Home theater systems are all about entertainment, but there’s nothing fun about short wires that won’t reach the wall.
Whether you’re trying to tidy the appearance of the wires or you want a little more wiggle room, it’s not too difficult to extend the connections. All you need is the right tools, supplies, and techniques.
To extend home theater speaker wires, start by turning off the breaker, disconnecting the wires, and examining the gauge size. Next, get the proper gauge at a hardware store, then choose how you’ll connect the wires. Crimping, soldering, using wire nuts, and shrink tubing are all good choices.
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Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following info about extending the speaker wires:
- Multiple methods to get the job done in a timely manner
- How you can tighten and test your connections
- A helpful list of supplies to assist you along the way
Check out my guide on how to do wiring in a home theater.
How to Extend Home Theater Speaker Wires
Here are some ways to extend wires in a home theater.
Turn Off the Electrical Connections
The first step is the most important part of the process. Leaving on the connections can cause shocks, fires, sparks, shortages, and more.
Luckily, it’s not too challenging to ensure that the connections are turned off. You’ll need a multimeter, then follow the steps listed below:
- Turn off the breakers. WikiHow mentions that turning off the power is the first step that you should follow. If you don’t want to get shocked in the middle of the procedure, you’ll need to find the break labeled ‘Home Entertainment,’ ‘Living Room,’ or something that identifies the location of the entertainment system.
- Get a multimeter (also known as a voltmeter) and the breakers to ensure they’re off. The AstroAI Digital Multimeter (Amazon) is a top choice for those looking for a budget-friendly multimeter. For next to nothing, you’ll be able to ensure your safety. Press the positive and negative nodes against the corresponding wires in the breaker box.
- Head to the other side of the cables connected to the speakers and test them. When you’re finished testing the power at the breaker box, you’re not quite finished. Test the wires at the home entertainment system, so you know it’s turned off. Some cables are incorrectly labeled, so it’s good to follow this step for safety purposes.
- Close the panel and keep others away from it. Consider using caution tape or electrical tape to keep the breaker box closed while you’re working on this project. Note that many home entertainment systems use 12V plugs, in which case you can unplug it and skip this whole process.
As you can see, turning off and testing your electrical connections is easy, but it’s crucial. If you want to keep yourself and your belongings safe from harm, these steps are more than necessary. They’re not too complicated, and the whole process takes about two minutes from end to end.
Disconnect the Speakers
Next, you’ll need to disconnect the speakers from the entertainment system. This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised to know the number of people who forget it. There are multiple types of speaker systems, some of which connect directly into the wall and others that connect to the entertainment system via gauge wire.
Let’s break down both types below:
- If your speakers are attached to the home entertainment system, you’ll need a screwdriver. Unscrew the connections to free the wire, then place the speaker aside. Continue this process for every speaker, ensuring that you keep the wires separate and labeled to correspond with the right speaker.
- If your speakers plug into the wall, all you have to do is unplug them and set them aside. Note that some speakers are wired together, then wired into a wall outlet. In those circumstances, you could label them as you did in the previous step or keep them wired together and unplugged at the outlet.
Disconnecting the speakers allows you to keep everything neat and organized. You won’t have to worry about going back and forth, trying to figure out which wire goes to which speaker. Instead, you’ll have everything labeled and ready to go when you get back from the hardware store.
Note: Since most home entertainment systems have speakers that use gauge wire connected into the system, that’s the type of extensions we’ll cover in this article.
If you want to extend your home entertainment speakers that use a traditional wall outlet, all you have to do is get a long extension cord that has a built-in breaker.
When you’re ready to get started and find the necessary supplies, proceed to the next section.
Gather Your Tools and Supplies
Getting the proper tools will allow you to have the best chances of success. Fortunately, this task is fairly simple and straight-forward. You won’t have to worry about making mistakes if you get everything together before you start working.
Here’s a list of the tools and supplies you’ll need to extend your speakers:
- Wirecutter should be the first item on your list. They’re necessary to get the proper gauge, cut them down to size, remove wire covers, and more. Some of them also come with crimping attachments, which will save you a bit of money from having to get the next item on the list.
- Wire crimpers are an essential component. If you’re trying to crimp your wires and prevent them from following out, they’re going to be used in two of the four methods that you’ll find in the following sections. The good news is that you can spend a little bit more to get them as a part of your wire cutters and other tools.
- Butt connectors, butt splices, and crimp connectors all mean the same thing. They’re designed to keep two wires together by clamping plastic onto the wires. You’ll need a package of these to match the correct gauge of wire for the project. Note that they’re only necessary for one of the methods.
- Sound Certified mentions that you’ll have to get the right size wire gauge. That’s the only way that you’ll be able to extend your wires, and it’s necessary for every method. You can choose various lengths, some of which come with a rubber coating and others that don’t. If you can, get the pre-coated wire.
- Heat guns or soldering guns are also an option for two of the four methods in this article. Both of them produce high amounts of heat (as the names indicate), so you’ll also need safety gloves and long sleeves to prevent yourself from getting burnt. Luckily, the contact point is so small that they’re very easy to use.
Once you have these tools, you’ll be ready to get started. There are four methods that you’ll learn about in the following sections, so make sure you review them before choosing which route is right for you.
(Optional) Use Wire Nuts to Connect the New Wire
Wire nuts are affordable and easy to work with. The only downside of using wire nuts is that improper installation tactics can lead to loose ends. If they get too loose, it could cause disconnections or electrical arcing, a symptom that causes sparks and fires. The good news is that you’re about to learn how to avoid both of those issues.
Follow this step-by-step process in using wire nuts to connect wires:
- Start by trimming the wires to expose about an inch of copper on the new gauge wire and the speaker wire. You can use the crimping tool or the wire cutters if they have gauge slots. All you have to do is locate the number on the tool, slide the wire through, squeeze, and pull the rubber.
- Twist the wires around each other. Ensure that they’re squeezed and twisted tightly to prevent them from loosening. They shouldn’t come apart when you wiggle the wires or pull on them. Once you’re sure that the twist is perfect, grab your wire nuts and head to the next step.
- Slide the wire nut over the twisted wires. The tips of both wires should reach the back of the nut. When they’re pressed all the way to the top, twist the nut until you can’t anymore. The best way to know is when the wires start turning rather than the nut. Don’t over-tighten it, or you could cause the cap to loosen inside of the nut.
- Pull-on the wires to ensure that they’re snug. Again, you shouldn’t pull too tightly, or you ruin the connection. Do it enough to check if they’ll fall out if someone trips over the wire or the speaker falls out of place.
You can get color-coordinated wire nuts to keep them labeled or get nuts that are all the same color. Whatever you do, they have to fit the same gauge from your wires. It’s not the best method, but using wire nuts will get the job done if you have some of them lying around.
(Optional) Solder the New Wire
Soldering your speaker wires is a surefire way to get the best connection, but it’s the most complex method. You’ll need a soldering gun and the right tools to get the job done. There are plenty of kits that come with everything you need.
If you’re confused about how it works, you can follow this helpful YouTube tutorial by Techie Ram:
For those of you that want a quick written tutorial, review the steps below:
- Disconnect the wires from the speaker system and bend them to face upwards. They should have about one inch of exposed metal since you’ll be melting the wires together. Grab the new gauge wire that you purchased from the hardware store and create a small twist at the end.
- Use the soldering gun to connect the wires together. Work in small bits to prevent too much smoke. If you squeeze the trigger for too long, it’ll burn the wires and ruin the connection. Squeeze it for half of a second, change the angle, and repeat the process until the wires are thoroughly connected.
- Press the wires against the node on the speaker (make sure that you labeled it beforehand to prevent confusion). Using the soldering gun, solder the twisted wires onto the node. Again, you’ll have to do it in small half-second bits to prevent corrosion and broken wires.
- Do this for every set of wires that connect to the speaker. It’s a tedious process, but it’s just about as tough as it gets once you finish. You won’t need to worry about loose wires or broken connections for many years to come.
If you’ve never used a soldering gun, then you might want to try a different method. It can be unsafe if you’re not familiar with the process. You’ll end up wasting time and money.
For simpler processes, you can use the aforementioned wire nut technique or follow the step-by-step instructions to crimp or splice your wires in the next couple of sections.
(Optional) Crimp the Wires Together
Crimping wires is super easy, and you don’t have to spend too much time getting it finished. It’s also one of the cheapest methods if you have crimping tools or wire cutters. Some people use pliers, but you should only do so if you’re sure that you won’t cut through the material.
For this process, all you need is a set of butt splices and crimping tools. Try it out below:
- Using wire cutters, remove about one inch of the rubber coating on the wire. It should be about as long as the depth of the butt splice since it’ll have to slide all the way to the back. Butt splices have metal inside that allows the electrical connection to continue through the splice.
- Get butt splices that match the gauge of the wire you’re using. Place wire into the butt splice on both sides, one from the speaker system and one from the new wire. Remember that the other end of the wire will have to be spliced, soldered, or connected with wire nuts, just as with every other method mentioned on this page.
- Using the crimping tool, firmly squeeze the butt splice over the wire. You should be able to tug the wire without it wiggling or coming out of the connection. Move down the splice and squeeze the crimping tool until you reach the end. Repeat this process for both wires connected to the butt splice.
Crimping is a common method that allows you to connect loads of wires in a short amount of time. You won’t be using heat guns or soldering guns, nor will you have to twist wires and nuts repeatedly. If you want to give shrink tubing a try, get a heat gun and follow the steps under the next subheading.
(Optional) Attach the Wires With Shrink Tubing
Shrink tubing is very similar to using crimping tools, but it’s a bit more secure. You’ll need a heat gun, such as the Heat Shrink Set from Flowery Ocean.
It comes with enough heat to use on shrink tubing, and you’ll also receive plenty of tubes that you might be able to use. Make sure that they fit the gauge that you’re using. Otherwise, you’ll have to buy a separate set.
Once you have your heat gun and shrink tubes, follow this process:
- Much like you would’ve done in the crimping method, expose about one inch of the wire. Slide the wires into both ends of the crimping tube, ensuring that the wires touch and overlap one another. Some people prefer to twist the wires inside of the tube for extra security.
- Use the heat gun to shrink the tubing around the wires. Keep it far away, slowly moving closer to the tube until it starts to melt. Don’t hold it in one spot for too long, or you’ll burn and melt the tube. It shouldn’t be porous, or it could cause all sorts of problems.
- Let it cool down, then lightly tug the wires on both ends to check for a secure connection. If they don’t move around, then you’ll be good to go. If you notice that they wiggle, then it’s time to redo the process from the first step.
Regardless of which method you choose, it’s a good idea to turn on the breakers, check the voltage with a multimeter, and test your work. If you’re getting a solid connection, then you can place your speakers back with the entertainment system and enjoy the new length.
Extending your home entertainment system’s speaker wires is simple when you break it down correctly. There’s no need to spend hours trying to figure it out. With the proper tools, none of the methods should take longer than half of an hour.
Here’s a quick recap of the post:
- You can choose to crimp, solder, wire nut, or heat shrink the wires together.
- Always get the correct gauge wire, nuts, tube, and so on.
- Make sure the electrical connections are turned off at the breaker before starting.
- Gather all of your supplies and keep them within arm’s reach.
Check out my recommended home theater equipment.