What is the difference between an alternator and a generator ?
Realistically, not a lot. An electrical generator is any electro-mechanical device that converts mechanical energy (typically a spinning shaft) into electrical energy (a current). This is the exact opposite of the operation of an electric motor which converts a current (electrical energy) into mechanical energy. As such, some motors can also function as generators if the shaft is externally driven.
Generator is an umbrella term; there are various types of generators, but the only ones pertinent to your question are a dynamo and an alternator. A dynamo is a common generator used on bicycles to power lights, but it has been used for many other purposes as well. It incorporates a "commutator" which periodically switches the direction of the current flow from the rotor to the external circuitry to generate DC power.
If the commutator is removed, a dynamo is essentially an alternator producing AC power. The frequency of the resulting signal is determined by the windings of the generator and the rotational speed of the internal rotor. Technically, any generator that produces AC power is an alternator, but usually only the smaller AC generators driven by internal combustion engines (such as the one in a car) are known as such.
A generator is a device for converting mechanical energy into electrical energy, either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC).
An alternator is a specific type of generator that produces alternating current (AC).
protected by W5VO♦ May 9 '13 at 1:11
Thank you for your interest in this question.
Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).
Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?