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Can I use speaker wire for ground in car audio?

Are you an avid car driver and music lover looking to upgrade your vehicle’s audio system? If so, you may have wondered if you can use speaker wire for ground in car audio.

Speaker wire can be used as a ground wire in a low-performing car audio system, but it is not recommended for more powerful systems. Speaker wire is not designed to handle the high currents, which can lead to problems such as:

#1. Poor performance

#2. Electrical shorts

#3. System damage

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Tip: Ground wires play a crucial role in a car audio system, providing a return path for the electrical current and helping ensure the system operates safely and effectively.

In addition, ground wires should have the same gauge as the main power wires to avoid any power losses or overheating issues.

When you are searching for good ground wires, I recommend checking out Knukonceptz Kollosus Flex (link to Amazon).

I have been using those wires, and they provide exceptional quality with high flexibility, which is important to me while running them through the car chassis.

In this article, I will explore why a speaker wire is not recommended for use as a ground wire in a car audio system and discuss some alternative options that are better suited for this purpose.

Why should I not use the speaker wire as a ground wire?

One of the main reasons why a speaker wire is not recommended for use as a ground wire in a car audio system is that it is not designed to handle the high currents and voltage that may be present in the system.

Speaker wire is primarily intended for use as a conductor for audio signals and is not built to withstand the high electrical demands of a car audio system.

Using speaker wire as a ground wire can lead to several problems, including:

#1. Poor performance

The inadequate wire gauge of the speaker wire may not be able to handle the high currents and voltage present in a car audio system, leading to poor performance and suboptimal sound quality.

#2. Electrical shorts

Speaker wire is not designed to handle the high electrical loads that may be present in a car audio system. Using it as a ground wire could cause electrical shorts and other problems.

#3. System damage

Using speaker wire as a ground wire could cause damage to the car’s audio system or even a fire.

While speaker wire may be sufficient for a ground wire in a basic car audio setup, it is generally not recommended for use in more complex or high-performance systems.

Which wires are good for car audio ground?

So, if a speaker wire is not the best choice for use as a ground wire in a car audio system, what are some alternative options?

One option is to use a dedicated ground wire specifically designed for the electrical demands of a car audio system.

This type of wire is typically thicker and more durable than speaker wire, and it can handle the high currents present in a car audio system more effectively.

Many wires are available on the market, but my favorite is the KnuKonceptz Kolossus Flex Kable OFC (link to Amazon).

This high-quality power and the ground wire is made from oxygen-free copper (OFC) and features a flexible, braided design. 

It is available in various gauges and is suitable for both high-power and low-power car audio systems.

Pros:

#1. OFC construction provides excellent conductivity

#2. Flexible design makes it easy to install

#3. Available in a range of gauges.

Cons:

#1. More expensive than some other options.

How to install ground wire in a car audio system:

Once you have chosen the appropriate wire for your car audio system, it’s time to install it. There are a few different methods that you can use to install ground wire in a car audio system, but here are some basic steps:

#1. Disconnect any existing ground wires from the amplifier and other components in the car audio system.

#2. If you do not have an existing ground wire installed, find a suitable ground point on the vehicle.

This is typically a metal bolt or screw attached to the car’s chassis.

Some common ground points include the bolt that holds the seat belt to the floor, the bolt that holds the seat to the floor, or the bolt that holds the rear seat to the floor.

#3. Clean the surface around the ground point to ensure good contact. Use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove any dirt, rust, or other debris from the surface of the ground point.

Make sure the connection point is clean, and the ground wire connector touches the chassis bare metal.

#4. Attach the ground wire to the ground point. Use a wire stripper to expose a few inches of bare wire at the end of the ground wire, and then wrap the bare wire around the ground point.

Use a wire connector or a crimp terminal to secure the ground wire to the ground point.

#5. Run the new ground wire from the ground point to the amplifier. Make sure the wire is routed away from any moving parts and hot surfaces.

In some cases, especially in the more powerful systems, you may find that ground wire connects directly from the amplifier to the car battery.

I also use this connection type, which allows me to reduce any risk of reduced current flow.

Conclusion

In summary, while speaker wire can technically be used as a ground wire in a car audio system, it is not the ideal choice unless you use it as a temporary solution to replace car stereo ground, for example.

Using speaker wire for car amplifiers is not recommended because the speaker wire is not designed to handle the high currents and voltage present in a car audio system, and using it as a ground wire can lead to problems such as poor performance, electrical shorts, or worse, a fire caused by overheated connections.

It is generally recommended to use dedicated ground wire or other specialized wire types, such as braided ground straps, for grounding in a car audio system to ensure proper performance and safety.