Originally Posted by Biffmeistro
I was thinking... In order to lessen the load on the alternator, or even make it easier to eliminate the alternator altogether...
Could you retrofit a regenerative braking system onto a non-hybrid car? Like find a junked insight or prius and pull the brake systems off them.
Other projects (including getting my solar panel wired into my car's battery) are still a higher priority. However, considering my successes with lowering electrical usage (but keeping the alternator hooked up), and the reported successes of others disconnecting their alternator, I have toyed with the idea of having a three position switch put on the dash:
Position 1) Normal alternator, just as I have now.
Position 2) Alternator is electrically (although probably not mechanically) turned OFF. By simply turning off the alternator electrically, I'll still suffer the "static losses" for spinning the belts/etc. But by electrically disconnecting the alternator, all actual "electrical drag" would be eliminated. And if the alternator is one of the many on the market that has an on/off "control wire/signal" with it, I could probably get away without even needing to use a relay to disconnect the alternator (and instead just play with the wiring to the alternator control signal on the alternator itself).
Position 3) This is the key "pseudo-regen" position. In this switch position, the actual alternator control signal comes from the same car circuit that the brake lights are wired up to! By doing it this way, the alternator is off normally, but turns on the instant your brake lights come on. While the brake lights might not be the best "regen braking" control out there, they are easy to wire up to, and they do at least signify that you intended to slow down (so they aren't a totally unreasonable control either)!
NOTE: I would suspect that such an arrangement would give you more "regen braking" than you get normally with the alternator connected all the time. The reason I suspect this, is that alternators do put more drag on the engine when more electrical power is needed. And more electrical power is clearly needed (to charge the battery, if nothing else) if your battery is running a bit low (as it likely would be if/when you have otherwise been running with the alternator turned off). So such a wire setup may actually save wear on the brakes (by giving you more regen braking than normal), even more than it might help you go with "alternator off" for extended periods of time.
Again, this isn't a complete solution. It's just a thought for one cute way to retrofit a limited "regen braking" mode into an (optional) "alternator off" switch. And since I've not actually tried this myself, YMMV. But unless I'm missing something in my tentative design, this should be reasonably easy to wire up, as well as at least moderately effective. But I guess we will have to wait until someone tries it, to know for sure...