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Thread: How to hook up an Amp power properly?

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate archaic0's Avatar
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    How to hook up an Amp power properly?

    Dumb question, I know, but I'd like some input on an issue that I've seen on almost every amp I've owned.

    Every amp I've owned has a screw terminal for the power/ground/remote input and these terminals are never anywhere close to how big they need to be for the size of power wire and fork or ring terminal called for.

    I usually end up shaving down the large power wire so it's small enough to fit in a fork terminal crimp on connector. That just doesn't seem right though. If I'm going to pair an 8 guage power wire down to 10 or 12 to fit on the screw terminal, then it kind of seems pointless to start that big doesn't it?

    I understand that the long distance from the battery to the trunk can introduce loss though, so should I run a large gauge for the long run and then use a terminal block to transition down to a smaller wire to actually screw to the amp?

  2. #2
    Newbie lilwillywilly's Avatar
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    either use big wire to a dist. block in the rear, then guage down. or buy a better amp, if your amp will not accept atleast a 4 guage wire, than either it doesnt need it, or it is crap, that simple.
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  3. #3
    Constant Bitrate archaic0's Avatar
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    I've owned Fosgate and MTX amps in the 500-600 watt range that only had the tiny standard #10 screw terminals and so they only lend themselves to a nice fit with 12 or maybe 10 gauge wire, so I'm not entirely on board with the crap thought, but if the screw terminal can be used for a gauge of what wire size needs to be run from the terminal block then that's what I needed to know.

    I'm not a 2000 watt guy, so I just must not have come into contact with amps that really actually need a 4 or 8 gauge wire running to them from the closest terminal block. I've seen friends with 1000 watt setups and leading brand amps though that still don't seem to be much bigger if at all.

    Thanks for the input.

  4. #4
    Car Audio Moderator durwood's Avatar
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    Just follow this chart and you will be fine. The advantage to running bigger wire can also help you out later if you want to add a larger amp or multiple amps. Others will tell you go all the way and do it big. It's really something you have to decide if it will be a problem later on.

    As a side note, copper and aluminum prices have risen over the last few years and some companies are skimping on power wire, so you might not get what you pay for. (Don't ask me what companies but I know it is happening and have seen it first hand).

    My amps only accept 10 gauge (2 pairs) (actually it's more like 12 gauge) so they must be crap.

  5. #5
    Constant Bitrate archaic0's Avatar
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    Thanks, I was looking for such a chart the day I posted this thread and couldn't find it. I had run across it before and searches for it came up empty.

    I should clarify that I always run a large wire from the battery back to the trunk area, 4 usually although I've only got an 8 right now because that's the extra wire I have laying around. It's just then from the terminal block to the amp that had me curious.

    Right now I've got a 300 watt amp driving a single 12 and my main 8 gauge wire with a 50 amp fuse is doing fine running that plus my CarPC and a power inverter for misc things to run or charge in the car. I haven't pulled 50 amps to pop the fuse yet so I'm not worried at the moment.

    When I look at a new amp I might go ahead and up the main run to 4 although that chart shows that an 8 gauge wire can do up to 100 electrical amps and that should allow for a 600 watt amp. While it's always recommended to use a higher wire gauge then needed, I'll wait and see how a new amp runs on my current setup. If my wire gets warm then I'll definately upgrade it.

    Is there some cheap and easy inline ammeter that we can use in a 12v setup? I have a meter for 120 volt AC systems, but nothing for low voltage DC systems. I've seen capasitors with meters on them, but that's just DC volts, right?

  6. #6
    Car Audio Moderator durwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by archaic0 View Post
    Is there some cheap and easy inline ammeter that we can use in a 12v setup? I have a meter for 120 volt AC systems, but nothing for low voltage DC systems. I've seen capasitors with meters on them, but that's just DC volts, right?
    It's called a current probe. It doesn't actually go inline but instead uses induced EMF to convert to a voltage which your DMM reads. Just remember, music is dynamic, not like test tones and it will not be quick enough to detect spikes or peaks.

    here is an example of one that I have

    http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/item....re&dir=catalog

  7. #7
    Constant Bitrate archaic0's Avatar
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    Yeah, messurements of test tones would be estimates or maximums that aren't really realistic when compared to music playing, but some idea of if I'm drawing 20 amps or 100 would be helpful.


    I could always just start using fuses to test. Throw a 20 amp fuse in and see if I pop it, then move up the list until I don't pop, then increase that for a margin and use that to size everything.

  8. #8
    Variable Bitrate Nerd2's Avatar
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    Just to back you up archaic0, i have trouble with this. I'm running 10awg to an amp and i have to trim the exposed end to make it fit in the amp connector

  9. #9
    Constant Bitrate archaic0's Avatar
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    Good, I'm not the only one out there that's looked at the situation and patched it to work but wondered why the heck I had to do that...

  10. #10
    Newbie lilwillywilly's Avatar
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    Upon much searching, i found blade connectors that will accept up to 4 guage wire. we planned on running a fosgate amp in my uncles truck, but come to find out the mosfets in it were blown, he had a kenwood lying around so we used that, however, planning on using the fosgate, we ran 4 guage. Since this was a nice clean factory looking install in a brand new truck, i didnt want to go cutting the 4 guage up just to make it fit, luckily i found the blade connectors at a flee market of all polaces. They are the standard, what is it 1/4" wide, but the metal on the end is a little thicker, so they will fit most applications, but im sure the added thickness will cut down on any current loss that may occur.

    Also, I retort my previous statement about the ammps being crap, i did a little research, and companies make connectors like that on amps so people can use blade connectors, and not have to just chove a wire in a hole, guess it makes for a cleaner install.

    As a side note, i checked my car, and my mono amp has a big hole for 4 guage, but my 4 channel has the "cheap" screw down things. (insert foot in mouth)
    1997 grand am GT BLACK ON BLACK!!
    Alpine IVA-C800
    Alpine DVA-5205
    Kicker KX3 crossover
    Kicker DS 650.2
    Kicker DS 525
    Kicker KX200.4
    Kicker KX400.1
    Kicker 12 L7 dual 4
    2.75 cubes tuned to 27 ish

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