Generators work by changing mechanical energy to electrical energy. It can be done by spinning an armature (one of the electrical components of a motor that contains conductors) through a magnetic field.
Generators are based on the principle of electromagnetic induction, which was introduced by Michael Faraday in 1831. This electromagnetic effect induces voltage or electric current into the moving conductors.
Relative motion must exist between the magnetic field and the conductor to produce electric current. For example, electric current will be generated when an electric conductor, such as copper wire (where mechanical energy is present), travels in the course of a magnetic field. The source of mechanical energy may be an internal combustion engine, solar energy, steam engine, compressed air, or water falling through a turbine. These sources then turn the amateur shaft.
One type of generator, called direct current generator (DC), spins the conductors in a still magnetic field. This magnetic field is rotated by the alternator and is cut by the stationary conductors.
The current produced in the conductors of generators is an alternating current. This means that the direction and magnitude of the electric current vary through cyclic processes.
Electric tension, or the power of the voltage generated in the conductor relies on its speed and on the power of the magnetic field. The magnetic field may be provided by a stable magnet or by currents moving through field coils to develop an electromagnet. When the ends of the conductor are joined to form a full circuit, current flows in the external circuit produced by the generated voltage.
Generators work in a vehicle by providing the electrical energy to run it when the engine is working. It charges the battery at the same time. This is a vital function of a generator because it provides power for the proper functioning of the computer-controlled engine. It also optimizes fuel economy and reduces discharge.
The battery does not provide energy while the generator is running. If the vehicle’s generator fails and stops generating electricity, the battery will take the place of the generator. It will do so until it becomes exhausted, or the generator operates again.
The dynamo was the first electrical generator to deliver power for industries by transforming mechanical energy into electric current. It works through the use of an electrical shift called commutator, a common feature of rotating machines.