What is a Generator?

Generators are helpful equipment, which provide electrical power when there is a power outage. They also help to avoid discontinuity of night and day activities and affairs or disruptions in various operations.

All generators do is convert the mechanical energy that external sources provide into electrical energy. This provides energy to other appliances and equipment.

How Generators Work

As aforementioned, generators are machines designed to convert mechanical energy to electrical energy. Being a novice to generators, you could be wondering – how does one work?

It is imperative to know that generators don’t actually generate electrical energy. Instead, they use mechanical energy often supplied to them to force the flow of the electric charges in the wire through external electric circuits.

The flow of these electric charges consists of the generators’ electric current output. You can understand this mechanism better by regarding generators as similar to water pumps that make water flow but don’t actually produce the water flowing through them.

The modern-day generators work on a principle of electromagnetic induction that Michael Faraday discovered around 1832.


Generators are categorized according to portability and fuel type. But they may still be classified according to other factors. The basic ones include the following:

  • Mobile and portable generators – these generators are often located on trailers and have wheels. They can also be moved from one place to another using natural gas or gasoline. However, diesel can still be used to power these generators.
  • Natural gas generators – uses natural gas to operate. They are suitable for small operations and activities where more power is required.
  • Diesel generators – they mainly work using diesel and are reliable and efficient. Normally, large and medium-sized generators are used to power large equipment and buildings.

Basic Components

Modern-day generators vary in application and size. However, their inner workings are similar across the board. The basic component of generators include the engine and fuel system.

The engine supplies generators with mechanical energy converted to electrical power output. The size of the engine helps to determine the power output and may work on various types of fuel.

Generators also come with an external or attached fuel tank to supply the engine with the required fuel. A fuel tank can be connected through return and supply pipes. It commonly has diesel or gasoline fuel. Other basic components are:

  • Voltage regulator
  • Exhaust system
  • Control panel
  • Battery charger
  • Alternator
  • Frame


Generators are helpful for shops, homes, offices, and other places that experience power outages frequently. This way, they serve as backup equipment to ascertain appliances get an uninterrupted supply of power.

In distant locations, where electricity from main systems can’t possibly be accessed, generators serve as a primary source of supplying power. When also working on a project site where you can’t access electricity from the main grid, you may use a generator to power tools or machines.

The Takeaway!

Generally, people confuse between motors and generators. So it is important to get the main difference between the two. A motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy, while generators change mechanical energy into electrical energy. Plus, motors follow Fleming’s left-hand rule and use electricity, whereas generators follow Fleming’s right-hand rule to generate electricity.

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