A Brief Guide To Different Types Of Generator Update 12/2021

types of generator

In general, generators are used to produce electricity. However, they also have many other uses in our world. For example, some types of generators can be used to create magnetic fields for medical imaging or generating wind currents over the ocean. In this article we’ll take a look at different categories of generators.

1. Magnetic generators

Magnetic generators

Magnetic generators are used to produce electricity from a continuous flow of moving magnetized material. If the material is moving through the field of a coil, an electric current will be generated in the coil which can then be converted into usable electricity. Because magnetic materials such as iron have north and south poles (and therefore act as magnets), they behave  differently as they pass through a magnetic field.

The magnetic field induces currents in the moving magnetized material; these induced currents also have poles that are aligned with the main magnetic flux, causing an increase in the strength of the magnetization. This means that when powered indefinitely, this type of generator could theoretically act to “charge” or energize itself, acting as a perpetual motion device.

2. Geothermal  generators

Geothermal generators are used to take advantage of the energy produced by heat from the earth’s interior. Because the temperature at which rock breaks down is much higher than other types of fuels, some geothermal power plants can be used to create electrical current simply by extracting and using that heat. As methods for capturing this heat have improved over time, more of this energy has been harnessed for creating electricity.

3. Wind power generators

Wind power generators

Wind power is the most well-known example of kinetic energy that can be used to create electrical current in a generator. As wind travels over the surface of the earth, friction with objects causes it to slow down and lose some of its potential as kinetic energy. However, wind turbines can be built to harness and use this energy for electrical current.

4. Hydroelectric generators

A hydroelectric generator is another example of a kinetic energy generator. Water that flows from a high point to a lower point exerts pressure on the earth around it, which creates potential energy. This type of energy can be harnessed to create electricity by diverting the natural flow of water through dams and generating stations where turbines are used to create pressure that is converted into electricity.

Hydroelectric generators can be linked to other power sources, such as solar panels, creating a hybrid energy system that can provide green and reliable power throughout the year.

5. Wave  power generators

Wave  power generators

The rise and fall of ocean waves as well as currents carries kinetic energy through the sea that can be captured in a generator. In order to create electricity with these tidal forces, buoys are anchored near areas where this power is most available, mostly at the mouth of bays or large estuary mouths.

These buoys have underwater wings that are designed to capture the movement of ocean water, which in turn generates a current that can be fed into a power grid.

6. Solar power generators

Solar power generators

Solar power generators rely on heat from the sun to create electrical currents; however, the materials that they use vary based on their specific function in a given application. A solar panel, for example, includes materials that create an electrical current when exposed to light.

7. Internal Combustion  Engines

The most common type of generator used in homes and commercial applications is the internal combustion engine. This method of generating electrical current is based on two separate processes that rely on chemical reactions.

First, a small spark ignites a mixture of gasoline or natural gas (depending on the fuel-burning system) which creates a chemical reaction that releases heat energy. Next, heat from the exhaust gases causes a change in the temperature and pressure of surrounding air that is ultimately used to spin turbines that create electricity. (See our article on Generators for more information.)

A generator can be paired with any number of power sources based on its specific application; hydroelectric generators, for example, are often used in conjunction with wind or solar power. Some generators are also paired with batteries to provide a continuous supply of energy while other sources are off-line for maintenance, repair, or during the night when they are not needed.

8. Reciprocating Steam Engines

Steam engines are an example of a heat engine that can be used to create electricity. Steam is created by using a boiler to turn water into steam, which is then transformed into mechanical power through the movement of pistons, belts and shafts.

The mechanical energy produced from these processes is typically used as general energy around the home or factory that is in direct use by every-day processes. However, some steam engines are capable of transporting this mechanical energy into electrical current through the use of a generator. <

9. Gas Turbine  Generators

Gas Turbine  Generators

Gas turbine generators use much of the same materials and processes as reciprocating steam engines; however, they are capable of producing more mechanical energy through a continuous process that does not require additional water. Rather than creating steam, these generators burn gas in order to create heat that is used for the same purpose as mechanical power associated with steam engines.

10. Diesel  Generators

Diesel generators are used in a variety of ways, but typically they are employed as back-up systems for homes or businesses that rely on electrical current and power daily. This type of emergency generator is fueled with diesel fuel and is capable of switching on automatically when the main power supply fails or experiences downtime.

11. Hot-air Balloon  Power Generators

Hot-air balloon power generators are considered an unconventional source of energy, but they play a significant role in reducing the carbon footprint created by transportation. Essentially, these generators are used to replace battery powered engines that could potentially run for long periods of time and create unnecessary emissions.

12. Stirling Engine      

Stirling engines are an advanced form of hot-air generators. They work in a similar way, but they can be used to make energy more efficient through improvements in design and performance. Overall, Stirling engines are considered one of the top green technologies for creating electricity and producing renewable power for homes and businesses alike.

13. Hammer  Steam   Power Generators

If you loved the idea of a steam engine, but thought that they were too archaic and ineffective for modern living, you may want to consider a hammer steam power generator. These generators are basically an improved version of traditional steam turbines that generate electricity based on the same process as internal combustion engines.

However, Hammer Steam Power Generators use steam and water rather than gasoline or diesel fuels to create heat. This technology is currently being used in power plants around the world, but they are also available for personal use, although it may be a while before you can reap the benefits of this relatively new invention.

14. Fuel cells generators

Unlike other types of generators, fuel cell generators do not use heat or magnetic fields in their operation. Instead they rely on a chemical reaction that takes place between two separate gases which would otherwise have no way to interact with one another.

When fuel and an oxidizer (both gases in their original states) are combined, they react together to produce a gas whose electrons have been separated from its atom nuclei; this gas can then be used as current electricity once it is forced through a circuit which ultimately directs the flow of electrons back to their original source. 7. Stirling generators

15. Magma  generators

The heat from molten magma found under the earth’s crust can be harnessed to create electricity. As steam is created by this heat, it is collected and passed through turbines. This type of geothermal power is often used in areas where there are volcanoes, as they can be tapped for continuous heat.

16. Pumped storage generators

Pumped water storage generators use kinetic energy from flowing water via turbines that create electricity, and they convert that energy to make water run through a pipe at night when production is low. This stored water can then be released to turn the turbines again during high demand periods; thus, this method of generating electricity has essentially created 24-hour power generation capabilities.

17. Automobile Engines

In addition to internal combustion engines used to generate electricity, automobile engines can run generators that create current to power devices while the car is parked. This method is a more efficient way of generating and storing electricity for use in homes or as auxiliary power for office buildings.

18. Nuclear Power Generators

Nuclear power generators rely on nuclear reactions to produce heat which is used to make steam or gas that is then turned into mechanical energy through the use of turbines just like other types of generators; however, these processes are primarily responsible for generating electricity in this type of generator.

The process of creating nuclear power can be dangerous; however, the materials used in a nuclear power generator are not radioactive or explosive enough to cause harm, even if they were to malfunction. (See our article on Nuclear Power for more information.)

19. Rotating Electrical Machines

Rotating electrical machines transform mechanical energy into electrical current through the use of generators. Unlike other types of generators, these devices do not rely on steam or gas to create heat but rather the mechanical movement of a rotating shaft.

One common example is an electric fan — as you move the blades, a rotor inside of the fan spins which creates electrical energy through magnetic components that are exposed to windings in the device. The rotation of this part can be used at any time to create electrical energy without the use of another power source.

If, however, you wanted to produce enough electricity to charge a battery, then it would be necessary to add one or more electric motors and generators through a pulley system that rotates consistently over time.

20. Inverter Generators

Inverter generators use alternating current (AC) to generate electricity. This type of generator is most popular in spacecraft, as they allow energy from batteries or solar panels that are used to power them to be stored and used when power is needed by the craft; thus, these devices can provide unlimited power without reliance on charging stations.

However, when these generators are used on earth, there are conversion devices that must be added to the system with a sufficient storage capacity as AC current cannot be stored directly.


1. How are generators rated?

The output of a generator is measured in terms of watts, which is the rate at which power or energy can be used.

2. What determines how much electricity a particular generator can produce?

The watt rating of a generator depends on several factors, including the voltage, amperage and frequency of the power produced.

3. What determines how much energy a generator can produce?

Energy is calculated by multiplying wattage by time. For example, if you have a generator capable of producing 50 watts per hour for 12 hours straight, then you should end up with 600 watt hours of electricity, which is almost enough to light a 100 watt bulb for 12 hours.

4. Where can I find generators for sale?

You can find generators at several retail stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot. You can also go online and purchase one from websites like Amazon or Ebay.

5. How much are generators?

Home generators can range from $200 to more than $10,000 depending on the size and features. It is important that you do your research before purchasing one so that you are aware of what you pay for and why it costs as much as it does.

6. What is a standby generator?

A standby generator relies on fossil fuel to create electricity and must be on at all times in order for it to work.

7. What are the benefits of a standby generator?

A standby generator is ideal in case of an emergency because you can still have power even if your primary source fails. It also uses fossil fuel, which does not produce any emissions that could damage the environment.

8. What are the disadvantages of a standby generator?

The biggest disadvantage to this type of generator is that you have to pay for the electricity it produces even if you don’t need it since the generator has to remain on in order to work and wasting electricity costs money.


You now have a good idea about what types of generator are out there and why each one is different from the others. As a beginner, you may not exactly know which type you should purchase. If you are looking for a generator to use on camping trips or during power outages, then it would probably be best to go with a portable generator. You can also use a generator that is specifically designed for boats or RVs — these models usually have fewer moving parts and are quieter than other types of generators, making them ideal in recreational situations.

If you plan on using your generator for more consistent electricity production over long periods of time, then you would probably be better off with a standby generator. You may even want to look into using a combination of both, depending on your needs and budget. Either way, it is important that you do not jump into buying a generator without being fully aware of all of the possible options.

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