Can I Run a Car Stereo off a Battery Charger?


A few months back, I was going to sell my old car, but I love its stereo system. So I decided to keep it for my studio, but there was a question in my mind: Can I use a battery charger to run a car stereo?

In general, you can use a battery charger to run a car stereo. Every car stereo needs 12 volts for its operation, and a battery charger can provide 12 – 14 volts and even more. Most basic battery chargers are rated at 5-10 amps, and powerful ones can provide 25-30 amps output current what makes them sufficient to power a car stereo.

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Tip – Before connecting the car stereo with a battery charger, make sure to measure the output voltage of the battery charger with a good multimeter.

I use an AstroAI Multimeter to measure all electrical parameters, and I am pleased with its quality. 

Using a battery charger, you can use your car stereo as a portable music system while partying at the pool or listen to your favorite podcast. 

In this article, I will show you how you can connect your car stereo with a battery charger and other available power sources like a computer power supply, laptop charger, etc. 

How Can I Power My Car Stereo Without a Car?

All car stereos need a 12 volts DC power source to power up. The direct current power source can be a separate car battery, a desktop power supply, or a battery charger. 

To power your car stereo without a car, connect the positive and negative wire of the car stereo with the positive and negative terminal of the 12 volts DC source. Now power up the DC source, and you will see that your car stereo is playing songs in no time. 

Below are the few steps to connect a car stereo without a car:

  • The first step is to find the power wires of the stereo. Usually, all stereos have two to three power wires. The red and yellow wires are for positive DC input, and black is for ground or negative. If you are using an aftermarket car stereo, then the color coding may vary. 
  • Turn on the DC source and check the output of voltage using a multimeter. It should be near about 12 volts. 
  • Make sure the DC source is turned off. Connect the red and yellow wires (positive input) of the stereo to the positive terminal of the DC source and the negative black wire of the stereo to the battery’s negative terminal. 
  • Turn the DC source on, and now you are ready to play the favorite sounds from the car stereo.

While making connections, ensure that positive and negative wires do not touch each other or the stereo’s surface. 

How Do You Hook Up a Battery Charger to a Car Stereo?

As you already know, you can use a car battery charger to power up your car stereo, but how to do it in the right way?

To hook up a battery charger to a car stereo, connect the red and yellow wire of the car stereo to the positive terminal of the battery charger and the black wire of stereo to the negative terminal of the charger. 

You will need a wire cuttercrimping tool, and alligator clips to make neat and clean connections. To make connections safe, cover all with insulating tape.

To power up the car stereo using a battery charger, follow the steps below:

  • Take out the car stereo from the car’s dashboard and place it near the battery charger on a wooden floor or any other insulated surface. 
  • You will notice wires coming out from the back of the car stereo. First, remove the insulation of black, red, and yellow cables using a wire cutter.
  • Now take the red and yellow wire of the car stereo, join them together, put the joint into a crocodile clip, and crimp the joint using the crimping tool.
  • Take the black ground wire of the car stereo and crimp a crocodile clip onto it.
  • Now turn to the car battery charger and make sure it is off. Next, connect the red and yellow wire crocodile clip to the positive terminal of the battery charger and the black crocodile clip to the negative terminal of the battery charger. 
  • Turn on the battery charger, and you are good to go. You should tape all the bare copper connections for safety purposes and double-check that positive and negative wires do not touch each other before turning on the battery charger. 

What Can I Use to Power a Car Stereo at Home?

All the appliances at our home use AC voltage whereas car stereo runs at 12 volts DC voltage. Because of that, you cannot directly plug in your car stereo wires into your home’s socket. 

To power a car stereo at home, you need an AC to DC Converter with a 12V output. For this, you can either use a car battery or a dedicated DC supply of 12 volts or a power supply from a PC.

If you don’t have an AC to DC Converter or a power supply, you can use a mobile charger to power a car stereo at home. Most mobile phone chargers have output voltage between 5 – 12 volts, making them suitable to power a car stereo. 

Below are few steps that you can follow to use a mobile charger to power a car stereo at home:

  • First, cut the USB cable of the mobile charger from the side that is plugged into your phone. There are two wires in the USB cable, one of them is positive, and the other one is negative. 
  • Connect the positive wire of the mobile phone charger to the red and yellow wire of the car stereo and the negative wire of the mobile charger to the black wire of the car stereo. 
  • Now plug the charger into the wall socket, and you will see that your car stereo is powered up.

You can check the positive and negative polarity of the wires of a mobile charger using a multimeter. Turn the multimeter knob to DC voltage and touch the multimeter leads to the wires of the mobile charger.

If the voltage reading is positive, then the wire touching the red lead of the multimeter is positive, and the wire that connects the black lead of the multimeter is negative.

If you want to use a DC from your computer to power up the stereo at home, the steps to make connections are the same as explained above.

What is the Best Battery Charger for Car Audio?

When it comes to battery chargers for your car audio, I prefer to choose a handy charger that I can also use it to charge the car battery.

Here is the list of the car battery chargers with their voltage and current ratings that I recommend to power up your car stereo. 

ModelVoltageAmperage
Battery Tender Junior12V750 mA
NOCO Genius 16V / 12V12 – 40 Amp
Schumacher SC-12816V / 12V30 Amp
NOCO Geniuspro 256V / 12V / 24V25 Amp
Schumacher SC130612V20A – 80A
Battery chargers to power car radio

How Do You Power a Car Amp With a Battery Charger?

Along with a car stereo, you need good speakers and amplifiers to create a good audio experience. A car amp needs roughly around 12 -14 dc voltage for its operation, and the good news is you can use a battery charger to power it up.

Amplifiers have three terminals positive (+12V), negative (ground), and remote ON. To power a car amp with a battery charger, connect the amp’s positive terminal to the battery charger’s positive terminal and do the same with the negative terminals.

To activate remote ON, place a loop of wire between +12V and remote ON of the amp. 

The remote wire on the amp is used to turn it on and off, but in a car, this wire connects directly to your stereo. To make the connection at home, you have two options:

  • Connect the positive wire of an external battery charger with that from your amplifier, or
  • Add a switch between them using some extra wires (and make sure nothing shorts out!).

The best battery charger to power a car amp is NOCO Genius1and it can power up both class D and A/B amplifiers. 

Can I Use a Computer Power Supply for a Car Stereo?

It may sound confusing at first to use a computer power supply or ATX power supply to power up a car stereo as PC power supplies come with different connectors with many wires attached to them. 

You can use a computer power supply for a car stereo because it can provide sufficient voltage (12-14 DC volts) to turn on the stereo. 

Some of the power supplies have a switch on their back for 110V AC and 220V AC input. Make sure to turn it onto the respective voltage input. For example, a new pc supply has a 24 pin connector, and its diagram is shown below.

Follow the simple steps below to turn on the car stereo using a computer power supply:

  • Make sure that the power supply is disconnected from the mains.
  • To turn on the supply, you have to connect a green power supply wire with the black wire. You can use a wire loop to connect point 16 (PS_ON) and 17 (GND) on the connector. 
  • To supply positive and negative input to our stereo, cut yellow (+12 volts) and black wires (Ground) from the power supply depending on our current requirements. Generally, you can cut three yellow and three black wires from different connectors.
  • Take the yellow wires (+12 volts) from the computer power supply and connect them with the red and yellow wire of the stereo. You can solder them together and then put a heat sink on the joint.
  • Next, solder or crimp the black wires from the PC power supply to the stereo’s ground wire.

● Now turn on the power supply, and your stereo will start working in no time.

Computer power supplies are available in different ratings ranging from 150W to 500W or more. They can supply current 15 amps or more, making them a suitable power source for most car stereos. 

Can I Power the Car Stereo With a Laptop Charger?

A laptop does not have an internal power supply like a pc because it has a battery that needs a DC to charge.

A laptop charger can be used to power a car stereo because it supplies DC voltage. To calculate laptop charger output, multiply the rated DC voltage with the current shown at the laptop adapter. 

My laptop charger rating is 12 volts and 5 amp. So rated DC power output will be 12V x 5A = 60A, which is sufficient to power a car stereo.

To connect the car stereo to the laptop charger, follow the steps below:

  • Cut the laptop pin connector from the side you charge your laptop. You will see that there are two wires, positive red and negative black.
  • Connect the red and yellow wire of the stereo with the red wire of the laptop charger and the black wire of the stereo with the black wire of the laptop charger.
  • Now plug the charger into the main socket, and your stereo is ready to play your favorite tunes.

Before connecting the laptop charger to your stereo, check its output voltage and current. You don’t want any excess power damaging your equipment!

Conclusion

Connecting car stereo to battery charger is easy. You can use a spare stereo and turn it into a home theatre.

If you don’t have a spare battery charger, you can use an extra battery, a regulated DC supply, computer power supply, or laptop charger to power up the car stereo.

Martin

Welcome to ImproveCarAudio! I am Martin, and I love to write about everything related to car sound systems. I strive to provide the most accurate and helpful information about car audio through extensive research, as well as my experience with car audio installations.

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