Power Play: Important One Wire Alternator Tech With Powermaster

A vehicle can’t run without fuel, air, or spark, so keeping the pipes lit requires electronics that are run off of a battery. A battery doesn’t charge itself and you might not have the ability to throw it on the charger all the time, so an alternator becomes a great option to keep it functional. We spoke with Chris Donaldson from Powermaster about one wire alternators and what wire to use when you’re installing one.

A one-wire alternator is great because it has the ability to really cut down on the number of wires that you need to run all over your vehicle.

“The benefit to a one-wire alternator is simply the ease of wiring — it allows for routing fewer wires and a clean installation. This type of alternator doesn’t require a switched 12-volt wire to excite (wake up) the alternator so it will start charging,” Donaldson says.

One-wire alternators like what Powermaster offer start the charging process around 1,400 rpm shaft speed with a 3:1 ratio, so as soon as the engine hits 500 rpm, it begins to work. That means as soon as your car is started, the alternator is charging. So, any time you’re driving to the lanes, idling before a pass, or headed back to the trailer your battery is getting juice sent to it.

The alternator is just part of the equation — you need to make sure the single wire you’re using is the right gauge and quality level. You really can’t go too big with the wire, and it’s best to use a multi-strand copper wire for the charge and ground wire.

“Since alternators are capable of producing very high current output, the size of the gauge wire also must increase. Plus, you need to take into consideration the distance to the battery. The farther away the alternator is from the battery, the larger the gauge cable should be used. If a small gauge wire is used that cannot support the requirements of the current use of the vehicle, it can easily heat up and cause damage to the electrical system and other issues,” Donaldson explains.

You can buy the best alternator and wire on the market, but if you don’t install everything correctly it won’t function as intended. Donaldson drops a good installation tip for your alternator and its wiring.

“Another important installation tip is to run a ground wire from the alternator housing to the negative battery terminal, or at least to the engine block. Due to the bracket kits being used with powder coating or anodized finishes, a ground wire ensures a proper ground circuit is produced. Be sure to use the same gauge wire for the ground size as the charge (positive) side.”

Powermaster offers everything you need to keep the electronics in your vehicle function. Check out the company’s website right here to see its alternators, pulleys, mounting hardware, and made in the USA wire.

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About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
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