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Electrical Devices

various types of devices

In electrical engineeringelectric machine is a general term for machines using electromagnetic forces, such as electric motorselectric generators, and others. They are electromechanical energy converters: an electric motor converts electricity to mechanical power while an electric generator converts mechanical power to electricity. The moving parts in a machine can be rotating (rotating machines) or linear (linear machines). Besides motors and generators, a third category often included is transformers, which although they do not have any moving parts are also energy converters, changing the voltage level of an alternating current.

An electric generator is a device that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. A generator forces electrons to flow through an external electrical circuit. It is somewhat analogous to a water pump, which creates a flow of water but does not create the water inside. The source of mechanical energy, the prime mover, may be a reciprocating or turbine steam engine, water falling through a turbine or waterwheel, an internal combustion engine, a wind turbine, a hand crankcompressed air or any other source of mechanical energy.

The two main parts of an electrical machine can be described in either mechanical or electrical terms. In mechanical terms, the rotor is the rotating part, and the stator is the stationary part of an electrical machine. In electrical terms, the armature is the power-producing component and the field is the magnetic field component of an electrical machine. The armature can be on either the rotor or the stator. The magnetic field can be provided by either electromagnets or permanent magnets mounted on either the rotor or the stator. Generators are classified into two types, AC generators and DC generators.

AC generator[edit]

An AC generator converts mechanical energy into alternating current electricity. Because power transferred into the field circuit is much less than power transferred into the armature circuit, AC generators nearly always have the field winding on the rotor and the armature winding on the stator.

AC generators are classified into several types.

  • In an induction generator, the stator magnetic flux induces currents in the rotor. The prime mover then drives the rotor above the synchronous speed, causing the opposing rotor flux to cut the stator coils producing active current in the stater coils, thus sending power back to the electrical grid. An induction generator draws reactive power from the connected system and so cannot be an isolated source of power.
  • In a Synchronous generator (alternator), the current for the magnetic field is provided by a DC current source, either separate or rectified from the output of the machine using a full bridge rectifier.

DC generator[edit]

A DC generator is a machine that converts mechanical energy into Direct Current electrical energy. A DC generator generally has a commutator with split ring to produce a direct current instead of an alternating current.


Electric motor.

An electric motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. The reverse process of electrical generators, most electric motors operate through interacting magnetic fields and current-carrying conductors to generate rotational force. Motors and generators have many similarities and many types of electric motors can be run as generators, and vice versa. Electric motors are found in applications as diverse as industrial fans, blowers and pumps, machine tools, household appliances, power tools, and disk drives. They may be powered by direct current or by alternating current which leads to the two main classifications: AC motors and DC motors.

AC motor[edit]

An AC motor converts alternating current into mechanical energy. It commonly consists of two basic parts, an outside stationary stator having coils supplied with alternating current to produce a rotating magnetic field, and an inside rotor attached to the output shaft that is given a torque by the rotating field. The two main types of AC motors are distinguished by the type of rotor used.

  • Induction (asynchronous) motor, the rotor magnetic field is created by an induced current. The rotor must turn slightly slower (or faster) than the stator magnetic field to provide the induced current. There are three types of induction motor rotors, which are squirrel-cage rotorwound rotor and solid core rotor.
  • Synchronous motor, it does not rely on induction and so can rotate exactly at the supply frequency or sub-multiple. The magnetic field of the rotor is either generated by direct current delivered through slip rings (exciter) or by a permanent magnet.

DC motor[edit]

The brushed DC electric motor generates torque directly from DC power supplied to the motor by using internal commutation, stationary permanent magnets, and rotating electrical magnets. Brushes and springs carry the electric current from the commutator to the spinning wire windings of the rotor inside the motor. Brushless DC motors use a rotating permanent magnet in the rotor, and stationary electrical magnets on the motor housing. A motor controller converts DC to AC. This design is simpler than that of brushed motors because it eliminates the complication of transferring power from outside the motor to the spinning rotor. An example of a brushless, synchronous DC motor is a stepper motor which can divide a full rotation into a large number of steps.

Other electromagnetic machines[edit]

Other electromagnetic machines include the AmplidyneSynchroMetadyneEddy current clutchEddy current brakeEddy current dynamometerHysteresis dynamometerRotary converter, and Ward Leonard set. A rotary converter is a combination of machines that act as a mechanical rectifier, inverter or frequency converter. The Ward Leonard set is a combination of machines used to provide speed control. Other machine combinations include the Kraemer and Scherbius systems.



A transformer is a static device that converts alternating current from one voltage level to another level (higher or lower), or to the same level, without changing the frequency. A transformer transfers electrical energy from one circuit to another through inductively coupled conductors—the transformer’s coils. A varying electric current in the first or primary winding creates a varying magnetic flux in the transformer’s core and thus a varying magnetic field through the secondary winding. This varying magnetic field induces a varying electromotive force (emf) or “voltage” in the secondary winding. This effect is called mutual induction.

There are three types of transformers

  1. Step-up transformer
  2. Step-down transformer
  3. Isolation transformer

There are four types of transformers based on structure

  1. core type
  2. shell type
  3. power type
  4. instrument type

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