AC Generators: Voltage or Current Source?

In summary: A synchronous machine works best at a fixed frequency if it is a CS, and will run faster if it is a VS.
  • #1
hey I'm wondering whether an ac generator would be classified as a voltage source or current source, or neither (if that's possible)? I'm asking you guys since i have nooooo idea how i would go about determining this. Thanks!
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  • #2
Is this a homework problem? Think about how a generator actually operates: they run at constant rpm, providing constant voltage (voltage is determined by the physical construction of the generator - magnets and windings, etc.) at a constant frequency (determined by the rpm). Current varies as load increases -- but how?
  • #3
no this isn't a hwk question. this is to satisfy some of my own curiousity. and how? i dunno..thats why I'm askin! lol
  • #4

my understanding is that AC power comes in its own voltage/current package. That's why electric companies use transformers, not resisters, to bring down voltage before it gets to your house. assuming we have perfect conductors and blah blah, there is an increase in current proportional to the decrease in voltage. Power (voltage times current) remains constant. So i would consider an AC generator a _power_ source, rather than one of voltage or current. Tesla could probably put it better.
  • #5
An ideal AC generator would be a time varying voltage source. A real AC generator can adequately be modeled as a time varying voltage source in series with a very small resistor.
  • #6
It can be either a CCS or a CVS. The speed is related to voltage, and the torque is related to current. Forcing constant torque results in constant current. As the load resistance varies, the voltage varies with it. Forcing constant speed results in constant voltage. As the load resistance changes, current varies inversely.

In real world power transmission, constant voltage is the method employed. Insulators lose much less power than conductors. With constant voltage, to turn off a load, say a lamp, we open a switch and block a voltage source resulting in near zero current. The loss is V^2*G, where G is the conductance of the insulation. If constant current was used, to turn a lamp off, we would close a switch across the lamp shorting it resulting in near zero voltage across it. The loss in this off state is I^2*R, where R is the conductor resistance.

The long and short of it is that V^2*G is much lower than I^2*R. So for now, power is distributed in the constant voltage mode. This is achieved by holding a constant speed, rpm, on the generator. A side benefit to constant voltage operation is constant frequency. The steady 50 or 60 Hz frequency can be employed to make synchronous motors run at a fixed predictable speed. If constant current ac generators were employed, the frequency would vary.

Does this help?
  • #7
If constant current ac generators were employed, the frequency would vary.

Beat me to it. But yes because a grid will operate at a fixed frequency, the method of generation needs to be a voltage source. Like cabraham said, if it was a current controlled type of generation then the frequency would vary.

As far as an ordinary synchronous machine being a VS or CS, it can go either way.

Voltage = kv * speed
Current = kt * torque (sort of)

1. What is the difference between a voltage source and a current source in an AC generator?

A voltage source in an AC generator provides a constant voltage output, while a current source provides a constant current output. In other words, a voltage source maintains a steady voltage regardless of the load, while a current source maintains a steady current regardless of the load.

2. Which is more commonly used in AC generators, voltage source or current source?

Voltage sources are more commonly used in AC generators because most electrical devices operate using a specific voltage, and a voltage source can provide a constant and reliable voltage for these devices.

3. How does an AC generator convert mechanical energy into electrical energy?

An AC generator uses a rotating magnetic field to induce an alternating current in the stator windings. As the rotor spins, the magnetic field creates a changing flux which induces a voltage in the stator windings. This voltage is then converted into electrical energy.

4. Can an AC generator be used as both a voltage source and a current source?

Yes, an AC generator can be designed to function as both a voltage source and a current source. This is known as a regulated AC generator, which can adjust its output to maintain a constant voltage or current, depending on the load.

5. What are the applications of AC generators as voltage or current sources?

AC generators are commonly used in power plants to provide electricity to homes and businesses. They can also be used in generators for portable power, electric vehicles, and backup power sources. As voltage sources, they are used in electrical devices such as appliances, computers, and electronics. As current sources, they are used in welding machines, battery charging systems, and other industrial applications.

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