What gauge wire should I run to my amplifier?

Alpine PDX Installed

Using the right gauge wire for your car audio amplifier install is of utmost importance. You will be connecting directly to your vehicles charging system. So any mishaps can wind up costing you quite a bit to fix afterwards. So do yourself a favor, spend the extra couple of dollars to get the thickest wire possible for your amplifier. The following are a few things to consider when selecting the gauge of wire that is appropriate for the job.

Length Of The Wire Run

The shorter the distance that you have to run your power wire, the smaller the gauge of wire you can run. Its that simple. So plan your amplifier location accordingly. Mounting your amp underneath one of your front seats is the first choice to shoot for. Obviously you will need to consider available space prior to purchasing your amp. If you were thinking ahead, then not only will you keep your wire run short but your amp will also be out of sight and less likely to induce a break in.

If it can't fit under the front seat, check the middle row if you have an SUV or the back seat if you have a third row or a truck. Doing this can keep you under a 17 foot run in most vehicles. And again keeping your amplifier out of sight.

You also have the option of mounting your amplifier in the trunk, but that will mean you will have to take more of your car apart. Also, if your subwoofers are in the trunk with your amplifier and there is a break in, good bye to your whole system. Try to avoid mounting your amplifier on the box itself. If you do, every time you have to remove the box you will have to unplug and rewire your amplifier.

One piece of advice, don't let your friend install your amplifier unless they are a professional.

Why Bigger Really Is Better

You can never go to big, but going to small can be an instant fire hazard. Think of it like a highway, the more lanes the current has to flow the better. Also, what if you want to upgrade your subwoofers later? You will likely need more power at that time. If you run the smallest and cheapest wire now, you will have to buy new wire later in order to compensate. So why not run the biggest wire your amplifier can handle now. You will thank yourself later. 

Calculate Your Current Flow

You will need to know what the maximum amount of current your amplifier could be asking for at any given time. That can vary because music is dynamic so always err on the high side. You can usually just go right to the fuses mounted on the amp. If there aren't any externally mounted fuses, check the manufacturers website to see what it is internally fused at. 

For example, if you have two fuses and they are 30 amps each, then you have a max of a 60 amp draw before those fuses pop. Take that number 60 and multiply it by 12 volts, and your system has a potential for 720 watts of current flowing through your power wire at any given time. Then you can use this guide to using the right size power wire with the numbers you have to figure what size wire you should run to your amplifier.

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