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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-18-2002, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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dimming lights

Ok i got a question for the audio gods I installed a new stereo in my car and was wondering why my lights are dimming so bad I'm running 4 gauge power and only one amp with one sub? any hints do I need a bigger alternator and a power cap?
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-18-2002, 05:01 PM
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Power cap.

Question... how many watts is your amp?
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-18-2002, 05:08 PM
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ahhh well i just saw your sig. 600W eh?

Damm i am plugging in a 700W amp into my car and I already have a 100W bazooka in there. I wonder if my car is going to dim. I was informed here that you really don't need a cap if you run under 1000W RMS.

I hope they upgraded the alternator from 1st gen to 2nd.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-18-2002, 05:20 PM
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The alternator in the 2nd Gen is surprisingly good...Haven't had any problems with it and am running two RF amps both rated over 1000W, so hopefully you'll find the same thing DJPill:bigsmile:
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-18-2002, 05:21 PM
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Ok thats good to know cause down the road I plan on buying a 700s probably to go along with my 700x. Gonna bridge the 700s to run some type of subwoofer box.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-18-2002, 06:16 PM
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Dimming lights is a sign of low voltage. Installing a cap is nothing more than a band aid to cover up the real problem, the charging systems lack of ability to supply the necessary amount of current. It may be that your battery is getting aged and not holding charge like it used to. Your alternator could also be showing some age and not putting out what it once did. It's also possible that you have corrosion somewhere on either a positive or negative battery connection causing a voltage drop...

Last edited by dbaudiopro; 06-18-2002 at 06:18 PM.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-18-2002, 08:20 PM
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if it is a problem with current because the battery or alt is weak. then can you explain why a new car would have the same problem. if the alternator wasnt putting out the power then there would be a noticed difference alot of the time. it is a possibility its not putting out the same amperage but the volt would stay roughly the same. after all an amp only requires around 13 to 14 volts but some amps are more effecient and not as power hungry. I disagree a cap is not a band aid but is an aid that allows the flow of power with a much quicker charge and discharge than that of a battery. after all a battery is built for the storage of power for a greater amount of time where as a caps is built for rapid charge and discharge of power thus allowing the power to be there more rapidly when the amp or what ever is using the power requires it. if you feel that your battery or lternator are getting weak well then take them in and have them tested. if that all check out then you saved 150 or so to put towards a cap.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-18-2002, 09:23 PM
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i agree with thump. I have a cap and have no problem with dimming. However i do plan on getting a new battery sometime soon (it's just ugly). Check your grounds, maybe that might be the problem.

-Adam
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-18-2002, 10:24 PM
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OK we need a lesson electricity here. The only reason the lights dim is because the voltage drops. The voltage drops because the current requirement was too high to maintain the voltage. Don't believe me, there's two things you can do. 1) Learn ohm's Law and do the math. 2) Try it. Go out some time with a voltmeter and put it accross your battery with the car off. You should see somewhere around 12v. Now have someone crank the starter. You will see the voltage drop due to the current draw from the starter.

While the engine is running your car is powered primarily by the alternator, not the battery. Don't believe this go out, start your car and disconnect the battery. Everything will be fine.

When your lights dim during intense bass notes it's because the power amplifiers are drawing more current that the alternator can supply at 13-14v. The current gets delivered, but the voltage sags. Having a capacitor in the power supply chain helps to regulate the voltage level. A capacitor can be thought of as an electronic shock absorber. However, what ever is drawn from the capacitor needs to be replaced. A capacitor does not create charge it simply stores it. It may keep your lights from dimming, by supplying that sudden burst of current. But it's not solving the real problem, which is that your charging system can't keep up with the deman you have put on it...

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-19-2002, 08:22 AM
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i agree with you that a cap does not create power but it does a job similar to an extra bettery in the sense that it store the power for a period if time. it may not be long but store it and place the source of the power closer to the amp and does not create such voltage drop because of the short distance. i know about the electricity lesson you just gave. with the facts you stated your right there is a drop but what happens when there is a drop in voltage the amp is still going to require the power so in effect the charging system is trying to produce the extra power there for it is working harder to try to make up for that voltage drop. if you place the cap inline ( which is usally as close as possible to the amp) the distace traveled is less so volatge drop is less given the same ga wire is used. it acts just like another battery but to the effect that it charges in a mili second and discherges just as fast . a battery may be able to store more power for exstended periods of time but a cap is not designed to. a battery also isn't designed to be as quick. as for the battery and starter deal of course there is going to be a voltage sag you putting a load on that battery. but we werent talking bout the mometary load of a battery we were talking about the fact of a caps being an aid in the design of a sytem. i do understand where you are coming from but a cap is desined to be an aid. to help limit voltage drop. lets just say he goes and gets his battery and alternator checked and they both check out fine what would you say his next step would be maybe a 200 amp stinger alt. that would be the best solution. all a larger battery would do would be to allow the extra capacity to store greater amounts of power. even then with the same length in the wire the voltage sag would still be there with nothing on the other end to aid in its removal.
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-19-2002, 08:58 AM
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Ok now I think we are starting to see the same light. A larger capacity alternator should help tremendously, but you are correct that a cap does serve a purpose. I'm not arguing against caps completely, I'm saying that most people are too quick to add one to their system thinking it's the "fix all" solution. I agree that a larger or second battery is not the solution. In fact more electrical storage, of what ever kind, is not the true solution. It's a band aid.

An alternator can only produce so much current at a given voltage. When the current requirements exceed that limit, the current will flow, but the voltage will drop. It has nothing to do with wire gauge, length etc. You could have the amp connected to the alternator with a 2" solid copper bus bar. When the amp needs more current than the alternator can produce at 13-14v the current flows, but the voltage drops.

A capacitor can help lengthen the life of your alternator and battery by smoothing out the current spikes in your system. But the bottom line is that your alternator it self must be capable of producing the amount of current required for your system at 13-14v.

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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-19-2002, 09:05 AM
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Maybe we need to step back and find out how bad his lights are dimming. He asks:
Quote:
...wondering why my lights are dimming so bad ...
How bad is bad. If the lights dim only during very intense bass notes and only lose maybe 1/8 intensity, then yes I'll agree that he could put a cap in his system and all would be fine. However, if the lights are dimming frequently during playback and dim more than about 1/8 intensity, then an alternator upgrade my be necessary. With only 600W (unless you're bridged down to 1 ohm and cranking out way more) the stock alternator should be able to keep up. That's why I suggested checking the alternator, battery and wiring.

Can we agree on this one Thump??? :huh:

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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-19-2002, 11:07 AM
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I agree with bouncy boobs and db.

-Adam
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-19-2002, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by dbaudiopro
Maybe we need to step back and find out how bad his lights are dimming. He asks: How bad is bad. If the lights dim only during very intense bass notes and only lose maybe 1/8 intensity, then yes I'll agree that he could put a cap in his system and all would be fine. However, if the lights are dimming frequently during playback and dim more than about 1/8 intensity, then an alternator upgrade my be necessary. With only 600W (unless you're bridged down to 1 ohm and cranking out way more) the stock alternator should be able to keep up. That's why I suggested checking the alternator, battery and wiring.

Can we agree on this one Thump??? :huh:
I have to agree with checking the alternator, and possably having to upgrade it. I had a system in my Ranger(400 watt Jensen amp, 2 Pioner 12" free air series subs) it would cause my lights to dim badly to the point of almost going out, and my alternator gauge would go nuts. watching the gauge was like watching an electronic eq on a stereo that moves with the beat of the music. I was told best bet was to upgrade alternator at the local audio shop and those guys knew what they were doing.
to bad my dad sold my system after I moved out of state. Id love to put it in the trep!

LD
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-19-2002, 02:11 PM
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yes i think we are on pretty much the same page. as a cap will not have a great effect if the alternator is not charging corectly. i will most definetly agree on that. but it is a proven fact that with proper charing and and a fit charing system will allow better flow as long as the alt and such are up to par. i was mostly disagreeing with the fact that a cap is just a band aid. i agree it is not a fix all but we do agree that on a properly working sytem it can be benifical. so i think that we are pretty much in agreeance.
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