Electronics Engineering
Electrical Engineering
The Difference Between

What is difference between an Alternator and a Generator?

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2010-10-31 00:35:11

In a generator, an armature is spun inside a magnetic field. The

armature consists of several coils which generate electrical energy

as they spin through the magnetic fields. "Brushes" (electrical

devices to transfer the electrical energy from the moving armature)

conduct the electrical energy to a wire. The strength of the

electrical output can be controlled by varying the strength of the

stationary magnetic field that is OUTSIDE the spinning armature. If

that magnetic field is to be changed, it typically must be an


An ALTERNATOR is exatly the opposite. The brushes make contact

with two spinning rings. The rings are connected to coils, and when

voltage is applied the armature (in the case of an alternator it is

called a "rotor") becomes a spinning electromagnet. A stationary

coil or set of coils, depending on the complexity of the armature,

generates electrical current as the magnets pass by.

An alternator produces "alternating current" electricity which

must be converted to "direct current" in the case of automobiles.

The conversion is relatively simple, using what is called a "diode

plate", which is as the name suggests, a collection of diodes.

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