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Submitted by on Feb 18, 2021

In power generation, a generator is a device that converts engine power (mechanical energy) into electrical energy for use in an external circuit. Mechanical energy sources include steam turbines, gas turbines, water turbines, combustion engines, wind turbines, and even hand cranes. The first electromagnetic generator, the Faraday disk, was invented in 1831 by the British scientist Michael Faraday. Generators provide almost all the power of the electrical grid.

An electric motor carries out the reverse conversion of electrical energy into mechanical energy, and motors and generators have much in common. Many motors can be mechanically driven to generate electricity, often make portable generators acceptable.

Before the connection between magnetism and electricity was discovered, electrostatic generators were invented. They worked on electrostatic principles, using moving electrically charged belts, plates, and disks that transferred charge to a high potential electrode. The charge was generated by one of two mechanisms: electrostatic induction or the triboelectric effect. These generators generate very high voltages and low currents.


Due to their inefficiency and the difficulty of insulating machines that generate very high voltages, electrostatic generators had a low power rating. They were never used to generate significant amounts of electricity. Their only practical application was to power the first X-ray tubes and then some atomic particle accelerators.

A tachogenerator is an electromechanical device that produces an output voltage proportional to the shaft’s speed of rotation. Can be used as a speed indicator or in a closed-loop speed control system. Tachogenerators are often used to power tachometers to measure the speed of electric motors, engines, and the equipment they power. Generators generate a voltage that is roughly proportional to the speed of rotation of the shaft. Thanks to their precise design and construction, generators can be designed to produce very accurate voltages for specific ranges of shaft speeds.

In the simplest form of a linear electric generator, a sliding magnet moves back and forth through a solenoid – a copper wire coil. An alternating current is induced in the wire circuits by Faraday’s law of induction every time the magnet slides. This type of generator is used in the Faraday flashlight. In wave supply circuits, larger linear power generators are used.

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