What Is The Function Of A Generator

Do you know the function of a generator and the reason why it has become a very important asset? This article aims to give you a thorough evaluation of the functions of a generator.

After all, it is very evident that electricity is the lifeblood of our society today. Believe me when I say almost all the business you can think of today cannot survive without electricity.

Knowing the importance of electricity in our businesses and home, experiencing a power outage can be very devastating and disappointing. However, in such a situation, only your generators will be able to help you.

In this article, I will explain what a generator does and why it is a must for every home, office, business place, etc. Ensure to read till the end.

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What Is A Generator?

What is a Generator

We can trace the history of generators through Michael Faraday’s discovery of electromagnetic induction. Also, Werner Von Siemens’ dynamo plus Nikola Tesla’s induction motor.

The first generator he made was the Faraday disk, and it was invented in the year 1831.

In a very simple way, “generators are machines that convert a form of energy into electricity, most especially mechanical energy into electrical energy”.

Additionally, generators are capable of providing electrical power, and those electrical ones that are housed in power plants supply almost all the power for electrical grids today.

These generators provide our electrical appliances with electricity by burning the fuel and turning the energy into electricity.

Some basic components of a generator include a lubrication system, fuel system, voltage regulator, engine, exhaust system, alternator, control panel, etc.

Let’s discuss the basic functions of a generator

Different Functions Of A Generator

Different Functions Of A Generator

Generators are available in different types depending on their size and mechanism. The main function of a generator is to provide electricity to homes and business places.

Here are the general functions of a generator.

They Serve As Backup Power

The number one function of a generator is that it is used as a backup power source.

In so many countries today, power cuts and load shedding are very common. With your generator, you can keep your electric system alive even during a power outage.

More so, you can be in the middle of something important and suddenly there is a blackout. A generator will help you to continue your work without any difficulty.

Temporary Power Supply

It can be difficult to carry out activities in certain settings if there are no dedicated power connections. For example, a construction site that does not have an electrical system or hosting an event in a place where there is no power grid.

In such cases, electric generators are the only option that can help you. Fortunately, generators are capable of powering electrical equipment including tools, sound systems, and large lighting rigs.

Standby Power For Businesses

When you have a standby generator, it will be idle during normal electricity supply. The most important thing is that these generators are always ready to supply power when there is an emergency.

Take for example a hospital or a business place where a second without light can be disastrous. Also, this device will prevent data loss whenever there is an unexpected power outage.

Permanent Power

There are some facilities that depend solely on generators for permanent power supply. This usually happens when there are no available power grids in that area.

For example, agricultural farms always need a constant power supply for performing different tasks, from cultivating to harvesting and preserving crops.

Supporting The Main Power Supply

One of the basic functions of a generator is producing electricity within a certain period to support a power grid. For instance, during peak hours, electricity demand is always at its maximum.

As a result, grid stability issues may arise – Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR). Generators assist grids in meeting the demand for power that exceeds expectations.

Most times, these generators are always synced with the main system to provide backup power in the event of a power outage. They serve a different purpose than large-scale renewable energy, which provides grids with intermittent power.

Essential Components In A Generator

Essential Components In A Generator

There are some important components that enable the generator to function appropriately. They include;

The Fuel System Of The Generator

A ventilation pipe, fuel pump, fuel injector, fuel filter, etc, are all major components of the fuel system of a generator.

Small generators have their fuel tanks either at the top or underneath the generators. Meanwhile, large commercial generators have an external fuel tank.

The Alternator Of The Generator

The alternator of a generator provides electrical output for producing electricity. Also, alternators’ stator and rotor cover the latter through a housing unit that houses the generator’s important operations.

Though it does not matter whether the housing is made of plastic or metal, metal is still better nonetheless since it is less susceptible to destruction.

On another note, needle bearing or ball bearings are the primary components of alternators. Ball bearing has a higher lifespan than needle bearing.

The Engines Of The Generator

The engine of the generator is responsible for producing mechanical energy, and it is a crucial part of a generator. There are different ranges and options when it comes to the engine of a generator.

Essentially, engines are responsible for regulating all the electricity that the generator creates. Natural gas, diesel, gasoline, and liquid propane are all fuels that the engine of a generator could possibly work with.

The Control Panel Of The Generator

The total functioning of the generator lies in the control panel. It features a switch for turning on the generator.

Apart from the switch, the electric start and the shut-down are the central components of the control panel.

Another component that is also present in the control panel is the engine gauge. This engine gauge always keeps a check on the temperature of the coolant, battery voltage, and pressure of the oil.

Moving on, we will now consider how generators work.

How Does A Generator Work

How Does a Generator Work

The confusion that arises when it comes to how a generator work is alarming. Many people even see it as creating electricity out of nothing, but that is not true.

How it works actually comes down to engines, wires, and magnetism.

The way in which an electric generator works is by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. Generators work based on the electromagnetic induction principle.

This principle is all about the forming of an electric current by moving a wire next to a magnet. It was discovered by Scientist Michael Faraday in 1831.

He noticed that an electric current began in a wire after moving through a loop of wire.

According to Fararday, in other to be able to produce an amount of electricity, you will need a very strong and steady force that will be moving the wire fast enough.

After this, mechanical energy comes to play.

To give more detail, mechanical energy creates electricity on a wind farm or hydroelectric dam. In both cases, the wind and the water provide the necessary mechanical force to generate a useful current.

As for solar generators, the energy from the sun’s rays is transformed into electricity. Meanwhile, for gas-powered generators, an internal combustion engine produces the mechanical force required to generate current.

The engine rotates an electromagnet by spinning a shaft (armature). More so, to generate an electrical current through copper wiring, the revolving armature spins inside a stator.

Finally, the engine drives a revolving shaft that turns the armature and then generates electricity – quite similar to how hand crank lanterns.

Things That Can Affect The Function Of A Generator

Some certain things can prevent your generators from working effectively and efficiently. As we all know generators need to work without disruption for them to power your important equipment.

Here are some of the common problems generators do have and how you can prevent them;

Lack of Maintenance

The most common problem generators usually have can be attributed to inappropriate maintenance. This can really affect the function of the generator.

Always see the engine of your generator like the engine of your car. There is no way your engine will not have issues when you don’t check it often.

The key to the effective and efficient running of your generator is proper engine maintenance. Also, you are to have a plan that aligns with the manufacturer and distributor’s instructions.

This will make you know the exact time that you are to service your generator. Those routines could be semi-annual and annual generator service.

Most times, it requires inspections and service to your;

  • Air induction and exhaust
  • Cooling system
  • Fuel system
  • Lube oil system
  • Starting system
  • Water separator maintenance
  • Engine monitors, safety controls, and control panel
  • Oil and fuel filter changes
  • Automatic transfer switch Etc.

Annual load bank test is also part of a proper maintenance plan. It burns off un-burnt fuel, oil, and carbon in the cylinders and exhausts so as to do away with wet stacking in the diesel generators.

Aside from that, it will also exercise and test the fuel and cooling system of the unit, as well as remove moisture from the generator and engine.

Improper Sizing And Load

Another mistake that generator owners do make is improper sizing of a generator which usually affects the function of the generator.

Some business organizations often buy bigger generators as a way to scale for future needs.

Unfortunately, when the generator’s load is too small it can cause severe damage plus wasteful inefficiencies. Note that a generator should at least use 30 percent of the load capacities when it is running.

Furthermore, engine distributors usually fall into trouble when a customer says they will add more equipment in the future. If it happens that they are not fast enough in adding the equipment, the gen will run inefficiently and that will disrupt the function of the generator.

Besides that, one of the major problems from improper loading is wet stacking. This usually happens when a generator doesn’t run with a large and sufficient load.

Due to this, the operating temperature of the engine isn’t high enough for the expansion joints in the exhaust system to effectively seal.

In addition, allowing wet fuel to pool in the engine stack could burn the diesel fuel totally. Both of these issues can cause major problems like destructive fires.

Fuel Supply

Most times, operators do not always provide enough fuel to the generator when it is running. As a result, the gen will shut down completely because there is nothing to keep the generator running.

Besides that, another effect of this is the intake of air into the fuel system. When you don’t run your generator frequently it can cause the presence of air in the fuel system.

This can result in a diesel generator shutting down since there will be tighter tolerance on the tiers for the fuel system.

In addition, lack of frequent maintenance plus lack of regular usage can cause stagnant fuel in the tank. This stagnant fuel causes water condensation, thereafter, causing the growth of microbiology.

All this creates contamination and damaging sludge to appear, and it can hurt fuel filters, cause leaks, and create clogs.

After listing and explaining what can make your generator not function accurately, here are some solutions to those problems.

Solutions To The Mentioned Generator Problems

The main solution to the generator problem is frequent maintenance. Owners of generators are to plan service agreements with any company they trust.

The main solution for avoiding problems that are associated with generators in industrial settings is a planned service agreement.

Going further, you are to work with the manufacturer and the distributor, they will explain proper usage to ascertain adequate load amounts are used frequently.

Most importantly, rely on the generator expert and work directly with them to ensure your generator works when and how it is needed.

Alternator Vs Generator; What Is The Function Of A Generator

You might not really know the difference between an alternator and a generator. Although they look alike in design and principle, they still have some differences.

The major difference is their design.

A generator has a stationary field in which the armature spins to produce electromagnetic induction. Meanwhile, an alternator’s entire magnetic field rotates while the conductors stay motionless.

Also, both AC and DC power can be generated by generators. In contrast, the name alternator comes from the fact that it is typically used in A/C applications.

The design of a generator allows it to generate huge amounts of wattage per kilowatt and on that note, they are more substantial. Similarly, alternators are cheaper, use fewer parts, and are used in smaller load applications like automobiles.

That said, let’s move on to the different types of generators.

Different Types Of Generator; What Is The Function Of A Generator

There are different types of generators, and they are-

Portable Generators

These generators are small, compact, and are very easy to carry around. They are usually fueled by gasoline, propane, or solar energy due to the fact they are always available.

Solar energy comes from the sun, while, gas and propane can both be gotten from a gas station.

Also, they are small in size which makes it easy for you to store them in your cars or garage.

In addition, they are also good for camping. You can recharge your mobile devices with them, keep your light on when the has gone down, run the camp hot plate, etc.

Unfortunately, due to their small size, they cannot produce the same amount of energy as the bigger ones.

Inverter Generators

These gens can be whole-home generators or portable generators. However, the way they produce electricity is different.

A standard generator can not keep the flow of electricity steady, they produce electricity in a single phase.

Meanwhile, inverter gens produce electricity in 3 phases. It creates a high-frequency alternating current (AC), thereafter inverted to a direct current (DC), then lastly inverted once more to a stable AC output.

Standby Generators

A standby generator has a high price tag. The reason for its high price tag is because its category is entirely different from a portable generator.

A portable generator is very easy to carry or store in a vehicle. On the contrary, a standby generator actually occupies more space than a standard air conditioning unit.

Additionally, they have a bigger fuel tank and a commercial-grade engine that has high fuel efficiency. The large fuel efficiency allows them to supply electricity to the entire home in emergency situations.

Gasoline Generators

Generators can operate with different fuels. However, the most common fuel for portable and inverter generators is gasoline.

All the generators that make use of gasoline falls into this category.

Furthermore, the features, power, and uses of lightweight portable gen that operate on gas and those of a gas-fueled, are different from an inverter generator.

Overall, gas generators have low prices and straightforward controls.

Diesel Generators

Diesel generators as the name imply use diesel for their operation instead of gasoline. Standby generators are mostly the ones under this category.

Although, we have some inverter and portable diesel generators out there. Besides, diesel generators can provide a better power output than gasoline standby generators.

Natural Gas Generators

Standby generators fall into the category of natural gas generators. There are also some potable gens that operate on natural gas.

Generally, natural gas generators produce a lower emissions rate than diesel and gasoline generators.

These make them a better choice for your home backup power.

Solar Generators

Home solar generators are costly to install even though their fuel is renewable and free. These generators are great for camping and as an emergency source of electricity.

Pros And Cons; What Is The Function Of A Generator

Here are the relevant advantages of having a generator in your home.

PROS

Guaranteed power supply

When you have a generator, your power supply is sure regardless of failure in the main power system.

Avoid damage

With an electric generator, you will rest assured that there will be no business losses caused by a power outage. Even at home, it prevents food in the refrigerator from spoiling.

Greater security

It will not be safe for homes with kids and some sectors to go out of electricity.

Profitability

Generators are profitable devices even in the future once they are used correctly.

Cons

Generators emit noise during their operations. Noise pollution can be more or less, it all depends on the device.

Standby generators consume much fuel require more maintenance and therefore add to costs.

When the generator works it releases combustion gases. As a result, it must be installed outside.

My Recommendation – 5 Best Generator; What Is The Function Of A Generator

My Recommendation - 5 Best Generator

One thing is to know the function of a generator, and another thing is to know the best one to buy.

This section of the article review will give you the chance to make your choice on the best generator you could ever have.

However, let’s start by reviewing the five best generators on amazon.com.

A-iPower Heavy Duty Generator

This outdoor, or home use generator is equipped with 12000 starting watts and 9500 running watts of energy. It is an electric start generator that starts as quickly and easily as possible.

The engine is made in China, but you should not be discouraged as most generator engines are made in china and they function well.

Nevertheless, the energy can hold or power multiple appliances simultaneously, but cannot run everything in the building at once. Though it features a large number of outlets that can help you power your homes or office appliances.

Furthermore, the generator has a 7.0-gallon fuel tank capacity and there is a steel frame that protects it from damage.

It uses gasoline to produce power and engine size of 459cc 4-stroke overhead valve. More so, it takes 50% to run at the average rate of 9 hours and 7 hours at 100%.

Plainly, you need to bear in mind that the 9-hour runtime depends on the amount of load you put on the generator. This implies that you should be expecting at least 8-12 hours of continuous runtime if the load is not much.

One of the disadvantages of this kind of generator is that it generates a lot of noise. However, most manufacturers usually equip the engines with sophisticated mufflers in order to solve the problem of noise.

This A-iPower generator comes with standard mufflers but increases noise when there is so much load on it. A muffler is usually attached to the generator exhaust pipe to help reduce the noise coming from the generator.

In conclusion, you do not need to worry about the generator noise, but should be after the quality performance. As always, you can pick the best on amazon as customers keep giving a good review about the generator.

Champion Power Electric Start Generator

Another power generator shipped with 7500 running watts and 9375 starting watts and run for about 8 hours at 50% load. Isn’t that amazing? Well, let’s find out more about the champion generator.

Just like the name implies, it is a dual fuel champion portable generator that makes your powering experience remarkable.

It features a convenient electric start which has a battery, a cold start technology that ensures a quick start on cold temperature. It monitors power output and tracks maintenance intervals.

Impressively, it is built with a low oil shut-off sensor, including 1.2 quarts of 10W-30 oil. It also operates on gasoline or propane.

There is a fuel selector control that easily allows the fuel switch to switch safely between fuel sources without interruption. In addition, it comes with an oil funnel, sheet kit, engine oil, battery, and prone hose.

Lastly, the noise level is not too good, it is a bit louder, but it can still provide ultimate power backup in your homes.

Champion Lift Hook Generator

With a tank full of gasoline, this generator can run up to 9 hours at 15,000 starting watts and 12,000 running watts.

The generator features a reliable toggle switch, plus built-in cold start technology that enables it to start easily during cold weather.

Furthermore, the “Lift Hook” is added to it for safe and easy transport, loading, and unloading purposes. Additionally, there is an electric start engine, including the battery that allows you to start the generator using switch control.

Finally, there is a covered outlet like one 120V 30A locking, a 120/240 30A locking a 120/240V 50A, and four 120V 20A GFCI outlets. Adding to that is a volt guard that prevents overloads and protects your appliances and equipment safe from damage.

Westinghouse Outdoor Generator

This generator is a reliable generator capable of powering your buildings. It is a powerful portable generator with dual-fuel capacity.

The dual-fuel capacity can either be gasoline or propane.

More so, the generator features a fuel tank capacity of 6.6 gallons of gas and a 20-pound propane tank. It also has a built-in fuel gauge.

Unlike every other generator that comes with a China engine, this portable generator comes with a Westinghouse engine. It also comes with a heavy-duty 457cc 4-stroke overhead valve (OHV).

Surprisingly, the Westinghouse runs at an average rate of 12 hours on a single tank of gas at 50% load. On the other hand, it can run up to 7 hours when running on propane at half load.

However, the running watts is 9500 and 12500 peak watts for gasoline. While propane runs at 8500 watts and 11200 peak watts.

Refueling this type of generator at night may be a headache for you. Hence, an alternative fuel type is there for you when the fuel gets disrupted.

Note that the better fuel efficiency is the higher output and more runtime it provides.

Furthermore, before thinking of buying a portable generator, you need to consider the amount of power you need. With this generator, you can run an air conditioner, refrigerator, entertainment center, etc.

Meanwhile, the operation noise level is not super quiet but it is manageable. Hence, a portable generator is not always less noisy than you did expect.

In conclusion, for you to enjoy the Westinghouse generator you need a transfer and an ST switch-ready outlet. This outlet allows the automatic transfer of power during a blackout of power.

It also has a VFT display outlet that shows voltage output, frequency, and lifetime hours. This makes maintenance and performance tracking of the generator very easy.

Conclusion; What Is The Function Of A Generator

Conclusion; What Is The Function Of A Generator

Generators prevent all the conveniences that are associated with power outages.

Since we have discussed all you need to know about the function of a generator.

I hope you found this PowerVersity blog helpful?

kindly share your thoughts with the “Leave a Reply” form found towards the end of this page.

Finally, you may want to read other articles like this, visit our below pages.

5 Best RV Generators

5 Best Propane Generator

Victor Akin-Ojo
Victor Akin-Ojo
Victor Akin-Ojo is the founder and the Lead Editor of PowerVersity.com. Before starting PowerVersity.com, Victor worked in the IT industry for nearly 15 years. He worked mainly as a Field Support Engineer on Installation of VSAT, Wimax Technologies, including but not limited to Power Maintenance Sector for close to 10 years – Designing an electrical installation for Homes, Private and Government Offices and more.

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