How Do Alternators Work?

Engines and their related systems are intricate and rely on numerous parts working together in harmony if they are expected to function properly.

Alternators are just one component that works with an engine and charging system to ensure that everything is working as it should. In this continuation of our series that looks at various generator parts, we explore what alternators are, how they work and why they are important.

Here at Edge Technology, we provide support in all aspects of generator maintenance. If you are interested in establishing a generator maintenance contract with us, get in touch today to find out more.

What Are Alternators?

When referring to machines with an engine, a charging system consists of three main elements; the battery, the voltage regulator and an alternator. Here, we concern ourselves with the alternator.

In cars, alternators are usually found near the front of an engine and are driven by the crankshaft and serpentine belt system.

The components within an alternator itself include:

• Rotor and stator – the components that produce electricity. The stator and conductive copper wiring encircle the rotor, which is surrounded by magnets and spins to generate power.
• Voltage regulator – distributes electricity and regulates how much voltage is directed to the battery.
• Diode rectifier – converts voltage into a current that can be used by the battery to recharge.
• Cooling fan – cools alternator elements as they give off copious amounts of heat and must be kept at a regulated temperature to function properly.

An alternator is essentially a generator and functions to produce power and distribute it to the battery. Power is generated by the alternator when its engine is running to support the operation of any of the engines components and direct the electrical charge back towards the battery.

How Do Alternators Work?

How Do Alternators Work?

An alternator turns mechanical energy into electrical energy. When the engine is running, the alternator rotates, meaning the rotor within it also spins. The high-speed rotor creates electricity as it turns.

Magnets around the rotor then create a magnetic field. The field creates voltage which is directed to the stator. This power can then be transferred to the voltage regulator, where the electricity can be distributed around the rest of the system.

The voltage regulator will also manage how much voltage is directed towards the battery, ensuring it receives the appropriate amount.

Before the battery can utilise this electricity, the diode rectifier must turn the alternating current (AC) into the current the battery needs, which is direct current (DC). After the diode rectifier has completed this conversion, the battery can use the power generated by the alternator to recharge.

How Do Alternators Work?

Why Are They Important?

Without a properly functioning alternator, the battery would quickly run out of charge. Any electrical components would not be provided for correctly, and the engine would become ineffective.

If any of your generator’s components have become faulty and generator maintenance or servicing is required, contact our expert team at Edge Technology to find out how we could help.