High Output Alternators provide the current you’ll need for LOUD car audio
To avoid the dreaded red light of despair in the suddenly silent night, you will need to upgrade your electrical charging system. High Output Alternators provide amperage that your stock alternator cannot produce.
If the Big Three Wiring Upgrade failed to alleviate your electrical issues in your car or truck, then upgrading the alternator might be your next step toward a high performing car audio system.
Did increasing the current flow through the system solve problems like headlight dimming or did it make them worse?
This is because your amplifier is trying to draw more amperage than your stock electrical system can create.
Boosting the flow of current in the vehicle will only increase the problem if the charging system can’t keep up.
This means your headlight dimming could worsen after upgrading your electrical charging systems wiring. That is if the alternator cannot supply adequate power for both your cars electrical charging system and stereo.
High Output Alternators increase the amperage of your system.
Relying on a stock electrical system for the massive amperage that car audio amplifiers require, while still supplying your vehicle with the current it needs will result in low voltage and other problems.
When the alternator can’t provide the necessary amperage for your system, the battery tries to make up for the amperage deficit.
When the battery cannot make up that deficit, the power supplies fail and the amplifier goes into protection mode.
Stock electrical charging systems typically fail to provide the level of current that 2,000 Watt+ car audio builds require.
Wait, wasn’t that what the Big Three was for?
Upgrading the Big Three is the first step toward a solid electrical system.
It increases the diameter of the straw our current flows through.
Adding a high output alternator is the second step. It increases the force of water that flows through the straw.
There will be costs to keep in mind and hurdles to overcome.
Depending on the current your vehicle and install require, you may need to make modifications to your engine and create space for a small power plant under your hood.
If you’re chasing numbers, prepare to play Tetris in your engine bay to make room for the alternators and the bracket that will be holding them. Championship rings don’t come easy or cheap.
If you’ve read this far and are starting to rethink 150’s, hair tricks, and broken windshields, you can still enjoy considerable bass with a single high output alternator in your car or truck.
As a general rule, you need about 100 amps of current for every 1000 watts of power generated. Add that to the base electrical requirements of your vehicle for the total amount of amp-hours you need for your system.
You can use this formula: watts/volts = amperes
Example: You plan to install a 2,000 watt amplifier. Your vehicle’s voltage is 13.5 volts. Divide 2,000 watts by 13.5 volts. The result is 148 amperes of current. If your stock alternator output is 85 amps, add 150 amps for a total of 235 amps needed to safely operate the amp.
How to choose a High Output Alternator
There are a number of reputable manufacturers to choose from. As a starting point JS Alternators is popular. We do not advise buying an alternator on eBay.
The difficulty is that one size does not fit all and many high output alts are vehicle specific.
Your alternator’s rated output will typically refer to the amperage output at high-RPM’s like highway speeds. When you’re idling, or running at a low RPM, your alt may only be capable of providing a small fraction of that rated power.
The best practice is to do some research on what works for your specific vehicle.
Learn what hangups may be associated with that. Like what is ‘too much’ for your engine, how much amperage does your car or truck need to operate, and determining the best use of your available space.
For instance, if you have an economy car, you may be limited to 300 amps or fewer. Vehicles with small engines may not be able to effectively operate alternators larger than 300 amps.
You may find your engine dying when idling if you are using too much amperage.
It is a balancing act. Check the data available for your vehicle, your desired application, and then read the reviews.
Many High Output Alternators are made to order, so you’ll have some time on your hands while you’re waiting for it to be manufactured and shipped.
Every alternator installation will be different. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions to install yours. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions.
Who needs a second battery?
Whether you need a second battery for car audio is determined by your application and by how much power your amplifiers are using.
Is this a daily driver for work commutes, grocery runs, and nights out on the town?
Is this a nasty, ground-pounding, Sound Pressure Level record-shattering beast?
Last week, we covered High Output Alternators, following the Big Three Wiring Upgrade.
If you’re following along, you’ve done the Big Three Wiring Upgrade and added a High Output Alternator.