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# What is the difference between an ac generator and alternator?

Updated: 8/11/2023

Wiki User

10y ago

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When electrical current flows through a circuit it moves by electrons in one molecule in a conductor [wire] "bumped" against the next molecule causing one of that next molecule's electrons to bump into the next molecule of the wire. This is true of both Alernating and Direct current. The difference is that in Direct Current circuits, the flow is always from, and in ONE direction. With Alternating Current, the flow direction changes, first in one direction, then in the opposite. In other words, back and forth. One set [one forward and one back] is called a cycle. When one hears about cycles in AC, that indicates how many cycles occur in one second, thus US AC 60 cycle current means that the current changes flow direction 60 times per second. In most of Europe, I think, AC current is set at 50 cycles. The AC cyclic rate is determined arbitrarily by the windings in the alternator, AND the RPM at which the alternator operates.

Wiki User

14y ago
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Wiki User

15y ago

I think an alternator changes the power fom dirrect or alternating, or the opposite dunno about a generator Some added information: both the generator and the alternator take mechanical energy from the engine and convert it to electrical energy to charge the battery and to supply the electrical loads of the vehicle. The alternator does this by rotating a magnetic field created in a moving rotor coil through the stationary windings of the stator field. the generator does this by having a stationary magnetic field winding be intercepted by the rotating wires of the armature. In both machines, the output is intially alternating current. In the case of the generator this is rectified to DC by the switching action of the commutator. In the case of the alternator it is done through the use of silicon diodes. The typical alternator is a 3 phase machine meaning that it has three separate windings in the stator that output pulses every 120 degrees of rotation. the automotive industry switched to alternators in the early mid 1960's once silicon diodes became inexpensive and available. The result was better charging performance at idle and substantially longer service life. the alternator is also superior in that it can have an output of typically 100-150 amps while the generators in common use were usually less than 50 amps. Alternators are also lighter and easier to package on the engine.

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Wiki User

10y ago

For all intents and purposes for many the terms are used interchangeably. Alternators as found commonly found in a car can be converted to permanent magnetic function rather than inductive. as there are many types of Pma's or PMG's. All of which produce wild 3 phase AC the is rectified to DC then transformed to AC at 110 volts for usage in a typical renewable energy install.

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Wiki User

14y ago

what is the difference between Inverter generator and regular generator

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Wiki User

11y ago

An alternator or synchronous generator is a machine where the frequency of voltages induced, currents produced maintains the constant relation ship with the synchronous speed.

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Wiki User

10y ago

None. 'Alternator' is simply another term for 'a.c. generator'.

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