How Do Generators Work?

Ever wonder how gas, propane, diesel or natural gas make electricity? Learn more about how generators work from Mr. Electric.

Performing initial or routine generator maintenance in preparation for bad weather? No doubt you’re curious as to how these miniature electricity-generating marvels work. Learn the ins-and-outs of generating electricity on-site with the help of Mr. Electric, a Neighborly company.

How Do Generators Work?

Integral during power outages to prevent the disruption of daily home or business activities, generators don’t create energy themselves. They use an energy source – such as gas or propane – to create mechanical energy. Like a water pump, which moves water but does not create water flowing through it, generators accomplish this using the principle of electromagnetic induction. Using this mechanical energy and employing the use of magnets, mechanical energy is converted into electricity, moving magnets to create a steady flow of electrons. Instead of pushing water like a water pump, generators use their magnets to push electrons along. The number of electrons the generator pushes is measured in amps; the equivalent of ‘pressure’ is volts.  

What Are the Parts of an Electrical Generator?

  • Generator Housing/Frame
    The structure that holds all the parts together.
  • Control Panel
    Where you operate the generator, much like the thermostat on your HVAC system.
  • Battery & Charger
    Like your car, batteries help your generator motor start. The charger ensures the battery is ready to go.
  • Lubrication Components
    These essential components ensure the many small moving parts within the generator operate smoothly. Levels must be carefully monitored to safeguard generator lifespan.
  • Cooling & Exhaust System
    Generators create a lot of heat. These systems keep the generator from overheating and safely direct/remove exhaust.
  • Voltage Regulator
    Controls voltage flow and converts electric from AC to DC when necessary.
  • Fuel Supply
    The fuel tank, pump, filter, and piping provide the fuel necessary for the generator to produce electricity.
  • Engine
    Supplies the energy of the generator, with power output determining how much electricity the unit can provide.
  • Alternator or ‘Genhead’
    Where the mechanical to electrical conversion magic happens: The moving and stationary parts that work together to create the electromagnetic field and electron movement for generating electricity.

There are Many Different Kinds of Generators

The fuel used to power generators doesn’t affect how generators work. Fuel, solar, water, wind, your arm cranking that flashlight – anything that creates motion can be used to convert that motion into electricity. And there are generators for just about every need. Small, portable models provide electricity for handling the basics during emergencies, camping, or hobbies where access to electricity is scarce. Permanent, or standby models, offer the capacity to power whole homes, businesses, healthcare facilities, and more in the event of emergencies or total lack-of-access to the electrical grid, such as remote wilderness areas.  

What’s driving your peace-of-mind? The power is in your hands to be fully prepared in the event of emergency. Learn more about a generator addition from Mr. Electric today.

This blog is made available by Mr. Electric for educational purposes only to give the reader general information and a general understanding on the specific subject above. The blog should not be used as a substitute for a licensed electrical professional in your state or region. Check with city and state laws before performing any household project.