Is your electric bill suddenly increasing, or is your car’s battery depleting faster than usual?
Along with them, if your sub doesn’t sound as fantastic as it used to and your car or home subs are producing more heat than before, These are all indications that your Subwoofer is drawing too much power.
Generally, subwoofers and their amplifiers draw relatively more current than the standard stereo system. That’s because more power is required to play bass frequencies by a subwoofer.
But in some cases, your sub draws more power than it can bear, which can ultimately damage your sub and your pocket in the form of heavy bills.
But, the thing to ponder is, How would you know that your sub is drawing more power than usual? What are the causes, and how can you fix them?
If this sounds too summarized for you, fret not. Because I’m going to explain in detail everything you need to know about subwoofers and their power consumption
So without any further ado, let’s dig into the possible factors and reasons that your subwoofer is drawing too much power, their effects on your sub, and fixes.
How To Know If Your Subwoofer Is Drawing Too Much Power?
- Your best bet is to use your ears and nose as the sub will talk to you (be this in the form of audible distortion, noise from the suspension, etc.). If your sub is drawing too much power, you may notice an ell or the sub getting hot and even a burnt smell because of high power.
- Excessive electric bills and, in the case of car subwoofers, faster draining of car battery means that your Subwoofer is consuming more watts than usual.
- Use a multimeter to measure the amount of voltage, resistance, and current. This helps you determine if there is a lack of electrical resistance, which ultimately indicates whether your Subwoofer is drawing more power or not.
These all could be the possible indications for your Subwoofer drawing too much power.
Generally, subwoofers don’t draw too much power. On average, Most subwoofers use about 150-1000 watts to reproduce the sound they are receiving, which isn’t much compared to many other electrical and electronic appliances we use.
The amount of electricity a subwoofer uses depends on the loudness of the audio being played, the Subwoofer’s amplifier’s volume, and the Subwoofer’s sensitivity.
What Accounts For The Subwoofer Drawing Too Much Power?
A subwoofer doesn’t have a fixed amount of power it consumes when it is in use. And in case, if it is drawing too much power, There are many factors that contribute to how much energy it consumes and how much excess power it can bear.
While subwoofers are specially built with the ability to handle even more power than their indicated RMS (root mean square).
Still it is paramount that you ensure that the sound is clear and without distortion when you crank up the volume.
Note: Knowing your sub’s RMS wattage is important as it makes sure that you give your sub just the Right Amount of power continuously.
Subwoofers can draw too much power for a number of reasons, including:
- No coherence between sub and amps
- Dust buildup in the sub
- Improper input signals
- No ventilation, and the sub is getting hot
- Liquid cleaners
However, let’s dive a bit deeper into the factors that account for the too much power your Subwoofer is drawing. So the first and the primary reason is:
1-No Coherence Between Amp And Sub
It is incredibly important that you follow the ratings that come with the Subwoofer and the amp you are attempting to connect it with.
Choosing an amp to match your sub can be a bit difficult if you are new to the game. Sometimes Amplifiers can be too powerful for subwoofers because Subwoofers are limited by the electrical energy that they can convert into audio.
As a general rule, if the amplifier produces more electrical energy than the sub can handle, it may cause distortion or clipping and even damage the sub.
The subwoofer watt is an indication of the maximum power that the sub can handle over a period of time.
It has been said that while subs are fairly durable, exceeding the maximum amount of power (or watts) being pumped into the sub will result in a blown subwoofer, or it may burn the voice, or many other serious damages may occur.
There can also be some secondary reasons causing your Subwoofer to draw too much power; they are:
2-Dust Build-up In The Sub
Your Subwoofer mustn’t have dust buildup inside it. The reason is that dust can negatively affect the performance of the speaker, and even the dust can short or damage some of the circuits or components inside your Subwoofer, which may cause your Subwoofer to draw more power.
For this reason, clean your Subwoofer from time to time by blowing away the dust using compressed air.
No matter how careful you are, there are chances that the liquid cleaner you are using will infiltrate the internal area of your Subwoofer.
If such happens, you will compromise and damage the inner circuit of your Subwoofer, and if that happens, it can make your Subwoofer short and even burn or heavily damage the inner components of the circuit.
And can be a reason for your Subwoofer to draw a lot of power. For this reason, go for using a dry method when cleaning your subwoofers.
4-No Ventilation And Subs Getting Hot
Heat is an element that can damage your Subwoofer. Because excessive heat will damage the inner circuits badly, it may melt the wires and cause short circuits.
For this reason, place the equipment somewhere where it gets proper ventilation. This way, you will be able to prolong the life of your sound system.
What Damages Does Too Much Power Bring To Your Sub?
When the Subwoofer’s ratings are exceeded, this means that a signal is sent that is out of the Subwoofer’s range to receive it.
Thus, when the audio signal received sends the coil too far forward or backward, this can damage the equipment inside of the sub.
In simplest terms, power consumption is the product of voltage times current, expressed in watts. Any electronic equipment like a subwoofer requires some power consumption to function properly, but not all power consumption is desirable.
There are two different types of power consumption that should be minimized in a circuit:
- Dynamic power consumption
- Static power consumption
Dynamic power consumption occurs when a circuit short-circuits or is involved in a switching operation.
Static power consumption occurs during current flow when there is supposed to be no activity on the circuit or during current leakage.
When your Subwoofer receives a signal that is too high, the signal will tell the coil to send the cone too far forward.
This will damage the equipment that it is pulling behind it as if it is attempting to stretch the spider, cone, and Subwoofer beyond the capacity that it is capable of reaching, and as a result, will cause the following damages to your Subwoofer:
Excessive power is the reason why many subwoofers get blown in most cases.
If your subsystem is drawing too much power from the amp or because of any above-mentioned reasons, please bear in mind that it can blow your Subwoofer.
Because if it takes more power than a normal sub, it will play louder, and that extra loudness can blow your sub. If you continuously force it to operate beyond its limits, you create too much pressure, resulting in damage.
2-Burnt Voice Coil
Too much power drawn by your sub can ultimately result in burning your Subwoofer’s voice coil.
A burnt smell will come from the Subwoofer if the voice is damaged, and that commonly happens due to either electrical or mechanical failures inside the circuitry.
Electrical failures in a subwoofer happen when you apply too much power to the equipment.
Subwoofer assemblies will have a specific range and rating. Typically there is a placard on the rear of the device that states the specifications.
When the Subwoofer is drawing too much power, the voice coil burns, such damage can occur when the subwoofer wiring is faulty, or the gain is incorrectly set. This issue results in impedance load on the equipment’s amplifier.
3-Short Circuit In The Sub
A short circuit occurs when a low-resistance path that isn’t suited to carry electricity receives a high amount of electrical current. This increased amount of electrical current is referred to as the short circuit current.
So if your Subwoofer is consuming more power, there is a chance that it can damage the inner components of the sub, like excessive power, can even burn the capacitors and resistors inside the Subwoofer and, as a result, short the circuitry.
This is harmful for two reasons: The flow of a larger current can overheat equipment, and the flow of a short circuit current in the parts carrying the current produces a force of electrodynamics interaction that may damage or destroy the equipment.
The simplest answer is that the resistance across it is zero in a short circuit. It can be explained very clearly by Ohm’s Law which is I=E/R.
Assuming that the power source has a perfect voltage regulator, which makes the E constant. So with zero resistance, the current becomes infinite.
Preventive Measures: If Your Sub Draws Too Much Power
Now that you know that you can overpower a subwoofer and that this can cause damage to your piece of sound equipment, you are likely looking for solutions to prevent this from happening.
There are two major reasons that reducing subwoofer power consumption is important. The first is functionality since unexpected power gains or losses in a circuit can reduce efficiency or create unwanted heat.
The second is cost since electronics that consume less power are more cost-efficient to run and maintain.
One of the best ways to protect your Subwoofer from drawing too much power is to set the gains on a subwoofer amp.
This helps you to avoid distorted audio while maintaining a capacity of power that is within your Subwoofer’s ratings. You can also set the crossover frequency to a higher range.
Many times, manufacturers claim that the Subwoofer will attempt to sell you a low bass by claiming that it can be played in a lower range than it truly can.
By setting the crossover frequency to a slightly higher range, you can protect your Subwoofer from drawing too much power.
After you set the subwoofer amp gains, you should know how to control the sound equipment to produce the optimal clarity and overall sound experience.
Instead of distorting the audio by blasting a distorted bass, you can enjoy the low-frequency signal emission at a lower volume and a much clearer bass tone.
But, going back to the gains, this is going to be one of the best ways to limit your Subwoofer from drawing too much power.
This manual control is not too difficult to set up, and it is something that will help you with the overall sound experience as well as the functionality of your Subwoofer as a part of your sound system.
How Do You Set The Gain On A Subwoofer Amp?
Since setting the gains on a subwoofer amp is one of the best ways to limit your Subwoofer from drawing too much power, you will likely want to know how to make this happen.
Of course, there are many great instructional guides that will go into more detail. However, following the basic concepts should get you started out on the right foot.
To set the gain on a subwoofer amp, consider the following steps:
Step 1: Set the volume on low (but on)
You will want to be able to hear the audio coming from your Subwoofer, but you will not let it be incredibly high. After all, you will want to be able to test for distortion and clarity as you continue to set your gains on your subwoofer amp.
Step 2: Play music
Now that you have made sure the volume control is turned to low but on, you can begin playing your music. This will now help you to be able to hear what you will be testing as you set the gains on your subwoofer amp by ear.
Step 3: Gradually and slowly turn the gains upon the subwoofer amp
Listening closely to the audio, begin turning the gains upon the subwoofer amp. You should begin to hear a more clear, more deep bass tone coming from your Subwoofer.
This indicates that your device is working and you are headed in the right direction.
Once the subwoofer sound is louder than the other speakers, continue turning the gains up until you notice any sound distortion.
After you reach a point where the bass tone of the Subwoofer is taking over the rest of the speakers, you can continue turning the gains up, but be sure to do this slowly. You will want to listen precisely to notice when audio distortion begins.
When you notice any sound distortion, turn the gains back down until you find the right adjustment with loudness and clarity.
Once you begin to notice audio distortion, you will begin reversing the direction of your gains by turning them slightly down.
Follow this step until you find a balance and you have achieved setting your gains, achieving good power for your sub.
Other Preventive Measures For Limiting The Power Drawn By Subwoofer:
- Keep the subsystem cool
- Check for any faulty wiring. If so, remove it
- Provide with the proper electrical supply to your sub
- Keep your subsystem clean from dust
- Avoid using liquid cleaners instead; use dust blowers to clean it
How To Find How Much Power A Subwoofer Consumes
If you really care about how much power your subwoofers are consuming, then this section is for you. That’s because I’ll walk you through two ways to find how much power your Subwoofer draws.
1-Use Kill-A-Watt Meter
The simplest way to know exactly how much electricity your speakers are consuming is by using a Kill-a-Watt Meter.
For those who don’t know what it is, this is a portable metering device that measures exactly how much power a device is drawing. Let me show you how simple it is to use.
- You first plug the Kill-A-Watt Meter in a socket outlet, and then you simply plug in your speaker or amplifier in the Kill-A-Watt Meter. And you are done.
- The meter will begin to measure how much power the speakers are drawing. The meter will keep measuring the Subwoofer’s power consumption for however long you leave it plugged in.
- And then, it will automatically calculate the total amount of power consumed by the speaker while it is working. This will be calculated in kWh. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
- Once you have the kWh reading from the Kill A Watt meter, you can simply multiply it with the Electricity cost per kWh to know exactly how much electricity bill you are paying for your subwoofers.
According to Electric Choice, the average electricity cost per kWh in the United States is 13.19 cents.
One nice thing about the Kill A Watt Meter is that you can use it to check the power consumption of any electrical or electronic device or appliances from your TV, refrigerator, Air-Conditioner, or anything you can think of.
You should definitely get one if you really care about power consumption because it’s really handy.
2-Manually Calculate Subwoofer’s Power Consumption
This method will require some calculation on your end. And also, you may not get the exact power consumption of your subs. However, you’ll get a rough idea of how much electricity it is using. Here is how to go about it.
- Find the Subwoofer’s power ratings. You can find this online on the Subwoofer’s product page, on the label on the Subwoofer itself, or in the user manual.
- Calculate on average how long you use the subwoofers in hours.
- Multiply the Subwoofer’s power ratings by the number of hours you use the subwoofers to find the kWh readings
For instance: Subwoofer’s Power Ratings = 200W
Average hours per use = 5 hours
Power used by speakers = 200W x 5h = 1000Wh = 1.0kWh
Once you have the kWh readings, you can multiply it with the electricity cost per kWh to find how much electricity bill you are paying for your subwoofers.
As I mentioned earlier, this method won’t give you the exact figures, but it will be close to the actual one.
Suppose you care about the working of your subs. In that case, you should have the knowledge of subwoofer watts before you go to buy a subwoofer for you so that you know what adequate Amount of power your Subwoofer can bear.
Keep on reading to learn more about subwoofer watts, their RMS value, and peak value.
Understanding Subwoofer Watts: How To Determine The Proper Amount
The subwoofer watt is an indication of the maximum power that the Subwoofer can handle over a period of time.
It has been said that while subwoofers are fairly durable, exceeding the maximum amount of power (or watts) being pumped into the subs will result in a blown subwoofer.
- Take a look at the specifications indicated on the speaker. This will give you an idea of the Maximum Amount of power or peak power that the speaker could handle.
For example, a subwoofer with a rating of 150 watts can only take a maximum of 150 watts of power that is provided by the amplifier or head unit.
- It is best to choose a subwoofer with a higher max wattage reading than the amount of power the amplifier can produce.
An amplifier with a rating of 80watts peak x 4 will be able to supply a maximum of 80 watts of power to four channels. This means the amplifier allocates at least 20 watts of power per channel.
Having a 40-watt subwoofer would not pose a problem, as the speaker can manage the subwoofer power output even at full volume.
But if the Subwoofer has fewer watts as compared to the ones produced by the amplifier, ultimately the amp will send more watts to the sub, and it has to draw more power than it can bear, which will cause damage to the Subwoofer.
Subwoofers are also rated according to RMS power and are the best gauge for the power handling capabilities of the Subwoofer. It would be best to correctly match the RMS power of your Subwoofer to the amplifier or head unit that you are using.
This would ensure a clear sound reproduction and deeper bass without distortions and cracks.
As the maximum power output of the speaker, it would be best to install a subwoofer with a higher RMS rating than what the head unit or amplifier is rated for.
In this way, you ensure that your Subwoofer remains undamaged by these power fluctuations if the amp ever produces more power than normally it produces.
Above, we have discussed the ways through which you can detect whether your Subwoofer is drawing too much power or not.
And also, if it is drawing too much power, the precautionary measures you should adopt to limit your Subwoofer from drawing too much power include: Setting the gain on the amplifier, Cleaning your subwoofer system, and keeping it cool.
Subwoofers can play relatively low frequencies but that need more power than a usual speaker if your monthly bill is increasing or if your Subwoofer sounds distorted, or if your subsystem is producing a lot of heat, these all are the symptoms that your Subwoofer is drawing too much power.
So you have to look for the problems and get them solved as soon as possible if you want your Subwoofer to keep on working as Good as it is.