Generator = alternator?

My Mazda 1996 Protege appears to have no alternator, but there is something called a generator. Are they the same thing?


In general, yes, although the alternator is an AC generator whose output is rectified to produce DC, whereas the generator produces DC directly.

Years ago, all autos had generators, but the advent of alternators produced a more reliable and efficient source of DC to charge the battery.


The term is interchangeable but very odd. where did you see this?

Don’t know much of anything about Mazdas, but my guess is what they call a “generator” is actually an alternator. i.e. it’s a semantics thing, where something in the manual got mis-translated.

Pretty much as soon as solid state diodes became available in the late-50’s, early 60’s, the “alternator” approach won out b/c of price, reliability, and power/weight factors.

I did a word search in the 1996 Mazda repair manual I got off the internet from a friend. The picture of the generator looks like what I know an alternator looks like.

My guess is that Mazda has used the term “generator” as a nomenclature for the alternator+rectifier assembly. Things can get weird when you translate nomenclatures from Japanese to English.

Speaking of English, if you had an English car your roof would be your hood, your hood would be your bonnet, your shocks would be your dampers, and… well, you get the idea.

And the trunk would be the boot …

Personally, I like a lot of the English terms.

All alternators are generators, but not all generators are alternators…

Petrol (English) = gas in Americanese.

An alternator produces AC current and is converted to DC current thru rectifiers and is controlled with a voltage regulator.

A generator produces DC current and is controlled thru the Engine Control Module.

Welcome to the future of charging systems.


So,@ texases, I guess there is no alternator in my Mazda, just an alternator?

I meant, generator… red face…

And an English gallon equals a smidge over 1.2 U.S. gallons.

I think I have received an answer to my question and then some! A laugh or two as well!!

A great bunch you folks are!!

It’s an alternator, which also can be called a generator in more, well, general terms.

Don’t you mean “generatoral” terms?

Most generator cars of old there was no such thing as an ECM.

Early SAAB two strokes had the generator and water pump as the same unit (cool bit of history i guess)

Hmmmmmmmmm seems like a good way of maximizing underhood space. I’m surprised it didn’t become the norm.

Alternator mathematical puzzle:

An alternator has three sets of stator windings, each producing a sine wave which is full-wave rectified and combined with the rectified outputs of the other two stator windings. Let the voltage peak of each individual sine wave be denoted by Vpeak. What is the peak value of the combined, rectified alternator outout voltage in terms of Vpeak?