What is an Alternator?

While many people believe that the electrical components of an aircraft or automobile are controlled by the housed battery, this is actually not the case. The electrical system of a vehicle is controlled by the alternator which is one of the main components of the vehicle charging system. An alternator is a type of generator that creates electric power through the conversion of mechanical energy into electric energy. In this blog, we will discuss how an alternator works, as well as their benefit to vehicles that utilize electrical equipment.

In both an aircraft and an automobile, the alternator is typically located alongside the engine and produces an electromagnetic field through the use of a rotor and stator windings. This is achieved through the rotor spinning past the alternator’s stator windings, which in turn creates the field. With the use of diodes, the power from the electromagnetic field is converted into direct current (DC) power which can then be transferred to the battery and supplied to the electrical system components. While the battery may serve to start the engine, it is the alternator’s job to create voltage for the various electrical equipment and recharge the battery after each use.

As newer and more advanced aircraft feature more complex systems and may have a glass cockpit, more and more equipment rely on electricity. Due to this, it is crucial to have an alternator to successfully and efficiently keep components powered. Alternators have various benefits for aircraft over direct current generators, and these include being fairly cheaper, lighter, and faster speed up times. Within automobiles, there has also been a great increase of electrical components that need power, thus creating more reliance on an alternator.


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