‘Alternating Current’ (AC) and’ electrical works’ are terms that seem very intricate to a layman. But, mind you, that’s not the case. In this article, we ganna make this subject very clear to you. Such that you will never feel any ambiguity deciding the things you want to buy.
Before jumping into the tips, we should make a base of what is an AC generator.
What is an AC generator?
In the most simple words, it is a machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. The power becomes available in the form of an alternating current. The mechanical energy is either obtained from steam turbines, gas turbines, or combustion engines.
Basic Principle of Working
Faraday’s Law (of Electromagnetic Induction) is the central pillar behind the working of an AC Generator. Put:
“When a current-carrying conductor cuts a uniform magnetic field, the voltage is generated in that conductor.”
This brings us to the issue of how can the magnetic field be cut? The answer is simple:
1. Either rotate coil (a current-carrying conductor) in the static magnetic field.
2. Or better make a mechanism to rotate the magnetic field in the static coil.
The established geeks in the industry instead of favor the second option. The reason: who doesn’t want to make the work easy? It’s easier to draw current from a static oil than the rotating one. A stationary coil is a way to go.
- Poles: An AC generator consists of two poles, e. This helps in having a uniform magnetic field.
- The north-pole
- And the south pole of a magnet.
- Coil: A rectangular-shaped lock is present, which is also called an armature. It takes about an axis perpendicular to the magnetic field.
- Slip rings: The coil is connected to the slip rings via carbon brushes. Slip rings are made of metal and insulated from each other. Carbon brushes ensure the smooth flow of current from the slip rings into the circuit. This results in the uniform flow of current.
- Carbon brushes: The meetings are carbon brushes, and one end of each session connects to the ring, and the other connects to the circuit. There is also a shaft that rotates rapidly.
But why should one even bother buying AC generators? The answer: its advantages are manifold, stated as follows:
- Stepping-up and stepping-down using a transformer are easy.
- The exceptions of energy losses are relatively less as compared to DC.
- As it’s an advanced technology, its size is somewhat smaller than DC.
- AC can be easily stepped up and stepped down through transformers.
- The step-up feature ensures that the transmission link is thinner.
Tips to keep in mind while buying:
Remember that you are going to spend some hard-earned money on buying this stuff. So you rather be well-equipped with proper information to make the best decision. Follow these tips to prevent your money from going down the gutter.
1. Identify your need:
The first thing you should consider before buying an AC generator is to clarify your need as much as you can. This includes your least specific requirements. You don’t want to lose your money buying a machine that apparently seems good but doesn’t serve the purpose. ‘Identification of your need’ includes:
Having a rough calculation of the power, you will need to take up your place fully. To do this, make a list of the appliances with their average wattages. For example:
- Refrigerator – 600-700 watts
- Lights – 60-600 watts
- Sump pump – 750-1,500 watts
- Portable heater – 1,500 watts
- Window air conditioner – 1,000 watts
- Computers – 60-300 watts; laptop – 200 watts
- Home security system – 100 watts
There is a little caveat here. These are just rough estimates. The actual watts of usage can be found from the label on the appliances.
The frequency of power shortage:
Determine the frequency of the power shortage in your house, as this will directly affect the AC generator’s required size. We suggest:
- For frequent power shortages: Large sized, standby inverter.
- For occasional shortages: Large-sized inverter.
- Rare outages: Mid-sized or recreational inverter.
Similarly, the smaller generators can also fulfill the need when a rare power shortage occurs.
As a starting step, your awareness about an AC generator’s need should be entirely explicable. Then you’ll be able to choose the one which not only meets your quality standards but is also easy on the pocket.
2. Specify your budget:
Specifying your budget is essential when buying a generator that meets your requirements. Doing this is crucial to avoid the frustrations of an outdated machine. So a one-time balanced investment would be required.
3. Research, research, research:
Make yourself fully aware of the basic working of the generator. It will help you decide whether the generator’s parts are strong enough for the work you are buying it for.
Ensure that your study has made you equipped enough to identify the generator as per your need and verify its character. If you have kept your eyes on the best one at a reasonable price, then this is an essential step to follow.
Don’t worry; this article is enough to help you have the necessary know-how of an AC generator.
4. Quality check:
The markets are full of AC generators, from the best to the worst ones. So it would help if you were careful enough to analyze their quality. Don’t know how to do it?
Just focus on:
- It’s the overall design.
- How much warranty the company provides.
- Usual maintenance procedure (ask on-spot before buying if its maintenance process is easy or time taking)
- Inspect the visible durability and quality.
- See the name of the manufacturer (as the warranty claim process becomes pretty much more comfortable when there’s a reliable manufacturer of the generator)
- See if the chosen one actually meets your overall needs or not.
5. Noise level:
Noise level is one of the perennial features to consider while buying an AC generator. It usually happens that one checks all the features but forgets to start the generator. Later it turns out that it produces unnecessary noise.
Similarly, a clean and quiet environment is the right of everyone, including neighbors. So one should consider environmental effects too before buying the product.
The generator industry has seen a recent advancement in the form of an inverter. It’s a type of generator that produces the least noise.
Due to this reason, inverter generators are generally preferred over traditional ones. We would suggest you check the inverter machine against your requirements.
Keep in mind that as these generators are relatively new and advanced, they might be a bit costlier.
6. Carburetor & an Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI):
Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) does the work of a carburetor in your AC generator. This relieves you from the need to clean the carburetor on and off. In a likewise fashion, cold conditions will not halt the working of the AC generator.
7. Other important features:
Other evasive but important features to take into account are:
- The fuel-type requirement for the generator likes Diesel, petrol, etc.
- The mechanism for turning on the AC generator like pull-start, button or automatic start feature
- Fuel tank capacity to hold the fuel, including the alternative one.
- Alternative fuel facilities like gasoline, etc., when petrol gets finished.
- Compliance with home machines.
- Connection works either it has a direct link or an indirect one. (A whole-house standby generator which kicks on and off automatically as per the fluctuations of the power is recommended)
- Wheel kits installation with essential tools and the presence of a lift hook bar to hold it while taking it to higher floors.
- Other like leakage switches, weatherproof outlets, earth spikes, leads, and circuit breakers.
Suppose you don’t want to get into the complications of fuel type. And tank capacity, then battery-powered generators are a great choice. They have a facility for recharging from solar energy.
Also, they don’t create any emissions hazardous to the environment and have no noise. Other than the features mentioned above, you should know that they recharge gradually. Their usual capacity doesn’t exceed more than 1800 watts.
Further (FAQ) to clear your concerns:
1. What is the AC generator used for?
AC generators are used for electrical power appliances. This could be refrigerators, air conditioners, motors, juicers, vacuum cleaners, food mixers, etc.
2. What are the disadvantages/limitations of an AC?
Despite many benefits of an AC, it comes with certain limitations as well:
- They require additional insulation as it demands more voltage to provide the necessary power.
- A transformer is essentially needed.
- High current fluctuations can spark and overheat the AC.
3. What is the difference between an AC and a DC?
|–||AC Generator||DC Generator|
|Direction of current||The direction of electrical current changes in a sinusoidal manner||The flow of the electrical current is always in one direction.|
|Basic Design||The magnet is moveable while the coil through which the current is supposed to flow is immovable. It has a simple construction, ensuring less cost in the making.||The coil rotates in a fixed field. Its construction is time taking and complex due to commutators and slip rings.|
|Commutators||No commutators.||Commutators to ensure smooth flow of current in one direction only.|
|Rings||They have slip-rings.||They have commutators.|
|Efficiency of Brushes||Brushes are highly efficient and don’t face wear and tear quickly.
|Brushes and commutators generator face wear and tear quickly and result in less efficiency.|
4. How to convert an AC into a DC?
Convert AC into DC. A split-ring commutator is used in the machine. The split-ring commutator helps in changing the direction of the current every time the alternate cycle starts.
In essence, it reverses the direction of the current after every half rotation. This helps in maintaining the wind in a positive half-cycle.
5. What are the purposes of the stationary armature and a rotating one in an AC?
- To take the output from the stationary armature is an easy process.
- For higher voltage, the stationary armature is much more easier to insulate.
- Slip rings can easily be installed to provide low voltage excitation.
6. How does an AC work?
The armature is present between the poles of the magnet, which rotates. The axis is designed to remain perpendicular to the magnetic field. This, as a result, results in the flux changing continuously.
Resultantly, an electro-motive force (EMF)in the armature. Then, the production of an electric current can be seen in the galvanometer. This is shown by the movement of the needle between the positive and negative ends of the dial. This shows the flow of an alternating current.
7. What is cheaper, AC or DC?
The generation of alternating current is cheaper. Also, It results in fewer energy losses when the wind is transmitted to long distances. While, for spaces more than 1000 km, direct current can often be better.
So, All you need to know while you are buying an AC generator. We hope we have answered all your queries. For we missed something, let us know in the comment box below.