Why do you need a High Output Alternator?

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Blue High Output Alternator

High Output Alternators provide the current you’ll need for LOUD car audio

To avoid the dreaded red light of despair in the suddenly silent night, you will need to upgrade your electrical charging system. High Output Alternators provide amperage that your stock alternator cannot produce. 

If the Big Three Wiring Upgrade failed to alleviate your electrical issues in your car or truck, then upgrading the alternator might be your next step toward a high performing car audio system.

Did increasing the current flow through the system solve problems like headlight dimming or did it make them worse?

This is because your amplifier is trying to draw more amperage than your stock electrical system can create.

Boosting the flow of current in the vehicle will only increase the problem if the charging system can’t keep up.

This means your headlight dimming could worsen after upgrading your electrical charging systems wiring. That is if the alternator cannot supply adequate power for both your cars electrical charging system and stereo.

Enter: High Output Alternators

Mechman High Output Alternator in an engine bay.
High Output Alternator by Brand-X installed in a Suburban

High Output Alternators increase the amperage of your system.

Relying on a stock electrical system for the massive amperage that car audio amplifiers require, while still supplying your vehicle with the current it needs will result in low voltage and other problems.

When the alternator can’t provide the necessary amperage for your system, the battery tries to make up for the amperage deficit.

When the battery cannot make up that deficit, the power supplies fail and the amplifier goes into protect mode.

Stock electrical charging systems typically fail to provide the level of current that 2,000 Watt+ car audio builds require.

Wait, wasn’t that what the Big Three was for?

Upgrading the Big Three is the first step toward a solid electrical system.

It increases the diameter of the straw our current flows through.

Adding a high output alternator is the second step. It increases the force of water that flows through the straw.

There will be costs to keep in mind and hurdles to overcome.

Depending on the current your vehicle and install require, you may need to make modifications to your engine and create space for a small power plant under your hood.

If you’re chasing numbers, prepare to play Tetris in your engine bay to make room for the alternators and the bracket that will be holding them. Championship rings don’t come easy or cheap.

If you’ve read this far and are starting to rethink 150’s, hair tricks, and broken windshields, you can still enjoy considerable bass with a single high output alternator in your car or truck.

As a general rule of thumb, you need about 100 Amp Hours for every thousand watts you will be using- In addition to the base electrical requirements of your vehicle.

You can use the formula of WATTS Divided by VOLTS = AMPS to help ballpark this.

For example, if you plan on installing a 2,000 Watt Amplifier, using 13.5 Volts, you’d figure 2,000 Divided by 13.5 for 148, so you’d need to add 150 Amps to your charging system.

How to choose a High Output Alternator

There are a number of reputable manufacturers to choose from. As a starting point, Brand-X, Mechman, Ohio Generator, and JS Alternators are popular. We do not advise EBay brands.

The difficulty is that one size does not fit all and many high output alts are vehicle specific.

Your alternator’s rated output will typically refer to the amperage output at high-RPM’s like highway speeds. When you’re idling, or running at a low RPM, your alt may only be capable of providing a small fraction of that rated power.

The best practice is to do some research on what works for your specific vehicle.

Learn what hangups may be associated with that. Like what is ‘too much’ for your engine, how much amperage does your car or truck need to operate, and determining the best use of your available space.

For instance, if you have an economy car, you may be limited to 300 amps or fewer. Vehicles with small engines may not be able to effectively operate alternators larger than 300 amps.

You may find your engine dying when idling if you are using too much amperage.

It is a balancing act. Check the data available for your vehicle, your desired application, and then read the reviews.

Many High Output Alternators are made to order, so you’ll have some time on your hands while you’re waiting for it to be manufactured and shipped.

Every alternator installation will be different. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions to install yours. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions.

Next week, we’ll cover Secondary Batteries.