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How Does a Generator Work?

Generators are a wise investment for any home or business. With current strains on power grids all across the country, power outages are becoming more and more common. By investing in a generator (even a small one) you are taking the necessary precautions to ensure that your family or business is safe in the event of a power outage or natural disaster. Even if outages are infrequent in your area, it still helps to have the assurance and peace of mind that having a generator on hand will bring. Now, if you are considering such an investment you might have a few questions about generators. You may be wondering, how does a generator work exactly? This short article explains step by step how a generator works, so that you may be more informed about generators before choosing what type of generator is right for you. We will also share some tips and tricks on generator maintenance.


Put simply, generators work by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. In a gas powered generator, an internal combustion engine creates a mechanical force that rotates an electromagnet rapidly. This rotating electromagnet spins inside a stationary magnetic field that in turn produces an electrical current through copper wiring. This process is what enables your generator to convert gas into the electricity that will be needed to power your essential needs in the event of an outage.


Components in a generator


  • Frame – The frame protects the parts within the generator by keeping dirt and moisture out. 
  • Bearings – Bearings work to reduce the friction caused from the rotation happening in the generator.  
  • Rotating Shaft – The rotating shaft connects to the engine’s motor and spins the armature inside the stator.
  • Stator –  The stator is a stationary magnetic field fastened with large copper windings.
  • Armature – The armature creates electromagnetic induction as it is spun inside the stator of opposing magnetism.
  • Field Windings – Field windings are coils that create magnetic fields that allow currents to flow. 
  • Commutator – The commutator is a conductor through which electricity is able to collect.
  • Brush Assembly – The brush assembly rubs against the commutator which causes it to send out an electrical current.


How to maintain a generator?


To maintain your generator, you should conduct annual maintenance tasks. These tasks include changing the oil and replacing the oil, air, and fuel filters. You should also keep a check on the coolant thermal-protection level. This will ensure that your generator remains in a ready condition for unexpected power outages. Keep in mind that different coolers need different testers, so alway make sure that you have the necessary equipment for your make and model of generator. You’ll also want to inspect the accessory drive belts to ensure that they maintain the correct level of tension so that they stay in proper working condition. 


If you have any further questions regarding generators and how they operate, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or purchase a generator, contact Northside Power today!