Like many people, you probably have a habit of listening to your car radio while driving. Driving while listening to music is undeniably a therapeutic experience since it keeps your mind off stressful things, allowing you to relax during your travels. However, you may also find yourself holding back from continuously listening to your car radio for fear that it might drain your car battery rapidly.
That said, can you drain your car battery by listening to the radio?
The simple answer is yes, but it mostly depends on whether or not the radio is running on the battery or the car engine. If your engine is turned on and you’re listening to the radio, chances are it will only get its required power from the engine, thus not putting any strain on the battery itself.
On the other hand, the battery drains out if you’re listening to the radio with your car parked and your engine turned off. In this case, the radio will extract the power it needs from the battery only, causing it to drain out slowly.
There are actually various factors that can affect how fast an in-car radio drains your car battery. For this, you’ll first have to know how radio works and how listening to it can take up your battery’s power supply.
Do car radios drain your car battery?
Different parts of your car get their power via a pathway to your car battery. Energy is generated through the engine whenever it’s turned on, whereas turning off the engine leaves you with a limited power supply from your car’s battery storage.
This basically means that using any battery-powered gadget or device in your car, like your radio, fan, or heater, can significantly drain your battery. However, this doesn’t mean that the battery will be drained at a rapid rate, contrary to popular opinion.
It’s important to consider that there are several kinds of radios, most of which don’t actually rely on a lot of power to function. In this case, there’s only a possibility of battery drainage if you’re using more intensive or energy-heavy extras like lights.
Additionally, the length of time you can spend listening to the radio with your car engine turned off largely depends on your existing audio equipment. If you have an advanced model or build of car radio like a double-din one that grants access to GPS, video, and music streaming, chances are it requires more power than the standard types.
The same goes for if you have a subwoofer or powerful amplifiers and speakers since they typically demand more energy to work effectively.
How long can a car battery last with the radio turned on?
You can generally expect the radio to last for several hours, a maximum of ten, before your battery finally runs out.
But as mentioned, the amount of time you can spend listening to the radio without at least an idle engine depends on the type of your car and the audio hardware present in it.
Vehicles that contain a powerful battery will have no qualms if you prefer listening to your radio or devices for hours on end. The opposite can be said for older batteries since you’re most likely to encounter certain problems with battery drainage along the way.
For instance, modern batteries in standard cars can power up to 60Ah on average, meaning they can supply roughly 60 Amps of electricity for at least 10 hours. Since a typical car radio only utilizes a 10 amp fuse, you’re able to use the radio for around 5 to 10 hours as long as your engine is turned off before the battery runs out.
With this in mind, it’s best to think about the model or type of your car before you proceed to use the radio with your engine turned off. For vehicles with more advanced stereo systems and amplifiers, subwoofers, and loudspeakers, expect your car battery to drain faster than usual.
Since the audio equipment is a bit more advanced and modern than the regular ones, it tends to extract more power from the batter. A 4-channel amplifier setup alone draws about 150 watts, with the battery being forced to generate at least 12.5 electricity amps over 12 volts. In this scenario, it will only take two hours at most for your battery to be drained.
Modern cars have provided a solution to this via safety features that don’t let the radio run for a long time. There’s usually an established safe limit of around one hour or lesser before it automatically shuts down. This way, your car battery won’t get drained completely while reserving sufficient charge and power to start your engine.
Newer vehicles can allow you to play the car radio for around 10 to 15 hours while avoiding battery drainage. However, if your car battery suddenly dies after a few hours, this might already be a sign that your battery has been long due for replacement.
What to do if you have a drained battery?
Suppose you’ve enjoyed listening to the radio too much and found out your car battery has been drained completely. What do you then? This situation usually signals a problem, especially if you’ve only left the radio on for an hour or so.
The best thing to do in this case is to jump the battery using a set of jumper cables and a vehicle with a sufficiently-charged battery. However, don’t jump your battery if you feel like there’s an issue with it.
For example, if you’ve noticed that your battery has been leaking, this makes it dangerous to handle by yourself since it can pose certain hazards and risks. You’ll need to see a professional mechanic to get this issue sorted out for you.
You can always prevent your battery from getting drained by turning off all equipment. Doing this before you even start your car’s engine helps concentrate and focus the power on where you need it to be.