Installing a car amplifier is already enough of a job without having to worry about where to find the right wire and installation accessories. What you might not know is that there are some gimmicks being played by some companies and you could end up getting ripped off! Finding a good amp wiring kit requires knowing what to look for and I can help.
I’ve created a basic buyer’s guide to help you be better prepared before spending your money. Also I’ve put together a list of good amp wiring kits with brief reviews below. I want your install to go great and for you to avoid buying a poor quality kit you’ll regret buying.
As an installer I can tell you that I’ve seen both great and terrible wire in amp wiring kits. You don’t want to end up frustrated or even have to cancel your installation because of a kit that lets you down.
What makes a good amp wiring kit?
The basics to look for
Generally speaking a great amp kit is made of a combination of things:
- Includes most or all of the items you need for a great installation
- Quality wire that with a conductor size that meets the advertised claim
- A good fuse holder and power wire connectors that provide good electrical connections
- Sufficient wire length
- A good value and reasonable price
I’ll go into more detail here to help explain what I mean.
Here’s what you should generally be looking for in a good amp wiring kit.
A good amp kit is made of quality wiring and includes all the basic connections you need for most installations with wiring that has sufficient length. Zip ties help keep the installation neat and hold wiring in place during installation.
I generally recommend a kit with the following items:
- RCA cables of good quality; ideally around 16 ft in length or longer
- A good remote wire
- Positive wire: good stranded conductors with about 18 fit length
- Ground wire
- Speaker wire (optional – you can buy separately also)
- Crimp ring terminals for the positive & negative power wires
- Good quality fuse holder + fuse
- Zip ties (not a necessity but highly recommended)
You need to try to anticipate having long enough wiring for your vehicle plus a small amount of extra length if possible. That means a long enough power cable to reach from the battery positive terminal and fuse holder to the amplifier along with the additional length that comes from bends and curves. Typically 18′ (18 feet) in length is enough.
Similarly, the remote wire and RCA cables should be long enough too. 15 or 16 ft in length is often good. Longer wiring is fine and is a little bit of a bonus as it means you can move the amplifier to different mounting locations if necessary.
Wiring that is very short like 12′ is likely to be insufficient (except for amps mounted under a seat) or may barely reach the rear of the vehicle. I don’t recommended this as a short power wire or RCA cables must be stretched and may be placed under tension in some cases. In that situation problems will often arrive with the wiring or amp if it’s continually being pulled on from wiring that’s not long enough.
Recommended fuse holders
A good quality fuse holder is essentially all you really need but there are a few differences that may fit your installation better than others. Don’t just buy any type without knowing what you’re in for – it can actually make a big difference in how long it takes to install your amp and how difficult it is.
For example, black molded-on fuse holders (in the picture above) are simple to use and very convenient, but don’t have a fancy appearance or gold plating like other models.
ANL (left) and AGU (right) fuse holders are great and allow you to easily see the fuse element in case it blows. Also they’re stylish. However I recommend the AGU holder style more as they’re easier to install and often are moisture and dirt resistant. Also they normally don’t require connection using ring terminals unlike the other design.
Rectangular fuse holders and round glass-type fuse holder are nice and have a larger conductive area for current to pass through. Both are great, but the cylindrical type (AGU) holders are a bit easier to use and install as they’re more compact. Additionally they tend to be more resistant to moisture and dirt entering them.
Avoid getting scammed! A warning about wire quality
Unfortunately you can’t trust advertising. There are several gimmicks being used today by wiring kit companies that mislead buyers and will cause you to think you’re getting a great deal when you’re not.
These days some companies are using false advertising and over sized power wire insulation to trick you into believing you’re a larger wire and better deal than you really are. For example, some amp kits sold as 8 gauge are in fact actually closer to 10 gauge or smaller wire. From the outside it appears fine and legitimate.
However, after stripping the insulation off you can see that the wire itself is smaller than expected (if you know what to look for) and the insulation is much larger than necessary. It’s a gimmick used to fool the eyes as the wiring appears bigger than it actually is when viewed through the insulation.
The same applies to speaker wire as well.
A comparison of true 4 AWG wire (center) versus 2 fakes. Notice the size of the wire conductors vs. the insulation. It’s a gimmick used by many lesser brand amp wire kits and you’ve got to be careful when buying. You’ll get scammed and you’re not getting what you paid for!
Pure copper vs. copper-coated aluminum wire
Maybe you’ve head about the rising price of copper in the news over the last few years. You might not be aware but many products with braided wire like amplifier and speaker wire are no longer produced with pure copper. A lower-cost version is being sold often without the public being aware.
Copper-coated aluminum (CCA) wiring is produced by using a combination of copper over aluminum wire in order to reduce cost. The problem is that aluminum isn’t is good of a conductor for electrical current as copper is and it’s not always a good choice for high-current wiring.
Generally speaking, for the average installation it’s ok, but the main issue I have is that people aren’t always aware because sometimes it is hidden in small print or not disclosed at all!
So, unless you have specific reasons for buying it or just truly want pure copper wire, I wouldn’t worry too much about this issue. Do be aware that aluminum wire can less flexible to a degree than pure copper wire but it also depends greatly on the brand quality. If you prefer to buy pure copper wire be sure to look closely to avoid being mislead by the labeling and advertisements used.
I perfer pure copper wire personally and recommend it for installations which will deliver very large amounts of power and the current drawn will be very high. Again, for the average, moderate-volume system it’s not as necessary.
Ring terminals are included in some amplifier kits and are fantastic for making a solid and reliable power connection for both the positive and negative wiring cables. In the photos above, the gold-plated crimp ring terminals are the most common and while being inexpensive are actually quite good in my experience. You can use a decent crimp tool, vise grip pliers, or possibly other tools to crimp them securely after stripping about 3/8-1/2″ of insulation off of the wire.
You can use them to connect to available bolt studs where available for a great way to connect your amp’s power wiring.
Note that in the pictures above, the terminals on the right are called “crimp lug” terminals and generally speaking they should be avoided unless you have the proper tools to use them. They’re much harder to crimp and require a lot of force to securely attach to wire, unlike the others.
Selecting an amp kit size
Remember to always be sure the wire size you’re planning to buy will fit the amp terminals! If not, you’ll have a difficult time getting the wiring to fasten securely on the amp as there won’t be sufficient space on the connections at the amp to hold it properly and some wire strands may be free to cause a short shirt later.
When in doubt, remember that many amps use a maximum size of 8 or 4 gauge wire. Using a larger wire than an amp requires is actually a waste of money and it can be harder to deal with.
One exception is moving up from a 10 AWG kit to an 8 AWG kit, as they’re priced similarly these days and unfortunately many kits sold as “10 gauge” are much smaller wiring as I warned you about earlier.
How to figure out the amp wiring kit gauge you need
To estimate what gauge of amp wire that you need use these steps:
- Calculate: (Amp power (RMS) x 1.5) / 13.8V = x Amperes of current
- Select a wire size based on the chart below
What we’re doing is calculating how much current we’re drawing based on the maximum power the amp can use minus losses. All car amps have an efficiency rating which is because some electrical current is wasted and turned into heat. For class A/B amps, efficiency is around 50%. For class D amps it is closer to 90%.
|Maximum Current (A)||Recommended Wire Gauge (AWG)|
We can do a little bit of math to get a rough estimate in order to choose a safe size. Remember to always use the Root Mean Square (RMS) ratings as those are the actual, realistic power ratings that an amp should be able to actually provide to speakers. Exaggerated or misleading specs will cause you to greatly over-estimate the amount of current (Amperes, or “Amps”) an amplifier will draw.
Example #1: For a class A/B (standard) 4-channel amp rated at 75W per channel we can find:
- Total max. power: 75W x 4 = 300W
- (300W x 1.5) / 13.8V = 32 A (accounting for about 50% efficiency)
Therefore we can use an 10 AWG wire kit, or step up to 8 AWG wire if we like.
Example #2: For a 4-channel class D amp with 75W per channel we can find:
- Total max. power: 75W x 4 = 300W
- (300W x 1.1) / 13.8V = 23.9A (accounting for about 90% efficiency)
Therefore we would use an 10AWG wire kit (or 8 gauge, if we like).
As you can see, a class D amplifier uses less electrical current and may often use a smaller power wire size (more than 10A in this case!).
Good amp wiring kits to buy – 5 great recommendations and details
Here are some quality amp wiring kits I recommend based on the factors I listed earlier. They’re reasonably priced and will provide good wiring for a satisfying installation. These are the same types of kits I buy and use for my own customers, because they’re people who want quality that will live up to their expectations.
I personally recommend these as they’re professional grade. However, I know that some of you have a tighter budget and I totally understand! So I’ll also recommend a number of good value-based alternatives too.
4 gauge kits
? NVX XKIT42 100% copper 4-gauge install kit – Superb wiring quality and performance that’s truly high-grade.
The NVX XKIT42 really hits a sweet spot between spending way too much for a pro-level 4 gauge amp wiring kit in your local car stereo shop or retail store and getting a budget-priced kit. I say that because despite it featuring truly high-end 100% copper stranded wire that’s coated in silver, it still sells for a price that’s far less than the $100 or more I’ve seen on other similar kits.
- 20 ft. (6.1m) Frosted Blue 4 gauge main power wire with seamless crimp ring terminal
- 3 ft. (.91m) Frosted Black 4 gauge main ground wire with seamless crimp ring terminal
- 20 ft. (6.1m) Clear 18 gauge remote lead wire
- 40 ft. (12.2m)) Frosted Black/Blue 16 gauge speaker wire
- One 16 ft. (5m) 2-channel twisted construction RCA interconnect Cable
- 1 ANL/Mini-ANL fuse holder with 100 amp Mini-ANL fuse
- 1 black rubber firewall grommet
- Two 4 gauge nickel-plated spade terminals
- Four 18 Gauge Spade terminal
- Two 18 Gauge Red butt connectors
- Four 16 gauge quick disconnects
- Five 16 Gauge Nickel Plated spade terminals
- Ten 6″ black zip ties
The wire is some of the most flexible wire around and it’s rare to find silver-coated wire anywhere. I was honestly surprised to have run across this kit, as I hadn’t expected to find something so good that wasn’t overpriced! One thing that really impressed me is that the power and ground rings, although they are lug crimp terminals which I don’t normally use for installations, but they’re pre-installed! They’re great ring terminals as they are thicker and stronger than standard ring terminals.
That’s a feature you won’t see on less expensive kits and really made me realize the level of quality in the kit.
I love how good the wiring looks and how easy it is to fit the wire into sharp corners or bends unlike coarser, less-expensive wiring. The black nylon stretch wire loom adds a very unique and professional touch that you just don’t see everywhere.
If you’re looking for one of the best money can buy (in this case around $60 dollars) – and that looks fantastic – this is the kit you need! You can probably find the best price over at Amazon and the reviews are fantastic, too.
KNU Conceptz KCA-K4 4 gauge amp wiring kit – Excellence on a budget! A cool looking, pro-level installation kit that anybody can afford.
With the KNU Konceptz KCA-K4 amp kit, you get what you need to kick ass musically but still that you don’t have to take out a loan to buy!
This is a wiring kit with an easy-to-install AGU fuse holder and some seriously good wiring. The positive and negative power wires are made with copper coated aluminum (CCA) wiring to keep costs down but still remain highly flexible an installer-friendly.
The AGU fuse holder is simple to install as it just requires stripping off a small amount of the positive power cable then inserting into the fuse holder receptacle before tightening the fastening screw. Both the wire insulation and fuse holder plastic housing look distinctively different and will really set your installation apart.
The speaker wire kicks ass and I wasn’t expecting such a high quality roll of speaker wire to be included. It feels and works great, and it’s much better than the typical 18 AWG wire most kits would include.
This affordable, quality kit includes:
- 18 Feet 4 Gauge Ultra Flex Blue Power Wire
- 3 Feet 4 Gauge Ultra Flex Black Ground Wire
- One inline fuse holder with 80A AGU Fuse
- One 5 Meter black RCA Cable with Built in Turn On lead
- 20 Feet Clear 14 Gauge CCA Speaker Wire
- 2 Gold Plated 4 Gauge Ring Terminals, 2 Gold Plated 4 Gauge Spade Terminals
- Wire ties
Listen guys, you’re going to be hard-pressed to get a better kit for the money. Don’t risk getting a cheap, inferior am wiring kit with 8 AWG wire sold as 4 AWG. If you’re serious about you amp install but don’t have a lot of cash to spend, head on over to the product page at Amazon and see what I’m talking about. This is a great budget kit I highly recommend.
8 gauge kits
Stinger SK6681 8 AWG complete amplifier wiring kit – 100% oxygen free copper in a kit that’s hard to top. A step above the others.
Stinger has always been known for great installation wire, stereo installation kits, and a variety of aftermarket items that are always some of the best you can buy. The SK6681 is no exception.
What really sets is apart from the others is not only how flexible the wire is (100% oxygen free copper, with fine conductors for maximum installation ease and power conduction) but how wonderful it looks. Much like the larger NVX XKIT42 it features stretch wire loom for a clean installation and protection in the engine compartment as well as a compact but high-conducting fuse holder. This is a complete kit with everything you need to get some serious power going.
All power wiring is “tru-spec” and meets the AWG gauge chart sizing as advertised – no misleading wire sizing here. Conductors on the connectors are tinned for corrosion resistance. RCA cables are shielded and audiophile grade and are 17 ft in length to accommodate nearly all installations.
The included fuse holder is water-resistant as well!
The SK6681 comes with:
- 17 ft. of 8 gauge matte blue hyper-twist power wire
- 3 ft. of 8 gauge Matte silver hyper-twist ground wire
- 17 ft. of 18 gauge Blue turn-on wire
- 17 ft. 6000 Series RCA interconnects
- 30 ft. 16 Gauge speaker wire
- Mini-ANL style fuse holder
- 70 amp Mini-ANL fuse
- Pre-terminated ends
- Mesh wire loom
- Stinger metal badge
- Includes installation accessories (wire ties, crimp terminals, etc.)
I wouldn’t pass it up if I were you and I was looking for an 8 AWG wiring kit I could afford without having to settle for a CCA wire type kit. I’m a fan of pure copper wiring, and this kit is a great one. Even better, it sells for around $50 or so!
Click here to read the great reviews and find out why it’s a great choice at Amazon. I’m sure you’ll be impressed.
Belva BAK82BL complete 8 gauge amplifier wiring kit – A great looking, high-performance affordable kit you’ll be proud to show off.
This kit by Belva is a great cost-cutting way to get good amp performance in your ride. It’s designed for amplified systems up to 500W and comes with premium Powerflex power and ground wire that bends easily for making installation less of a hassle than lesser brands.
This is a CCA wire kit, but unlike others, the Belva CCA wire is made form 30% copper wire while competitors use only 10%! The included RCA cables feature a helical-twisted construction to minimize noise and interference and are an a wonderful 17 ft in length!
For around close to only $20 dollars you’ll get:
- 17 ft. (5.2 meters) Blue 8 gauge power wire
- 3 ft. (.91 meters) Black 8 gauge ground wire
- 17 ft. (5.2 meters) Gray 18 gauge remote lead wire
- 17 ft. (5.2 meters) Helical Twist 2-channel RCA interconnect cable
- 20 ft. (6.1 meters) Speaker cable
- One In-line Mini-ANL Fuse Holder with a 60 amp Mini-ANL fuse
- One black rubber firewall grommet
- One 8 Gauge Blue chrome plated ring terminal
- One 8 Gauge Black chrome plated ring terminal
- Three 18 Gauge Blue Spade terminals
- Two 18 Gauge Black Spade terminals
- One 18 Gauge Red butt connector
- Ten 4″ Black zip ties
This isn’t the “el cheapo” kit like so many amateurs buy – but unlike them, you’re a smart shopper so you’ll be getting a real 8 gauge wire rather than paying the same money for 10 gauge wire!
It’s a great deal all around and definitely worth heading over to Amazon to pick one up today.
10 gauge kits
Stinger SK46101 – A no-nonsense 100% copper amp wiring kit that looks great and has some of the best RCA cables in its price range.
For this size of amp wiring I’m going to recommend just one as there are so many amp kits sold as “10 gauge” that are in fact rip-off in nature. But primarily you can buy an 8 AWG amp wiring kit for nearly the same money as a good 10 AWG kit, so it’s something to consider when shopping.
The SK46101 is a kit I really like. One major reason is because during installations, amp wiring with a pre-installed fuse holder like this one made the installation process that much easier and faster. It uses a standard automotive fuse to protect the positive wire from shorts. Included is everything else you need. This is real 100% oxygen-free copper wiring here, my friend!
Not only that, but quality ring terminals are included for a really tight install and no power-robbing poor connections on the battery and ground wiring.
The wiring features attractive matte insulation but what I really love about it is the RCA cables which feature shielded twisted-pair wiring for reduced noise and excellent sound conductivity. Besides, they just look great!
For close to $35 you’ll get:
- A 17Ft. 4000 Series 2 Channel Audio Interconnect
- 18 Ft. Matte Red Hyper-Twist 8GA Power Wire
- 3 Ft. Matte Black Hyper-Twist 8GA Ground Wire
- 17 Ft. Matte Blue 18GA Remote Turn-On Wire
- SPD5101 AGU Fuse Holder
- 60 Amp AGU Fuse
- 8GA Crimp Ring Terminals Pre-Installed
- 16GA Blue Butt Connector
- 8GA Snap In Protective firewall grommet
- Self Drilling Mounting Screws
- (10) 7” Wire Ties
Not only that, but the power connections are pre-terminated so that’s even less work you have to do!
If you’re looking for a great 10 AWG amp wiring kit that’s true-spec, look no further. Stinger is and always has been one of the industry leaders in car stereo installation wiring.
You can check out the current pricing here at Amazon and get your installation started right away.
Final thoughts on buying a good amp wiring kit
Ultimately it’s up to you to decide how much money you’re willing to spend, but I strongly encourage you to be careful and pick up one of the kits I’ve listed above. They’re good, reputable kits and you won’t get scammed with buying something only to find out once your receive it – and when you’re ready to install your amp – that’s not what you expected and a huge let down.
I don’t want that to happen to you.
Remember the following:
- copper-coated aluminum (CCA) wiring is the less-expensive version of today’s amplifier power cables in wiring kits
- Real 100% copper wiring kits cost more and can handle more electrical current, but for typical installations they’re not totally necessary. (mainly for very-high power systems and for people who demand the best quality)
- Many budget amp wiring kits are NOT true-spec wire: they lie about the wire size and don’t follow the American Wire Gauge (AWG) standards like reputable brands do
Be careful when shopping and remember the information I’ve provided above.
When in doubt about a kit’s quality, don’t buy it! You’re very likely to be disappointed and may have to return your kit for a better one. Spend a few more dollars for a kit you can count on to avoid problems when it comes time install your system.