Vehicle Electrical System

How The Vehicle Electrical System Functions? Explained


 | 6 minutes read

Vehicle Electrical System:

The vehicle's electrical system comprises many components. They include generators to the electric wiring harness to connectors, and many more. Over the period of time, the electrical system got updates, upgrades, and additions. This is mainly because the number of components operating on electric power increased, and therefore, the power consumption increased substantially.

Vehicle Electrical System: Charging Circuit
Vehicle Electrical System: Charging Circuit

The electrical system's main function is to generate, store and supply the electric current to various systems of a vehicle. It operates the electrical components/parts in vehicles. These components include several electrical gauges, digital gadgets, power windows, central locking mechanisms, and many more.

Most components of the earlier-generation vehicles were predominantly mechanical in nature and operation. Over time, these components started operating electrically/electronically, shedding their pure mechanical function that the earlier vehicles used. Nowadays, the majority of vehicular systems have an electric function for ease of operation and precision control. Even more advanced steering systems such as Electric Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) also operate by electric power. Hence, the engineers felt the need for consistency in the generation of electric power. So, they employed different mechanisms to generate, regulate, store and supply the vehicles' electric current effectively.

Negative Earth:

Earlier generation cars mostly used the positive ground in their electrical system. In this system, the battery's positive terminal was attached to the chassis while the negative terminal was live. However, later this system was discontinued. Today, modern cars make use of the negative earth in their electrical system. Generally, most cars use the 12 Volts electrical system. However, some small bikes still use the 6 Volts system, whereas some commercial vehicles use the 24 Volts system.

The vehicle electrical system consists of following main components:

  1. Magneto
  2. Generator
  3. Alternator
  4. Cut Out/Voltage Regulator
  5. Battery

Vehicle Electrical System: Magneto

Magneto is an electric device that generates periodic pulses of alternating current. However, it uses permanent magnets. The magneto does not have a ‘commutator’ that produces the direct current (DC) like a Dynamo. Manufacturers classify the magneto as a type of alternator. However, it is different from other alternators, which use field coils instead of permanent magnets.

Vehicle Electrical System: Magneto
Vehicle Electrical System: Magneto

In earlier days, many devices used hand-cranked magneto generators, which produced an electric current. Later, automotive manufacturers employed magnetos to produce high voltage pulses in some petrol engines' ignition systems. These pulses were responsible for supplying the electric current to spark plugs.

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