Wiki Home \ BIG 3 UPGRADE


Last Updated: Feb 24, 2015
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Caution: Disconnect battery cables! I claim no responsibility for damage herein by yourself! No one likes an exploding battery because of short-circuiting!

The BIG 3 upgrade is THE best way to optimize your sound system! In other cases, just provide less resistance in your chassis for other elctrical luxuires! The BIG 3 upgrade should be considered your first priority in making the current flow better. If you substitute this for something like a capacitor, it is considered a band-aid, not neosporin!

This is assumed if you have upgraded your alt. The alt. is the first thing that should be taken into consideration! If you do not have an alt. to provide enough amperage to your electrical, it is going to fry and not support your battery as well! I don't think you want to be stranded somewhere cause you and your buddy thought it would be fun to hear your bass with your stock alt.!

Okay, enough mumbo jumbo! In a case such as mine, upgrading my alt. to my amperage also meant upgrading my cables as well! I had to upgrade to 0ga. for my amperage. If your lucky like me, your alt. manufacturer will enlighten you into which cable size will suit you best!

BIG 3 upgrade is defined by:
1. Battery - to Alt.
2. Alt. to chassis Ground
3. + to Alt.

In my instance it does'nt necessarily matter how this is achieved. I have my - from alt. to - on batt. From there I have - cables to chassis. Its okay to do, but if you want, you can go from alt. to chassis. You can also add another wire to go to engine block. Would'nt matter. There is many combinations, but all have 3 same principals!

This BIG 3 upgrade should all consist of same gauge wire! In my case, I have a ground kit. They are 8 gauge, but there is like 6-8 of them, which would be the equivalent to 0ga. and probably more!

Lets establish what guage wire you will need!

Here is a table of what guage wire you will need, in correspondance to alt. amperage. Really, it is a go big or go home kind of thing. I suggest to go 0ga. regardless of amperage. It will always give low resistance. Unless your feeding your system enough amperage to up the ga. bigger than 0!

AWG gauge Diameter Inches Diameter mm Ohms per 1000 ft Ohms per km Maximum amps for chassis wiring Maximum amps for
power transmission Maximum freqency for
100% skin depth for solid conductor copper
OOOO 0.46 11.684 0.049 0.16072 380 302 125 Hz
OOO 0.4096 10.40384 0.0618 0.202704 328 239 160 Hz
OO 0.3648 9.26592 0.0779 0.255512 283 190 200 Hz
0 0.3249 8.25246 0.0983 0.322424 245 150 250 Hz
1 0.2893 7.34822 0.1239 0.406392 211 119 325 Hz
2 0.2576 6.54304 0.1563 0.512664 181 94 410 Hz
3 0.2294 5.82676 0.197 0.64616 158 75 500 Hz
4 0.2043 5.18922 0.2485 0.81508 135 60 650 Hz
5 0.1819 4.62026 0.3133 1.027624 118 47 810 Hz
6 0.162 4.1148 0.3951 1.295928 101 37 1100 Hz
7 0.1443 3.66522 0.4982 1.634096 89 30 1300 Hz
8 0.1285 3.2639 0.6282 2.060496 73 24 1650 Hz
9 0.1144 2.90576 0.7921 2.598088 64 19 2050 Hz
10 0.1019 2.58826 0.9989 3.276392 55 15 2600 Hz
11 0.0907 2.30378 1.26 4.1328 47 12 3200 Hz
12 0.0808 2.05232 1.588 5.20864 41 9.3 4150 Hz
13 0.072 1.8288 2.003 6.56984 35 7.4 5300 Hz
14 0.0641 1.62814 2.525 8.282 32 5.9 6700 Hz
15 0.0571 1.45034 3.184 10.44352 28 4.7 8250 Hz
16 0.0508 1.29032 4.016 13.17248 22 3.7 11 k Hz
17 0.0453 1.15062 5.064 16.60992 19 2.9 13 k Hz
18 0.0403 1.02362 6.385 20.9428 16 2.3 17 kHz
19 0.0359 0.91186 8.051 26.40728 14 1.8 21 kHz
20 0.032 0.8128 10.15 33.292 11 1.5 27 kHz
21 0.0285 0.7239 12.8 41.984 9 1.2 33 kHz
22 0.0254 0.64516 16.14 52.9392 7 0.92 42 kHz
23 0.0226 0.57404 20.36 66.7808 4.7 0.729 53 kHz
24 0.0201 0.51054 25.67 84.1976 3.5 0.577 68 kHz
25 0.0179 0.45466 32.37 106.1736 2.7 0.457 85 kHz
26 0.0159 0.40386 40.81 133.8568 2.2 0.361 107 kH
27 0.0142 0.36068 51.47 168.8216 1.7 0.288 130 kHz
28 0.0126 0.32004 64.9 212.872 1.4 0.226 170 kHz
29 0.0113 0.28702 81.83 268.4024 1.2 0.182 210 kHz
30 0.01 0.254 103.2 338.496 0.86 0.142 270 kHz
31 0.0089 0.22606 130.1 426.728 0.7 0.113 340 kHz
32 0.008 0.2032 164.1 538.248 0.53 0.091 430 kHz
Metric 2.0 0.00787 0.200 169.39 555.61 0.51 0.088 440 kHz
33 0.0071 0.18034 206.9 678.632 0.43 0.072 540 kHz
Metric 1.8 0.00709 0.180 207.5 680.55 0.43 0.072 540 kHz
34 0.0063 0.16002 260.9 855.752 0.33 0.056 690 kHz
Metric 1.6 0.0063 0.16002 260.9 855.752 0.33 0.056 690 kHz
35 0.0056 0.14224 329 1079.12 0.27 0.044 870 kHz
Metric 1.4 .00551 .140 339 1114 0.26 0.043 900 kHz
36 0.005 0.127 414.8 1360 0.21 0.035 1100 kHz
Metric 1.25 .00492 0.125 428.2 1404 0.20 0.034 1150 kHz
37 0.0045 0.1143 523.1 1715 0.17 0.0289 1350 kHz
Metric 1.12 .00441 0.112 533.8 1750 0.163 0.0277 1400 kHz
38 0.004 0.1016 659.6 2163 0.13 0.0228 1750 kHz
Metric 1 .00394 0.1000 670.2 2198 0.126 0.0225 1750 kHz
39 0.0035 0.0889 831.8 2728 0.11 0.0175 2250 kHz
40 0.0031 0.07874 1049 3440 0.09 0.0137 2900 kHz

Once you feel you are suited for cable size, it is time to install them!

1. Vise clamp
2. Ring terminals to fit gauge wire. (6)
3. Diagnol side cutters
4. Lighter
5. Socket set
6. Grinder or wirewheel on a drill.
7. Cable; I recommend going to an audio store and picking up braided wire, not solid core. Streetwires is a quality cable to buy.

First, establish how long of cable you will need for each application. You want to keep all cables as short as possible! Prep your cables by using the diagnol side cutters and cut off an 1 1/2" of the insulation to expose the ends. I say the side cutters, because they are about the best way to cut insulation on cable like 0 ga. Twist the ends of the cable to keep them from being frayed. Then, take the ring terminals and insert on the ends. Take the vise clamp and clamp down one side of the terminal. Then, vise the other side of the terminal so this side is clamped down on the other so it is curled over and provides a good bite!

Each terminal kit should come with shrink-wrap. Insert a piece onto the ends and use the lighter to shrink it. Repeat this process until all cables are fitted with terminals! Now, I did not include this onto the tool list, because not all cases call for a drill. In my case, some bolts were to big to go through the terminal. If you have to, drill the terminals with a bit to make a big enoug hole for the bolts! Be careful and go slow! When you get to the end and get almost all the way through, it will bind and may jerk you.

Now, determine what points you want to bolt the cable down to. Wherever these points are, they must be cleaned of dirt, and paint! It is now time to take your wire wheel or grinde to the area and make sure it is freshly ground metal!

If you want, you can bolt up your cables into a BIG 3 upgrade like this:
1. Bolt up one cable to the negative post on the battery, then to the negative post on the alt. or onto a bolt spot on the alt. Make sure that if you do not know whether or not a post on the alt. has a purpose do not bolt it on to the alt.! In that case, bolt the cable onto the engine block.
2. Bolt another cable from the cahssis onto the alt. or in the other case, the engine block.
3. Bolt on the last cable to + on battery post to the alt +! If your alt. does not have a + then disregard. Your alt. power wire should be as big as the grounding cables.

There you have it! THE BIG 3 UPGRADE! You no longer will suffer from dimmed lights and poor charging! WOOO!

The big 3 upgrade is essentially bigger ground cable to lower the resistance of the electrical. In this techie, I want to include not only the ground cables but your power cable to the battery as well! If you cannot upgrade this cable, disregard! If you can, I strongly advise in doing so! Why have bigger grounds when your power does'nt equal the same size cable, offsetting your electrical flow?

I don't think its a proven fact and I have'nt heard of anyone else upgrading the power wire. But does'nt it make sense? I think so!

Side note:
If you experience poor voltage and have drops that cause dimming lights, you should upgrade the electrical in this priority:
1. Alternator; Amperage should exceed 20-30 more amps than needed. If you are unsure on how much amperage you need, take the stock alt. amperage and add the amperage with the amperage your amp(s) fuses. My amplifiers alone draw 135 when you take from what the fuses say. 135 plus our stock alt. amperage. This does not mean your system will draw all this amperage. But this is like a better safe than sorry situation. You can also figure out how many amps you need in the alt. by how much wattage your system draws as well.

2. Battery; If you have a poor battery, or is old, charging is going to be poorer than a new one! Sound systems demand alot of power and can be hard on batteries as well as the alt.! I HIGHLY recommend the Optima Yellowtop battery in every single vehicle! Bite the bullet and pay the high price for this battery! It is a deep-cycle and will prove to be worth its value in the long run!
- (My alt. belt was loose one time, and I ran my system and drove for a whole WEEK before my battery died on me!)

3. Cables; Ground and power cables basically go hand-in-hand when you upgrade the battery and alt. If you upgrade the alt. this is basically a mandatory thing!

4. 2nd battery with a solenoid; Doing this, you now have 2 batteries that will provide your system with more juice to keep going! In many cases most people will not need this alt.! But it is a comforting thing to have!

5. Capacitor; This is basically the only and last upgrade you want to resort to with a sound system! Once everything else is done and you lights STILL dim, a capacitor is going to patch it all up! 1 farad for every 1000 watts.

Old battery and BIG 3:

With this, my lights dimmed!

With HO alt:

HO alt. and power cable upgrade!

Compare stock and HO alt.:

Optima yellowtop:

Even STILL, my lights will dim a bit with the big bass notes!

I myself plan on doing a 2nd battery and solenoid because of my airbaggin' project. I will be implementing a 4 farad capacitor for my sound system as well!

I hope you all enjoy this techie, and sorry I could'nt really post any pics of the process to do the BIG 3. It is an upgrade that requires LITTLE skill! Pm me if you experience any problems!


Created By: hex0rz

fanninator avatar
fanninator   +1y
good job man. your gettin prtty good at these lil things eh? -bf
pepehn avatar
pepehn   +1y
awesome man. looks alot better than mine, mine only has one big ground. how much u pay for that?
carolinasled avatar
carolinasled   +1y
thats cool the ole ground trick, most guys want listen these days when they think you need a cap for everything....LOL......
nytrdr24 avatar
nytrdr24   +1y
good write up hex....i would like to add a few things though....

not exactly true, if the 6 or 8 individual conductors were wound together in one cable, then they might be rated the same as 0ga, but as individuals, they can only be rated by themselves......

instead of using a lighter to shrink up the heatshrink tubing, a heat gun, or hair dryer works very well, and won't scorch & bubble the outside of the tubing.

always use stranded wire, the more strands per a given size of cable, the less resistance it will have.....

side cutters are a must when cutting the cable, you can find cable insulation stripping tools at a electrical supply house, or lowes, or home depot, they offer a cleaner cut in the insulation, and you are less likey to unintentionally remove some of the strands of the cable which would create more resistance at that point because of having less strands is also good to get lugs that are crimp on, instead of a mechanical (bolted or set-screw) as they provide a better connection with the wire. the lugs need to be rated for the type cable your using, i.e. if you have copper cable, the lugs need to be rated for also doesn't hurt to use a little die-electrical grease in the lug connection to prevent oxidation & premature corrosion of the cable.
mazdabon2nd avatar
mazdabon2nd   +1y
ok here is my problem i have a gm 1 wire alternator should i ground out the alternator to anywhere and where should i ground it from or can i jus ground it from any point second i have an electric fan and a fuel pump that runs constint when truck is warm and my alt should power everything but it doesnt i always have low voltage as soon as i go to start it and its a new battery and the alternator is charging.... i think it is my ground cable and my cable from my alt to my batery there oem but my voltage gauage says 14 when the fuel pump is running as soon as the fan comes on and the lights come on its down to 12.. and b4 i shut it off i have to let it run with just teh pump on to charge the battery ,,yes i kno its ghetto but i could never figure this out lol and im rambling but ...any help would b greatly apriceated
nytrdr24 avatar
nytrdr24   +1y
the gm one wire is to the positive on the battery correct? then the alt is grounded thru the motor, i'd change the ground on the engine to chassis and also the ground from the battery to the chassis and see if that helps your voltage issues, if not the alt may be too small for all the accessories your running.....
hex0rz avatar
hex0rz   +1y

You typically wan't to ground the cables that are thickest in and most abundant of metal. I would suggest grounding the alt. to the engine block or neg. post on the battery. Like nytrdyr said, your alt. also may not be providing enough amperage. You also said its OEM cable. My stock cables were CRAP! I would suggest replaing your cables and grounding them properly before you go into investing into a new alt. It could be as simple as replacing the cables!

You say your fans kill the voltage down to 12 from 14 volts. You need to find out how much amperage your alt. is and then any accessories you have added on need to be added up to see if you have gone over the stock alt. amperage rating. Go from there, and if you have problems PM me.
nytrdr24 avatar
nytrdr24   +1y

let me see if i can explain this a little better....ok say you have an 8 ga wire, and an 0 ga wire grounding two houses.....both get hit by lightning, the 8 ga wire will burn in half before the 0ga wire because of the amount of current potential each individual conductor is able to unless your taking all 6 or 8 of the individual conductors to the same points electrically they are still separate, and only as good as the individual conductors rating. even if they were wound as one cable, then depending on how many it was, you might acheive the same rating as the 0ga, but doubtful. this is why you can't say that the cables are equal....
<img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D -->
hex0rz avatar
hex0rz   +1y
Okay, now take my example! One house has 10 8ga. wires and another house has 1 0ga. wire. They both get hit by lightning. I bet you that the 10 would not burn just like the 0ga.! I'm trying to explain the fact that all 10 wires all take their max. current and distributing the current through all of them.

It just does'nt make sense that if you have many of them that it would'nt lower the resistance of the truck! But hey, I can't prove it to you, and all I can say is that if there is no purpose for a ground kit, then the only reason why they would sell it is to make money off of idiots like me then! LOL!
nytrdr24 avatar
nytrdr24   +1y

electricity works in strange ways my friend. the wires do lower the resistance between two given points, thus the purpose of the grounding kit. no need to prove it again, it is all in your chart &amp; good tech write up, but that info must be interpereted correctly.