For as long as homes and cars had stereos, there has been a debate about speaker wires. Specifically, can home speaker wires be used in a car stereo sound system? Yes, you can put home speaker wires in your car’s stereo system. However, it is a little more complicated than just switching out wires.
A Little About Wires
Not all wires are the same. The wire in the walls of your home to transport electricity is different from the underground wire that powers your sidewalk lights. Those wires are different from your computer network wire, which is different from the wire you use for your home stereo speakers.
Virtually every wire has a specific purpose. In most cases, if wires are mismatched, problems can arise. A few problems include the wire providing poor sound quality, overloading, and even causing a fire.
Among all the different types of wires, one classification is “low-voltage.” Generally, low-voltage wires are the choice for circuits requiring 50 volts or less. There are several purposes for low-voltage wire, including:
- Landscape lighting
- Sprinkler systems
Speaker Wire Defined
Speaker wires are considered low-voltage and are reduced and even eliminate oxygen while the wire is in use. Oxygen is known to cause interference with audio signals, which is why lower oxygen production is important.
The size range for speaker wire ranges from 22 gauge to 12. Speaker wires are usually insulated and sheathed while possessing fewer auxiliary metals in the wire makeup.
Speaker wire is manufactured differently than electricity-grade wires and is very small. Despite its small size, speaker wire is great for transporting audio signals to speakers.
Standards in the wire industry vary, particularly in the colors used to sheath wires. Use the Electronic Industry Association (EIA) Standard Wiring Use in Stereo Installations chart to identify the type of wire you need when buying speaker wire.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Wire
While there is electrical gauge wire and speaker gauge wire, there is no separation in wire for types of speakers (both home and car). The reason is that home and car speaker wires are very similar. In most cases, the average listener can’t tell the difference between home and vehicle speaker wires.
Some Minor Differences
There are three key differences between home and car speaker wires.
First, car speaker wire has more insulation than home speaker wire. Vehicle speaker wires get exposed to more elements than home speaker wires, which is why car speaker wire has more insulation.
Second, a smaller gauge wire is put in homes because of the distance between the stereo and speakers. The smaller gauge works better because it is thicker and has less resistance. The combination of these features allows for better clarity.
The third difference is smaller gauge wire is more expensive.
Given the only real difference between the wiring is the gauge and the home wiring is a better performing wire (on average), you can use home speaker wires in your car.
Another factor to consider is the expense of the wires. However, you aren’t concerned about the cost, and the wire matches the distance it must travel then home speaker wire works fine in vehicles. Be careful not to mismatch the wire distance because this can cause the wire to overheat. If your wire overheats, you have a higher chance of a fire.
You can use either home or car speaker wire in your vehicle. Home speaker wire is better at long distances but is also more expensive. From a sound standpoint, there is little difference the average listener will notice.
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