Alternator Vs. Battery: What Is The Difference?

Every car owner has experienced getting into their car and turning the ignition, but the car won't start. When a car does not start, it is a battery or alternator issue. The alternator and the battery are equally important to the car's charging system as none can function without the other. It helps to know the difference between the two parts:


A battery is a device that produces electricity by transforming chemical energy into electrical energy. An alternator refers to a machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. Though both produce electrical energy, there are some differences between them. A battery produces DC power while an alternator produces AC power which means the battery will be used for DC loads and the alternator for AC loads. A battery uses chemical reactions, while an alternator does not. Moreover, an alternator has moving parts, whereas a battery does not. A significant difference between an alternator and a battery is that the latter stores potential energy as chemical energy, whereas an alternator does not store any energy.

Is It The Battery or Alternator?

If you are having ignition issues with your car, knowing whether it is the battery or alternator which is the cause of the problem could help you quickly resolve it. If the check engine light is one and you hear a ticking sound when you try to start your car, it is a battery issue. You should also check if there is swelling or leakage around the battery case. Checking electrical components of your car, such as your windshield wipers, are working. If not, your battery is dead.

If you start your car and the engine runs for a while and then dies, it is an alternator issue signifying a lack of charge. A growling sound, dimming lights, and the smell of burning rubber are signs of alternator problems.

Learn the difference between the battery and alternator to know why your car won't start.

If you need a battery or alternator repair, please bring your vehicle to Space Center Automotive of Clear Lake today.