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Old 03-07-2010, 07:13 PM   #1
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Hook Subwoofer up to House battery?

Considering possibly installing an aftermarket subwoofer (a modest, relatively low-power consumption one to enhance sound, not a ridiculous one to annoy the neighbors), but considering running it off of the house battery in order to avoid having to punch the 12V power line through the firewall. I'd probably want to terminate the power line in the 12V cigarette plug, and plug it into the receptacle behind the driver's seat. Of course the big potential problem here is draining the House battery dangerously low, so the trick is to figure out how to wire it so that this can't/won't happen. I imagine that the switch signal wire in the factory harness (the one that tells the amp if the key is in the "on" position) would tell the amp to stop drawing power when the key is off, but then the sub wouldn't work if you were running the radio with the radio switch in the "extra battery" position (and thus the key off). So this wouldn't really be the best solution since I'd want to use the sub when parked. Another idea would be to install a manual kill switch in the power line, but this would be subject to my memory function, which is poor at times.

Sorry if this is a dumb thread, but does anybody have any ideas? (How to do it? Why not to do it? I'm totally off base? etc.) Or - has anybody done something like this in the past and want to tell me how they did it and how it works?

Running a 2003 E-350. 12V electrical system only, no inverter. Isolator, not separator. Lifelife 4D battery.

Thanks everybody.
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Old 03-07-2010, 09:17 PM   #2
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Re: Hook Subwoofer up to House battery?

The van battery switch powers the radio, whether key on or switch override*. Therefore I would tap into the back of that switch under your counter for your "sub on". The later versions of this switch have a red light piggy backed on the switch to indicate power to the radio, regardless of source.

And if you're supposed to go directly to the starter battery with the main power I would go directly to the house following some SMB wiring pack to get through the floor. Going to the back of a power outlet you might be tapping into wire that can't carry the amps, and you'll be on the fuse for that outlet as well.

*Be sure to test, this wiring might not be consistent van to van.
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Old 03-07-2010, 10:05 PM   #3
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Re: Hook Subwoofer up to House battery?

Thanks Jage! That's great advice, exactly what I was looking for. One last point of clarification - I'm not electrically inclined, and so I guess this is probably obvious, but what post on the "Starter/Extra Battery" switch do I attach the off/on signal lead to? (Top/bottom? Red/Black?) Thanks so much! - Dane
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Old 03-07-2010, 10:48 PM   #4
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Re: Hook Subwoofer up to House battery?

I also was worried about that so I did the "memory thing" and added a switch to my bass amp and left it connected to the starting batteries. Other than driving, I mainly use my stereo as surround sound while watching DVD's and found too much bass while inside the van was not to my liking so no loss for me. But I do have a second amp that assists the stereo itself. Both amps are powered up via the ignition. The stereo amp is mounted behind the driver seat, so if I am worried about killing the chassis battery system I can simply turn it off and defeat the amp. If you hook up directly to the house battery system make sure it shuts down when not in use or you might forget to turn it off and kill the house system which can be quite expensive.
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Old 03-08-2010, 01:21 AM   #5
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Re: Hook Subwoofer up to House battery?

Quote:
Originally Posted by danelovejoy
Thanks Jage! That's great advice, exactly what I was looking for. One last point of clarification - I'm not electrically inclined, and so I guess this is probably obvious, but what post on the "Starter/Extra Battery" switch do I attach the off/on signal lead to? (Top/bottom? Red/Black?) Thanks so much! - Dane
I would guess the middle. But stop by the automotive store and get one of these:


The clamp end goes on ground (anything metal that is connected to the frame) and when the other end touches + the handle lights up. You can switch the clamp to a known positive and test for grounds also.

After you test it on known hot and ground, you can try the switch. Ground somewhere and test the three tabs. One tab should be hot all the time, one hot only when the key is in run/acc and the middle hot with the opposite side from which the switch is depressed. If my guess is right, the middle goes to the radio and gets power from either the always on tab or the run/acc tab, which only has power from the key.
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Old 03-08-2010, 02:03 AM   #6
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Re: Hook Subwoofer up to House battery?

Similar to Dave, I had a switch installed, except my amp is on the house side. Reality is, I rarely ever shut it off.
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