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Electric Motors v/s Generators: Which is Which?

Electric Motors v/s Generators: The Fundamentals
Electric generators are devices that convert motive power or mechanical energy into electric power. The sources range from steam turbines to wind turbines, including hand cranks. They provide most of the power for electric power grids. Electric generators are rightly called lifesavers since they make for an appropriate backup power source. They are classified into Direct Current (DC) generators and Alternating Current (AC) generators. The direct current generators include the homopolar generator and the magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) generator. The AC generators include induction AC motors, linear electric generator, and variable-speed constant-frequency generators.
Electric motors are electric machines that convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. The electric motors are classified into Alternating Current (AC) Motors and Direct Current (DC) Motors. The AC motors are further categorized into Synchronous AC motors and Induction AC motors, and the DC motors are classified into brushed DC motors and brushless DC motors, depending on its aspects and applications.

Electric Motors v/s Generators: Working Process
The interaction between the motor’s magnetic field and electric current constitute the mechanism of the electric motors. The brushes supply current to the commutators attached to the rotating coils, upon switching on the power. As the current passes from commutators, that are placed between the poles of permanent magnets, into the coil, the magnetic field is produced around the coil. Thus, there is a confluence of the magnetic field of the coil and the magnetic field of the permanent magnets, and due to the conventional properties of magnets, the coil starts rotating. The shaft attached to the rotator starts rotating along with it, finally converting the applied electrical energy into mechanical energy.
When it comes to an electric generator, the flow of electric charges is induced by the movement of an electrical conductor in a magnetic field. The movement of the conductor in the magnetic field in a wavering magnetic field leads to the production of the voltage difference between the two ends of the wire. The voltage difference further results in the flow of electric charges, thereby producing an electric current. The mechanism of modern generators involves electromagnetic induction.

Electric Motors v/s Generators: Parts and Components

a) Parts of Electric Motor:
• Power Source
• An Armature or Rotor
• Axle
• Field Magnet (Permanent magnet or an Electromagnet)
• Brushes
• Commutator

b) Components of Electric Generator:
• A Cooling System
• A Lubrication System
• A Voltage Regulator
• A Charger
• The Alternator
• An Exhaust System
• The Frame
• An Engine
• A Fuel System
• Main Control

Electric Motors v/s Generators: Uses & Applications

a) Electric Motor:
• Machine Tools
• Elevator
• Industrial Applications
• Tools
• Compressors
• Pumps
• Electric Vehicles
• Aerospace

b) Electric Generator:
• Used in most power networks
• Construction Sites
• Used in labs for their range of voltage output
• Transportation
• Used in driving motors
• Household Power (Small Scale Generators)

Electric Motors v/s Generators: The Verdict
The electric motors and generators have come a long way from working on electrostatics way back in the 1740s to the present day universal motors. The hardware requisites are similar, though differing in operational aspects. Further, the differences are also evaluated based on the type of windings used and the power source. Both motors and generators are electromagnetic devices.

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Author: Akhil Nair

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