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Car & Truck Alternators & Generators

Your alternator is the lifeblood of your car's or trucks electrical system, and it is responsible for keeping your battery charged, your radio kicking, and your accessories energized. Many parts make up your alternator, but it is only as strong as its individual parts. The good news is, you can keep your alternator in optimal health by taking advantage of the virtues of the many car and SUV electrical dynamos that await you.

What parts make up your alternator?

The alternator consists of a few basic parts, including the rotor, the stator, the regulator, and the rectifier.

  • Rotors. These consist of a core, windings, rings, and poles. The engine output shaft connects to it through a system of gears, pulleys, belts, or some combination of these parts. As it spins, it creates an alternating current (AC) that your vehicles electrical systems and devices use for energy.
  • Stators. The two basic kinds of stators include the delta and the wye. Each brings its own set of benefits to the table. Wye-wound types include a set of triple-wound wires, offset from each other by 120-degrees. These work well with high voltage applications. Delta types include a parallel winding, in contrast to the series-design found in wye models. They also allow for relatively right levels of current flow.
  • Regulators. You can find regulators in two general types, including grounded field and grounded regulator. Grounded regulators control the quantity of negative battery ground current sent to field windings. Grounded field regulators modify positive current that flows to the rotor windings. Each type of field regulator strives to keep system voltage levels even and steady. If the voltage amounts fall or rise to unacceptable levels, your regulator modifies current amounts as necessary.
  • Rectifiers. The job of this component is to change the AC current into DC current.To get this done, it uses diodes arranged in a specific pattern to direct currents in a single direction.
What do the various terminals do?

Alternators contain many terminals, including the following items.

  • The IG lead controls your ignition switch voltage and switches the regulator on.
  • The L lead serves as a grounding-pole for warning signals.
  • B leads direct current to the battery.
  • S leads monitor and interprets battery energy levels.
  • F leads serves a bypass for the regulator.
Will you need different alternators for cars and other vehicles?

Not necessarily. The power needs of your vehicle determine the energy output levels required of your alternator. For example, a small car jam-packed with high-power stereos, speakers, lights, lifts, etc., needs more charging output than a small pickup with an AM/FM radio and stock speakers. To determine the power needs of your vehicle, you should take some time to add up the power draws of your various accessories. Once you know the value of your overall electric load, you can decide on a model that fits your unique requirements.