A generator is a device that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. Whether it’s a small household variety that runs on gasoline, or the industrial versions that are powered by diesel engines or natural gas, they all operate on the same principles. As you know from playing with wooly willy or moving a paper clip around a magnet, it takes the movement of electrons to create a magnetic field. When that happens near a piece of metal, it can attract or repel those electrons, depending on the direction of the movement.
The nineteenth century British physicist Generator Gorilla Michael Faraday discovered this phenomenon of electromagnetic induction, which led to the development of electrical generators. He created the first electric generator, which he called a dynamo, and also invented the first electric motor. These early inventions paved the way for today’s electricity-driven world.
Modern generators are housed in power plants and provide nearly all the power for our electric grids. A subset of generators, known as engine-generators (or gensets), combines an engine and a generator to provide electricity independently of the grid.
Most generators are rotary, which means they contain an internal rotating part called the rotor that generates electricity. The rotor is connected to the stationary part of the generator called the stator. A series of windings on the stator produces an AC current, which is then fed to the rotor. The rotor turns the armature, which in turn generates a larger AC current in the stator windings. The rotor and armature are then tapped for power by graphite or carbon brushes, which tap the alternating current of the rotor into DC current. This allows the rotor to produce the necessary electricity without having to be turned manually by an operator.
A control panel regulates the operation of the generator and controls power outputs to match the needs of its load. It is also capable of sensing when the generator is running on low or dead fuel and shutting itself off. It is important to note that any generator operation requires a permit from the local city government.
It is also worth noting that generators require a heavy-duty, recharging battery to initiate the mechanical action that generates electrical power. Similarly, most generators also need fuel to supply their engine and alternator with the needed mechanical energy. The most common types of fuel for this purpose are gasoline, propane, and diesel. Smaller generators may also run on alternative fuels like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or natural gas.