Alternators are essential to internal combustion engines because this component is what converts chemical energy from burning gasoline into electrical energy to power various parts. Without an alternator, the battery in a gas-powered vehicle wouldn’t stay charged.
The burning fuel needs to do more than causing the engine to move if you want to power a vehicle with modern electronics inside. Do snowmobiles have alternators?
Snowmobiles have alternators because their engine and electrical system are similar to a car’s. The alternator’s job is to help run the secondary electrical systems and charge the battery as your sled runs. Electronics like your Electronic Fuel Injector and even your headlights won’t work without an alternator to provide them with power.
What Does A Snowmobile Alternator Do
A snowmobile alternator takes the energy that gets released from fuel ignition and converts it to electric power.
The power generated keeps your sled’s battery charged and runs other electrical systems in your machine.
All alternators use a similar method to convert energy into usable electrical power.
Generating power out of the engine’s motion requires a coil of wire, a magnet, and a source of rotational motion like the moving parts of an internal combustion engine.
The engine’s rotation does more than turn your wheels. It also creates an electrical current when appropriately harnessed.
As Firestone Auto explains, “When your engine is on, it powers a drive belt that rests on a pulley attached to the alternator. The pulley turns the alternator’s rotor shaft, which spins a set of magnets around a coil.”
Parts Of Snowmobile Alternator
Snowmobile alternators are made up of some relatively simple parts. The three main vital components are the rotor, the diode, and the stator.
Your alternator belt spins around, causing the alternator pulley to rotate, causing the rotor to move around quickly.
Rotor, in this case, is a fancy term for a magnet or group of magnets. The magnets sit inside the stator and spin.
Typically they will move at extremely high speeds interacting with the stator wires to create an electrical charge to send to the diode. The rotor sits inside a rotor shaft.
The US Energy Information Administration states, “Moving magnetic fields pull and push electrons. Metals such as copper and aluminum have electrons that are loosely held. Moving a magnet around a coil of wire, or moving a coil of wire around a magnet, pushes the electrons in the wire and creates an electrical current.”
The diode is like a translator for energy. As the rotor (magnets) spin rapidly inside the stator (coil of wire) and build a charge, the power has to go somewhere.
The copper coil of the stator connects to a diode, which is where all that untapped energy gets harnessed and channeled into usable electrical power.
The power from the diode travels through your sled by collecting the charge on its positive side or anode and moving it through to the cathode or negative side.
After that, the DC or direct current energy is in the proper form to turn on lights or dash displays and keep the battery running.
The stator is the non-moving part of an alternator. This unique piece, made of coiled wire, provides a magnetic field that drives a rotating armature.
Stators connect to the diode on one side and house the rotor inside. As the rotor moves within the wires, an electrical charge builds up.
Additionally, the stator’s fanning motion helps keep its output cool enough to be used safely. Usually, this is a relatively quiet component.
However, always pay attention if your stator suddenly becomes louder or makes grating and grinding noises.
Those sounds are the first hint you may get when something inside has gone wrong.
Similarly, if you have trouble starting your sled or the battery power is always too low, check your stator.
Naturally, these problems can have other causes, like a faulty ignition switch, but it’s still worth also checking your stator before you start replacing parts or paying for repairs.
The outer case of most alternators is aluminum. One of the reasons that alternators are so lightweight is the material the external case is made from.
For the alternator to run correctly, you need a nonmagnetic metal like aluminum because a metal with a magnetic field would interfere with the rotor’s movement.
Fortunately, aluminum is relatively lightweight and yet surprisingly durable.
How Does A Snowmobile Alternator Work
Snowmobile alternators use principles of basic magnetism and harness the exchange between magnets and a copper coil to power batteries and other electronics in your sled.
I will walk you through it step by step, so you understand the process from beginning to end. It all starts when you turn the key, and the spark plug causes ignition in your gas tank.
- When your engine is on, it turns the crankshaft transferring rotational energy to other parts of the sled, including the drive pulley.
- The drive pulley turns the rotor shaft.
- Inside the rotor shaft, the rotor spins around the copper coil of wires known as the stator.
- The movement of the rotor around the stator created AC or alternating current. Unfortunately, snowmobiles need direct (non-alternating) current to run.
- Your stator is connected to the diode’s anode or positive-charge end.
- The energy within the diode moves from anode to cathode, becoming DC or Direct Current, which can safely and efficiently power your battery and electrical systems.
- The energy that exits the diode is carried by wire to every place it needs to go, so your sled has lights, a lit dash display, EFI, and plenty of charge in your battery.
Do Polaris Snowmobiles Have Alternators
Snowmobiles, in general, including Polaris, have automotive quality engines which require an alternator to function properly. In short, yes, Polaris snowmobiles have alternators.
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Helpful Tips To Know About Snowmobile Alternators
Snowmobile alternators are essential to their ability to run correctly.
A bad alternator can masquerade as a dying battery or failing ignition switch because the effect is similar in that it makes your sled slow to start and hard to keep running.
Here are a few more helpful tips to know about snowmobile alternators.
- Other signs that your alternator isn’t running right can include dim lights, warning lights going on, and even foul smells, among other problems. If you’re having difficulty pinpointing where an electrical problem is originating in your sled, always check your alternator.
- Unlike snowmobiles, many other small recreational vehicles do not have an alternator. For example, ATVs and UTVs use a magneto system that involves magnets on the flywheel to a similar effect.
- Just as a bad alternator can mimic other problems, a burnt-out voltage regulator can often appear to be alternator problems. The voltage regulator determines how much power gets to various systems like your lights, so check your voltage regulator if a new or undamaged alternator appears to be having issues.
Snowmobiles need alternators to take power generated in the engine and convert some of it into usable electrical energy.
The magnets in the rotor interact with the stator, a copper wire coil, to create an electrical charge.
That charge, powered by rotational force from the engine itself, then passes to the diode, which converts the power a second time to take it from AC or alternating current and make it into DC or direct current.
Your battery and most or all your peripheral electronics run because your alternator is doing its job.