How to Connect a Car Stereo to a Car Battery

Written by david sandoval
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Automotive audio systems are designed for low-voltage, high-power operations inside an automobile. These powerful audio systems are capable of high-quality sound output. However, to operate properly, the automotive audio system must be connected properly; otherwise the automotive audio system will function poorly, if at all.

Automotive audio systems are powered by an automotive electrical system. One key component of the automotive electrical system is the battery. It is possible to connect an automotive audio system to the battery directly. Connecting an automotive audio system in this manner allows for the audio system to be powered directly, regardless of the position of the starter/accessory switch. This article will cover how to install an audio system which connects directly to the battery installed in an automobile.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Automotive stereo receiver/CD player
  • Spool of speaker cable
  • Measuring tape
  • Electrical pliers
  • Splice connectors, or soldering iron with solder
  • Automotive-grade electrical wire (between 12- and 16-gauge)
  • Coloured vinyl electrical tape (not black)
  • Ball point pen or felt-tip marker
  • Automobile battery
  • Battery terminal connectors
  • One speaker for each audio system channel (i.e., a 4-channel system requires four speakers)
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws

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  1. 1

    Measure the distance between the battery and the space where the stereo receiver will be installed. Cut two lengths of automotive electrical wire that are six inches longer than this measurement, and strip each of these wire sections of a half-inch of insulation at each end. Cut four one-inch strips of vinyl tape, and attach them to each end of each wire. Label one wire as "+" and one as "-."

  2. 2

    Run the wires from the battery to the stereo receiver compartment in the automobile. Most stereo receivers have an "ignition" and a "power" wire. Splice (electrically connect) both "ignition" and "power" wires to the "+" wire on the stereo receiver. Splice the "negative" or "ground" wire on the stereo receiver to the "-" wire. If using a soldering iron to make the electrical connections, solder the wires together, and wrap the soldered joints with electrical tape so that no metal is exposed.

  3. 3

    Measure the distances from the speaker installation points to the stereo installation point. Cut a length of speaker cable that is at least six inches longer than each measurement for each speaker to be installed, and strip each speaker cable, and strip each cable of a half-inch of insulation at each end. Split the wires in the speaker cable so there is an inch of separation between each wire. Run the speaker wires from the installation points to the stereo installation point. Splice each speaker wire to its respective channel connection (such as "right front +" and "right front -" channel connector on the stereo receiver to the right front speaker). Splice the speaker end of these speaker cables to the electrical terminals on the speaker.

  4. 4

    Screw the speakers into their speaker installation points. Screw the stereo receiver into the stereo installation compartment.

Tips and warnings

  • When using a soldering iron and solder rather than wire splicers to electrically connect wires to each other, make sure the solder joints are properly insulated with electrical tape. Inadvertent contact between a bare soldered joint and the automobile chassis will create a short circuit, and can cause damage to the audio system.

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