One of the most common appliances that every one of us has in our homes and businesses is an electricity generator. It is a very useful appliance that helps us in the generation of electricity and continues our daily routine and business activities at the time of power outages.
Generators come in different sizes and shapes. When we talk about the size of the generator, we are not referring to the physical measurements of the generator; instead, we talk about the power generation capacity of the electricity.
A generator is a common device and it is better to understand and comprehend the basic knowledge behind its working. In this article, we will discuss the basic working mechanism behind the production of electricity and the parts involved in the production process. We will also highlight some tips through which you can ensure that how you can increase your generator’s life.
The Basic Principle
The basic principle behind the production of electricity from a generator is the conversion of mechanical energy into electrical energy.
A generator does not produce electricity on its own, rather uses energy conversion depending on the energy law that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.
Generator uses the mechanical energy to create the movement of electric charges present in the wires through an external electric circuit.
Generators, now days are working on the famous Faraday’s law given by Michael Faraday in 1831-1832. Don’t worry; we are not going to bore you with physical laws here.
It suffices to say here, that Faraday’s discovery of the movement of electric charges in a magnetic field is the basic principle behind the working of an electric generator and it is helping you every day in making your life easy and running your businesses during the time of outages.
Main Working Parts of a Generator
In order to properly understand the working of the generator, we must understand the working and the part each played in providing you electrical energy
The engine is the main and most important part of the generator. It is the part where mechanical energy is supplied to the generator.
The size of the engine is directly proportional to the size of the output of the generator.
In order to understand the link of generator and engine, you can consider the example of a car engine and the horsepower of the car.
Engines are run on different types of fuels such as gas, propane, and gasoline. Common types of engine are OHV and non-OHV engines. OHV engines are recommended over non-OHV engines they differ in the composition.
In order to know the full specification and understand the operationalization of your generator’s engine, you can refer to the working manual or contact the manufacturer of the engine.
The alternator produces the mechanical energy supplied by the engine into electrical energy and is regarded as one of the most important parts of the generator. The alternator is enclosed in a steel housing and its components work together to cause the relative movements behind electric and magnetic fields.
The fuel tank is the part of the generator where fuel is kept. The size of the fuel tank depends on the size of the generator. Depending upon the size of the generator, the fuel tank can provide fuel backup of 6-8 hours for larger generators and 2-3 hours for generators.
Fuel tank for a small generator is either located on the top or base of the generator. For commercial and large generators, fuel tanks are often separate end erected separate than the generator unit.
A fuel tank usually has the following parts
Pipe Connection – The pipe connects the fuel tank and engine of the generator.
Ventilator – A fuel tank has a ventilator which ensures that there is no pressure build-up inside the fuel tank.
Overflow Pipe – Overflow pipe ensures that the fuel tank is not overfilled at the time of filling.
Fuel Pump – The fuel pump is electrically operated and transfers fuel from storage to the used container. It is not present in small generators.
Filter – Filter separates any dust particles or water from reaching the engine and other sensitive parts.
Injector – The purpose of the injector is to atomize the liquid fuel and spray the required amount of fuel into the combustion chamber.
It regulates the output voltage. It is the part of the generator where AC current is converted into DC current or vice versa. When you put the load on the generator, the output voltage flickers a little. This flickering shows that the generator has successfully picked up the load.
Cooling and Exhaust System
This system is very necessary to ensure that your generator does not heat up. The continuous working of the generator heats up the components and overall system. The cooling system ensures that the generator remains in the specified working temperature and the pipes and wire do not get extra heated. Water or a specified coolant is used to achieve this task.
For large generators, a standard radiator and cooling fan are installed to ensure that the excessive heat produced leaves the generator in a timely manner.
The coolant and water levels along the proper working o fan should be checked on a timely basis. Replacement of coolant and water should be carried out according to the prescribed working hours in the manual of the generator.
Generator should not be kept in closed areas where it is difficult to release out heat in the surroundings. Proper ventilation and open space should be provided to generators.
Exhaust systems ensure that that the exhaust fumes are released from the generator as soon as the generator starts. Since the working of a generator is just like a regular diesel or petrol engine, the exhaust fumes contain the same harmful and dangerous elements.
The exhaust system of the generator should be kept up to date and properly working so that chemicals like carbon monoxide is exhausted.
You should not stand near the exhaust of the generator as these chemicals can damage your lungs and can cause you breathing problems. The exhaust pipes should lead to outwards. the modern day generators have converters that convert the harmful substance into safe and less harmful ones.
Modern generators are started by using batteries. All the generators come with a standard battery charger which automatically charges the batters as soon as the generator is turned on.
The generator also has a lubricating system that keeps the moving parts lubricated and friction-free. if the moving parts are not lubricated properly, your generator may stop working and its output can also be reduced.
The generator’s engine is lubricated by oil stored in an oil pump. Changing the oil and checking the oil level is very important to ensure proper working.
An oil change is recommended after 500 hours of activity in most of the medium-sized generators. However, the optimum time of oil change is also mentioned in the generator manual.
This feature helps in facilitating user interaction with the generator. It shows the output voltage, gauge levels, controls the electric shut down and starting, and has controls like frequency switch, phase selector and engine controls. Control panels are usually absent in old models.
The frame encloses all the parts of the generator mentioned above. It is made of high-quality steel and the durability of all the parts of the generator often depends on the durability and sturdiness of the frame.
Tips to Increase your Generator’s Life
Following are the tips that you can employ to get better results from your generator and increase its life
- Keep it neat, clean and dust free
- Do not overload your generator in terms of load capacity
- Make sure that the gas you are using in your generator is of high quality
- If you have to replace any part, make sure it is from a recommended company
- Remember to get your generator serviced by professionals on a timely basis
- General maintenance, for example, oil change and plug replacement should be on the scheduled time and be dome from professionals
- Changing and checking the lubrication oil.
Check some more generator maintenance tips here. Or check the below image to get quick generator maintenance checklist.
Generator Maintenance Checklist (Weekly, Monthly, Bi-annual and Annual)
We are sure that after reading our article on the working principles of the electric generator, you now have an idea of how your generator operates. We are sure that your generator mechanic will now not skim extra money from you as you will be having sufficient knowledge yourself. We recommend that if anything goes wrong with your generator, do not try to correct it yourself, and rather call professionals.