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Why Can T An Alternator Charge An Electric Car

Why Can T An Alternator Charge An Electric Car

The Role of an Alternator in a Conventional Car

In recent years, electric vehicles have been gaining popularity as a cleaner and more efficient mode of transportation. However, some car owners have been left with the question of whether they can use a conventional alternator to charge up their EVs. In this blog post, we’ll dive in to explore why an alternator isn’t the ideal solution to recharge an electric car, even if it’s technically possible.

A conventional car relies on an alternator to generate electricity and charge up its battery. The alternator is a mechanical component that is powered by the engine’s rotational energy. As the engine spins, the alternator turns a magnet inside a stationary coil of wire. This produces an electrical current that flows through the car’s electrical system, running its lights, radio, and powering the battery. This process is known as “generating” electricity because the alternator’s rotating magnet induces current flow in the stationary wire coil.

Why Can’t an Alternator Charge an Electric Car?

Now, let’s shift gears to the core of this post – why an alternator can’t charge an electric car. The answer lies in the fundamental difference between the designs of electric cars and conventional cars.
Electric vehicles need a source of DC power to recharge their batteries, while an alternator generates AC power. Therefore, an alternator alone cannot charge the battery of an electric car.

Understanding the Electrical Systems of EVs

Electric cars have a different electrical architecture compared to conventional cars. They use a bank of lithium-ion batteries to store the energy that powers the vehicle. This battery pack is charged by an onboard charger, which converts alternating current (AC) from the electric grid into Direct Current (DC) power that the battery can store. This DC power is then used to run the electric motor, which powers the wheels.

Can You Use an Alternator to Charge an EV Battery?

Yes, technically, it’s possible to use an alternator to charge an electric car battery. However, it’s not a practical or efficient solution. To begin with, an alternator generates AC power, which needs to be converted to DC before it can be stored in the battery. This requires an inverter, which adds to the cost and complexity of the system.

Moreover, the amount of energy required to charge an electric car’s battery is significant. A typical EV battery pack can store between 40 and 100 kWh of energy, while an alternator can produce only a fraction of it. Charging a depleted battery using an alternator would take a long time, and the alternator would have to run continuously to keep up with the demand – putting an immense strain on the car’s engine and depleting its fuel economy.


In conclusion, it’s clear that while an alternator can generate electricity, it’s not suited to charge an electric car battery. The difference in the electrical architecture of electric vs. conventional cars, the need for an inverter, and the energy requirements for charging make it impractical and inefficient. Electric cars require a DC power source to recharge, which is why they come with an onboard charger that converts AC power to DC, powered by plugging into the electric grid.

As more and more people switch to electric vehicles, it’s important to understand their intricacies to make the right choices and take advantage of the unique features they offer.