Basics: How an alternator works

ALTERNATOR ROTOR

We’ll start our tour of the alternator where it all starts in the alternator itself – at the alternator rotor. The rotor consists of a coil of wire wrapped around an iron core. Current through the wire coil – called “field” current – produces a magnetic field around the core. The strength of the field current determines the strength of the magnetic field. The field current is D/C, or direct current. In other words, the current flows in one direction only, and is supplied to the wire coil by a set of brushes and slip rings. The magnetic field produced has, as any magnet, a north and a south pole. The rotor is driven by the alternator pulley, rotating as the engine runs, hence the name “rotor.” Read more
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