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Factors affecting generator life and performance

  1. May 25, 2016 #1
    Hi Im a student who wants to know what factors apart from environmental factors affect the life and performance of a generator. I think that the load also would affect the life if so How? Also are there any other factors.

    Do let me know ..thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. May 25, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    I don't see how load can reduce the life. Providing load is what they are designed for.

    I think the number one non-environmental threat to long life is vibration.

    Your question makes me think of the generators and motors near Niagara Falls that have been running about 125 years. They are probably good for an additional 250 years.

  4. May 25, 2016 #3
    Oh ok thanks a lot!! So its just environmental factors and vibrations that affect generator life then?
  5. May 25, 2016 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    I didn't say "just" I said "primary". If you want to look in depth, there are hundreds of factors.
  6. May 25, 2016 #5
    cool thanks
  7. May 25, 2016 #6

    jim hardy

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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    What wears out ?
    sliding parts like bearings brushes and slip rings.
    Insulation on the wires can get abraded away if they're allowed to vibrate, and excessive temperature can make it brittle and crumbly.
    Insulating varnish can break down chemically from excessive heat. That's the "Burnt" smell a motor emits shortly before failure, often accompanied by smoke..

    Allowing dirt and grime to accumulate will block flow of cooling air and it might get into your moving parts.
    I recently fixed an expensive electric saw by simply cleaning grime out of the brush holders - it had jammed the brushes in place and they lost contact with the armature.

    Fixed another one that had a fractured brush holder, likely from thermal cycling because it had got covered up with sawdust.


    Just soldered a piece of flexible wire across the fracture . Now the rigid brass part is free to shrink & swell a little bit with temperature..

    Keep it "Taut Clean and Cool" is one of the fundamentals of electrical maintenance.

    Designers allow for thermal expansion that occurs with changing load. Probably this particular holder fell victim to tolerance stackup.

    old jim
  8. May 25, 2016 #7


    Staff: Mentor

    @jim hardy you know, it's funny. When someone asks about generators, you think


    while I think


    while others think


    The fun part is that for many questions, it doesn't matter. :-p

    Attached Files:

  9. May 25, 2016 #8

    jim hardy

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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Indeed that !

    They're all rotating machines
    and the only difference between a motor and generator is the direction of torque applied to the shaft- does it oppose or favor rotation ?
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