I recently decided to upgrade the sound system in my car when I noticed I had an extra subwoofer leftover in my living room.
With the variety of subwoofers available on the market today, I knew it would be easier if I could convert the one from home and install it in a car. But, can I actually use a home subwoofer in my car? Let’s find out.
In general, although there are a few differences between home and car subwoofers, home subwoofers can be used in cars with some simple conversions.
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Tip: Regardless of the type of subwoofer, you have to have a car amplifier. Most home subwoofers work with a high voltage, but your car battery only produces 12-volts, therefore a quality car amplifier will be mandatory.
For the subwoofer alone, you do not need more channels than two, and if you want to install just one subwoofer, I can recommend a BOSS R1100M monoblock amplifier.
Below, I will go over what I found in my research about the differences in subwoofers and the process of installing them in your car.
What Is the Difference Between a Car Subwoofer and a Home Subwoofer?
The main difference between a car and a home subwoofer is their sie and how much air pressure they create. Home subwoofers are designed to work in large open areas, while car subwoofers have to work in a small closed vehicle cabin. Another key difference between home and car subwoofers is how you power them.
Home subwoofers are plugged into a socket and use that electricity for power. Car subwoofers, on the other hand, are known as passive subwoofers.
This means they’re wired into an external amplifier, which is then used to drive the speaker. This allows users to choose the right power level amplifier to drive the unit. This all depends on your vehicle’s size and power of the sound system, as well as how much volume you’re looking to get out of your speakers.
Home subwoofers have a self-contained amplifier and are considered active subwoofers. This self-contained amplifier only powers the subwoofer itself and is, therefore, a little more cost-effective.
For this reason, many people want to install home subwoofers in their vehicles, but the cost of hooking this system up can negate what you’re saving upfront.
The efficiency differs as well. Home subwoofers require a lower number of wattage to power themselves and produce more volume levels. On the other hand, most car subwoofers require much higher amounts of wattage power to get the same decibel level in your vehicle. They’re designed this way because home subwoofers need to cover more space than a car’s subwoofers.
Your vehicle is a lot smaller than your living room, so a home subwoofer’s efficiency needs to be a lot higher than one for your car.
In order to hook this kind of system into your car, it requires having to convert the system. Read on to find out more about connecting a home subwoofer to a car amplifier.
How to convert a home subwoofer into a car audio subwoofer?
I had no issues in converting my home theatre subwoofer to work in my car. I found some tutorials online to be very helpful but generally followed the steps with ease.
I’ve also added some notes in case your conversion is different than mine.
There are some modifications that need to be done to get your home subwoofer converted to hook up to your car’s amplifier.
Remove electronics from inside of the bass box
Once you have the right amplifier, then it’s time to remove the electronics from the subwoofer. Remove the screws and remove the assembly to get inside the subwoofer. Cut off the wires that go to the speaker itself and get rid of the power cord. After this, you have to determine how many voice coils the speaker has. This will help you determine how to wire the subwoofer.
Connect subwoofer to the amplifier
Now it’s time to attach your amplifier to the top of the subwoofer using some wood screws to create a self-contained unit. Wire the amplifier to the subwoofer by connecting the positive wire from the speaker onto the positive terminal on one channel of the amplifier and the negative wire to the other channel’s negative terminal.
If the speaker has four wires, do this the same way. The wires running from the amplifier need to be wired to the outermost terminals on the speakers. Then, there should be a small jumper wire between the two middle terminals. This connection is known as a “bridge.”
That’s it! Connect the amplifier up to the subwoofer channel on your car’s stereo, and you should be good to go. With a little work and some conversion, it’s not hard at all to get your home subwoofer working in your car.
For visual learners, it might be helpful to consult a visual guide. There are many videos on YouTube and other platforms that will walk you through the process of converting your home subwoofer and installing it in your car.
The video below from Crutchfield is very straightforward with the process, allowing you to pause and catch up when you need to.
Do I need two subwoofers, or is one enough?
In my research, I found that if you include a home subwoofer in your car, you only need one.
Because of the surface that the sound is covering, a home subwoofer will be sufficient for your needs. However, if you find that the subwoofer you’re using is quite small or you’re getting uneven bass distribution, you can look into getting two and hooking them up to the same sound system.
This would even out the bass levels and make sure you’re getting the sound quality you desire. If you’re going the route of purchasing new subwoofers, it’s helpful to make sure you’re choosing one that’s of great quality if you’re sticking to a single subwoofer because of space issues.
If you do have the space to make use of dual subwoofers, then the smaller units can be more space-efficient while still providing great sound levels and quality. This also ensures a balance in sound across your vehicle. But as I mentioned earlier, it all depends on your car’s size.
Will the home subwoofer drain my car battery faster?
While the voltage required to power both speakers is different, your car battery may drain faster. If you have knowledge of circuits and electric connections, you can break the connection to convert this to be more efficient. If you don’t have the knowledge required to do this, take it to your local shop so they can fix the voltage.
This ensures your safety in the process and the health of your car battery in the long run. You can also utilize an inverter to fix this issue as well.
Do they sound the same?
As mentioned above, a home subwoofer is meant to cover an entire room, whereas a car subwoofer only needs to fill a car cabin with sound. This might cause your home subwoofer to produce louder noises that may also be distorted when connecting to the amplifier.
What factors will affect my subwoofer’s performance?
Sensitivity, frequency response, cone build material, and enclosure type can all affect your subwoofer’s performance. The larger the sub generally means, the deeper the bass, but it also depends on the enclosure type.
If you’re aiming to achieve deeper lows, look for subwoofers (or multiple if going the dual sub route) designed to be used in a sealed box with the lowest frequency possible.
In conclusion, yes, you can use a home subwoofer in your car. Despite needing some simple conversions to do so, it’s a process that can be completed in an afternoon and will upgrade your car’s audio system.
Can You Connect a Home Theater Sub to a Car?
The home theatre subwoofer can be connected to a car’s audio system, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
#1. The subwoofer must be compatible with the car’s audio system.
#2. The subwoofer must be properly powered by the correct amplifier.
#3. The subwoofer must be properly connected.
Home theatre subwoofers are typically passive devices, meaning they require an external amplifier to power them.
Car audio systems use amplifiers designated for the subwoofers, so connecting a passive home theatre subwoofer is simply a matter of running the correct cables from the subwoofer to the car’s amplifier.
Powered home theatre subwoofers are a different story. These subwoofers have their own internal amplifiers and can be connected directly to the car’s audio system without needing an external amplifier.
However, because they are designed for home use, they may not be compatible with the voltages used in a car’s electrical system.
To use a powered home theatre subwoofer in a car, you will need an inverter that converts the car’s voltage to the proper voltage for the subwoofer.
As you know, home theatre subwoofers are designed to work with 120-volt AC power, but in the car, there is 12-volt DC power.
In order to use a home theatre subwoofer in your car, you will need an inverter (link to Amazon) that converts the 12-volt DC power in your vehicle to 120-volt AC power.
The inverter must be able to handle the wattage of the subwoofer. Most home theatre subwoofers require between 100 and 200 watts of power, so the inverter must be able to support that.
In addition to the inverter, you will need a way to power the inverter. The easiest way to do this is to connect it to the car’s battery, but most have a connection to the cigarette lighter.
The downside of connecting the inverter to the cigarette lighter is that in most cars it supports only up to 10 amps (fuse limitation), therefore this will be not enough for most subwoofers.
How Does Home Theater Subwoofer Work in Car?
Home theatre subwoofers can work in cars, but you have to match the impedance of the woofer with the impedance/power of the car amplifier.
Otherwise, you might damage your equipment because home theatre subwoofers are usually 8 ohms, while most car amplifiers are 4 or 2 ohms.
You can use a passive home theatre subwoofer in a car by connecting it to the car stereo’s amplifier through an inverter, but you will not be able to get as much power and volume as you would with a car subwoofer.
It is also worth remembering that home theatre subwoofers are designed to reproduce low-frequency sounds (bass) in an open space and are usually placed in the front or back of a room.
On the other hand, car subwoofers are designed to produce bass in closed spaces and are usually placed in even smaller arras like trunks.
How to Convert a Home Subwoofer Into a Car Audio Subwoofer?
To convert the home subwoofer into a car subwoofer means you must remove the built-in amplifier and replace it with the car amplifier.
To do this, you will need to also remove all internal electronics from the home subwoofer.
Next, you need to mount the car amplifier inside the subwoofer box. When choosing the amplifier, check if the home subwoofer is a single voice coil (SVC) or a dual voice coil (DVC).
For an SVC sub, you need a monoblock or bridged stereo amplifier, but for a DVC sub, you will need a 2-channel amplifier to wire both voice coils correctly.
After the amplifier is mounted, you will need to wire it to the subwoofer. The wiring diagram should be provided by the manufacturer of the amplifier or subwoofer.
Now you can test if the home subwoofer is working as a car subwoofer by playing some music.
Car Subwoofer vs Home Subwoofer. The Main Differences.
Although both subwoofer types are designed to provide low-end frequencies, car and home subwoofers are quite different.
Car subwoofers are typically smaller, more powerful and have a higher sensitivity than home subwoofers. On the other hand, home subwoofers are usually larger and require less powerful amplifiers.
Another main difference is that car subwoofers are designed to work in small closed areas. This design helps to create deep, loud bass.
Home subwoofers, on the other hand, are not as effective in cars because of their large size and lack of portability.
From the technical side, the main difference between the home and car subwoofers is the impedance.
Car subwoofers have a lower impedance (2 or 4 ohms) than home subwoofers (8 ohms). The lower the impedance, the more power the subwoofer can handle.
Can I Use Home Subwoofer Amplifier in Car?
It is possible to use a home theatre subwoofer amplifier in a car, but because there is a voltage difference, you have to use an inverter.
The inverter increases the voltage, so the home subwoofer amplifier can work in your car with 12V installation.
Can Home Theater Subwoofer Be Powered by Car Amplifier?
If you have a passive home theatre subwoofer that you want to use in your car, you can power it with a car amplifier.
One thing you must remember is the impedance that is usually lower in the car amplifiers, so it does not have to be as powerful as its home equivalent.
For example, for a 300W home subwoofer working with 16 ohms, you will need no more than a 150W 4 ohms car amplifier.
How to Connect Powered Home Subwoofer in Car?
The easiest way is to plug the power cord from the home theater powered subwoofer to the voltage inverter and then connect the inverter to the car’s battery.
After that, run RCA cables from the head unit in your car to the input in the subwoofer.
How to Power a Home Subwoofer in Car?
There are two ways to power a home subwoofer in a car.
#1. The first one is for the passive home subwoofer. In this case, you need to connect a car amplifier to the subwoofer and then the amplifier to the car battery.
#2. The second one is for an active (or powered) home subwoofer. For this method, you have to use a voltage inverter that transforms the 12V in the car installation into 220V.
This will allow you to use a home subwoofer in the car without further modifications.