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Location: Penang, Malaysia

August 08, 2005

36V/42V automotive electrical system

Once upon a time, when Morris Minor cars roamed the roads in Malaysia, automobile electrical system was pretty simple. There was no air-conditioning in the car, all you have was a little triangle window to divert wind into the car interior. Power requirement is quite low. Car battery was rated at 6 volt then, light bulbs are of the 6V type. If I recalled correctly, the battery manufacturer was Lucas.

Later, people installed more and more stuffs. Power requirement went up, and thus more current was needed, and thicker wires were needed. The solution was to use 12V, so that you can have more power without increasing the current. Hence, you save some money from getting thicker conductors. Due to "compatiblity" issue, two 6V batteries were connected in series. In this case, you can continue to have 6V stuffs running at the same time.

After some time, 6V stuffs died off and finally, it is more economical to have a single 12V eletrical system in the car. People started to use the 12V battery. During the charging cycle, the alternator is pumping out 13.8V. This is the reason why people call today's modern automobile electrical system the 12V/13.8V electrical system.

People keep adding stuffs to modern cars. To keep up with the demand, car manufacturer will be moving to the 36V/42V eletrical system. This is essentially three times the voltage used today. This can be realized immediately by employing three 12V batteries in series. Of course, the charging voltage is also triple the 13.8V used currently.

The 36V/42V automotive eletrical system is coming soon to a neighborhood near you...

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