Generators are one of the most critical appliances in the present-day world. Electric failures can happen due to a variety of reasons such as natural disasters, load shedding, system failures, and infrastructure breakdown. Without generators, your world will go dark in such situations. Without knowing the detail and use of each type of generator, you can end up spending your hard-earned money on the wrong machine. In this article, we will explore different types of generators and their applications. Read this new blog in Linquip and enjoy it!
Each Type of Generator in Detail
There are two fundamental types of generators known as AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current) generators. While the technique of producing electricity is the same in both types, AC and DC power become different in terms of their applications – how loads receive electric power. For instance, generators for home use deliver AC power whereas cars use generator engines that produce DC power.
Characterizing generators may be done in several dimensions, which are:
- By the energy source used as input
- By the application or industry in which the generator is employed
Generators by energy source
Common input energy sources for generators are either a fossil fuel that is combusted in an engine to produce rotary motion within the generator and a natural energy source that is captured and turned into motion.
Fossil-Fuel Energy Source Generators
Generators that are based off a fossil fuel energy source include:
- Gasoline: Of all the options on the list, gasoline generators are among the most common, primarily because gasoline is readily available and these generators are on the low-end of the cost scale. However, gasoline is usually unavailable during power outages, because it requires electricity to pump. Gasoline generators are available in small sizes, ideal for portable models, but the fuel is highly flammable.
Gasoline lasts less than one year when stored, and gas prices are comparatively higher than diesel, propane, and natural gas. Gasoline generators produce relatively high emissions, do not typically last as long as some other models, and do not tend to start well in colder temperatures.
- Diesel Fuel: Diesel is the least flammable of all the fuel sources, and is almost as readily available as gasoline. These engines have long lifespans and perform more efficiently while lasting longer under heavy, rigorous use, so long as they are properly maintained. This type of generator is affordable to operate and starts relatively easily in cold environments.
However, diesel fuel is only good for up to 24 months in storage, and storing large quantities can be expensive. Like gas, it is often impossible to pump diesel during power outages. Because diesel engine emissions are quite high, some areas limit the number of hours these engines can be operated per day due to environmental concerns.
- Biodiesel: Biodiesel fuel is made from a mixture of diesel and another biological source, such as vegetable oil or animal fat. The pros and cons of biodiesel are similar to those of ordinary diesel fuel, only with more environmental benefits. Biodiesel uses less of the non-renewable energy source of fossil fuels and burns with lower emissions and less waste. This makes it an environmentally friendly option compared to regular diesel. All diesel fuels are less flammable than the other liquids and gasses on this list, but these engines are also noisy.
Like diesel, biodiesel lasts two years or less in storage and is sometimes unavailable during a power outage because it cannot be pumped.
- Emulsified Diesel: Emulsified diesel is a mixture of diesel fuel and water blended with a mixing agent. It shares the pros and cons of diesel and biodiesel fuels. As with biodiesel, emulsified diesel produces fewer emissions than ordinary diesel and consumes fewer fossil fuels. It too has a shelf life of two years or less, and maintaining the proper ratio of water to diesel is challenging, especially in hectic work environments.
Natural Energy Source Generators
Other generator types that take advantage of a natural energy source include:
- Propane Gas: Propane boasts a longer shelf life than gasoline or diesel fuels, and burns cleaner. It is easily stored in any quantity and is readily available even during power outages. Propane produces relatively low emissions and is not subject to wet stacking common in diesel generators. This type of generator is generally affordable and lasts a long time. Propane also starts easily in cold temperatures and offers quiet operation.
On the con side, propane is kept under pressure and is highly flammable, even explosive. Propane generators are more expensive to buy and operate, burning about three times the amount of fuel as comparable diesel engines.
- Natural Gas: Natural gas is readily available in almost every location and the new shale reserves opened up by fracking techniques mean a virtually limitless supply. Because natural gas lines are run to the site of operation, these generators never run out of fuel or need to be refilled. This also means that the generators are not portable.
Natural gas generators burn cleanly with very little waste, and the gas is readily available even in the absence of a power supply. These units are also affordable in comparison to other choices. Natural gas also starts well in cold conditions and runs relatively quietly.
The disadvantages of natural gas generators include higher installation costs, due to running the gas lines. These generators do not typically last as long as diesel generators.
- Hydrogen: Hydrogen is tremendously abundant, non-toxic, clean, cheap, and produces more energy per pound than any other fuel source.
Though not as readily available as some other types of generators, hydrogen generators are portable and useful for many environments, including laboratories. When equipped with proper safety features, hydrogen generators are also safe and portable.
Generators by application
Generators that are based on the application include:
- Portable generators: Portable generators are very useful in a variety of applications. They come in varying power configurations suitable for different types of uses.
Portable generators are handy during natural disasters or calamities when grid power breaks down. They are more suitable for residential purposes and smaller commercial establishments such as retail outlets and shops, at construction sites for powering smaller tools, camping, outdoor weddings, outdoor events and, powering agricultural equipment such as bore-wells or drip irrigation systems.
- Inverter generator: Inverter generators produce AC power and by using a rectifier that converts the AC power into DC power and then inverts it to AC to provide steady current to appliances. These are very useful for appliances such as air-conditioners, refrigerators, automobiles, boats, and recreational vehicles which need particular values of voltage and frequency, which inverter generators are capable of providing. They are also light in weight and compact, therefore highly suitable for such applications.
- Standby generators: Standby generators serve the purpose of switching on automatically when grid power fails. This type of generator is very useful for residential apartments, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, and commercial establishments connected to grid power.
- Induction generators: These comprise two types including externally excited generators and self-excited generators.
Externally excited generators find uses in regenerative braking applications needed in hoists, cranes, elevators, and electric locomotives.
Self-excited generators find uses in windmills where wind as a non-traditional source of energy gets converted into electric power.
So, there you have a detailed description of each type of generator and its applications. If you enjoyed this article in Linquip, let us know by leaving a reply in the comment section. Is there any question we can help you with? Feel free to sign up on our website to get the most professional advice from our experts.