Physics » Magnetism and Faraday's Law » Electrical Machines - Generators And Motors

AC versus DC Generators

AC versus DC Generators

The problems involved with making and breaking electrical contact with a moving coil are sparking and heat, especially if the generator is turning at high speed. If the atmosphere surrounding the machine contains flammable or explosive vapours, the practical problems of spark-producing brush contacts are even greater.

If the magnetic field, rather than the coil/conductor is rotated, then brushes are not needed in an AC generator (alternator), so an alternator will not have the same problems as DC generators.The same benefits of AC over DC for generator design also apply to electric motors.While DC motors need brushes to make electrical contact with moving coils of wire, AC motors do not. In fact, AC and DC motor designs are very similar to their generator counterparts.The AC motor is depends on the reversing magnetic field produced by alternating current through its stationary coils of wire to make the magnet rotate. The DC motor depends on the brush contacts making and breaking connections to reverse current through the rotating coil every 1/2 rotation (180 degrees).

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