment can cause all sorts of problems in a car. Aside from the possibilities of damaging the vehicle’s electrical system or ruining the new equipment, mismatched audio components don’t sound as good as they should. Double check the subwoofer to ensure that it is the correct impedance and configuration for the amplifier. Make sure amp does not under power or overpower the subwoofer.
An improper ground can cause a wide variety of problems with an aftermarket car audio system. Typically, this is the first question that is asked when the Sonic Electronix techs troubleshoot a system over the phone.
5. Running Power & RCA Signal Cable Next to Each Other
To the first time installer, running the power cable and the RCA signal cables next to each other seems like a convenient and time-saving solution. In reality, this is a bad practice because it will create noise. The end result is degraded sound quality.
The stock electrical system is not designed for the power demands of high-end aftermarket audio systems. When installing multiple or high-powered amplifiers, but sure to see if a new car battery is needed. Larger batteries can be installed to provide more power to the system. Another solution is to do The Big Three upgrade. That involves upgrading the wire under the hood to allow more efficient current flow to the electrical system, specifically the upgraded car audio system.
7. Not Using the Proper Tools
Tools can make or break the installation. Having the proper tools for the installation can save dash panels from snapping and prevent door panels from breaking. Spending a few extra dollars for a tool can prevent spending hundreds of dollars if the installer has to order a new part from the dealer.
Installing a new car audio system can be a lot of fun. However, that fun can be ruined when problems come up. Learn from the mistakes of others and follow the advice above. Following these 7 points will save you time, money, and a major headache.
When adding aftermarket audio equipment to your vehicle, it is extremely important to understand the limitations of your car’s electrical system. Stock batteries, stock alternators, and stock wires can only transfer so much power throughout the vehicle. By upgrading each of these three components in your car, it enables your vehicle to be able to safely have high-powered equipment installed. In this blog, we will outline the Big Three Upgrade. Installing an aftermarket alternator and a Car Battery are excellent choices, but not discussed here.
The Big 3 Upgrade is a fairly simple upgrade that involves replacing some of the factory wiring under the hood of the car. The following are the three wires that need to be replaced and installed in the car.
Alternator Charging Wire: Replace the positive charging wire that connects the vehicles alternator to the positive car battery post.
Engine Ground: Replace the cable that connects the engine ground to the vehicle’s chassis.
Battery Negative: Replace the cable that travels from the negative car battery post to the vehicles’s chassis.
The important part of this upgrade is replacing the standard cable with thicker cable that is cable of higher currents. Typically, it is recommended to go straight for the thick 0/1 gauge wire to ensure compatibility with high-performance alternators and batteries. However, some systems with stock alternators and batteries can use 4 gauge just fine. Remember to use proper techniques when creating your new cables and grounding them. Be sure to keep the new power/ground cables away from anything under the hood that might melt, cut, or damage the newly installed cables. Be sure to make solid terminations with ring terminals at the end of each cable. Be sure to ground your cable to a proper surface cleaned of any dirt, debris, rust, or paint. A wire brush or some sandpaper will easily prepare the metal surface. After properly installing the Big Three Upgrade in your car, your audio system will receive more power, sound better, and your equipment will last longer. For more information on the Big 3 Upgrade, check out the following video by Mike Stiers from Maxxsonics.
Finishing up a car audio system is a triumph in itself. Making the last connections or crimping your last connector in place provides a unique feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Now it’s time to listen to your system, you turn the keys and queue up your favorite track and enjoy you’re newly put together audio system for the first time. After a bit of fine tuning you’re sitting back in your seat enjoying audio that’s beyond anything your vehicle was ever thought capable of. On your first trip around the town you notice a flickering light in front of you. That flickering light is you my friend. Your headlights are dimming.
This is a common issue in car audio. Your vehicle’s factory electrical system has about 30-40% reserved for things like Power Windows, Door Locks, Cabin Lights, and other electrically driven components. This leaves about 65% of your electrical system open for aftermarket audio equipment. These figures are a rough estimate but are true for most vehicles. Now that you’re adding an audio system with 800 watts of RMS power, how will this affect your vehicles electrical system? In a lot of cases, you won’t notice anything immediately. Sometimes you’ll notice dimming headlights within a week. What you’re not noticing is a lot more important than what you are seeing.
Your electrical system will sometimes just need a small bandage to help store the power closer to your amplifiers. This is where a Car Audio Capacitor can help you the most. Let’s hypothetically say you are running anywhere from 500-800 watts of RMS power in your system. A Car Audio Capacitor will hold a charge. That’s it. It doesn’t regenerate charges or stabilize voltage; however some capacitors may have an LED display that shows you the voltage at the capacitor. How this helps is during bass heavy music or just loud music that requires a lot of power at once. Your capacitor can quickly discharge this power to your amplifiers and pull more charge from your battery. This can be efficient and you can even hear a difference after adding capacitors in some cases.
A Power Cell will store a charge and also regenerate itself. In situations where alternators are extremely stressed by working hard to meet up with the demand of power you will want to consider a power cell with dry glass matt technologies, like the Kinetik HC1400. These are different from the standard Optima Red Top and Yellow Top batteries you see which are found to have a higher cranking amp rating as opposed to “Amp Hour” rating. A high amp hour rating is important because this is basically your energy pool you can work off of. This allows for the power cell to hold a larger charge so your alternator doesn’t have to work as hard to provide constant power. In a lot of situations, a Power Cell like the HC1400 is the best option to help bandage a “bleeding” audio system, or to even help revive an alternator that is slowly dying. It’s important to consider your electrical system before buying aftermarket equipment.