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Thread: Low Stock Audio and Charging Issue

  1. #21
    Maximum Bitrate
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Grandville, MI
    I feel the need to also comment on something that oldspark has said. I am sorry if it is slightly off topic because I believe it is a safety issue and needs to be said.

    Capacitors can be helpful in a system and help when some things are not quite up to par. It can be far cheaper to buy a quality Capacitor than upgrade the wiring/battery/alternator.

    OldSpark is suggesting that you use the capacitor to mask the symptoms and I am suggesting that you use the capacitor as a band-aid on the problem that causes the symptom. If the car has never had a problem with flickering lights and you add an amplifier and suddenly now have a problem you want the capacitor near the amplifier. But before looking at using a capacitor you need to make sure all of your connections are solid and your wire is of sufficient size.

    A new alternator will do absolutely nothing about flickering lights. All a new alternator will do is charge your battery. If your battery charge is not being kept high enough THEN you look at a new alternator. Sometimes a new higher output alternator will add noise to your system because of higher RF. If your wires are of sufficient size and solidly connected and you still have issues with voltage drops then it is your battery is not up to the task and either is just worn out or too small. I have seen competition systems pushing 5000 watts on a factory 90 amp alternator but they used high quality batteries designed for car audio. Capacitors CAN help here but they have to be mounted very close to the amplifiers since that is the source of the power drain. And cruising around at low speeds with your lights on bright, with the seat heaters running and keep rolling your power windows up and down... Then you might need a bigger alternator...
    I actually had a 2000 watt system on a factory 60amp alternator with 1/0 wiring and never had any issues once I went to a high quality battery. I had Optima red tops but they took out two alternators. I went to a single US AMPS brand high quality battery and never had an issue. (US AMPS is out of business from what I have heard but the technology is in most of the newer high quality batteries I have seen.)

    Ok and now for the pitch about bad placement of Caps. My comments will stand as stated and I will not respond further because I do not want to hijack this thread and get into trouble. However it is important if you are considering capacitors that you understand what happens with them. Hopefully oldspark will learn something from this as well... And because they have already been mentioned and could cause a car fire or serious damage to your cars wiring system if you follow oldsparks directions I thought it would warrant further comment.

    A capacitor normally will do nothing. You will not see it in the line at all unless you have a voltage drop. When it sees a voltage drop it will try to make up the difference as long as it has a charge. Once the charge gets released in whole or part from the capacitor it will try to recharge from the incoming power.

    I have never personally used a capacitor but my understanding is they go in series with whatever you are powering.

    Here are some issues with following old sparks suggestions.
    You CAN place the capacitor in parallel with the car battery but then it will operate as if it was a secondary battery and be used for everything.
    If you place it inline with your lights your lights may not flicker but it is masking the symptom. The problem is that the system wide voltage is dropping dangerously low. You may solve the lights flickering but the rest of your car may still be way undervolt. Electric devices are funny.. They try to maintain the same wattage no matter what. So if you increase the voltage the amperage reduces, if you decrease the voltage the amperage increases to try and produce the same wattage. If your system is under voltage then you are likely pulling more amperage through the wiring. This higher amperage at a lower voltage is bad for the wiring and can make previously fine wiring way under powered causing hot wires that could end up catching on fire or at a minimum burning up devices or damaging your alternator. (Such as blowing up a headlight...)

    If old spark has been putting a cap near the headlight and it has worked without issue it is because the cap took enough load off the rest of the OEM system that it sort of worked but it is still the wrong location. So it worked more out of luck than reason. With the same vehicle with something high draw such as a seat heater engaged you may find damage to equipment in the vehicle that doesn't make sense since the capacitor masked the flickering headlights and the under voltage system. Since the alternator is putting out its required voltage you don't get a trouble code either. You may end up with burned up wiring which takes a long time to show its self or other issues.

    With capacitors you have to realize they don't care, if they see a voltage drop they will try to make it up. If your wire is not of sufficient size it will get toasted. I have also seen where someone had the main feed wire too small to the amplifier system. They had flickering lights so someone told them to put a capacitor on the system but to mount it under the hood. It worked for a while.. But the wire was undersized and eventually burned up causing a fire in the vehicle. So if you DO decide to use a capacitor put it by the high energy usage device that is pulling down the rest of the system. And make sure your wires are over sized to prevent any issues. Do NOT use a capacitor to mask the symptom.

    Ok I am done with this.. I will likely never use a capacitor in any system I do other than for diagnostic purposes.

    But realize that your battery is also a capacitor. It is a slow release capacitor but it is one none the less.

    Having said all of that it sounds like loose wiring, improper wire size or bad ground was your issue all along.

    Be very careful of bad grounds because they can cause spikes in your system that can take out very expensive OEM equipment, cause fires in your car or cause general mayhem.
    Last edited by redheadedrod; 02-18-2013 at 12:06 PM.

  2. #22
    Raw Wave
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    I'm not suggesting a cap to mask the symptoms. I suggested a cap to fix the problem. You should know how anti-cap I am (for audio system dips etc) but they still have their legitimate uses - eg, protection of audio-system AGM batteries, and filtering of dips for other devices.
    Though a cheaper and smaller ADM battery is far more effective, they aren't always practicable nor desirable - eg, needing battery isolators etc for headlights or HUs etc.

    And capacitors in simple terms are no different to batteries in a circuit though batteries have their inherent ~30% inefficiency. And they are paralleled to the circuit, not in series (they block DC current).

    As to either a cap of a battery loading the system, I've addressed that in numerous other threads. They both REDUCE the so called "strain"{sic} on the charging (and battery) system.

    As to wiring, that's the same issue regardless of battery or capacitor.

    As to the capacitor or battery location, that depends on the intent.
    Because audio buffs want dip-less output, they are placed close to the amp.
    Likewise, if dip-less lights are desired, they are placed close to the lamps.

    As to voltage "dropping dangerously low", I have no idea what you mean.

    And I have never used a cap. I doubt that I ever will. (Except for typical non-audio and non-lighting applications.)

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