Alternators 101–What it is


Alternators 101

Like it was explained to us when we first started out, if it has lights or puts out music, it has an alternator. An alternator is an important part of the electrical system for your application and closely works with the battery and the voltage regulator. What exactly does it do? Its most important job is to keep the battery charged. The alternator generates, and subsequently gives power or electricity to your battery, so that it is always charged and ready to go to produce power to the lights, music, and items of that nature in your application.

So how does the alternator work exactly? Well, explaining that part sounds pretty much like something from your high school science class. In case you didn’t pay attention, here’s a quick summary with the general concept being that alternators generate power by magnetism. When you turn the key to start your engine, the engine begins to turn the alternator’s pulley, which rotates a magnetic core inside called the rotor. The rotor spins very fast within the stationary copper winding called a stator. This creates a magnetic field, which to make a long technical story short, produces the power the battery needs to stay charged. As your battery drains, this power is transferred to the voltage regulator which acts as a switch, or “regulates” the amount of power, usually 14.5 volts, so it won’t overcharge and fry the battery. This cycle is repeated as long as your battery needs power to stay fully charged.