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A recifier changes ac (what comes off the windings of an alternator, or the outlet in your house) to pulsating dc. Electrical filters in the circuit will smooth out the pulses and give a more steady dc voltage. These filters are capacitors (in electronic devices) or a battery (in a car or boat).


When a rectifier inside the alternator in a car or the diode pack on an outboard goes bad it quits charging the battery.


They also in the case of an alternator, prevent the windings of the unit from putting a continuous load on the battery that they are hooked to. For example, one of the first signs of a failed rectifier on an alternator is it draining the battery quickly while sitting. Often times, the alternator will be warm to the touch even if the motor has not been running.


Rectifiers usually contain diodes, that act as a one way valve for electricity. If a diode shorts out, the current can flows backwards to the alternator, since it is wired directly to the battery. The energy from the battery can heat the alternator until the battery dies completely and then the alternator cools as well. So, by the time you go to start it, nothing happens, but when you charge the battery, it works - until you shut it off for a day or two. It can be a tough mystery to solve!

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