Are you planning to purchase a one wire alternator for your classic Chevy and you want to learn more about the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic where we are going to learn everything in depth.
Performing the proper research before you buy something is important. Even if it’s something simple as a one wire alternator wiring diagram. Knowing how to connect electrical stuff is really important because if you don’t know how to connect them, you risk fire and other hazards that could occur whenever you want to install something like an alternator in your vehicle.
Alternators produce a ton of power, so they need to be wired up properly because if you don’t wire them up, there could be problems with the charging of the battery as well. The battery will not get a proper charge and your battery will get empty. But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to help you out.
First, we are going to learn more about what is an alternator and why the alternator is so essential. Then we will cover the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy and learn more about how you can wire up your Chevy. After that, we will focus on other topics like the symptoms of a bad alternator, the diagnosis process, and how much money is an alternator. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Is An Alternator
Now before we dive into more complex stuff like the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy. Let’s first learn more about what is an alternator in general. What makes the alternator so essential when it comes to automotive applications? Let’s elaborate.
Back in the day if you didn’t know, car companies were using devices known as dynamos to create electricity for the engine to be able to run.
So, as the car was moving, the dynamo was spinning and creating a ton of electricity and powering all the accessories as well as the engine.
But as time passed, this design had some limitations and was replaced by something better. The alternator. The alternator was a device first introduced for military service during WW2.
But people saw the advantages that it offered in comparison to a dynamo. So, car companies decided to go after this design and mass produce it and included it in their cars. But what is an alternator in general?
Well, an alternator is simply a generator of electricity. It is spun by the crankshaft of the engine and with its help, it generates alternating current also known as AC. Then, this AC current is converted by the rectifier into DC current that the car needs in order to run. So, to sum things up, the alternator converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.
Since you cannot run electrical accessories and the spark plugs with two directional AC current. This conversion process is essential in order for your car to work properly. But what is the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy? More on that, we will cover in a bit after we learn why the alternator is so essential inside of your vehicle.
Why The Alternator Is So Essential
Now let’s cover another topic before we dive into the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy. And that is why the alternator is so essential. You need to know the essence of this component in order to be able to really understand its purpose.
As you probably know. Inside the engine bay, you have a 12V battery. This is a lead acid battery that helps your engine when it comes to starting it up as well as powering the accessories inside of the car while the engine is off. So, what does it means if you don’t have an alternator?
Well, it means that you will be left with an empty battery. The engine, as well as the accessories, will drain the lead acid battery and your car will die.
All this could happen in a fraction of minutes if the alternator fails. This is why the alternator is so essential. Because if it’s not working well. You will be constantly running on a low battery or with a dead battery and the car would stop.
More on this, we are going to elaborate later on when we will discuss the symptoms of a dead alternator. The important thing for you will be to make sure that you always monitor how the alternator is working and if it makes strange noises. Then it is definitely due to be replaced or rebuilt. And if you don’t do that, you could be left out stranded in the middle of nowhere. Even if we are talking about a simple alternator like the GM one wire alternator.
But what is the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy? Well, more about this, we are going to cover in the following chapter, where we are going to elaborate on everything in detail.
One Wire Alternator Wiring Diagram Chevy
Now let’s discuss the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy for those guys who want to upgrade their existing alternator with this new and pretty inventive one wire alternator.
And when it comes to the diagram, we can simplify that there is nothing to it. A single wire alternator means that there are no ground connections, no connections to the wiring harness. You only got one red power wire and this wire goes directly to the battery.
Remember that with this design, you lose some of the features. This means that you will not have a battery light on your car. So, with this type of alternator, you don’t have input when it comes to charging unless you use an amp meter, specifically to measure the amps that the alternator is creating. This is a special gauge that you can install after you install the single wire alternator.
The important thing when you install this Chevy alternator is to use the proper wire gauge. So, when you have a 75 amp alternator, you will need 10 gauge, for 100 amps you will need 8 gauge, for 150 amps you will need 6 gauge wire, and for 200 amps you will need 4 gauge wire which is the thickest from all of these wires.
This is really essential because you need to have the proper wire. If the wires are too thin, they will melt. So, that’s it when it comes to the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy. Now let’s take a look at the installation process of this alternator for your car.
Prep Work Before Installation Process
So, we covered the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy, now it is time to move on and learn more about the installation process of this type of alternator on your Chevy.
We learned that in order to install the alternator you will need a proper wire size as well as a good ground connection.
This means that the alternator should be grounded to the block itself. So, the block needs to be naked. Non-painted in other words because if you have paint on your block there will be no ground and the alternator will not charge. So, keep this in mind.
Also, if you missed the wire gauge needed for this purpose, we will cover it again. 75 Amps = 10 gauge wire, 100 Amps = 8 gauge wire, 150 Amps = 6 gauge wire, 200 Amps = 4 gauge wire.
One Wire Alternator Chevy Installation Process
But what about the installation? Well, let’s discuss the installation now. First thing first, you will need to remove the positive terminal from the battery and once you removed the terminal you can get to work.
The second important step is to reduce the tension on the drive belt or serpentine belt as some people call it. This is the belt that drives the alternator and all the accessories.
Once you reduced the tension by reducing the tension on the tensioner. You can move on to remove the alternator.
Remove the old one and install the new one. Just make sure that you have a proper ground connection. If you don’t have good ground and the block is painted on the place where you mount the alternator, you will have an alternator that doesn’t work.
Once you placed the alternator in place. You can move on and place the belt and also tighten it accordingly.
Then, get your wire and tighten it to the positive terminal of the alternator and run this wire to the positive terminal that connects with the battery, or to the starter solenoid main lug which is also connected to the positive battery post.
Once everything is connected well, you can connect the positive terminal to the battery and start the engine. Once you started the engine, grab a multimeter to measure the voltage that this alternator produces.
Just tweak the multimeter to volts and then place the probes. The red to the positive battery terminal and the black to the negative terminal. Start the engine and see the measurements. If everything is connected, you should get about 13.8 volts. Now your job is done and you can enjoy driving your car.
Symptoms Of A Bad Alternator
Since we learned all about the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy and learned even how to install a single wire alternator on your classic Chevy.
We think that now it is time to learn more about the symptoms that you could experience when the alternator fails. As you probably know, when a component fails, it starts to produce symptoms. And so is the case with the alternator. This is why in the following few chapters we will list these symptoms and learn if you have a bad alternator or possibly a dead battery. So, let’s get into it.
One Wire Alternator Wiring Diagram Chevy, Symptoms #1: Whining Or Growling Noises
Now since we learned more about the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy, we can move on to the first symptom of a bad alternator.
And this symptom is an audible representation of a problem with the alternator. Usually, when an alternator goes bad, it will start to create strange noises.
These strange noises can resemble growling or whining. So, why does this happens? Well, inside of the alternator there is a shaft that is rotating and on the shaft there are bearings. These bearings after long use can fail and when they fail the rotor will lose its balance.
Once this occurs, it will start to make an unpleasant noise. As you move throughout the RPM range this noise should be more and more unbearable. So, keep this in mind. Especially the grinding noise that comes from it will be pretty annoying. And you will notice how the shaft wobbles when the alternator is spinning. This is a clear sign that you need an alternator rebuild or replacement. Now let’s move on to the next symptom.
One Wire Alternator Wiring Diagram Chevy, Symptoms #2: Dead Battery
The next symptom that we would like to cover since we covered the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy is the dead battery.
When an alternator is dead or close to dying it will obviously start to perform rather badly and not charge the battery properly.
So, the battery will be constantly down on charge. Or if the alternator dies completely, you will have a completely dead battery and you will not be able to start the car or run any of the appliances inside.
So, when this happens, there could be a completely dead battery in other words non-functioning battery. Or a dead alternator that is emptying the battery. And this needs to be properly diagnosed. Later in the article, we are going to explain to you how this is done. Now let’s move to the next symptom.
One Wire Alternator Wiring Diagram Chevy, Symptoms #3: Battery Light
Since we covered the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy, we can now move on and learn more about the next symptom which is the battery light.
What is worth noting when it comes to this symptom is that this symptom will not occur if you have a single wire alternator. So, why is this the case?
Well, this is the case because the alternator is not connected to the wiring harness. But is only connected to the positive terminal of your battery and that’s it.
So, the car doesn’t have a probe to determine that you are experiencing a situation where you have a problem. Unless you install an Amp meter on your vehicle to measure the Amps that the alternator is producing. Now let’s move on to the next symptom.
One Wire Alternator Wiring Diagram Chevy, Symptoms #4: Flickering Lights
The next symptom that we are going next since we learned the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy is the situation when you experience flickering lights.
The lights will start to work unevenly whenever the alternator is not charging well. So, you will notice how the lights get dimmer and dimmer. Both headlights and interior lights.
Also, they will start to flicker more and more often and you will have a difficult time concentrating on driving when experiencing these situations on the road.
So, it is really important that you test the alternator whenever there is a situation like this in order to avoid some unwanted outcomes that we will cover in the following chapter.
One Wire Alternator Wiring Diagram Chevy, Symptoms #5: Engine Stalling
Now let’s move on to the next symptoms since we learned the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy.
And this is the situation when you start to experience stalling issues in your car. The car will often stall whenever you have a bad alternator. Why so?
Well, this will be the case because the current that the alternator is creating is not enough to keep up the engine working.
So, if you have 10 volts of constant power instead of 12V, you will have trouble creating a spark. And since there is no spark, there will be no ignition in the cylinders. And when there is no ignition, the cylinders will simply stop working and the car will stall.
Then you will have to continuously crank the engine and this will strain the battery even more. Not an ideal situation and definitely something that you want to avoid if you are asking me. Now let’s move on to the last symptom for today.
One Wire Alternator Wiring Diagram Chevy, Symptoms #6: Burning Smell From The Front End
Now let’s dive into the last symptom before we dive into how to diagnose a bad alternator. And that is the burning smell coming from the engine bay. So, why does this happens, and whether or not you should be worried?
Well, definitely, yes. You should be worried if your alternator is creating a burning smell and sounds weird. Alternators are one of the most common causes of an engine fire.
And if the wires start melting, there will be a fire that will start inside the engine bay area and will spread across the whole car.
This is why you should never ignore a bad alternator. You just never know what is going to happen because of this faulty component.
How To Diagnose A Bad Alternator
Since we learned more about the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy and the symptoms of a bad alternator. We can now move on and learn more about how you can diagnose a bad alternator on your car. And how is this done?
Well, for the most accurate testing, you will need to grab a multimeter. A multimeter is a special tool that will allow you to measure voltage and other properties.
But for this purpose, we will need to measure voltage. So, you need to tweak the multimeter to measure volts and then place the red probe to the positive terminal of the battery and the black probe to the negative terminal. Then see the results. If the voltage is 12V or something like that, it means that the battery is good.
Then leave the probes on the car and start the engine. Then come back and check the voltage once again. When the engine is working, the voltage should slightly increase and will fluctuate a bit.
A good range for a healthy alternator should be between 13.6 volts and 15.6 volts. But what if you determined that the alternator is bad? What to do next?
Cost To Replace An Alternator
Now let’s take a look at the alternator cost. How much money can an alternator cost? Well, the prices for these components can vary a lot.
It really depends on the manufacturer as well as how strong this alternator is. So, prices can go from $150 up to $1,000. It depends on the application that you plan to use this alternator. Single wire alternators are dirt cheap and you can find them for the lowest cost possible.
One Wire Alternator Facts:
- The one wire alternator has been around for several decades and was originally designed for industrial and farm equipment by GM.
- You can find direct-fit one wire alternator conversion alternators for just about any engine or accessory drive system.
- The benefit of a one wire alternator conversion is the simplicity of its wiring needs, requiring only a single wire from the alternator’s charging stud to the battery’s positive terminal.
- If converting a classic muscle car or hot rod that still has an external voltage regulator, the original wiring at the regulator should be disconnected.
- Proper charge wire sizing must be considered based on the alternator’s maximum output capability. A larger amp load requires a larger wire diameter.
- When using a trunk mounted battery installation, at least a 2-gauge wire kit should be used to connect the one wire alternator to the battery.
- One wire alternators will ground through the alternator’s case to the mounting bracket/engine block, but a ground strap may be added for extra peace of mind.
- The 1-wire alternator uses an internal voltage regulator that self-regulates the alternator’s output and does not need a traditional external voltage regulator.
- The initial charging rpm threshold of a one wire alternator is often in the 1,200 rpm range, and the pulley ratio on the alternator affects its charging ability.
- It’s important to have enough charging system capacity that your battery is essentially used for starting the vehicle and short-term key-on engine-off electrical demands. Adding up the amperage and adding in a 20-25% cushion will help determine the proper amp needs for your vehicle.
In this article, we learned all about the one wire alternator. First, we covered what is an alternator and why it is so essential. Then we covered the one wire alternator wiring diagram Chevy and learned how you can install one of these alternators on your Chevy.
Then we moved on and covered the bad alternator symptoms. Just for a good measure, to help you out determine if your old alternator is really bad and needs replacing. And lastly, we covered precisely that and learned how to test an alternator with a multimeter.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
How To Install A Alternator
Installing an alternator is fairly easy. The first thing you need to do is to remove the positive terminal of the battery, then reduce the tension on the belt and remove the belt. Next, you need to unplug the connectors and then remove the alternator from the bracket. After that, repeat the same process in reverse order with the new alternator.
How To Wire A One Wire Alternator
Wiring a single wire alternator is relatively easy. You just remove the positive terminal of the battery. Then connect the one wire that goes from the alternator to the positive cable that goes to the terminal or to the starter solenoid main lug.
How To Ground Alternator
Most of the alternators have a ground wire that you can attach to the body of the car. But if the alternator doesn’t have a ground cable then you need to ground it with the block of the engine. On single wire alternators, if you want proper ground connection, there shouldn’t be painted between the alternator and the block of the engine.
Should A Alternator Spin Easy
No, alternators usually do not spin easily. So, don’t get surprised if you need to apply force to spin the component.
What Are The 2 Wires On An Alternator
One wire is the power wire that goes to the positive terminal or the solenoid. While the second wire is the one that is connected to the harness and informs you about the battery level. In other words, this is the wire for the battery light that you see on the dash.
These tools have been tried and tested by our team, they are ideal for fixing your car at home.