Do Snowmobiles Have Alternators?


There are many different motorized vehicles out there with similarities and differences. It is important to have some basic understanding of how each of your vehicles works. If your snowmobile develops problems, it’s helpful to have the knowledge to get it moving again. So do snowmobiles have alternators? 

Snowmobiles do have alternators. The electrical system on the snowmobile is more like a car system and needs an alternator for battery charging and running accessories. The magnetostator system used on UTVs, ATVs, motorcycles, and jet skis doesn’t provide the electrical output needed to keep the battery charged.

Because the alternator is a critical component of a machinery’s charging system, it’s helpful to understand how it works if your machine won’t start.

What’s an alternator?

The alternator is a generator that distributes electricity to the vehicle and recharges the battery. All vehicles with a standard internal combustion engine will have an alternator except for some hybrid models. The alternator, which is roughly the size of a large soup can, is typically mounted to the front of the engine and has a rotating wheel surrounded by a belt.

How does it work?

An alternator, in conjunction with the battery, supplies power to the vehicle’s electrical components. An alternator’s output is direct current. When the alternator pulley is rotated, alternating current flows through a magnetic field, producing an electrical current. The electric current is then converted to direct current by the rectifier.

Components of an Alternator with its function:

The alternator comprises three major parts and a voltage regulator: the Stator, Rotor, and Diode. When the alternator belt or V-belt spins the alternator pulley, the rotor inside the alternator spins quickly.

Stator:

The function of the stator assembly is to generate electric current as the rotor assembly (which is electromagnetic) cuts the stator coil. The stator is a stationary winding system that surrounds the rotor. The coil is designed in rounded shapes to allow the rotor assembly to rotate within the stator coil.

Rotor:

The rotor is essentially a magnet or group of magnets that spin at high speeds inside a nest of copper wires known as the stator.

Diode:

This spinning of magnets at incredible speeds along copper wires generates electricity via an electromagnetism harness conducted through the copper wires to the diode, converting the electricity from alternating current to direct current, which the car battery can use.

Types of alternators

Alternators, also known as synchronous generators, are classified in various ways based on their applications and designs.

Alternators are classified into five types:

  • Alternators for automobiles – are used in modern automobiles.
  • Alternators for diesel-electric locomotives are used in diesel-electric multiple units.
  • Marine alternators – are used in a variety of marine applications.
  • Brushless alternators – are the primary source of power in electrical power generation plants.
  • Radio alternators – are used for low-frequency radio transmission.

Devices that use/require alternators

Alternators require a lot of extra cooling, such as airflow and vented housing, to run optimally while not overheating.

It is much more challenging to obtain the necessary airflow on a personal watercraft, a UTV or an ATV because there is no room for it. The alternators are not located in a location conducive to cooling on these vehicles. Therefore, these don’t use alternators. For example, PWC’s use stators for charging.

However, Except for some hybrids, every car with an internal combustion engine has an alternator. When the engine is turned on, the alternator charges the battery and provides additional power to the vehicle’s electrical systems.

A serpentine belt drives an alternator that is bolted to the engine (drive belt).

Difference between Alternators and Generators?

The alternator and generator are two devices that convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. Both use the same electromagnetic induction principle; the only difference is in their construction.

A generator has a stationary magnetic field and a rotating conductor that rolls on the armature with slip rings and brushes riding against each other, converting the induced emf into DC for the external load. In contrast, an alternator has a stationary armature and a rotating magnetic field for high voltage output but a rotating armature and a stationary magnetic field for low voltage output.

Alternators on snowmobiles 

Snowmobiles, like cars in the 1960s, evolved from their humble beginnings and increased their power consumption. Compared to other Powersports vehicles such as ATVs and UTVs, the use of automotive-style belt-driven alternators on snowmobiles is relatively new.

The snowmobile’s electrical system is of automotive-grade, requiring an alternator rather than the standard stator or magneto. Snowmobile alternators convert energy to charge the battery while also powering all secondary electrical accessories such as headlights and electronic fuel injection.

ATVs, quads, UTVs, 4-wheelers, and snowmobiles are fuel-efficient, lightweight, and agile enough to traverse terrains where larger 4-wheel drive machines cannot and are frequently popular for quick wintertime transport through the ice, snow, slush, and blinding blizzard environments.

Any machine equipped with a battery that must be charged on the snowmobile will limit the magneto/electrical alternator’s output to 13.5 to 14 volts. To achieve charging on a battery, the voltage must be slightly higher than that of the battery.

Most snowmobile engines have magnetos that house charging coils to power the ignition systems and lighting coils to power all other electrical devices. However, this is beginning to change.

Significant updates to the snowmobile electrical system were achieved when Arctic Cat’s four-stroke 660 was introduced in 2002. The three-cylinder Suzuki engine is also used in a microcar, as is the entire electrical system, which includes a belt-driven alternator. The 660’s alternator is the largest in the snowmobile industry, producing 65 amps at 13.5 volts.

An automotive alternator is a low-cost solution for supplying a large amount of electrical power, which allows for the installation of numerous new electrical accessories.

Our suggested snowmobile alternators:

If you are looking forward to upgrading your electric snowmobile system, we have our snowmobile alternator suggestions based on customer review:

Carquest Premium Alternator – Remanufactured:

  • Each unit is tested three times to ensure its quality and performance.
  • All wear components (brushes, bushings, and bearings) are replaced with NEW parts during the remanufacturing process.
  • For dependable charging performance, regulators and rectifiers are 100% load tested.

Driveworks Alternator – Remanufactured

  • Fit, form, and function are all designed and built to meet OEM standards.
  • It is remanufactured by an IATF/TS 16949 certified supplier who meets the highest automotive parts supplier standards.

Bosch Premium 100% New Alternator

  • Starters and alternators, both new and remanufactured, are designed to perform as well as or better than the original equipment parts that they replace.

Tuff Stuff Performance 7127NF6G12 – Tuff Stuff Alternators

  • These units produce the most power when idle, ensuring that your battery is always fully charged. Stealth black alternators are powder-coated, 20 times stronger than regular paint, and provide a consistent sheen for underhood accessories.

Alternator ARCTIC CAT SNOWMOBILE BEARCAT PANTHER T660 & Turbo

  • Every component is built to OEM specifications for a perfect fit and performance.
  • Items in stock are shipped the same day if ordered by 2 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday.
  • Serving mechanics and do-it-yourselfers in all 50 states as well as around the world
  • A one-year warranty backs up the company’s promise of total customer satisfaction.

Conclusion

Snowmobiles have very complex electric systems that have made progressive updates throughout the years. The alternators have come in handy for a better and more practical electrical setup.

Consequently, providing the user a less stressful experience for the engines and overall maintenance of snowmobiles.

When you rely on your snowmobile to get you out on the trails and back home, you need an alternator that has a proven track record. Alternators provide a consistent source of power to charge the battery and the electrical system. Therefore as beneficial as they are, you must understand the ins and outs of this machine piece.

Alternators are simply better distributors of energy to any machinery since it regulates the temperature in addition to prolonging the lifespan of your energy supply.

Ryan Conner

Outdoor enthusiast with several years of snowboarding experience in the winters and watersports activities all summer. Living within 3 hours of 4 well-known ski resorts, I get plenty of board time from Nov-March every season.

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