Has the alternator on your boat malfunctioned? Are you thinking about replacing it with a car accelerator instead to escape the expense that will go on the repair of your marine alternator? So you’re probably asking yourself, can I use a car alternator on my boat?
To answer your question, I have produced an all-inclusive account of the subject in question by providing valid and relevant information.
Moreover, we will see an in-depth analysis of the possible use of a car alternator on a boat. Therefore, it is crucial to begin by seeing how an alternator works.
How Does a Car Alternator Work?
The sole purpose of any alternator is to ensure that the battery in your vehicle remains charged at all times. It helps the battery to supply power to all the components on your car.
Furthermore, the marine alternator provides electricity to many vital parts of your boat via the battery.
But how does an alternator work? Well, the alternator is a wonder of physics. It works on the principle of electromagnetic induction. It uses mechanical energy generated by the engine and uses it to convert electricity. The rotating magnetic field and the shaft produce electrical power.
But what does the alternator do with all this electricity?
What Does an Alternator Do?
The alternator passes this electricity to the battery, which gets charged, and powers all accessories. An alternator is what keeps the lights, the gauges, the deck fillers, and several other parts functional on your ship. Furthermore, for this particular reason, your battery lasts longer despite powering all the features.
Besides, let us look at some of the specific parts of a car alternator.
Features of a Car Alternator
There are many components of an alternator that make its function possible. They are:
- Pulley and Bearing – They rotate the rotor assembly as the engine runs.
- Rotor Assembly – This is the main component of your alternator. It contains a set of different elements that work in harmony to generate electricity.
- Stator Assembly – It contains a static pair of coils that help the rotor assembly generate electrical power.
- Rectifier – The current generated is essentially alternating (AC). A rectifier converts AC to DC (Direct Current). The elements of all vehicles can only function with direct current.
Can We Use a Car Alternator on my Boat?
The answer to this question depends on a multitude of factors. First of all, we need to know the similarities and differences between marine (boat) and automobile (car) alternators. The comparison will help answer the question in depth.
Marine Alternator Vs. Automobile Alternator
We know that both the alternators serve the same purpose. However, we need to consider that the requirements on both the terrains are poles apart. Without further ado, let’s compare both types.
- Both alternators work on the principle of electromagnetic induction (explained earlier).
- They have similar working components, such as the rotor and stator assemblies.
- Both alternators serve a common purpose. They generate electricity and send it to the battery.
- Both alternators use a static coil and a movable magnet to produce a changing magnetic field.
- Both the alternators generate AC. A rectifier then converts the Alternating Current to Direct Current.
- The amount of electricity generated by both the alternators differs. A car alternator produces a current in the 40-120Amp range. At the same time, an alternator for your boat generates a current of around 300Amps.
- There is a structural difference between marine and automobile alternators. The marine alternator has an extra cooling setup. This setup is absent in the car alternators. The reason for this is the location of alternators in both vehicles. The car is cooled naturally by flowing air. Therefore, a cooling setup deems inappropriate. On the contrary, a boat’s alternator is in a packed chamber. Hence it requires a cooling system to prevent overheating.
- A ship has constant contact with water. Therefore a marine alternator is built to avoid moisture and salt. Moisture and salts both are deadly for the elements running a boat. Hence, it is ideal that your deck is waterproof. That’s something you can do yourself, especially when it comes to waterproofing plywood.
Moving on, let’s have a look at how to install a car alternator on our boat.
How to Install a Car Alternator on my Boat?
The installation process needs to be performed by a professional. There is a drastic size difference between car alternators and marine alternators that makes the installation procedure difficult. Therefore it is always handy to let an expert do the work for you.
The expert can safely remove the faulty alternator from your boat and install a functional one.
Now let’s look at perhaps the most crucial question in your mind. Is it safe to install a car alternator on my boat?
Are There Any Risks of Using a Car Alternator on my Boat?
When we place a thing where it does not belong, risks come hand in hand. Yes, you got it right. There are several risks associated with this slight incompatibility.
Firstly, the car alternator generates a lower output power. This power reduction might affect the proper function of the components of your boat.
Secondly, unlike a marine alternator, a car alternator does not contain a cooling system. No cooling system means overheating. Consequently, overheating leads to several other issues.
Lastly, an automobile alternator can correctly function in dry terrain. However, when it starts working at the sea, malfunctions are destined to happen. Moreover, malfunctions have occurred on many occasions. When moisture comes in contact with a possible spark, it causes a fire.
And trust me on this, a fire is the last thing you want on your boat.
In the end, I would like to give you a suggestion. Even if somebody can install a car alternator on your boat, do not opt for it. In the long run, a car part will cause malfunctions in your boat.
The overall value of your ship is much greater than a spare part. Therefore instead of risking your whole boat using a cheap component, I suggest you only go for a marine alternator.
However, if you have a relatively small boat that you use occasionally, perhaps you can replace the boat alternator with a car alternator.