PLANE-POWER - VALUE FROM THE GROUND UP
So after investing more than 1,000 hours
of building time and tens of thousands of dollars into building
your new aircraft, you're thinking
of going down to the local auto parts store and picking up an
automotive alternator for your aircraft?
We suggest you think twice.
The fact is, there IS a difference between automotive and
aircraft alternators. And some of those differences may mean
the difference between you flying home with power to spare or
preparing for immediate landing with that sinking feeling in your
stomach after losing your alternator in flight.
You see, our very own alternator began life as an automotive
alternator. Sure! Many years ago, we thought it would
be simple: just reconfigure the mounting system of a typical
Nippon Denso alternator and sell it to airplane owner/builders (in
fact, some vendors do exactly that today!). But for us, that
dream lasted about as long as it took us to tear into a few
alternators and do some real testing.
What we found was most automotive alternators lack the proper
design, composition and quality to be used for real aviation
applications. Among many other shortcomings, we found
automotive alternators typically run counter to the desired
direction of rotation on an aircraft. Not necessarily a
problem in generating power just the same. However, the cooling fans would
have to run backward as well. That's workable, but not ideal. Also,
operational RPM's would be significantly higher than the
environment for which they were originally designed. Again,
workable, but not ideal. At altitude, we found automotive brushes become
fantastic abrasives! Decreased moisture at altitude was no
longer present to provide the requisite lubrication
qualities. And on and on...
We soon came to a hard decision: Do we continue
"tweaking" the automotive alternator idea, or should
strive for more? We chose the path less traveled and decided to
design from scratch. Yes, wherever appropriate, we would try
to use existing automotive components (for instance, that is why
you will find METRIC hardware on Plane-Power alternators).
But the critical features - all of them - stator, commutator,
brushes, connections, cooling, fans - everything - would need to
be rethought and reengineered to do it right.
And remember, our goal all along was to manufacture an FAA-PMA
CERTIFIED alternator for CERTIFIED aircraft. So there was
simply too much resting on anything short of doing things
RIGHT. It has taken years, but we think the results are well
For current experimental aircraft owners, look at this table of side-by-side features comparing
aircraft, automotive and Plane-Power alternators (you may click
the image below for a clearer view if desired).
You see, even beyond the alternator, we have put together a
TOTAL solution for Plane-Power customers. Everything has
been revisited, reconsidered, and rethought: brackets, mounting
hardware, belts - EVERYTHING! And we put it all together in
a simple turn-key kit that contains everything you will need to
install the alternator on your Superior or Lycoming engine.
Considering all that has gone into getting it right, we believe
most of you will agree - it is a heck of a good value for just
dollars more than it would cost you to convert an automotive unit;
and a heck of a lot better solution in the long run! And we
believe it strong enough to stand behind it for two full years
from the date of purchase.
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