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Old 09-24-2012, 05:05 PM
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Default Electrical for Dummies: Big 3, alts, batteries, etc...

Not a finish product... Yes copy paste, my own work, from ROE so there are ROE links till I find CACO links that are appropriate.


I've seen many posts asking which brand/type/best battery to buy and I will tell you now there isn't a ULTIMATE battery for audio. There are many quality brands out there and many batteries you should stay away from. The sole purpose of this thread is to provide a one stop guide for quality battery brands and provide many useful links to assist in selecting the right battery, selecting and building up a quality electrical system to help support and keep your system healthy...

Here is a great guide of the electrical system and its components:

Electrical System Explained - Realm of Excursion

BEFORE starting any kind of system it's best to start with looking at the big 3.

Whats the big 3?

Discussed in detail here:

DIY - Taking The Mystery Out Of "The Big Three"... - 8th Generation Honda Civic Forum

There are 3 main connections:

1) Alternator to battery positive
2) Battery negative to chassis
3) Chassis to engine

Especially in our cars these wires are very, very undersized. Why does this matter? When electrons are transferred through these wires some energy is lost due to the resistance in the form of heat... This loss over long runs of wire show as a loss in voltage...

What is voltage drop?

DIY - Understanding Voltage Drop (Headlight Dimming) - 8th Generation Honda Civic Forum



So say your running a 20 ft run of wire from a typical 12v battery with a 60 amp load from an audio system with an average 35C (95F) operating temperature:

Please note these are mathematical numbers and won't show real world numbers

Aluminum conductor (don't confuse with CCA as its a mix)

4 AWG wire:

8.8% drop... (1.056V)

2 AWG wire:

5.5% drop... (0.66V)

1/0 wire:

3.5% drop... (0.42V)

Copper conductor:

4 AWG wire:

5.4% drop... (0.648V)

2 AWG wire:

3.4% drop... (0.408V)

1/0 wire:

2.1% drop... (0.252V)


As you can see there is quite the difference between the two types of conductors, and AWG wire... Keeping in mind this is one run, one way... But as I have said earlier these are NOT going to be the true results in the real word...


Improving these three wires will allow the current to flow much easier without as much loss in voltage... A very common thing people do first when trying to fix voltage drop...


I don't have a system why would I want to do this?

Improving the Big 3 can be felt and seen in all the electrical within the car. Such as brighter dash, headlights, interior lighting. Also improvement in the way the car runs. Especially if you have loose connections...



Now that we understand the concept of the Big 3...

What wires should I choose and how much?

Now there is quite the debate between running CCA and OFC for power wire though out these forums. In all reality it all depends on your system. While OFC is proven better then CCA in HIGH power system, most incomers are looking to gain a nice cheap quality audio upgrade over stock.

So in my research and understanding for LOW power systems it's OK to run CCA for power/ground... Keeping in mind tho its less efficient then OFC but has a great advantage in price... Much cheaper the OFC


There are many great brands out there for wire, these are in no particular order:

CCA:

1) KNU KCA (Select your length, 90% Aluminum, 10% Copper)

Knukonceptz product detail for KCA KABLE 1/0 ULTRA FLEKS RED CCA POWER / GROUND CABLE

2) Q-Power

QPower® - Installation Accessories

3) DIYMA (49.5' spools, tinned CCA, 10% OFC)

DIYMA 1/0 Gauge CCA - 50ft - Cables and Wires

OFC:

1) EFX Scosche (Tinned OFC)

Frosted Black Power Wire 1/0 gauge 50 ft. roll

2) Monster

Monster Performance Car - Monster 400 PowerFlex™ Power & Ground Cable (1/0 Gauge)

3) Sound Quest

Sound Quest Car Audio 1/0, 8, 4 Gauge Amp Amplifier Power Wire Authorized Internet Dealer

4) Xscorpion

Xscorpion 1/0 Gauge Power / Ground Wire | Power & Ground Cable | Car A/V Cables & Wires | Car Audio/Video Installation & Accessories | Car Audio, Video & GPS at Sonic Electronix

5) Rockford Fosgate

Amazon.com: Rockford Fosgate RFW1R-51 1/0 AWG Red Power Wire 51ft: Car Electronics

6) Tsunami

Tsunami 1/0 Gauge Power / Ground Wire | Power & Ground Cable | Car A/V Cables & Wires | Car Audio/Video Installation & Accessories | Car Audio, Video & GPS at Sonic Electronix

7) KNU Kolossus

KnuKonceptz - view products for category Kolossus Fleks Kable

8) Stinger HPM

Stinger Power Wire Car Audio PRO, HPM Series 1/0, 4, 8 Gauge Amplifier Amp Wire Authorized Internet Dealer

9) Cadence

Audio Savings | Cadence 0G100-BLUE 0 AWG Gauge 17 Feet Car Amp Power Wire Cool Cable Technology

10) Street Wires

StreetWires® | Ultra Flow Power Cables

Not all wire being the same. Some are stiff and hard to form. Some are very flexible and easy to work with. Some are not true gauge even though they may be the same size. Some are actually bigger the the gauge stated.

Here is a great comparison of 14 different types of wire (click and follow link):

8th Generation Honda Civic Forum - View Single Post - Ultimate Battery Guide: Audio only (alts included)

So with this in mind here is a great link to help assist in choosing the correct gauge wire for you application:



I want to note that you need to really think about the future. Its best to gauge higher then what you will really need as its easier to run once then tare things out and run a bigger gauge/more runs.


In my experience and research I wouldn't run anything smaller then #4 gauge OFC and #2 gauge CCA wire for power. Of course that's dependent on your system and how much power your running. Ideal for most runs would be 1/0 only because it allows for system expand-ability. As we all know we will eventually want more power and a better system...


To determine the amount of wire to get its best to use the string method:

Determine Big 3 wire length:

1) Have someone hold on end of the string right at the alternator and run a line to the battery. Then add another foot or so for enough wire to run and mount it correctly...

2) Hold one end at battery negative and run down to chassis ground point, you may need to remove battery and plastic tray to see what I'm talking about... Add about 3 in more to length for slack in wire

3) Hold one end at chassis ground and run to engine ground. This one should have some slack due to the movement of the engine less then an inch.

Determine length for power wire run:

1) Have someone or tie the end of the string to the battery and run a line to where you will be entering the vehicle. Here is a great DIY for our cars (Civic Kseries) Keeping in mind to leave slack for easy wire placement and always use loom or equivalent to protect the wire from wearing out (then shorting out, don't want that) on metal contact points:

Running power wire to trunk - 8th Generation Honda Civic Forum

Of course measure the length of the string and record it.

2) Depending on your entrance location you will will then determine the run you want inside the vehicle, once you know where you want to run it have someone hold on end at the entrance point, or tie it and do the run you previously planned... Its easy to use some tape to keep the string formed to your exact run. Measure the length of the string and record it.

3) Once you determined your trunks entrance point you will then take the rest of the string and run it into the trunk. Record the length of the string.


Once you have determined you lengths add them together for your final run length. If your running multiple runs then multiply this number by the amount of runs. Its best to get more then what you will really need to account for screw ups.



By far that's the most accurate way of determining the length you will need. Personally I got roughly 17' or so for my big 3 and power run.

Continued on post #11

Last edited by beckerson1; 09-24-2012 at 07:37 PM.
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  #2  
Old 09-24-2012, 07:33 PM
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Continuation from post #1

Dedicated ground

What I mean by dedicated ground is when you run a ground wire, equivalent to the power wire gauge (no smaller), back to the battery. This is much more efficient then chassis ground as over time, especially the snowy areas, where rust is very prominent. Rust prohibits the conductivity between the grounding point and the chassis. Which causes resistance and will effect the efficient flow of electrons. To combat this you can run a dedicated ground as its the more efficient option.

Personally I recommend running dedicated ground(s) when pushing close to 2-3K as this is when you start seeing a huge difference between chassis and a dedicated run. Some members have seen better results from this then doing the big 3. Don't confuse that with not doing the big 3.


Proper grounding measures

I've seen way to many shops, members installs, where they just used a self taping screw placed nowhere close to a chassis contact point. Not only is this inefficient but depending on the power can be dangerous. Here are some things to do and not to do:


Poor grounding, amp connection technics:

1) Poor loose connections at the amp
2) Poor crimping/soldering jobs
3) Failure to remove paint at grounding point
4) Improper grounding connections:
1) Grounding to sheet metal
2) Self tapping screws


Proper grounding, amp connection technics:

1) No loose wire at amp connection point, expose enough wire to bolt inside securely
2) Solid, and tested, crimp and solder jobs. Its also good practice to tape/shrink wrap and exposed metal connection points to prevent accidental discharge
3) Clear paint off grounding point for efficient flow
4) Ground directly to frame if possible, using bolts
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:37 PM
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remember always paint over the grounds so they do not corrode in time
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr.G6 View Post
remember always paint over the grounds so they do not corrode in time
I've never heard of this before.
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beckerson1 View Post
I've never heard of this before.
o really? wow
make a good grounding point and the 1st time bare metal is exposed to moisture it will start to corrode ( moisture meaning jsut average wet days etc etc)
i did my big 3 grounds to the front strut tower and forgot about them 3 days later they were starting to rust
painting it just stops moisture from getting underneath the terminal and stopping the connection (bc it only makes contact with that terminal so 1 little area not the entire spot yu cleaned off) does that make sense?
ive litterally done this since my very 1st install
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.G6 View Post
o really? wow
make a good grounding point and the 1st time bare metal is exposed to moisture it will start to corrode ( moisture meaning jsut average wet days etc etc)
i did my big 3 grounds to the front strut tower and forgot about them 3 days later they were starting to rust
painting it just stops moisture from getting underneath the terminal and stopping the connection (bc it only makes contact with that terminal so 1 little area not the entire spot yu cleaned off) does that make sense?
ive litterally done this since my very 1st install
I see your point but kinda defeats the purpose of cleaning it in the first place. Wouldn't treating it with electrical grease do the same thing?
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beckerson1 View Post
I see your point but kinda defeats the purpose of cleaning it in the first place. Wouldn't treating it with electrical grease do the same thing?
explain how it is "defeating the purpose"
that ring terminal ONLY makes contact with the bottom of the nut and the immediate surface it is on
NOT the whole surrounding area
clean the surface bolt the ring terminal down and paint over it.. that rust will creep under that terminal and youd be cleaning it again in a little while
im NOT saying clean it off and paint it all before a terminal goes on

and yes electrical grease or kmnown to electricians like me as "goop" but that shits expensive can of spray paint is 99cents
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.G6 View Post
explain how it is "defeating the purpose"
that ring terminal ONLY makes contact with the bottom of the nut and the immediate surface it is on
NOT the whole surrounding area
clean the surface bolt the ring terminal down and paint over it.. that rust will creep under that terminal and youd be cleaning it again in a little while
im NOT saying clean it off and paint it all before a terminal goes on

and yes electrical grease or kmnown to electricians like me as "goop" but that shits expensive can of spray paint is 99cents
That's what I thought, just wanted to clarify
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beckerson1 View Post
That's what I thought, just wanted to clarify
does that make sense?
vaseline would work also
but a little tub of electrical grease is like 10bux and kinda hard to find in stores
spray paint is 99cents and found in almost any store..hell even dollar general sells paint lol
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.G6 View Post
does that make sense?
vaseline would work also
but a little tub of electrical grease is like 10bux and kinda hard to find in stores
spray paint is 99cents and found in almost any store..hell even dollar general sells paint lol
Ya it does... I've used Vaseline on my speaker terminals...
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