Upgrading to a High Output Car Audio Alternator




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When it comes to car audio systems, power is king. The more you have, the better the sound, especially for those high-powered components like amplifiers, subwoofers, and high-end speakers. This is where a high-output alternator comes in.

High output alternator is specially designed to deliver higher amp levels consistently, meeting the power demands of a high-powered audio system without draining car’s battery or impacting the function of other electrical systems in your car.

Key Takeaways
Upgrading to a high-output car audio alternator is essential for the optimal performance of your audio system as they generate more electrical current than standard alternators, providing increased power and efficiency.
Benefits of upgrading include improved sound quality, increased power for high-powered audio systems, and better overall performance.
When upgrading, factors to consider include amperage, compatibility, and quality of the alternator. Upgrading may also require upgrading other components, such as the battery, wiring, and fuses.
Installing a high-output alternator can be done yourself if you have the necessary skills, but professional installation is recommended for those who are unsure.
Costs associated with upgrading include the purchase price of the alternator and potential installation fees.
Without a properly functioning alternator, the car’s battery will not be able to recharge, and the audio system will not be able to operate correctly.

Check out my detailed guide on the role of an alternator in a car audio system for more information.

Understanding High Output Alternators

If you’ve ever wondered why some car audio systems sound so much better than others, the secret might lie under the hood, specifically, with the alternator.

What is a High Output Alternator?

A high output alternator, as the name implies, is an alternator that can generate more electrical current than a standard alternator. While a typical alternator might generate around 60 to 120 amps, a high output alternator can churn out anywhere between 200 and 350 amps, or even higher in some cases.

The Benefits of Upgrading to a High Output Alternator

So, why consider upgrading to a high output alternator? Here are some key benefits:

#1. Increased Power: High output alternators provide more power to your car’s electrical system. This means your high-powered audio system gets the power it needs to deliver high-quality sound.

#2. Improved Efficiency: High-output alternators operate more efficiently under heavy loads. This means they can run your audio system (and any other power-hungry accessories) without straining your car’s battery or electrical system.

#3. Better Sound Quality: This is where the magic happens. With more power and better efficiency, a high output alternator can dramatically improve your car’s audio quality.

upgrading car audio alternator to a high output model

When Do You Need to Upgrade Your Car’s Alternator for a Car Audio System?

If you’re noticing any of these signs, it might be time to consider upgrading your alternator:

  • Dimming or flickering lights: This is a classic sign that your car’s electrical system is struggling to keep up with the demands of your audio system.
  • Audio system underperformance: If your car’s audio system doesn’t sound as good as it should, or if it performs inconsistently, your alternator might be the issue.
  • Frequent battery drain: If your battery is frequently drained despite being in good condition, your alternator might not be providing enough power to recharge it properly.

Moreover, the needs of your audio system play a key role. If you’ve installed a high-powered audio system that requires more power than your current alternator can deliver, an upgrade is way to go.

For instance, if your audio system is drawing 200 amps but your current alternator only delivers 100 amps, you’ll likely need a high output alternator to fill the gap. The higher amp delivery ensures your sound system gets the power it needs to perform at its best.

How to Upgrade to a High Output Alternator for Car Audio

Assessing Your Needs: Using a Car Audio Alternator Calculator

The first step in this exciting upgrade journey involves figuring out just how much power your car’s audio system needs. Remember, we want to match the power needs of your audio system with the power output of the alternator.

This is where a car audio alternator calculator comes in handy. This tool helps you estimate the power demands of your audio system in terms of amperage, a crucial factor in choosing the right high output alternator. 

You simply input the total wattage of your audio system, and it will estimate the required amperage.

Choosing the Right Alternator: High Output Alternator Amperage and Kits

Now that you have an idea of your power needs, the next step is selecting the right high output alternator. When choosing an alternator, consider the following factors:

  • Amperage: The output amperage of the alternator should be able to support the power demands of your car audio system without putting undue stress on the rest of your vehicle’s electrical system.
  • Compatibility: The alternator should be compatible with your vehicle model. Some high output alternators are universal, while others are designed for specific vehicle models.
  • Quality: Like any other car part, alternators vary in quality. Look for well-built, durable high output alternators from reputable brands.

Installation Process: Can You Install a High Output Alternator Yourself?

I’m often asked, “Can I install a high output alternator myself?” If you’re handy with car repairs and have some technical knowledge, you can pull it off.

It involves disconnecting the car battery, removing the old alternator, installing the new one, and reconnecting everything. However, if you’re uncomfortable working on your car’s electrical system, I recommend hiring a professional.

Remember, while installing a high output alternator may seem straightforward, it’s essential to get it right. A poorly installed alternator can cause more problems than it solves.

In any case, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your high output alternator or kit. They should provide a detailed guide for the installation process.

Costs and Maintenance Associated with High Output Alternators

Investing in a high output alternator for your car audio system is an exciting prospect. However, like all investments, it’s wise to understand the associated costs and maintenance requirements. So, let’s delve into that.

How Much Does It Cost to Upgrade to a High Output Alternator?

As you might expect, the cost to upgrade to a high output alternator can vary significantly, depending on a few key factors:

#1. The Alternator Itself: The cost of the alternator will largely depend on the output amperage and the quality of the product.

Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to over $600 for a high output alternator. Models like the high amp, high-output alternators, especially those that produce 320 amps or more, tend to be on the higher end of the price range.

#2. Installation Costs: If you decide to have a professional install the alternator, you’ll need to consider the cost of labor.

This can vary depending on the complexity of the installation and the rates of the shop you choose. Generally, professional installation can range from $100 to $200.

Maintaining a High Output Alternator

Now, once you’ve got your shiny new high output alternator installed, you want to keep it running smoothly. Here are a few maintenance tips:

#1. Regular Inspection: Just like any other part of your car, your alternator benefits from regular inspection. Keep an eye out for signs of wear or damage.

Strange noises, dimming lights, or electrical issues can all be signs that your alternator needs attention.

#2. Belt Tension: Make sure the alternator belt is properly tensioned and in good condition. A loose or worn-out belt can reduce the efficiency of your alternator.

#3. Keep It Clean: Alternators can gather dust and dirt, which can hinder their performance over time. Keep your alternator clean and free from debris to ensure it operates at its best.

#4. Professional Check-ups: If you’re not comfortable inspecting the alternator yourself, have it checked by a professional during your regular car service.

Best Brands for High Output Alternators

Choosing the right brand for your high output alternator can make a significant difference in the longevity and performance of your car audio system.

There are numerous brands in the market, each with its unique offerings. Here, I’ll share some of my favorite brands known for their high-quality, high output alternators.

#1. Mechman Alternators: Mechman is a respected name when it comes to high output alternators. They offer alternators with different amperage ratings, fitting a wide range of vehicle makes and models.

What I personally admire about Mechman is their commitment to quality and performance.

#2. DC Power Engineering: This brand is known for its high-quality, high-performance, high output alternators.

Their products are well-built and designed to handle the power demands of high amp car audio systems. I’ve had good experiences with their alternators—they tend to be durable and reliable.

#3. PowerBastards: PowerBastards is serious about power. They offer a wide range of high output alternators with high amp ratings and multi-alternator customized solutions. Many car audio enthusiasts swear by this brand for their power needs.

#4. Singer Alternators: Singer has made a name for itself in the car audio community with their high-output alternators.

These units are built to last and can handle the demands of high-powered audio systems with ease.

Additional Components for a High-Output Car Audio Alternator System

Upgrading to a high output alternator for your car audio system is an important step, but it’s not the only consideration.

Other components of your vehicle’s electrical system may also need an upgrade to handle the increased power and ensure everything operates smoothly.

Battery and Other Necessary Upgrades

The alternator and battery must work hand-in-hand. The alternator charges the battery when the car is running, and the battery provides power when the car is off.

When upgrading to a high output alternator, you might want to consider upgrading to a high-performance or deep-cycle battery, especially if you plan to use your audio system extensively when the car’s engine isn’t running.

In addition to the battery, I recommend at least checking and, if needed, upgrading other components of your car’s electrical system:

  • Wiring: Higher power output may require thicker, higher-quality wiring to handle the increased current safely.
  • Fuses and Circuit Breakers: You might need to install higher-rated fuses or circuit breakers to prevent potential electrical overloads.
  • Battery Isolators: If you decide to run multiple batteries, useful addition is a battery isolator. This device allows your alternator to charge multiple batteries separately, preventing them from draining each other.

Will a High Output Alternator Improve Other Aspects of My Car’s Electrical System?

The short answer is—yes. A high-output alternator doesn’t just benefit your car’s audio system; it can also lead to improvements in the overall electrical system of your vehicle.

Remember, your alternator doesn’t just power your audio—it’s the heart of your car’s electrical system, supplying power to the lights, ignition system, electronic controls, or anything else your car is equipped with.

Upgrading to a high-output alternator can provide more reliable power for all these systems, especially in situations where your electrical load is high.

Further Reading About Car Audio Alternators

Can a Sound System Kill Your Alternator?

If you’ve been experiencing problems with your car’s alternator, you may be wondering whether your sound system can damage the alternator. The short answer is yes, a high-powered sound system can put a strain on your alternator and potentially cause it to fail, but not always.

For more information, check out my guide and find out if a sound system can kill your alternator.

What Size Alternator is Best for Your Car Audio?

If you’re planning to upgrade your car’s sound system, it’s important to choose an alternator that can provide enough power to meet the demands of your system.

But what size alternator is best for your car audio needs?

To find the answer, check out our article on what size alternator is best for car audio.


As you’ve seen, this upgrade is more than just a simple equipment switch—it’s a strategic decision that can greatly improve the performance of your car’s audio and the overall efficiency of your vehicle’s electrical system.

  • High output alternators are powerhouses specifically designed to deliver higher amp output than standard alternators. This extra power can improve the performance of your car’s audio system and the overall vehicle’s electrical system.
  • Using a car audio alternator calculator can help you assess your needs, especially for larger audio systems. Considerations such as high output alternator amperage and specific alternator kits like the popular 320 amp model are critical for making the right choice.
  • While you can install a high output alternator yourself, it’s essential to understand the process fully. Costs can vary depending on the alternator’s model and potential installation fees.
  • High output alternators require routine maintenance to ensure longevity and optimal performance. Several reputable brands on the market deliver quality high output alternators for car audio.
  • Upgrading to a high output alternator might necessitate upgrading other components of your car’s electrical system, like the battery, wiring, and fuses. The improvements can also impact the broader vehicle electrical system positively.