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How Does A High Output Alternator Work?

A vehicle comes with a stock alternator from the factory to meet the basic electrical needs of a vehicle. A high output alternator or high amp alternator is a perfect way to upgrade modern vehicles. A modern vehicle is different from traditional vehicle since it can require higher electrical supply for, power windows, modern seats with heating and cooling systems, power gates, ignition systems, compressors, navigation systems and more. A high output alternator provides higher amperage output to a vehicle, improving their performance. This article discusses the different types of high output alternators, their functions, how they work and how to prevent them from going bad. To find out more about high output alternators please read below:

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Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep PCM High Output Alternator Charging Explained

The Chrysler charging system is slightly different from the other systems. Chrysler has used three different charging system designs over the past few years: local interconnect network (LIN), analog controls (used only with 1.4L engines), and their most popular system, which is PCM controlled.

Most Chrysler alternators don’t typically contain a regulator, the exception being the analog-controlled application. Chrysler controls the alternator externally. A PCM controls the field current. The voltage regulator electronics are housed within the PCM.

The PCM will typically receive a battery voltage input on two circuits: one from the alternator B+ sense circuit (Kelvin sense) and one from the totally integrated power module (TIPM).

Chrysler may control one or both sides of the field (power and ground). The field current flow will vary based on electrical demand, battery state of charge, and engine RPM.

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Honda ELD Dual Mode High Output Alternator Charging System Explained

Honda uses a dual-mode charging system on most 1990-2012 applications (figure 3). This system decreases drag on the engine while cranking and reduces charging system output (engine load) for improved fuel economy. Similar to other systems, the PCM controls the alternator. The PCM receives the system voltage and amperage demand from the electronic load detector in the fusebox.

Cranking (Low Output Mode) — during cranking, the PCM will set the output target between 12.4-12.9 volts. This mode will be active when the system meets a given set of criteria, leading the PCM to command the alternator to reduce the charging system output. Don’t misinterpret low output mode as a bad alternator.

Normal Mode — with the engine running and a specific set of criteria met, the PCM will command a target output voltage between 13.5 and 14.9 volts. With the ignition switch on, the alternator should receive a signal on the IG circuit greater than 12 volts, which it uses to activate the alternator.

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Ford Smart Charge High Output Alternators Explained

Ford Smart Charge was introduced on the 1999 Windstar. Like the GM system, the regulator is mounted in the alternator. The PCM then controls the regulator to control system output. It’s similar to the operation of the GM system, with two main control connections to the alternator: generator monitor (GEN MON) and generator command (GEN COM). GEN MON and GEN COM are similar to terminals F and L on a GM system (figure 2).

GEN COM — Generator command controls the system output. The PCM sends a 128 HZ PWM signal to the alternator GEN COM terminal. The duty cycle varies from 3% to 95% with the high duty cycle corresponding to higher alternator output.

If the battery voltage is correct, there won’t be a signal on the GEN COM circuit. If an open circuit occurs, the output voltage default will be 13.5- 13.7 volts after engine speed exceeds 2500 RPM the first time.

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GM RVC 2pin High Output Alternators Explained

GM RVC Regulators Explained:
The GM regulated voltage control system can vary from 11.5 –15.5 volts. As with other systems in use today, the GM system has a fuel economy mode, which is designed to lower the charging system voltage by reducing the alternator field strength.

Technicians often diagnose this mode as a faulty charging system, only to find out that the vehicle operates the same even with new parts installed. Simply applying maximum load to the vehicle’s electrical system will cause the PCM/ECM to respond, raising charging system voltage.

GM also designed this system to identify battery sulfation. In response, the PCM/ECM will command the charging system’s voltages to increase to as high as 15.5 volts, even when there’s no electrical load. Sulfation mode will typically last less than five minutes at a time, so, as the timer expires, the system will return to normal charging operation.

The BCM is the brains of the operation, but the PCM is the module that actually controls charging system operation. The PCM controls the signal to terminal L of the alternator to control system output.

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How to Choose an Alternator: Can High Output Alternators Cause Damage?

JS Alternators High Output Alternator

When you upgrade your car audio, it’s important to consider the extra power requirements that come along with a beefed-up sound system. Your factory alternator may be enough, or it might not cut it. The question usually isn’t if you need a stronger alternator, but how much bigger it needs to be, and how much is too much.

How Much Alternator Is Too Much?
The good news is that replacing a factory alternator with a high output alternator, in and of itself, isn’t going to damage the rest of the electronics in your car, even if the new alternator is much, much bigger than the old one.

As an example that trends closer to the ridiculous than the likely, let’s say that you determine that your new sound system, plus the preexisting power requirements of your car, add up to well over 200A. For a safety net, you decide on a 300A alternator.

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Should I Upgrade My Alternator?

2009 - 2010 Ford Mustang High Amp Output Alternator

What Does the Alternator Do?
Alternator Basics:

Alternators keep your vehicle running after the starter kicks over the engine
Alternators are rated in amps, so the more accessories you add with a higher draw (like an aftermarket sound system) the more powerful alternator you’ll need
Although underdrive pulleys help out supercharged Mustangs, the pulleys hinder your Mustang’s alternator. If you’re thinking about a new set of pulleys, don’t neglect your alternator
A weak alternator can put your electronics on the fritz, throw engine codes, make your lights flicker, and cause your Mustang to shut off while cruising down the road
Surplus energy isn’t a bad thing, so getting more amps than you need isn’t a bad idea
Your Mustang’s electrical system relies on the alternator to keep it running. Once the battery starts the car, the alternator takes over. It recharges the battery and keeps all the electrical components of the car juiced up and working properly. If your alternator is not working properly or is undersized for your needs, the car’s systems will not be working at their peak performance. This can lead to a poorly running vehicle and dimming or weakened accessories. On some Mustangs, a weak or faulty alternator can cause many electrical gremlins that result in incorrect trouble codes and diagnoses.

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Why are my Headlights Dimming?

Are your headlights dimming after installing your first car amplifier?
Use this guide to pinpoint the problem of your headlight dimming.
You’ve installed your first amplifier and are enjoying music at reasonably loud volumes in your car.
Utilizing the VM-1 to monitor your voltage will heklp you prevent headflight dimming

One evening, you notice the headlights dimming to the beat of your music.

If you have a stock electrical charging system, there may be a voltage issue.
Turn your stereo and air conditioner on full blast while idling at night. You may notice the headlights dim slightly.

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Do I need a Second Battery for Car Audio?

Who needs a second battery?
Whether you need a second battery for car audio is determined by your application and by how much power your amplifiers are using.

Is this a daily driver for work commutes, grocery runs, and nights out on the town?

Is this a nasty, ground-pounding, Sound Pressure Level record-shattering beast?

Last week, we covered High Output Alternators, following the Big Three Wiring Upgrade.

If you’re following along, you’ve done the Big Three Wiring Upgrade and added a High Output Alternator.

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Why do I need a shorter belt for High Amp Alternator?

JS Alternator Alternator

Slipping belt – Each of our high output alternators come with smaller overdrive pulley. This pulley is made to increase low RPM charging for maximum output. It is custom for the diameter of the overdrive to be less than your factor pulley, depending on the kind of vehicle you own. If the belt provided does not suffice, you may get the right length from your local parts store. In using the belt and the pulley system, ensure that each part of the pulley system is free of oil or grease, this will help its efficiency.