In some car circles the argument continues whether the alternator is really better than the generator in classic cars. Yes, the generator is original to many classics and it does have the ability to charge a completely dead battery, but its advantages don’t end there. The list of advantages for the alternator is long, but let’s take a closer look.
Efficiency: Alternators are more efficient in converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. They can generate a higher output at lower engine speeds, which is especially beneficial at idle or low RPMs. This efficiency leads to less strain on the engine and better fuel economy.
Power Output: Alternators can provide a higher and more consistent power output across a wide range of engine speeds. This is crucial for classic cars with modern electronics in them that require a stable power supply.
Low RPM Performance: As mentioned earlier, alternators can generate electricity efficiently even at low RPMs. This is important in urban, parade or car show driving conditions, where stop-and-go traffic, and situations where the engine might not be running at high speeds for extended periods.
Size and Weight: Alternators are generally more compact and lighter than traditional generators. This is important for modified vehicles where space under the hood is at a premium.
Charging at Idle: Alternators are capable of charging the vehicle’s battery effectively even when the engine is idling, which is a common scenario in traffic or at rest. Generators struggle to provide sufficient charging at low speeds.
Maintenance: Alternators have fewer moving parts, leading to reduced maintenance needs compared to generators. Generators tend to have brushes and commutators that wear out over time and require periodic replacement.
Modern Electronics: Alternators are better suited to handle the electrical demands of modern electronics equipped classics, which include a wide array of electronic components.
Overall Reliability: Due to their design and efficiency, alternators are generally more reliable and provide a longer service life compared to generators.
As you can see the advantages of alternators far outweigh those of the generator, but if authenticity is important for your classic you still have a couple options. Either keep your original generator system or consider having your generator converted into an alternator. Whereas you have the original look, with most of the benefits of a modern alternator.