We all know that generators are useful appliances that can supply electrical power during a power outage, and prevent the cutoff of daily activities or the disruption of various day-to-day business operations. Generators are available in a wide array of different electrical and physical configurations for use in different applications. Throughout this blog, we’re going to look at just how a generator operates as a secondary electrical source in both residential and industrial applications and some of the main components of a generator.
How Does A Generator Work?
An electric generator is a device that converts mechanical energy obtained from an external source into electrical energy as the output. It’s very important to understand that a generator doesn’t actually create electrical energy; it uses the mechanical energy to force the movement of electric charges present in the wire through an external electric circuit.
The flow of the electric charge mentioned above helps to establish the output of the electric current supplied by the generator itself. If you’d like to understand it properly, you can compare the generator to a water pump, which causes the flow of water but doesn’t create the water flowing through it.
’Modern’ generators work on the principle of electromagnetic induction, which was first discovered by Michael Faraday in 1831. Faraday discovered that the flow of electrical charges could occur when moving an electrical conductor, such as a wire that contains the charges, in a magnetic field. Once the movement occurred, it created a voltage difference between the two separate ends of wire, which caused the electric charges to flow, generating electric current
Generators – The Main Components
The main components of a generator can be classified as follows:
- Engine – The engine is the main source of the input mechanical energy to the generator. The size of the engine is proportional to the maximum power output that the generator can supply.
- Alternator – Sometimes known as the ’genhead’, the alternator is part of the generator that produces the electrical output from the mechanical input supplied by the engine.
- Fuel System – The fuel tank of a generator usually has a big enough capacity to keep the generator operational for 6-8 hours on average. If you have a smaller generator, the fuel tank is a part of the generator’s skid base or is even mounted on top of the generator frame.
- Voltage Regulator – This component regulates the output voltage of the generator.
- Cooling and Exhaust Systems – Continuous usage of a generator can cause it’s components to get heated up. It’s vital that your generator has a cooling and ventilation system, to withdraw the heat that is produced in the process.
- Lubrication System – Lubrication is required to ensure durability and the smooth operation for a long period of time. It is lubricated by oil stored in a pump.
- Battery Charger – The start function of a generator is battery-operated; the battery charger keeps the generator battery charged by supplying it with a precise ‘float’ voltage.
- Control Panel – The control panel is the user interface of the generator and contains provisions for the various electrical outlets and controls.
- Main Frame/Assembly – Both portable and stationary generators have customised housings that provide a structural base support. The main frame also allows for the generator to be earthed, for safety reasons.