What Is Protection Mode?
Semiconductor devices, such as power transistors, can be very expensive to replace. In fact, they are the most expensive components of an amplifier. If they go short, your amplifier will no longer work.
Likewise, car speakers are also pretty expensive. If they blow up because their voice coil catches a high voltage, they will no longer work. Thus, it is crucial for an amplifier to be protected. It is not easy to replace expensive components, after all.
This is why modern car amplifiers typically have a protection circuit in case of thermal overload, short circuits, under-voltage, or over-voltage. Once the protection circuit engages, the amp shuts down automatically and enters the protection mode until a solution to the problem is found.
In essence, the protection mode for amplifiers is a state of shutdown. It is specifically designed to prevent amplifiers from destroying themselves. An amplifier constantly or randomly entering the protection mode is a sign that there is something wrong with the audio system of your car.
You should not ignore this warning. You have to take the necessary action as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may experience worse problems in the long run.
If you see that the protect light of your amplifier is on, it might be because of any of the following reasons:
- Your amplifier was not installed properly
- Your amplifier has overheated
- Your amplifier is overtaxed or has a low impedance load
- There are loose wirings
- The incorrect size of the wire gauge was used
Signs that Your Amplifier Is In Protection Mode
Even though not all amplifiers are the same, the telltale signs when they have entered the protection mode are still quite similar. Here are some of them:
- The protect mode LED changes color to inform you of a problem
- The protect mode LED blinks to inform you of a problem
- A protect mode LED indicator can be found at the top of the amplifier
More often than not, car amplifiers feature a power on LED that tells you when your amplifier is working. Usually, the color is green, but it can also be other colors. You have to check your manual to confirm this. There are also LEDs that turn red or orange whenever something is wrong. In addition, the “protect on” LED of modern amplifiers turn red whenever the amplifier enters protection mode.
Reasons Why an Amplifier Enters Protection Mode
There are many different reasons why an amplifier enters the protection mode. Here are some of them:
1. Overtaxed amplifier or load mismatch
Your car amplifier puts out various amounts of wattage depending on its impedance load. If you hook up a four-ohm amplifier with a two-ohm subwoofer, the amplifier can be greatly strained. This can cause its circuits to be overwhelmed, and eventually trigger it to enter protection mode.
2. Overheating or thermal overload
If the amplifier is placed in a confined space or under seats, it can overheat quickly due to lack of adequate air flow. Take note that if the amplifier becomes too hot, it can enter the protection mode so that its internal components will not melt.
3. Faulty component
A connected amplifier can be triggered to enter the protection mode by a faulty component.
4. Faulty amplifier
An amplifier that has issues with its fuse, rectifiers, output transistors, or transformer winding, among others, will very much likely shut down.
How to Get an Amplifier Out of Protection Mode
If you want to get your amplifier out of protection mode, you have to find out what has caused the problem. You can do the following:
Unplug your speakers
First, you need to bring back your amplifier to the basics. Disconnect every RCA wiring and speaker wiring. The remote leads, power, and ground should be the only ones that are left connected. Then, you have to turn on your amplifier again to see if it is no longer in protection mode. If its protect mode lights are turned off, one of the speakers may have been blown off.
Check out your speakers. If a speaker is indeed blown, your amplifier may still attempt to give off power. If it does this, it would overheat fast and then shut down. You can use a multimeter to see the electrical response of your speaker. Your speaker may be damaged if you turn on its engine and see that the voltage is less than 12 volts.
Unplug your head unit
You have to disconnect the amplifier and the head unit. Then, you should attempt to turn on your amplifier. If it is able to start normally, the problem might be the wiring or the head unit.
See if the amplifier is hot
It is not unusual for an amplifier to get hot very quickly. As a result, it shuts down. The most common reasons for this are poor power or ground connections, blown or grounded speaker, gain or punch bass control settings that are very high, and very low impedance load.
In addition, if you mount your amplifier in a confined space, your amplifier can overheat due to lack of adequate air flow. So, you have to increase the air gap between the sides, top, and bottom of your amplifier in order to improve the air flow.
You can also put your amplifier in an adequately ventilated location to prevent overheating. Furthermore, you can use a cooling fan to blow heat away and keep your amplifier cool.
Inspect the fuses, cables, and terminals
Always make sure that your cables are tightly secured. If you see your amplifier entering the protection mode as soon as you installed it, you should check the ground wires and power, as well as the patch cables. Do not forget to check for inline fuses. Your wires should also not be shorted, loose, or corroded.
See to it that you have good ground connection
It is very important to use ground cables and power properly. Your amplifier needs the ground wiring and the power to be big enough to handle its required electric current.
So, if your ground cables or power are not big enough for your amplifier, your amplifier may enter the protection mode if the bass hits hard. As a result, the bass may cut out. Moreover, you may deal with a thermal shutdown if your amplifier does not get enough power to produce your desired output.
You may also experience problems if the ground connection of your amplifier is loose or poor. Your amplifier will either malfunction or not turn on. Ideally, your wire should touch bare metal or sanded metal in order for you to have a good ground connection.
If you have done your best to get your amplifier out of protection mode and yet it is still there, you may try to physically isolate it from bare metal. This is because the metal components of the body of your vehicle can serve as ground.
So, if your amplifier touches bare metal, there could be a problem. Furthermore, you may want to go to the repair shop or contact the manufacturer if all else fails.
Is it easy to replace amplifier components?
Not really because these components can be very expensive.
Can you get your amplifier out of protection mode on your own?
Yes, if you follow the tips mentioned above. Otherwise, contact a professional for help.
Can you easily tell when an amplifier goes into protection mode?
Not all the time because some amplifiers do not have a protection mode indicator.