Anything we use now has a long history behind it. So generators aren’t different either. The product we use in daily life goes back to the 18th century.
When Faraday created the first transformer in 1831 he didn’t stop there. He continuously thought of new inventions. And hence, as a result, months later he designed and made a simple apparatus based on a ring, which is known as the first-ever electric generator.
Basics About Generators
Generators are machines that produce electric energy in the form of current and voltage based on the principle of electromagnetic induction. There are 2 main classifications of generators;
- AC generator is a mechanical device that converts mechanical energy into AC electrical power.
- A DC generator is a mechanical device that converts mechanical energy into DC electrical power.
While the technique is the same in both the generators but the applications are different. AC generators are used in homes and DC generators are used in cars to produce electricity.
There are portable generators which are handy, Inverter generators which are used in refrigerators, Standby generators which are used when power fails, industrial generators used for commercial purposes and many more.
History Has It - Diving in the Past
This marked the beginning of invention and use of steam engines which would later lead to invention of generators. The generator goes back to the mid-1700s. James Walker, a Scottish maker, got interested in designs and technology of steam engines.
But he noticed engines wasted a lot of energy. He updated the design of generators to stop the wastage of energy. He developed Watt steam Engine which had more efficient energy usage.
In the 1800s, Michael Faraday established the basics of the electromagnetic field. He also played a significant role in electrical invention. He was one of the most influential and important scientists in the history and invention of electricity.
In 1831 he invented a magnetic generator. It had a copper disk that rotated between two magnets with their poles perpendicular to it. The generator produced relatively high current but produced a low voltage amount. This principle was applied in making dynamo.
In Mid 1800s
In the mid 1800s many inventions took place from Faraday’s principle. Small engines evolved which run on gasoline and kerosene.
In the mid 1870s, AC and DC generators were both invented. In 1887, Nikola Tesla brought significant changes to the generator progression by considerably improving the already existing AC generator.
This era saw significant inventions and developments of many companies which started manufacturing generators. Companies like Siemens, Westinghouse, Kohler, General Electric, started designing and manufacturing generators.
Motors and generators have a lot in common. This is due to the relation between mechanical and electrical energy. Motors can be used to generate electricity.
A generator is a combination of an electrical generator and an engine. The generator unit includes a fuel supply, a speed governor, a voltage regulator, a lubrication system, and cooling and exhaust systems.
The Present- 2000s
The engines and generators formed a single unit and became significant in supplying power and were portable too. Usually, it has an engine, a fuel tank, and a speed regulator.
One of the main problems about generators is that though efficient, they were very noisy. In the 1800s individuals did not care much about the noisy factor as they were all too excited for the new invention. All the noise seemed fair in exchange for generation of electricity and energy. But with the passing time, it became a great issue, hence the noise was eliminated slowly. Today’s generators are practically noiseless
These new-gen generator do not make any sound like the older models and hence are popular choices for homes, construction sites, travel trailers.
The Principle Which Started It All
In brief, when we move a magnet to and fro through a coiled wire current is produced in the wire and hence if we connect the wire to a bulb, the bulb will light up.
It is important to know this because today, all-electric power is produced using Faraday’s principle, though, the source can be coal, oil, water, etc. All these fuels are used to drive a generator which generates the electrical current.
This helped in developing the magnetic generator known as a dynamo at that time. DYNAMO causes the introduction of electricity for use in industry.
Taking Forward the Invention
After this invention, Faraday’s principle was used in inventing AC and DC generators. Thomas Edison introduced the Electric Lighting System in the late 1870s which was made using DC generators. This bought the system for commercial use.
After this, the invention kept expanding. In 1887, Nikola Tesla took the invention forward by improving the AC generator. This invention led to the usage of the generator in large amounts.
After these developments, many companies started manufacturing generators. Mechanical energy for the generator was obtained from various sources including steam turbines, water turbines, and gas turbines. These turbines could turn together with the generator poles, consequently inducing a current.
Common use today:
- They help in providing power across cities.
- Whenever the power fails, they provide good backup.
- Before power is set up, they are used at construction sites.