How Does A Generator Work?

How Does A Generator Work

In our modern world, we are so reliant on electricity generators and the power that they provide are essential. There are many examples of people and buildings which regularly need a power source off-grid, or those for whom even a short power outage could be devastating. 

From hospitals, where a steady power source is essential, to patients’ survival. In rural settings, where extreme weather events and accompanying power cuts are common, people still need heating and other essential appliances to work. 

From holidaymakers wanting a bit of electricity to enhance their camping experience. To a building site or farm that requires a power supply for workers and their tools. There are a huge variety of settings that require electricity supplied by a generator. 

But how does a generator work? Where does the electricity come from? And, if they are such a necessity, should we all have one?

How Does A Generator Create Electricity?

Generators produce electricity by transferring the energy created by chemical and/or mechanical means into electricity. They do not, therefore, create energy but simply convert it using a process called electromagnetic induction. 

The conversion of fuel into electricity begins with the fuel itself. Generators typically run on petrol, diesel, natural gas, propane liquid/gas, or a mix of diesel and gas (bi-fuel). It is this fuel that runs the engine. 

The mechanical energy created by the engine then turns into electrical energy in the part of the generator called the alternator. The alternator consists of an iron core that has electrical conductors wound over it. A moving part called an armature creates a rotating magnetic field around the iron core. This magnetic field causes voltage differences between the coils wound over the core. The voltage difference creates the alternating electrical current (AC). 

The AC is the usable electrical output that has been converted by the generator from the fuel input into the generator. 

Is It A Good Idea To Have A Generator?

Covid-19 has shown us that we cannot take anything for granted, including electricity. When emergencies hit, whether they are in the form of a pandemic (the national grid have warned of power outages in the wake of coronavirus) or whether they are brought on by the extreme weather events that are increasingly common due to climate change, it is a good idea to be as self-sufficient as possible. 

Generators are a good way to ensure your self-sufficiency in times of crisis. 

How Long Do Generators Last?

The working life of your generator will depend on its usage and maintenance. A well-maintained generator should last anywhere between 10 and 20 years, depending on the quality of the generator you purchase. This estimate is based on an average usage of 100 hours per year. That is half an hour each day, or 8 hours per month. 

Generators that are used more frequently, or that are not maintained properly, will wear out or break down sooner. 

To help keep your generator working well for longer, ensure that it is regularly maintained by carrying out the following:

  • Check piping/hoses for wear, cracks, etc.
  • Replace air filters when required.
  • Check oil and coolant levels.
  • Annual professional service including replacing filters and oil.

Generators are increasingly becoming an essential requirement as we become more reliant on electricity – our weather patterns become more extreme and many other outside factors can affect the supply and demand of the national grid. 

To know and understand how they work, how long we can expect them to last, and what we can do to help ensure their longevity, is important.

If you want to learn more about generators or are thinking about purchasing one in readiness for whatever comes our way next, please do get in touch with us at Generator Pro and we’ll be happy to assist you.  

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