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.
It is possible to use a home subwoofer in a car audio system, but it’s important to be aware of the differences in power requirements and sound quality between home and car subwoofers. Overpowering the subwoofer can cause damage, so it’s crucial to match the impedance and power handling capabilities of the subwoofer with the car amplifier.
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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 theater 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 theater subwoofer is simply a matter of running the correct cables from the subwoofer to the car’s amplifier.
Powered home theater 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 theater subwoofer in a car, you will need an inverter that converts the car’s voltage to the proper voltage for the subwoofer.
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 theater 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 not be enough for most subwoofers.
How Does Home Theater Subwoofer Work in Car?
Home theater subwoofers can be used in cars, but you need to ensure that the impedance of the subwoofer matches the impedance/power of the car amplifier.
If not, you risk damaging your equipment as most home theater subwoofers have an impedance of 8 ohms, whereas most car amplifiers have an impedance of 4 or 2 ohms.
To use a passive home theater subwoofer in a car, you can connect it to the car stereo’s amplifier through an inverter. However, note that you won’t get as much power and volume as you would with a car subwoofer.
Also, keep in mind that home theater 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.
In contrast, car subwoofers are designed to produce bass in closed spaces and are typically placed in even smaller areas, such as trunks.
How to Convert a Home Subwoofer Into a Car Audio Subwoofer?
Converting a home subwoofer into a car subwoofer requires removing the built-in amplifier and replacing it with a car amplifier.
To do this, you must remove all internal electronics from the home subwoofer.
Next, mount the car amplifier inside the subwoofer box. When choosing the amplifier, check whether the home subwoofer is a single voice coil (SVC) or a dual voice coil (DVC).
For an SVC sub, you will 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.
Once the amplifier is mounted, wire it to the subwoofer using the wiring diagram provided by the manufacturer of the amplifier or subwoofer.
Finally, test whether the home subwoofer is working as a car subwoofer by playing some music.
Car Subwoofer vs Home Subwoofer. The Main Differences.
Although both types of subwoofers are designed to provide low-end frequencies, car and home subwoofers have some significant differences.
Car subwoofers are typically smaller, more powerful, and have higher sensitivity than home subwoofers. On the other hand, home subwoofers are usually larger and require less powerful amplifiers.
Another significant difference between car and home subwoofers is their design. Car subwoofers are designed to work in small, closed areas, which helps to create deep, loud bass. Home subwoofers, on the other hand, are not as effective in cars due to their large size and lack of portability.
From a technical standpoint, the main difference between home and car subwoofers is their 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 theater subwoofer amplifier in a car. However, due to the voltage difference between home and car electronics, you will need to use an inverter to make it work.
The inverter will increase the voltage, allowing the home subwoofer amplifier to operate with a 12V car installation.
Can Home Theater Subwoofer Be Powered by Car Amplifier?
If you have a passive home theater subwoofer that you want to use in your car, it is possible to power it with a car amplifier. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Most importantly, note that the impedance of car amplifiers is typically lower than that of home amplifiers. This means that you do not need as much power as its home equivalent.
For instance, a 300W home subwoofer working with 16 ohms requires 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 of the home theater powered subwoofer into a voltage inverter and then connect the inverter to the car’s battery.
After that, run RCA cables from your car’s head unit to the subwoofer’s input.
How to Power a Home Subwoofer in Car?
There are two ways to power a home subwoofer in a car:
#1. The first method is for a passive home subwoofer. In this case, you need to connect a car amplifier to the subwoofer and then connect the amplifier to the car battery.
#2. The second method is for an active (or powered) home subwoofer. For this approach, you need to use a voltage inverter that transforms the 12V in the car installation into the voltage used at home (in US it is 110V).
This will enable you to use a home subwoofer in the car without requiring further modifications.