Any acoustic system installed in the car of a sophisticated music lover consists of different components (head unit, subwoofer, amplifier, crossover, etc.). But many fans of high-quality car audio often forget about such a necessary device as a capacitor.
Capacitors in cars are an essential element of any powerful speaker system that consumes a lot of energy. New subwoofers at power peaks consume a lot of current, which even the most extensive and good battery unable to provide quickly. Because of this, the voltage drops noticeably at the moment of the pulse, which causes a strong distortion. The capacitor, in turn, compensates the lack of voltage since its internal resistance is so small that it instantly gives off the current. And with the same speed, the device accumulates it again. This completely smooths out possible failures.
Good capacitors are not very cheap, so many motorists who have robust acoustic systems in their cars, trying to save a little, refuse this vital detail. And this, as a result, can lead to not the most pleasant consequences:
- Significant audio distortion when playing powerful bass;
- The battery drains quickly;
- Due to constant voltage fluctuations in the car network, electronics may fail;
- The blinking lights;
- In rare cases, a sharp drop in voltage may damage the speakers.
Capacitors also prevent all these problems, as well as provide a clean and smooth sound of any tracks.
As a bonus to this article, we offer to read the article about the audio capacitor at Car in my DNA.
Why is it essential to use capacitors for car audio?
Everyone knows that by installing an amplifier in your audio system, we make the sound louder. But you have to pay for everything, and a more powerful audio system consumes more current from the vehicle’s onboard network.
The problems don’t stop here. The fact that the amplifier can briefly consume current several times higher than the nominal, especially when playing low bass. The car battery is not able to quickly give such a current, and as a result, there is a voltage drawdown in the vehicle’s onboard network.
It is expressed not only blinking lights but also in the fact that when voltage drops, the amplifier loses power, the bass from fast and clear becomes blurry, loses speed and depth, and in some severe cases, the voltage drop of energy leads to clipping of the amplifier output, which in turn can cause damage to the speaker.
However, the above problems may occur because when you connect the amplifier in your audio system, you chose a low-quality or inappropriate power consumption power wire.
If you have followed all our recommendations and the wires are all right, you can not do without a capacitor in your car audio system.
To install a capacitor, you should connect it in parallel to the power supply of the amplifier and place it as close to the amp as possible (no further than 20 inches). Some manufacturers of speakers (usually the most expensive models, the so-called high-end) even embed additional terminals to connect the capacitor directly into the amplifier.
How to choose the right car audio capacitor?
There is a simple rule for selecting a capacitor by capacity – 1F (Farad) per 1 kilowatt of audio system power. That is when the system power is 500W, you’ll need a 0.5 F capacitor.
Many automotive capacitors have built-in voltmeters and other light bulbs as well as charge control circuits. If the meaning of the first is mainly appearance, then the charge control scheme facilitates the operation of the car in which the capacitor is installed. The fact is that the capacitor at the time of charge consumes an extensive current, so when replacing the battery in the car, the battery terminals may burn, or the fuse that is on the power supply of the audio system may burn.
To charge a capacitor in which the charging circuit is not provided, you must first disconnect one of the terminals from the onboard network. Next, connect the battery and capacitor through a normal car light bulb. The light bulb will burn brightly while the capacitor is being charged. And when it goes out – it will signal that the capacitor is charged and you can connect it back.
Pretty tricky, huh? A capacitor with a built-in charging circuit will save you from all these problems.
On the other side, the charging scheme implies a few other connections on the current path from the capacitor to the amplifier. In this sense, an ordinary can without voltmeters, light bulbs, and electronics is much more reliable.
Not all capacitors are equally useful, and a suitable one should not only have a large capacity but also be able to give up its charge if necessary quickly. To do this, the capacitor must have low internal resistance (ESR). Most manufacturers do not specify any parameters of their products other than the actual capacity. With all the richness of choice, finding what you need may not be so easy.
What should you pay attention to when buying?
- This is the first and foremost parameter to select. You need to choose a device whose power will be equal to the number of kilowatts of the system. That is, if you have a system with a power of 5 kilowatts, the device must have a capacity of at least 5 farads. Experts recommend buying devices with a capacity slightly larger than the system’s wattage.
- Their operating voltage should reach 24 volts. To minimize current resistance, the connectors of virtually all devices are gold-plated.
- Make sure that all the elements required for installing the device are included in the package. The capacitor from the amplifier should be connected at a distance of no more than 20 inches.
- The speed of charging and recoil of the charge. These characteristics depend on how high-quality the device you purchase. Refrain from buying fakes and homemade capacitors.
- The function of charge control. The devices of this type will protect the wiring of your car. But as a rule, this feature is present in more expensive models. If the device you purchased does not have this function, you must recharge it before installing it.
- Digital voltmeter and light indication. You can use a voltmeter to monitor the device’s voltage. Light indicators show the device’s charge level.
She is a content writer & editor for more than 12 years. She usually writes about technology news, country news, arts & science, travel & automobiles. She used to test the product and write reviews for popular magazines.