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Alternators Classifications

 Alternators Classifications:

Alternators may be classified by method of excitation, number of phases,the type of rotation,and their application.

By excitation

There are two main ways to produce the magnetic field used in the alternators, by using permanent magnets which create their own persistent magnetic field or by using field coils. The alternators that use permanent magnets are specifically called magnetos. In other alternators, wound field coils form alectromagnet to produce the rotating magnetic field.

All devices that use permanent magnets and produce alternating current are called PMA or permanent magnet alternator. A "permanent magnet generator" (PMG) may produce either alternating current, or direct current if it has a commutator. If the permanent magnet device makes only AC current, it is correctly called a PMA.

Direct connected DC generator

This method of excitation consists of a smaller direct-current (DC) generator fixed on the same shaft with the alternator. The DC generator generates a small amount of electricity just enough to excite the field coils of the connected alternator to generate electricity. A variation of this system is a type of alternator which uses direct current from the battery for excitation, after which the alternator is self-excited.

Transformation and rectification

This method depends on residual magnetism retained in the iron core to generate weak magnetic field which would allow weak voltage to be generated. The voltage is used to excite the field coils for the alternator to generate stronger voltage as part of its build up process. After the initial AC voltage buildup, the field is supplied with rectified voltage from the alternator.

Brushless alternators

A brushless alternator is composed of two alternators built end-to-end on one shaft. Smaller brushless alternators may look like one unit but the two parts are readily identifiable on the large versions. The larger of the two sections is the main alternator and the smaller one is the exciter. The exciter has stationary field coils and a rotating armature (power coils). The main alternator uses the opposite configuration with a rotating field and stationary armature. A bridge rectifier, called the rotating rectifier assembly, is mounted on the rotor. Neither brushes nor slip rings are used, which reduces the number of wearing parts. The main alternator has a rotating field as described above and a stationary armature (power generation windings).

Varying the amount of current through the stationary exciter field coils varies the 3-phase output from the exciter. This output is rectified by a rotating rectifier assembly, mounted on the rotor, and the resultant DC supplies the rotating field of the main alternator and hence alternator output. The result of all this is that a small DC exciter current indirectly controls the output of the main alternator.

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