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How To Fix A Loose Fuse In A Car
Since I was a kid, I’ve been playing with electronics, starting with taking TVs and radios apart and putting them back together. I always put them back to work. As a teenager, I took a radio and electronics course and became a radio amateur. I worked on high school stage crews, running sound, lights, and projectors. After college, he joined a rock and roll band as a sound technician, learning how to operate and operate equipment that helped make music sound louder.
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He spent several years building, installing, repairing, and operating sound systems at a music store in Austin, Texas. Our clients were recording studios, nightclubs, and touring bands. He eventually returned to Charlottesville, Virginia and opened a small demo recording studio. In 2006, I finally came to my senses and took this job. In fact, I get paid to ram and rant and explain things I like to get music, electronics, good sound.
Given my experience, I have been asked to write articles on the most complex electronic products: car amplifiers, digital signal processors, cabling, professional sound mixers, PA systems and more.
A fuse is required in the power line of the amplifier. The size of fuse to use depends on the material, thickness (gauge), and length of the power and ground wires used to mount the amplifier. This article explains which fuses you should use in your amplifier wiring and why.
The 12 volt power wiring from a car amplifier can carry enough current to burn out and destroy not only the wiring itself, but your car as well. This can occur in the event of an accidental short circuit, such as a frayed power cord touching the vehicle’s chassis.
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To protect you and your car from electrical hazards, you should install a fuse in the amplifier’s power cable, as close to the car battery as possible.
Driving a full tank of gasoline that can catch fire or explode in the event of an accident is quite dangerous. We certainly don’t want to add the threat of an electrical fire under the same circumstances.
In the event of an accident, you don’t want the power cord to move around in your vehicle. Since the chassis and metal parts of the vehicle body are all grounded, any loose power wires touching metal will cause a short circuit, allowing uncontrolled currents to flow and heat buildup. That is why it is recommended to install the fuse as close as possible to the positive terminal of the battery.
Route power cables around other things in the engine compartment, out of the way. It’s also a good idea to secure the power cable and fuse holder to the vehicle (usually with cable ties) to prevent them from bouncing over time. (In this picture I put the fuse holder on top of this fuse box for a better picture.)
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To visualize the concept, it is often helpful to study an electrical circuit as if it were a closed arrangement of water-filled pipes flowing through it. This is because the same rules and restrictions apply. Using the plumbing analogy, we can think of electrical current as the amount of water in a pipe of a certain volume at a certain time. Pumping more water into that section of the pipe in the same amount of time increases the pressure inside the pipe until it reaches the maximum tensile capacity of its component materials, after which the pipe bursts.
Instead of the resistance to the flow of water increasing the pressure in the pipe, the electrical resistance to the flow of current generates heat in the wire. Excess current through the resistance of the wire can overload the conductor material or insulation, causing it to melt or catch fire. Wires of all kinds have a limit to the amount of current they can safely handle before they overheat.
A fuse works by introducing a small, weak metal segment into a power supply circuit designed to pass rated current, but it melts when the rated current is exceeded, safely breaking the circuit. Fuses are there to protect you.
When the fuse blows, you have to thank him for saving his life and find out why he had to sacrifice himself before replacing it. There’s no point in replacing a fuse that just blows again, because the loose wire that caused the problem in the first place hasn’t been fixed.
How To Tell If You Have A Blown Fuse
NOTE: Visual inspection may not determine if a fuse is blown, so a multimeter or continuity tester should be used to check for a broken connection or voltage at the suspect fuse.
Safety Note: Do not replace a blown fuse with a higher capacity fuse. Wires and cars can burn to the ground before the fuse blows.
A circuit breaker is like a fuse that can be reset without replacing it. In addition to safety reasons, using a circuit breaker can be useful if you want to regularly run competition-level bass above your amp’s power capacity or if you need a secret switch to shut down your system. Some people don’t trust circuit breakers because they take a little longer to trip than comparable fuses, but it shouldn’t make any difference to your car audio setup.
The smallest fuse that will work in your system should provide enough current to support the maximum output of the amplifier. The only downside to using too small a fuse is the cost of replacing a fuse that blows when the amp is trying to produce rated power. The largest fuse size used will protect the power and ground wires from melting and will allow the amplifier to draw maximum current and produce maximum power output.
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For safe installation, power lines must use fuses no larger than the maximum amperage ratings listed in the following table. See the wire gauge chart for the size of wire used to mount the amplifier.
Chart Accuracy: The chart above should be used as a general guide. Many manufacturers specify cable specifications differently. If a discrepancy occurs, always use the fuse recommended by the cable manufacturer. If you are using the amplifier wiring kit, use the fuse provided with the kit.
Wire Material: This table is for stranded Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) wire approximately 15 feet long. Copper clad aluminum (CCA) and pure copper home wiring are generally not suitable for mobile audio applications due to their different ampacity and use different sized fuses.
Marine Fuses: Ordinary fuses and circuit breakers often produce small sparks when burned or tripped, making them dangerous in most marine applications and where gasoline vapors are present. Marine grade ignition protection fuses and circuit breakers are the safest way to protect your wiring at sea.
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Ignore built-in fuses that amplifiers and other devices may have by fusing power cables together. Plan your system fuses as if these fuses were not present and use fuses rated for the main supply line. These built-in fuses are there to protect individual devices and nothing else. Even if the amplifier’s fuse blows, nearby power and ground wires are still electrically live and dangerous. Remember that the main line fuse protects the wiring and your life. If something goes wrong, I want to shut down the entire system, including the wiring.
In multi-amp setups using distribution block wiring, some intrepid installers add fuses near amplifiers that do not have fuses installed. If one amplifier has a power problem and shuts down, the rest of the system still has power and can function without that amplifier.
Please call us when purchasing an amplifier and its installation kit. Make sure you have the correct power cords and fuses to keep your amp safely operating at its full potential.
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