How Does a Backup Generator Work?


Residences and commercial operations receive electrical power via a power grid, an interconnected network of lines that distributes electrical energy. This network can fail due to numerous reasons, leading to loss of power. A backup generator remedies this problem. They may operate on gasoline, kerosene or other fuels.


  • A backup generator refers to an emergency power system that supplies backup electrical power in the event of primary power system failure. Backup generators work by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy.


  • A transfer switch connects to the emergency power feed and main power feed on one side, and connects to the emergency load on the opposite side. The transfer switch throws a triple pole switch via a solenoid if no power is inputted on the side connected to the main power. The triple pole switch changes the power feed from main to emergency power. A battery-operated starter system is also activated when main power is lost, enabling the generator to start.


  • The backup generator consists or a rotor (rotating element), a stator (stationary element) and an armature -- the moving pole piece of an electromagnet. The armature contains windings, or coils, which are energized via an electric current, and in turn generate a magnetic field. Electrons in the armature windings flow through an external electrical circuit, transmitting power.

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