In my ‘06 Corolla I have a 1000w Kicker DX1000.1 amp to power my subs… When I am jammin’ my lights dim and I know it is because my car cannot put out enough power. If I upgrade my measly stock alternator (80 amp) to a high output alternator (~200amp) will I have any problems? Will amps kill my cars electrical system or is it volts that wreck it?
I would be more worried about wrecking your hearing…You need to figure out why you must call attention to yourself by disturbing the peace…
But if you insist, YES a 200 amp alternator, correctly installed, will cure your need for more power…But it’s not that easy…Big alternators need multiple belt drives or at least a completely different belt arrangement…to carry the heavy load imposed by the oversized alternator…
Another solution is to power the amp from a 100 amp deep-cycle boat battery carried in the trunk…
My son got our old 1988 Impala as a college car. He installed a killer sound system with 6 CD changer and amplifier in the trunk. He needed a new super battery and a heavy duty police/taxi style alternator to get the needed juice.
Even if you don’t play the music loudly, you still need lots of amps. Volts don’t kill your system; it stays at 12 or so. Amps need big cables and power source.
Deep cycle batteries in the trunk that are charged when parked at home seem the best alternative. A local DJ had me install such a setup in a minivan. But I agree that the db level will be tough on the ears. It was difficult to be near the van with the system on, even well below the maximum output. The thumping was severe enough that it might cause difficulty driving. Such a status symbol is likely to fade fast.
Huge capacitors can store a lot of power and deliver it instantly, but that power has to come from someplace…The extra “Boost” battery can be wired to the existing alternator, but it will be over-worked and prone to premature failure…If the TIME the Big Sound system is cranked up is limited, say to 20% of the cars on time, then the 70 amp alternator should be able to keep up during the “rest” periods…
Here’s a guy who one day will be suing his employer under work comp laws for a hearing loss. OSHA always assumes the employer is responsible unless it can document off duty behavior, which most employers can’t do.
People a block away could suffer hearing loss but I think that’s the idea…That’s the GOAL of these systems! To turn money, lots of money, into high-energy noise…
If all you have for your stereo is a normal head unit (stock or common aftermarket) and this 1,000 watt amplifier, you will probably be okay with your stock alternator. Adding a capacitor will eliminate the light dimming issue you are having. Adding a high output alternator probably will not, but it would help keep up with the power demand if you add on to what you currently have. A high output alternator that is working correctly will not damage any part of your car’s electrical system. The only reason to add a high output alternator is if you want bragging rights for installing one, and those would be pricey bragging rights. For what it’s worth, when I went through this phase as a teenager (and it didn’t last more than a year and a half or so, then a window-rattling, thief-attracting stereo no longer seemed like a life necessity), I had a 600 watt RMS amplifier for a pair of subs in a Cavalier with a 95 amp alternator. If I turned the volume way up, the headlights would dim with the bass. I didn’t do anything about it other than keep the volume at a level such that I did not attract police attention. At normal volumes, the headlights would not dim. I never added a capacitor and never had a problem with the charging system or battery due to the amplifier’s power demands. My father continued driving that car when I was done with it for another ten years, and it went to the junkyard rusted out with the same alternator and its reman date tag from 1997 attached to it (the car was a 1990 model year).
Whatever alternator you use, the voltage will be regulated. The alternator will only deliver enough current (amps) as is needed. You may need thicker wire from the alternator to the battery or distribution point, and maybe a bigger fuse or fuse link if the alternator wiring is protected.
The only thing I see as possibly wreaking havoc is that every time your bass hits, it imposes a severe demand on the car’s electrical system, dropping operating voltage and causing power surges, which can eventually damage the car’s electronics.
I would be curious as to how much of this current draw is being routed through the existing factory wiring, ignition switch, and so on.
Unless it’s kept independent of the factory electrical system with the use of relays and so on I can see problems brewing with alternator plugs, fusible link ends, or any one of a number of other connections.
The son of a friend of mine got a job babysitting new oil wells some years back and he had a rig like what is mentioned. His dad got real tired of having to go out to some dark oil lease at night with jumper cables to bail the kid out when his boomin’ amp ran the battery down PDQ.
Back in the 1940s and 1950s, ham radio operators with mobile equipment had to deal with the same issue with a vacuum tube transmitter. Chrysler products had higher output generators than cars from other manufacturers, so many ham radio operators used Chryslers. In many makes, a truck generator with a higher amperage output was used. For transmitters requiring a lot of power, a dynamotor was often used. One advantage of the 6 volt systems used in cars through the early to mid 1950s was that the wiring was a thicker gage and could carry more current than the wiring on the later 12 volt systems.
If you are intent on blowing out your eardrums with a high powered system, I think that deep charge boat battery to power the system is the way to go. It would be completely independent of your car’s electrical system.
Here is another idea–sell your Corolla and buy a Ford Crown Victoria that was used as a police car, or see if your friendly Dodge dealer will order you a Dodge Charger with the police package. The police package includes high output alternators with the battery and heavy wiring harness to operate the emergency lights, communication equipment and so on.
. One advantage of the 6 volt systems used in cars through the early to mid 1950s was that the wiring was a thicker gage and could carry more current than the wiring on the later 12 volt systems.
Funny how perspectives change over time. The reason they went to higher voltage was to reduce the necessary wiring gauge and therefore reduce the cost. Power is power. If you need to supply 1200 watts, there are many ways to slice the egg. Do the math and you may discover the old wire gauge was insufficient for that amount of power even though they had a penchant for over-designing things back then.
Theoretically, if the voltage is doubled, the current is cut in half for the same amount of power. However, on old vacuum tube equipment, the current draw was not a lot less for 12 volt equipment as opposed to 6 volt equipment as I remember. I had a Ham license at one time, but did not have mobile equipment. However, I don’t remember anybody back then having a transceiver that drew anything near 1200 watts. Of course, back in the 1940s and 1950s, nobody dreamed of having audio equipment where the bass notes that draw the power could be heard in the car in the next lane.
P=V X I, as always (power = volts X amps). At peak, a ‘1000 watt’ amp could draw 83 amps, but your ears would be bleeding. At 120 watts you’re at a more reasonable 10 amps, not accounting for inefficiency in the amp. So let’s say you need an additional 20 amps on average. Any 100 amp alternators available? That and the biggest battery you can fit might handle your setup.
People who followed this thread might find this ad from a ham radio on-line classifieds site interesting:
"Will amps kill my cars electrical system or is it volts that wreck it?"
It’s amps. Voltage remains at 12 VDC. And with any luck, yes, it will kill your electrical system. I’m certain your neighbors would agree with me.
Regarding the hearing loss comments, this is a real issue. I had a neighbor who blasted his music constantly, and both of his kids have serious hearing loss. I jave another friend, retired secret service, who will suffer serious hearing danage by spending too much time around Air Force One.
I strongly urge you to reconsider your “jammin’”. Unless you want to spend your middle age with a hearing aid and your old age deaf.