How do generators work?

An electrical generator is a machine that works independently of the mains power source to provide electricity when it is unavailable from the national grid. They are commonly used for backup power supplies for businesses and homes during a power cut and can be used as a main source of power when electricity is unavailable.

Generators are available for just about any need, with small portable varieties used for camping, small devices or hobbies and larger, more permanent installations powerful enough to supply a whole house. There are also industrial size generators that provide significant amounts of power to hospitals, office buildings and manufacturing plants. For Generator Rental, visit

There are many kinds of generators, such as diesel, natural gas, bi-fuel and propane generators. So, how do they actually work?

Generators aren’t actually able to create electricity, instead they convert chemical or mechanical energy into electrical energy. This is done by harnessing motion power and converting it to electrical energy by pushing electrons from an outside source through a circuit. A generator is basically an electrical motor working in reverse.

When an electrical current has been formed, the current is directed through copper wires to provide power to any device, an external machine or, with large generators, an entire system.

The generators of today use science from Michael Faraday’s original principle of electromagnetic induction. He discovered that when conductors move in a magnetic field, electrical charges can be made and used to make a current flow. Basically, a generator is little more than an electromagnet that move wires close to a magnet to create and direct a flow of electrical charge.

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Different parts of a generator

There are 9 components which all play an important role in getting power to where it is required.

Engine – This is the part that gives energy to the generator. How powerful the engine is impacts how much electricity can be generated.

Alternator – This is the component where the conversion of energy from mechanical to electrical takes place. It contains moving and stationary parts working together to make an electromagnetic field.

Fuel System – This is what makes the generator able to produce energy. It includes a fuel tank, a pump, a connecting pipe to the engine and a return pipe. A filter is used to remove debris and dirt before reaching the engine, while an injector pushes the fuel into a combustion chamber.

Voltage Regulation – This part controls the voltage of the power that is created and converts the electricity from AC to DC if required.

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Cooling & Exhaust Systems – Generators produce a lot of heat, so a cooling system keeps it from overheating. The exhaust effectively removes fumes that are produced during the process.  

Other components include lubrication systems to keep all the small moving parts working smoothly, a battery charger used to start the generator and a control panel that offers controls of operation, such as running speed and output.

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