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How to Create a Proper Ground

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When installing an amplifier in your vehicle, the ground wire can make or break your sound system. An improperly installed ground can cause headlights to dim, amplifiers to burn, and speakers to short. It is never as easy as finding metal, and attaching your ground cable to it. We wish it was trust us! To prevent disaster, how do we properly create a ground for an amplifier?

Stinger PWH12

Standard Self-Tapping Screws – Stinger PWH12

To ensure the stability of your audio components, it is important to ground the wire to the car’s chassis. Grounding completes the electrical circuit powering your amplifier. The purpose of a ground wire is to prevent a person from being electrocuted which could result in death.  A proper ground also prevents amplifier clipping, ground loop noise (engine whine), current draw, light dimming, and a host of other issues. For starters, the distance between the amplifier and the grounding point should be no more than 18 inches, the shorter the length of wire the better. The gauge of the ground wire must match the gauge of the power wire to assure proper current flow.

The best places for attaching a ground wire is usually screws or metal nuts attached directly to the vehicles metal chassis or subframe. NO, a seat bolt is not the frame! You can drill into the chassis to create a ground, but make sure no wires or fuel lines are in the way. Whatever surface you choose, it is critical that all paint and rust is removed from the mounting surface AND any bolts, nuts, and screws. Paint remover will work; however feel free to grind down the surface to bare metal. If a nut, bolt, and star washer cannot be used, self tapping screws make for great replacements. If your ground is not completely secure, it will come lose over time and degrade the performance of your car audio equipment.

Kicker GT1

Ground Termination Block – Kicker GT1

A “good ground” is a ground circuit that has a resistance of zero ohms; however this is rarely the case. If you’re handy with a digital volt/ohm meter, you can test the resistance of your new ground. If it has a return of ½ ohm or less you made a great connection. For rock-solid grounding, a ground termination blocks make multiple ground connections easy and secure.

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Staff writers at Sonic Electronix are experts in their field. In addition to a complete in-house training program, these experts typically have many years of hands-on experience in their specialty. Some come from car audio installer backgrounds, while others come with extensive retail experience.
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