Can You Use 14 Gauge Wire For Car Speakers
14 gauge speaker wires are not needed for factory speakers powered by a radio. They can handle less power, but their size is used inefficiently. However, 14AWG cables are ideal for relatively high-powered car audio systems with over 100W per channel, and they can deliver top-notch sound quality when properly installed.
These wires are commonly used in OEM car audio system upgrades with additional amplifiers.
What Gauge Is Speaker Wire
Speaker wire doesnt have just one size . Most speaker wire follows the American Wire Gauge standard that uses a chart of different gauges. It assigns a number to each standard size & electrical conductor rating. Likewise, each size is rated for a certain amount of electrical current capacity.
Speaker wire comes in a wide range of standard sizes based on the American Wire Gauge standard. The American Wire Gauge standard, also less commonly known as the Brown & Sharpe wire gauge, is a standardized wire gauge system used since 1857 for the diameters of round electrically conducting wire.
AWG wire charts use a numbering system where a smaller number is larger wire with more copper conductors. Likewise, a larger number is used for smaller wire with fewer conductors. I realize it seems kind of odd, but once you start using it youll get used to it pretty quickly.
Why wire gauge matters
The AWG is very important because it means you can be sure what size of speaker wire youre getting just like any other power wire youd buy. Speaker wire is treated the same as regular power hook up wire which also follows the AWG standard.
Most speaker wire sold today is made up of 2 wires attached as a pair with one marked as the positive wire . Gauges available usually range from about 20 or 22 gauge to 10 gauge, with 18 gauge being the most popular.
Recommended Power And Ground Cable Sizes & Speaker Wire Size And Length
Recommended Car Stereo Wire Gauge Sizes, Power, Ground, Fusing Chart, Speaker Wire Size by Load and Distance Although wire gauge sizes smaller than 10 gauge may be acceptable for the amount of current draw, we recommend using 10 gauge as the smallest wire size for any amplifier of 100 watts or more.
Don’t Miss: How Many Speakers Are In My Car
Cable Length And Distance
Your decision should also be based on the length of the cable run and the impedance, or power requirements of your speakers. Measure the distance from the amplifier to each speaker in the system and make sure to include approximately 4 to 6 feet of extra cable slack at each end. Once youve determined the length, now choose the wire gauge size. If your speaker has a nominal impedance of 4 ohms or lower and it requires a lot of power, so it is best to choose a 14 or 12-gauge wire, despite the distance. For most 8-ohm speaker circuits with a shorter than 50 feet run, a 16-gauge wire would be an ideal choice. For wire runs beyond 75 feet, choose at least 16 gauge, if not a 14 or 12-gauge wire. At this longer distance, the resistance of the cable will be increased considerably, so you will want to keep the resistance of the cable as low as possible with a thicker gauge wire. For more information, please check our Technical Guides of Speaker Cable Transmission Distance as a Function of Conductor Size vs. Loss
Stranded Vs Solid Wire
Solid wire is a terrible choice for speakers & audio systems. Its very hard to bend & curve, it can break when exposed to constant vibration, and its also harder to make connections with. Stranded wire is tremendously easier to deal with. Stranded wire is made up of a large number of tiny copper wire strands, making it very flexible and also easier to strip, crimp to connectors, and work with by hand.
All speaker wire solid is stranded wire meaning its made up of a bundle of 16-60 or more tiny copper stands. Its very flexible and also easy to deal with for stripping the wire & adding connectors or twisting it by hand. Solid wire, however, has only one conductor.
Since its commonly used for home & industrial electrical wiring, you might be tempted to use leftover solid wire for your speakers. Solid wire is a terrible choice for nearly all audio systems and especially car audio installations. But why?
Use stranded, not solid wire for speakers
Solid wire is fine for homes or buildings since its never moved once installed. However, its very hard to bend into place and is also subject to damage over time when exposed to constant vibration like in a car or truck. Over time, the wire can develop weak spots which break!
I strongly recommend you dont bother with solid wire as its not worth the risk or hassle. Many kinds of solid wire have insulation thats super hard to strip, too.
Do Expensive Speaker Wires Make A Difference
Well-made and top-of-the-line wires can be expensive, but you can expect them to serve your car sound system for a long time.
Overall, its worth investing in good car speaker wires, mainly because of the harsh and changing conditions they have to work with inside the car.
Do not forget about constantly changing temperature, humidity, or constant vibrations that torture the speaker wires. It is therefore recommended to have wires that can handle those conditions without failing.
As you can see, wires for car speakers are essential, and in the long run, high-quality cables will serve you better than cheap ones.
Years ago, about half of my speaker wire kit rotted out in just a few months. I was using cheap wires and ignored details. Fact is, good wires were out of my budget by then, but today wherever possible, I am replacing wires together with speakers.
Lets Talk About Car Audio Wire Size
March 27, 2020 By 1sixty8
Specialty mobile enhancement installation technicians couldnt upgrade the audio systems in our cars and trucks if they didnt have access to high-quality, correctly sized wiring. Whether they are connecting a pair of speakers to a radio or running large power and ground wires from a battery to an amplifier, wiring and its size is crucial. There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings when it comes to wiring. Lets break down a few and look at the truth.
For this article, we are going to talk exclusively about all-copper conductors. The alternative to copper is copper-clad aluminum . Aluminum adds unwanted resistance and reduces the power delivery efficiency of our audio systems. Pound for pound, aluminum is 61% as conductive as copper. One of the most significant issues with CCA amp kits is that its impossible to determine the ratio of copper to aluminum. In most cases, the size of the wire does not meet the American Wire Gauge standard.
Don’t Miss: Where To Get Bill Of Sale For Car
Everyday Use & What To Know
In most cases like average listening & typical power levels, its not really a problem in day-to-day use. However, if youre going to drive speakers at higher power levels or want the absolute best for your money, youll need be sure to look for packaging that specifies wire is 100% pure copper.
When buying CCA speaker wire, to get the same quality as true copper wire move up one gauge in size. For example, to replace 18 gauge copper wire use a 16 gauge CCA wire.
Aftermarket Stereo Wire Color Code
One of the fastest ways to install a car audio system is to understand the wires standardized colors. These wires are nothing like the OEM head units. They have uniformity in their colors and can be installed easily by anyone without going through a guide or any paperwork.
Wire color code chart
|Blue with white stripe||Amplifier remote turn-on|
Aftermarket wire colors are straightforward to understand. Once you get the hang of it, you will not need any guidance to set them up. Aftermarket car stereo wires use individual wires for power, antenna, speaker, and ground wires. Be sure to check for the different colors before installing it in your car.
Below is an uncomplicated guide to understanding the different car head unit wire colors.
Popular aftermarket brands like Kenwood, Pioneer, Alpine, Sony, Clarion use the same color code for uniformity in the product.
Recommended Reading: How To Check If A Car Is Stolen
Luxtronic 24 Gauge Awg Wire
If you are looking for a small, compact cable with a very cheap price tag, then look nowhere else as the Luxtronic 24 gauge AWG wire has got everything to offer what you were looking for. It is the final product I am going to review, and it is quite different than other ones.
One notable thing which I found quite impressive in this product is that it is oxygen-free. Oxygen-free copper wire is such a wire which is refined electrically, leaving a deficient level of oxygen particles present inside.
Luxtronic AWG is among the high-quality gauge wires for car audio. Such types of cables are long-lasting as they can do well in scorching temperatures. They are also able to transfer and carry big loads of current.
Buy this product now.
The outer jacket of this product is made of thermoplastic material, which is quite flexible and good quality. The stripping of these jackets is quite simple. Another advantage of the thermoplastic jacket is that they would not melt off quickly even in high heat, so the Luxtronic wire is better if you live in a hot, humid area, and your car always heats up.
Like any good quality wire gauge, this one also has a dual-color theme, which distinguishes its polarity easily. It will save both the wire and the stereo from any electrical mishap: dollars and life, both safe by just a simple color scheming.
How Long Can Car Speaker Wires Get
The shorter the speaker wire distance from the amplifier to speakers, the better the sound quality.
For most car audio systems, 12 feet or less is the most efficient length, but you can go up to 100 feet without a significant drop in quality if you choose solid copper speaker wires instead of the stranded copper speaker wires.
Although more costly, they provide flexibility while routing through complex installations.
The good thing is when it comes to car audio, the length of 100 feet is not often needed unless you do a long, complicated system in a large RV.
The important thing to remember is that the longer the speaker wire distance from the amplifier to speakers, the worse the sound quality you will get.
If you want to achieve some of your best sound possible, keep your speaker wire connection point no more than 20 feet away from the amplifier, and this is considered a reasonable limit for most car audio systems.
With the length of 35-50 Feet, you may notice a drop in the sound quality, especially when used poor quality non OFC wires.
When buying speaker wires for car audio, the most important thing is to make sure they are OFC wires. OFC stands for oxygen-free copper, and it will not degrade your sound quality.
Do not cut off the ends of your speaker wires and just twist them together. Instead, make sure they are correctly crimped before putting them in your car because this can lead to corrosion, faulty connections, and shorts.
You May Like: What Type Of Oil Does My Car Need
Install Gear 14 Awg Speaker Wire
If you are looking for perfect wires for your speaker connectivity in your car stereo, then you must try the Install Gear 14 AWG speaker wire. It has worked fantastically for both the car and home users and has proved its worth.
The length of the wire spool is 100 ft. Or 30.5 meters. As I already said that this wire is a 14 gauge wire made with a soft-touch jacket that is flexible enough to fit anywhere. This is among the best gauge wire for car audio in 2021.
Click here to .
The wire is clung with both Copper and Aluminum, also known as CCA. This stranded wire comes with a rugged jacket comprised of two colors that can be very helpful in identifying the polarity. The jacket also makes it much convenient while routing it along the panels of your car.
The jacket of this product comes in a stripe-easy way for an efficient installation. Moreover, it provides easy installation to the terminals that are crimped the most.
It is a pure, light-weight wire that will be sufficient enough to cater to your music needs. The insulation is of good quality, and the product has many satisfied customers and reviews. The best thing about this item is its price. With the class you are getting, the price is exceptionally mediocre and affordable.
The excellent quality material used in its making makes it durable too. If you talk about sound quality, then it is fantastic. This product can help in creating the best sound effects even if you use it in a full-fledged big home theatre system.
Do Car Speaker Wires Have To Be The Same Length
In normal car conditions, speaker wires do not have to be the same length. Car speaker wires are designed to be flexible enough to install the car audio system wherever you want, and their length should not limit connections.
For most cars, it is impossible to make speaker wires of the same length simply because each speaker has a different distance from the radio or amplifier.
Read Also: Does My Car Have Sirius Xm
Myth #: If Its Not Cca Its Ofc
As with any industry, people like to throw buzzwords around. One that gets sprinkled around liberally is the acronym OFC, which stands for oxygen-free copper. Oxygen is a critical component in the smelting of copper. Oxygen is injected into the molten mixture that helps extract impurities that would degrade the resulting product.
High-conductivity copper does exist. Compared to the International Annealed Copper Standard , many modern, low-impurity coppers can achieve conductivity that reaches 101%. The standard, for those who are interested, is 0.15292 ohm for a copper mass of 1 gram with a uniform cross-section and a length of 1 meter.
Specifically, stating that a copper conductor is oxygen-free doesnt mean that its pure or offers exceptional electrical conductance. In most instances, OFC car audio wiring is simply an alternative to copper-clad aluminum solutions. Much of it is made from recycled copper and contains other metals like tin.
Interestingly, the CEA-2015 standard for car audio conductors specifies a maximum resistance of only 93.15% of the IACS standard.
Remove Your Factory Stereo And Install A New One
Eating up the highway with clarity and volume a champion of car audio.
During my first few years at Crutchfield, I served as one of our Advisors, helping our customers choose new audio components for their homes and cars. Eventually, I moved to the writing team and spent a decade researching new products and getting even more hands-on with car audio gear.
I’ve performed many car and home audio installations over the years, some of them even on my own cars. As the editor of Crutchfield’s car audio web articles, I couldn’t ask for a cooler job. We listen to music and play with car audio gear every day!
Like most of us here, I’ve always been into music. I installed my first car stereo system before the family car was even mine. In college, I helped friends and roommates install their car stereos and set up the stereos in their apartments. I was a volunteer DJ for the local community radio station for a few years . That’s where I also first learned a little bit about sound mixers.
These days, I serve my community by volunteering with the Boys Scouts of America. I also love playing board games & RPGs, spending time with my family, and installing new audio systems for my friends.
More about Robert
More from Robert Ferency-Viars
Also Check: How To Get Internet In Your Car
What Is Car Stereo Wiring Diagram
A car stereo wiring diagram is a graphical representation of which wires will connect to the terminal and their position.
Wiring diagrams often include a table or a list that will correlate to the wires and connection points. You can use a wiring diagram to understand what goes where effectively and, if need be, to route out any problems that may have occurred.
Furthermore, if you need to restore a wiring harness due to any reason, you will manufacture one to the correct specifications.
Take a look below at the example of a wiring diagram:
How Long Should A Car Speaker Wire Be
The length of the speaker wires is important not only for safety reasons but also because the proper wire length is needed for optimal performance.
You can always cut wires to a desired length, but leaving them too long may degrade sound quality. Its best to make exact measurements of the car and buy speaker wires according to those measurements.
You do not want too long wires lying inside the car, but I tend to add around a foot extra to any measurement I make.
Remember that it is better to have a wire a foot too long than an inch too short. For your system to perform at its optimum potential, use as much wire as possible without having them hanging everywhere inside of the vehicle.
Speaker wires are available in different lengths that vary from 5 to 100 feet, but I always buy the bulk 100 feet packages. This way, I do not have to scrap so many unusable short ends that I paid for.
For example, both speaker power ratings take into account speaker wire resistance. Longer speaker wire carries less electrical current than short speaker wire, causing lower efficiency in most speakers with higher impedance.
Generally speaking, longer speaker wires decrease the efficiency and increase the damping factor of a speaker system. This is an important factor when you plan to build a high-quality car audio system.
Also Check: How Expensive Is Car Insurance