Different names for the same part. Power Distribution Module or Power Distribution Unit. Manufactures are using advanced electrical systems to power various components, from lights and infotainment systems to safety features and engine control modules. To efficiently manage and distribute power throughout the vehicle, power distribution modules (PDMs) play a crucial role.
All the well-known aftermarket ECU manufactures are also making PDMs. Motec, Link, Haltech and ECU master to just name a few. Let’s have a look into the world of PDMs, exploring their functionality, benefits, and provide a very basic install procedure.
A Power Distribution Module (PDM) is an electrical component that acts as a centralized control centre for managing and distributing electrical power within a vehicle. It replaces traditional fuse and relay boxes, offering greater flexibility, improved reliability, and enhanced features. By using a PDM, you can take advantage of:
• Simplified Wiring: PDMs eliminate the need for extensive wiring harnesses, reducing complexity and potential points of failure.
• Increased Reliability: PDMs use solid-state components, reducing the risk of mechanical failure and improving the overall reliability of the electrical system.
• Enhanced Safety: PDMs incorporate features such as overcurrent protection, short-circuit detection, and thermal shutdown, minimizing the risk of electrical hazards and component damage.
• Flexibility and Expandability: PDMs allow for easy integration of additional electrical components, making it simpler to upgrade or modify the electrical system as needed.
• Diagnostic Capabilities: PDMs often offer diagnostic features that can help identify and troubleshoot electrical issues quickly and efficiently.
When considering installing a PDM, ensure that it is compatible with your vehicle's electrical system. Specifications provided by the PDM manufacturer must be checked to ensure compatibility with the voltage, current, and wiring requirements of your car. Time will need to be spent investigating the various brands of PDM to ensure you will achieve your desired result.
PDMs can and do get hot. Install as per manufactures recommendation in a well ventilated area is necessary. Mounting the unit in an easily accessible location will benefit long term for any additional circuits being added at a later date or for ease of maintenance.
The time spent planning the install will be more than be made up during the actual install. Like any custom work a certain amount of put and look will be necessary. That is the nature of custom work. Put, Look and Reiterate. Familiarity with the car's electrical system and wiring diagrams will assist greatly during the planning process.
Always disconnect the battery. Negative terminal removed first and refitted last. Now refer to your plan for electrical components to be connected to the PDM. Always double check your wring and connections. Letting the smoke out is an expensive mistake. Use dual wall heat shrink, harness tape, harness mounts and glands or bulkhead fittings where necessary.
Post-installation Power up, configure and test operation on the vehicle and verify that all electrical components are functioning correctly. The basic principles are the same no matter which brand of PDM is being used. The software look and feel on the other hand is different across brands. Once configured the PDM will distribute power to the connected loads based on your settings. All the features of your chosen PDM such as circuit protection, current monitoring and fault detection will assist with the correct set up and any faults in the future.
Installing a Power Distribution Module (PDM) is a big move. If you are in the position of needing a rewire or making significate changes to the vehicle electrical systems it is short sighted to not investigate a PDM. A PDM install is a big change. It is the big changes that open up many other possibilities.