What Is a Low Voltage Amplifier?

Helen Akers

A low voltage amplifier increases the sound quality and volume of electronics that typically use less than 18 volts. In most cases, amplifiers connect to equipment that emits sound, such as a radio, stereo system, or television. Amplifiers can also be used to create a surround sound effect, particularly with a home theater system. Some types of low voltage amplifiers run on battery power and operate best when they are used to amplify sounds with low frequencies.

PA systems may benefit from a low voltage amplifier.
PA systems may benefit from a low voltage amplifier.

An amplifier is usually a small device that resembles a splitter. It will have connecting pins that audio cables and jacks can plug into. The low voltage amplifier works by receiving the audio signal from the original sound device and sending it back out at a higher decibel rating. What determines whether an amplifier is considered low voltage is the amount of power that it consumes as well as how much it is capable of handling.

Low voltage amplifiers, which can be used with PA systems, typically work with equipment using fewer than 18 volts.
Low voltage amplifiers, which can be used with PA systems, typically work with equipment using fewer than 18 volts.

Unlike high voltage electronic devices, a low voltage amplifier can usually only handle anywhere between 2.7 and 18 volts. The amplifier's range, including its minimum and maximum outputs, should be available in the manufacturer's technical specifications. While most amplifiers that connect to low voltage devices will fall within a certain range, this may vary between brands.

Stereo systems, speakers, televisions, tape recorders, and personal announcement (PA) systems can all benefit from a low voltage amplifier. This is especially true if the sound is being emitted in an area where sound waves do not carry well or could experience a lot of interference. In large living rooms, for example, surround sound amplifiers are used to create a movie theater effect with televisions and stereo systems. Any noise coming from other connected rooms, such as a kitchen or hallway, can be overpowered with the use of an amplifier.

Some individuals find amplifiers to be beneficial if they are naturally hard of hearing. A low voltage amplifier can be used to enhance a PA system, which may be installed in a small office setting or personal residence. One of the benefits of amplifiers that do not use much voltage is that they do not cause too much additional strain on electrical wiring. In fact, additional electric use may be very slight to none, particularly if the amplifier is battery powered.

Many low voltage amplifiers have the ability of running on battery power. This does not diminish their ability to increase the typical sound decibel of the electric appliance they are attached to. Most of these amplifiers are able to produce a 200 to 300 decibel gain when used with low voltage devices.

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