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Old 25th October 2009, 12:32   #1
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Default The 'Big 3' Upgrade

In my quest to bring out the best from my current ICE set-up in the Wagon R, a little on-line research has led me to what is commonly referred to as the 'Big 3' power upgrades to the electrical system.

I would like to gain some more knowledge on this topic and would appreciate inputs from the folks in the know.

OR

Request mods to direct me to specific threads/posts here on the ICE forum that specifically address this topic and the queries below.(My search of the ICE section did not yield specific threads)

Some top of mind queries are:
  • What exactly is the Big 3 power upgrade in connection with ICE and the electrical system?
  • When should one go in for this upgrade and, how important is its role to get the best out of after mrket ICE?
  • Can the upgrade be done at a mechanic or A.S.S or is an experienced installer preferable?
  • How does one go about this upgrade?
  • What should one watch out for?
  • What would be the ideal gauge of wiring and also type of wiring and brands available and their cost ?
  • What tools and components are required and where can they be bought?
Thank you.

Last edited by pranava999 : 25th October 2009 at 12:38.
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Old 25th October 2009, 13:53   #2
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your system gets the required voltage and current from the electrical system and yet sometimes the electrical system isnt as reliable as it could be because the original cables of the electrical system were designed to be capable of powering the necessary electrical requirements of the vehicle as it comes standard

adding lots of audio equipment adds more strain to the electrical system and sometimes it is wise to upgrade the bits of the electrical system that will power the audio system. Also most of the time you will use thick power cable to yur amplifiers, but this gets restricted by the current carrying capability of the electrical system itself

we know that when the vehicle is switched on the power for the amplifiers comes from the alternator which also charges the battery but when the vehicle is switched off the power is supplied by the battery itself so normally from the battery to the amplifier we use a large gauge cable to the amplifiers to allow the amplifier to recieve enough current but when the vehicle is switched on the battery is connected to the alternator via a cable which can become a bottle neck

hence to do two things :

1) increase current carrying capability
2) decrease resistance

we need to ensure that the cables that do these jobs are thick enough to perform the task adequately

some people would replace the cables that are already there but many others would prefer not to tamper with the cable thats already there since it could affect your warranty to remove those hence it isnt a problem to add more cable to the existing ones since the two together act effectively like one thicker one

the cables you replace are :

1) from the positive terminal of the battery to the positive terminal of the alternator : obviously because this is the cable that connects the alternator to the battery to perform the functions we have stated above

2) then remember that ground completes a circuit hence you want the same thickness of cable from the negative terminal of the cable to the chassis of the vehicle

3) then the alternator is ground to the engine by virtue of the fact that its bolted onto the engine but you would find a ground strap from the engine block to the chassis and you can replace this (some older cars may have a cable from the alternator ground to the chassis or maybe even to the engine block itself and then from the block to the chassis) cars may differ on this so its best to know what to replace on each individual vehicle for this aspect, it just depends on how complex (or simple) the design of your vehicle is

you could get a mechanic or auto electrician to do this for you as long as you properly explain to them what needs to be done and why BUT having said that an experienced installer would find it easier to sort it out for you since they would already know what to do and why to do it and how it is most effectively done. You could also DIY if you know a bit about car parts and how those fit together and what tools are required to assemble and disassemble them

in terms of thickness of cable the thicker the better but ive never come across a car a car with any type of system that needed more than 1/0 AWG (commonly referred to as 0 gauge) but if you are adding to the existing cable you can get away with using 4 AWG for a small or medium sized system but if you are taking the trouble of doing the procedure then id advise using the thickest cable you can find just because it allows for futureproofing ie if you improve the system and enlarge your amplification requirements you wont need to redo the whole procedure with thicker cable later. On the other hand it might be an expensive route to take using the best and thickest cable you can find but you wouldnt be doing this procedure unless you really wanted to improve the audio system and its circumstances .... right ???

in terms of tools and availability of materials and also in terms of brands of materials i cannot comment a lot more because those would vary from area to area and also from car to car and whether your country uses empirical or metric system for tools - and im in South Africa so i could be saying the wrong thing in this regard so i wont comment on that at all and im sure someone closer to you could help you in that regard

Last edited by naughty001 : 25th October 2009 at 13:55.
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Old 27th October 2009, 14:10   #3
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Thanks Naughty that was really informative.

So can one use 4 gauge wire in addition to what's been added as stock? That is running 2 cables each (stock+4 ga) or does one have to completely replace the OE ones if they are thinner than 4 ga?

Also are there any tell tale signs or give away that hint at an upgrade?

Last edited by pranava999 : 27th October 2009 at 14:12.
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Old 28th October 2009, 03:36   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pranava999 View Post
Thanks Naughty that was really informative.

So can one use 4 gauge wire in addition to what's been added as stock? That is running 2 cables each (stock+4 ga) or does one have to completely replace the OE ones if they are thinner than 4 ga?

Also are there any tell tale signs or give away that hint at an upgrade?
the idea is that if the vehicle has a warranty - then just leave the stock ones there - the addition of 4 gauge would help the stock ones to do the job because both together would act as the one thick one

tell tale signs for me would be if your battery or starter start to struggle ie if the car hesitates when starting up (though its already very late by then) or even if your headlights dim in tune to the music (i would not use a cap for that - rather upgrade the cables because the amplifier already has many smaller caps for the purpose that many people use a big cap for and those already have a small enough ESR and ESL ..... but caps are best left for another discussion).
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