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Automotive glossary: What is an Alternator or AC Generator?

Definition of Alternator: For generating ignition sparks and the operation of electric consumers like lighting, radio, air condition, ventilation, etc., the vehicle needs an electric supply, as otherwise, battery would soon be discharged withing a short span of time. Therefor, an alternator is driven by the engine mechanically, either directly by the crankshaft or via a v-belt. So the alternator converts a portion of the mechanical energy of the engine into electric energy. A rotating magnet (rotor), passes an array of wire-wraps (stator), in order to utilize the in these coils thereby created currents. Further electric components are needed in order to convert the resulting alternating current (AC) into the direct current (DC), that is needed by the consumers, and to limit the voltage and amperage, to avoid damages by overvoltage etc.

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