12 Parts Of A Generator (Functions Described)

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The main parts of a generator are the frame, engine, fuel system, starter mechanism, lubrication system, alternator, voltage regulator, enclosure, control panel, exhaust, battery, and cooling system.

Discover what these generator parts do so you can better understand this machine and troubleshoot issues.

What are the main parts of generators?

The main parts of a generator are:

  1. Frame
  2. Engine
  3. Fuel system
  4. Starter mechanism
  5. Lubrication system
  6. Alternator
  7. Voltage regulator
  8. Enclosure
  9. Control panel
  10. Exhaust
  11. Battery
  12. Cooling system

Different types of generators can vary slightly in terms of the exact parts. However, most generators will have at least some of the parts below.

1. Frame

A generator needs a frame to hold all the other different parts at the right heights.

This will allow the manufacturers to make a cheaper machine by putting parts closer to each other but will also help oil and fuel flow to the right places.

2. Engine

Combustion-powered generators have an engine that converts the burning of the fuel into usable mechanical force.

This is the main principle behind how many generators work.

In turn, it is important to take precautions to protect the engine and make it last longer.

3. Fuel system

Portable, standby, and industrial generators often need some type of fuel to get their engine going.

There are different generator fuel types but the point is that you need parts to get this fuel safely into your engine in the right amounts.

For example, the carburetor is a generator part that helps you get the right mixture of fuel and air into your engine.

4. Starter mechanism

Continuing with the combustion-based generators, you will need parts that actually ignite the fuel.

A spark plug typically does this job in portable generators.

Unfortunately, this is one of the parts that is most likely to break sooner or later.

Luckily, you can typically replace a spark plug relatively easily.

Diesel generators generally work with compression ignition instead.

5. Lubrication system

The moving generator engine needs a lubrication system to avoid damage and improve efficiency.

Keep in mind that the recommended generator oil types vary from model to model and situation to situation.

For example, lower-viscosity generator oils tend to be better in cold temperatures.

6. Alternator

The alternator is the generator part that converts the mechanical force into usable electricity.

By moving a magnet right next to certain metal wires you produce power.

Non-combustion electrical generators like wind turbines and water turbines have alternators too so it is definitely one of the most basic parts.

7. Voltage regulator

Voltage regulators make sure your generator provides you with electricity that has steady volt levels.

In turn, this generator component makes sure your devices function well and don’t get damaged by voltage spikes.

8. Enclosure

Generators have enclosures to protect the internal parts from dust and debris.

Additionally, a good generator enclosure will protect the people right outside of the generator too.

Even open-engine portable generators typically have at least a small enclosure to protect the most sensitive parts.

You do want to be just a bit more careful with these open-engine models in terms of safety.

9. Control panel

In their simplest forms, generator control panels include the buttons to operate the machine.

More advanced control panels show you operation details like power output, fuel levels, and temperature.

Really advanced backup and industrial generators sometimes even have modules that allow you to program sequences or operate the machine remotely.

10. Exhaust

Generators produce gasses as a byproduct while converting fuel into usable electricity.

To get these gasses outside of the machine there is an exhaust.

You want to be careful about where you point this exhaust since the produced gasses are dangerous.

Additionally, there are strict guidelines about where to put your generator.

In some cases, it is possible to siphon fumes away with some type of exhaust extension. You want to be very careful with this due to the dangers involved.

11. Battery

Small portable generators do not always have a battery but many large to industrial-sized models do typically have this part.

The function of a generator battery can range from powering the electric start to enabling the programmable functions mentioned above.

If you have a backup generator and don’t use your machine that often you need to make sure the battery stays charged.

At least if your machine does not have a backup recoil start.

12. Cooling system

Industrial-sized generators often have a built-in cooling system to reduce the amount of heat that stays in the machine.

Problems with this component in the wrong conditions can make your generator function suboptimally, break the machine, or even cause an explosion.

Portable generators typically cool down enough if you just let them sit for a while in between refuels or after a certain amount of hours.

However, even with these smaller machines you want to keep the recommended environment temperature limits in mind for safety reasons.

What is the generator part of a generator called?

The generator part of a generator is called the alternator. By using mechanical force to move a magnet next to a metal wire you can create electricity.

After that, you need other generator parts and internal wiring to make the electricity usable and get it to the right places.

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Author:

Mats is the founder and head editor of Generator Decision. With a combination of critical thinking, tireless research, and a healthy interest in electronics he helps people find the right generators and how to use these. At this point in the journey, Mats has done research on hundreds of portable generators.