How Alternators Work | HowStuffWorks

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  • That's all well and good, but just exactly what does all that mean? To get a good idea, it is first necessary to understand how an alternator works. You don't need an engineering degree, just a basic understanding of the general principles. Figure 1, below, is a block diagram, or a "functional" diagram, of an alternator, and its connections to the remainder of the automobile electrical system. Following the figure is a description of the various components that make up an alternator, and a description of how each operates to keep the battery charged in your car.

    That's all well and good, but just exactly what does all that mean? To get a good idea, it is first necessary to understand how an alternator works. You don't need an engineering degree, just a basic understanding of the general principles. Figure 1, below, is a block diagram, or a "functional" diagram, of an alternator, and its connections to the remainder of the automobile electrical system. Following the figure is a description of the various components that make up an alternator, and a description of how each operates to keep the battery charged in your car.

  • Although that is basically how every alternator works, there are two distinct variations, one called self excited and the other battery excited. The most common type is the self excited alternator. These have an extra diode added to the rectifier (known as the excitation diode). When you turn the ignition on the car the battery light comes on this is because it is connected to the rotor. With the light on there is a small flow of electricity around the rotor and at the same time a small electro- magnetic field is generated. When the alternator turns it generates a small output some of this is filtered through the excitation diodes which are in turn connected to the rotor, so as the magnetic field increases the alternator generates more power until in a few milliseconds it is charging.

    That's all well and good, but just exactly what does all that mean? To get a good idea, it is first necessary to understand how an alternator works. You don't need an engineering degree, just a basic understanding of the general principles. Figure 1, below, is a block diagram, or a "functional" diagram, of an alternator, and its connections to the remainder of the automobile electrical system. Following the figure is a description of the various components that make up an alternator, and a description of how each operates to keep the battery charged in your car.

    Here is an excellent description on how an alternator works, provided by
    a comprehensive web site with information on most all the various parts of an automobile.

  • Author Message
     Post subject: How do alternators work?
    Posted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:46 am 
    Learner

    Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:05 am
    Posts: 363
    Location: Local
    Hello.
    I was thinking about under drive pulleys and how
    they spin the alternator slower. Doesn't the voltage regulate
    always want to keep the same charge going?

    If so, then even if the the alternator is spinning slower, it'll
    be charging longer, or just compensate and make the same
    drag on the magnets somehow?

    Any opinions welcomed.

    Also, what do you guys think about putting a WOT switch on the
    alternator from keeping it from charging at WOT?

    Will the car loose spark by doing that? Would it free up acouple HP
    it's done?
    Here's a picture to keep you interested.

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    General overview of how an alternator works..how an automotive alternator works tutorial autoshop 101 . Engineering Explained . How An Alternator Works . Bridge Rectifier . Sine Wave . Alternating Current . Direct Current . Diodes . Diode Bridge.... . Voltage Regulator . Stator . Three Phase . Windings . Automotive Electrical . Scotty Kilmer . Tutorial . How A Car Alternator Works . Automotive Charging System . Eric The Car Guy . Davidsfarm . BriansMobile . How To Rebuild An Alternator . Chevy Ford Pontiac Twin Turbo Supra Nissan Amperage Battery Drain Capacitor

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