Last Update: February 24, 2023
How Does an Electric Generator Work Main

One of the most popular equipments that every one of us has in our homes and companies is an electrical generator

It is valuable equipment that assists us in generating electricity and maintains our daily routine and commercial activities at the time of power outages.

The use of electrical generators is necessary when the local grid is down or unavailable. Mining and farming operations as well as new developments and construction can all benefit from the usage of industrial generators as a primary power source in regions where a local electrical grid is absent or impossible to access.

Generators come in many sizes and shapes. When we talk about the size of the generator, we are not talking about the physical measures of the generator; instead, we talk about the power generation capacity of the electricity.

This post will explore the primary functioning mechanism underlying the creation of electricity and the pieces involved in the manufacturing process. 

We will also highlight some techniques by which you can ensure that you can increase your generator’s life.

The Fundamental Principle

The fundamental mechanism underlying generator-generated power is the conversion of mechanical energy to electrical energy.

A generator does not generate electricity on its own; rather, it converts energy according to the energy law, which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed.

The generator generates electric current by utilizing mechanical energy to transport the charges contained in the wires across an external electric circuit.

Generators today are based on Michael Faraday's 1831-1832 Faraday's law. Not to worry; we will not boring you with physical laws in this section.

It is sufficient to state here that Faraday's discovery of the movement of electric charges in a magnetic field is the fundamental principle behind the operation of an electric generator, and it assists you every day in simplifying your life and operating your enterprises during power outages.

How Does an Electric Generator Work

The Generator Engine's Primary Working Components

To fully comprehend the generator's operation, we must first comprehend the operation of each component and the role it performed in providing you with electrical energy.


The engine is the generator's primary and most vital component. It is the section that supplies mechanical energy to the generator.

The engine's size is directly proportional to the generator's output size.

To illustrate the relationship between generator and engine, consider the engine of an automobile and its horsepower.

Engines run on natural gas, propane, and gasoline. Most engines are OHV or non-OHV. Because of their compositional peculiarities, OHV engines are recommended.

To obtain the whole specification and operationalization of your generator's engine, see the operating handbook or contact the engine's manufacturer.


The alternator converts the engine's mechanical energy to electrical energy and is considered one of the most critical components of the generator. 

The alternator is housed in a steel casing, and its components operate in concert to generate the relative motions caused by electric and magnetic fields.

Portable Generator

System of Fuel

The fuel tank is the section of the generator that stores fuel. The size of the fuel tank is determined by the generator's size. 

The fuel tank can provide a fuel backup of 6-8 hours for bigger generators and 2-3 hours for smaller generators, depending on the size of the generator.

A small generator's fuel tank is situated on either the top or bottom of the generator. Fuel tanks are frequently installed separately from the generator unit on commercial and large generators.

Typically, a gasoline tank consists of the following components:

Pipe Connection

The pipe connects the generator's fuel tank and engine.


A ventilator is installed in a fuel tank to ensure that no pressure builds up inside the tank.

Overflow Pipe

The overflow pipe prevents the fuel tank from being overfilled during filling.

The fuel pump is an electrically driven device that transports fuel from the storage tank to the utilised container. It is not found in portable generators.


The filter prevents dust and water from reaching the engine and other critical components.

The injector's job is to atomize the liquid fuel and spray the proper amount of fuel into the combustion chamber.

Regulator of Voltage

It regulates the output voltage. The generator's part that transforms alternating electricity to direct current. When loaded, the generator's output voltage flickers. This flickering means the generator is working properly.

The system that cools and vents

This system is very important to make sure that your generator doesn't get too hot. The parts and the whole system get hot because the generator is always running. The cooling system makes sure that the generator stays at the right temperature and that the pipes and wires don't get too hot. It is done with water or a specific coolant that is used to do this job

For large generators, a standard radiator and cooling fan are used to make sure that the heat from the generator doesn't build up too quickly.

The coolant and water levels, as well as how well the fan is working, should be checked at least once a month or so. It's important to change the coolant and water in the generator's manual at the right time.

How Does an Electric Generator Work - The system that cools and vents

Generators should not be kept in places where it is hard to let heat out into the surroundings. Generators should have the right amount of ventilation and space to move around.

Make sure the exhaust fumes from a generator can be released as soon as the generator is turned on. Exhaust systems are used to do this. There are harmful and dangerous things in the exhaust fumes of a generator because it works the same way as a petrol /diesel engine does.

Keeping the generator's exhaust system in good shape is important so that chemicals like carbon monoxide can be pushed out of the machine and not stay inside.

There are chemicals in the exhaust of the generator that can hurt your lungs and make it hard for you to breathe. You should not stand near it. The exhaust pipes should go outside. When you buy a modern generator, it has converters that make the dangerous substance into safe and less dangerous ones.

In this case, the battery charger is called

Batteries are used to start modern generators. As soon as you turn on the generator, it comes with a standard battery charger. It automatically charges the batteries as soon as the generator is turned on.

The Lubricating System

When the generator moves, it also has a lubrication system to keep the moving parts lubricated and friction-free. Lubricate the moving parts of your generator. If they aren't, your generator could stop working and its output could also be less.

In an oil pump, there is enough oil to keep the generator's engine running well. Oil changes and checking the oil level are very important to make sure the car works properly.

Single-phase versus Three Phase

After 500 hours of use, most medium-sized generators should have their oil changed. However, the best time to change the oil is also written in the generator's manual.

People can see their control panel in this way:

It shows the output voltage, gauge levels, controls the electric shut down and start, and has controls like a frequency switch, phase selector, and engine controls that you can use to change the speed, phase, and speed of the engine. When a model is new, it usually doesn't have control panels.


There is a frame around the parts of the generator that we talked about above. They used high-quality steel to make it. A lot of the generator's parts aren't going to last very long unless the frame is strong and durable.

Tips to Make Your Generator Last Longer

Here are some suggestions to improve your generator's performance and extend its life.

Keep it clean, neat, and free of dust.

Do not overwork your generator in terms of how much power it can handle.

Keep an eye on the gas you are using in your generator to make sure it is good.

If you have to replace any part, make sure it comes from a company that is well-known.

Remember to get your generator checked out by a professional on time.

protect your generator

Oil changes and plug replacements should be done on time and done by professionals.

In this scenario, change and inspect the oil.

Also you are responsible for protecting your generator from thieves. There is a complete guide which yo can refer here Generator Theft Prevention Guide.


You should now understand how does an electric generator work after reading our essay on the working principles of electric generators.

We are confident that your generator installation at home and  repair will not overcharge you now that you are knowledgeable. If something goes wrong with your generator, don't try to fix it yourself; call a professional.

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