One of the most popular questions that car audio enthusiasts get asked is whether it is possible to use a car subwoofer at home.
While this may seem like an odd question, many people want to know if they can quickly transfer the subwoofer from the vehicle to their home theater or living room setup. So, can we use a car subwoofer at home? Let’s find out.
Car subwoofers can be used at home, but they have a lower impedance (4 or 2 Ohm) than subwoofers used in home audio systems (8 Ohm). Therefore, matching the subwoofer’s power consumption with the amplifier’s power output is crucial. The best way to ensure that the power ratings are the same is to install a car amplifier at home to deliver the correct power supply.
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Tip: Although it is possible to use car subwoofers at home, keep in mind that when using them at home, the sound quality will not always be as good as it would be inside the car.
This is because car subwoofers have been designed to work in small closed areas like car cabins.
In the article below, I will look at some of the critical factors you should consider when deciding which subwoofer type you can use at home.
Are Car And Home Subwoofers The Same?
Yes and no. Both have the same function but are built with different purposes. As such, there are some key differences and some different steps you’ll need to take depending on which subwoofer you’re using.
Cars are more likely to have passive subwoofers since they require additional power and are easier to put into cars. On the other hand, active subwoofers you’ll find in home theater systems and in most homes.
That being said, there are some other things to keep in mind with these subwoofers, especially if you are thinking of taking the one out of your car.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind.
Efficiency And Volume
One of the most significant points is the efficiency and volume of subwoofers at home and in your car. Any subwoofer designed for home entertainment will play at a fully optimized volume than any subwoofer in a car hands down. This efficiency is measured by how loud the speaker can get at any given power unit.
If you were to use your car subwoofer, you’ll need to use up more power to produce the same effect.
The reason this is the case comes down to how these subwoofers were made. The ones built for homes pump more air into the system in order to make a surround sound effect. This makes sense since these are used to provide surround sound in living rooms or large open spaces.
Subwoofers in cars, though, were designed to create sound in small and enclosed spaces – like cars. Of course, they’re not going to need a massive amount of power when you compare them to home subwoofers.
The other thing to consider is resistance differences, otherwise known as impedance. This means the amount of opposition a conductive item holds against electric current. You’ll find the resistance ratings are measured in Ohms.
When looking at this measurement, you’ll find that car subwoofers will have a resistance rating of 4 Ohms regardless of whether it’s low voltage or higher amperage designs. Home subwoofers offer a resistance rating of 8 Ohms.
Why is this so important? The lower resistance means the less amount of power that’s used to produce higher wattage units. This is why you’ll find these systems hooked to car batteries that produce upwards of 14 volts.
That said, the less resistance, the more chances of noise distortions and other interference will happen. Again, a car subwoofer is designed to be working with car batteries rather than a home entertainment system or traditional speaker setup.
How Do Car Subwoofers Work?
Regardless of whether the subwoofer is being designed for cars or for homes, a subwoofer’s function is still the same. It’s a loudspeaker that’s designed to reproduce low-pitched audio frequencies (otherwise known as bass and sub-bass).
How To Connect A Car Subwoofer At Home?
If you try plugging your car subwoofer and amplifier into a home power socket, the subwoofer and amp will fry. To avoid that, plug the subwoofer’s amplifier separately with a power inverter. After that, hook up that amplifier to the main amplifier of your sound system.
It’s as simple as that. However, if this is your first time doing something like this, here is a longer guide to help you get set up. It’s broken down into three simple steps, and they go as follows:
- Because you don’t want the system to fry when you plug the subwoofer and amp in, you’ll need a power inverter.
This power inverter should be strong enough to convert power from any home outlet to 12 volts. This inverter will be three-pronged, so you’ll need a three-pronged socket for that too.
You’ll want to plug the car amplifier into that inverter first and then into a wall socket.
- After that, connect the subwoofer to the car amplifier. To do this, you’ll need a 12 or 16-gauge speaker wire. You may want to check the amplifier and subwoofer’s manuals to see what type you’ll need.
Once that’s figured out, you’ll look to connect those wires to the terminal. This is done by inserting the brackets (U-shaped) under the terminals and twist-tightening the terminals. You’ll want the red wire to be with the red terminal and the black wire with the black terminal.
- Finally, you can link the subwoofer amp to the main amp. From there, you can connect the output ports to the extra amp’s input. You’ll be using RCA audio cables, which have only white and red plugs.
The only other thing to note is if you are hooking up other speakers, you’ll want to connect those speakers to the main amplifier. Don’t connect them to the same channels a subwoofer it’s connected to.
Should I Choose A Passive or Active Car Subwoofer For Home?
Cars will always have passive subwoofers built-in. The passive subwoofer is the only kind of subwoofer that can be powered by the car battery properly.
You don’t have a choice in that regard. However, you can always install active subwoofers in the trunk if you have the proper wiring for it.
I say this because of the key differences between active and passive subwoofers. In an active subwoofer, this will have internal amplification. Passive subwoofers will have external amplification.
Because of those characteristics, both subwoofers will have different types of wiring to them, which makes setting them up tricky.
Due to this wiring, you’ll find active subwoofers to be used in homes for home theater. Along with the fact they’re built for homes, they’re wired in a way where you’ll need to plug it into a socket. In theory, you could hook up active subwoofers into your car, provided you have the proper ports for them.
On the other hand, passives are located in cars for reasons mentioned above, such as they’re designed to be powered by car batteries and make sounds in enclosed spaces.
That said, the size of that power supply will depend on the size of your car as well as the volume that you have it up to. So if you have a truck, you’ll find the subwoofers to be larger than those found in the Civic brands.
While each subwoofer is designed for a particular purpose, you can still use these subwoofers interchangeably. There is no superior model. Just know that if you plan to go with a passive subwoofer, you’ll need an external power source. Furthermore, you’ll need an inverter and a separate amplifier.
Active subwoofers, on the other hand, are all built-in and don’t require additional power or equipment.
There is nothing wrong with using your car subwoofer for house events or hooking it up to a home theater. That said, there are some drawbacks to it.
You’ll have a lower quality sound, and you’ll need extra equipment in order to make it all work. But, if you have no other option, this is a good alternative.