Most electrical power grids and distribution systems have more than one AC generator operating at one time. Normally, two or more generators are operated in parallel in order to increase the available power. Three conditions must be met prior to paralleling (or synchronizing) AC generators.
Their terminal voltages must be equal. If the voltages of the two AC generators are not equal, one of the AC generators could be picked up as a reactive load to the other AC generator. This causes high currents to be exchanged between the two machines, possibly causing generator or distribution system damage.
Their frequencies must be equal. A mismatch in frequencies of the two AC generators will cause the generator with the lower frequency to be picked up as a load on the other generator (a condition referred to as "motoring"). This can cause an overload in the generators and the distribution system.
Their output voltages must be in phase. A mismatch in the phases will cause large opposing voltages to be developed. The worst case mismatch would be 180° out of phase, resulting in an opposing voltage between the two generators of twice the output voltage. This high voltage can cause damage to the generators and distribution system due to high currents.
During paralleling operations, voltages of the two generators that are to be paralleled are indicated through the use of voltmeters. Frequency matching is accomplished through the use of output frequency meters. Phase matching is accomplished through the use of a synchroscope, a device that senses the two frequencies and gives an indication of phase differences and a relative comparison of frequency differences.
Types of AC Generators
As previously discussed, there are two types of AC generators: the stationary field, rotating armature; and the rotating field, stationary armature.
Small AC generators usually have a stationary field and a rotating armature (Figure 5). One important disadvantage to this arrangement is that the slip-ring and brush assembly is in series with the load circuits and, because of worn or dirty components, may interrupt the flow of current.
Figure 5 Stationary Field, Rotating Armature AC Generator
If DC field excitation is connected to the rotor, the stationary coils will have AC induced into them (Figure 6). This arrangement is called a rotating field, stationary armature AC generator.
The rotating field, stationary armature type AC generator is used when large power generation is involved. In this type of generator, a DC source is supplied to the rotating field coils, which produces a magnetic field around the rotating element. As the rotor is turned by the prime mover, the field will cut the conductors of the stationary armature, and an EMF will be induced into the armature windings.
Figure 6 Simple AC Generator Armature
This type of AC generator has several advantages over the stationary field, rotating armature AC generator: (1) a load can be connected to the armature without moving contacts in the circuit; (2) it is much easier to insulate stator fields than rotating fields; and (3) much higher voltages and currents can be generated.
Three-Phase AC Generators
The principles of a three-phase generator are basically the same as that of a single-phase generator, except that there are three equally-spaced windings and three output voltages that are all 120° out of phase with one another. Physically adjacent loops (Figure 7) are separated by 60° of rotation; however, the loops are connected to the slip rings in such a manner that there are 120 electrical degrees between phases.
The individual coils of each winding are combined and represented as a single coil. The significance of Figure 7 is that it shows that the three-phase generator has three separate armature windings that are 120 electrical degrees out of phase.
Figure 7 Stationary Armature 30 Generator
AC Generator Connections
As shown in Figure 7, there are six leads from the armature of a three-phase generator, and the output is connected to an external load. In actual practice, the windings are connected together, and only three leads are brought out and connected to the external load.
Two means are available to connect the three armature windings. In one type of connection, the windings are connected in series, or delta-connected () (Figure 8).
In a delta-connected generator, the voltage between any two of the phases, called line voltage, is the same as the voltage generated in any one phase. As shown in Figure 9, the three phase voltages are equal, as are the three line voltages. The current in any line is times the phase current. You can see that a delta-connected generator provides an increase in current, but no increase in voltage.
Figure 8 Delta Connection
Figure 9 Characteristics of a Delta-Connected Generator
An advantage of the delta-connected AC generator is that if one phase becomes damaged or open, the remaining two phases can still deliver three-phase power. The capacity of the generator is reduced to 57.7% of what it was with all three phases in operation.
In the other type of connection, one of the leads of each winding is connected, and the remaining three leads are connected to an external load. This is called a wye connection (Y) (Figure 10).
The voltage and current characteristics of the wye-connected AC generator are opposite to that of the delta connection. Voltage between any two lines in a wye connected AC generator is 1.73 (or ) times any one phase voltage, while line currents are equal to phase currents. The wye-connected AC generator provides an increase in voltage, but no increase in current (Figure 11).
Figure l0 Wye Connection
Figure 11 Characteristics of a Wye-Connected AC Generator
An advantage of a wye-connected AC generator is that each phase only has to carry 57.7% of line voltage and, therefore, can be used for high voltage generation.
The important information covered in this chapter is summarized below.
AC Generator Operation Summary
Power (kW) ratings of an AC generator are based on the ability of the prime mover to overcome generation losses and the ability of the machine to dissipate the heat generated internally. The current rating of an AC generator is based on the insulation rating of the machine.
There are three requirements that must be met to parallel AC generators:
1) Their terminal voltages must be equal. A mismatch may cause high currents and generator or distribution system damage.
2) Their frequencies must be equal. A mismatch in frequencies can cause one generator to "motor," causing an overload in the generators and the distribution system.
3) Their output voltages must be in phase. A mismatch in the phases will cause large opposing voltages to be developed, resulting in damage to the generators and distribution system due to high currents.
The disadvantage of a stationary field, rotating armature is that the slip-ring and brush assembly is in series with the load circuits and, because of worn or dirty components, may interrupt the flow of current.
A stationary armature, rotating field generator has several advantages: (1) a load can be connected to the armature without moving contacts in the circuit; (2) it is much easier to insulate stator fields than rotating fields; and (3) much higher voltages and currents can be generated.
The advantage of the delta-connected AC generator is that if one phase becomes damaged or open, the remaining two phases can still deliver three-phase power at a reduced capacity of 57.7%.
The advantage of a wye-connected AC generator is that each phase only has to carry 57.7% of line voltage and, therefore, can be used for high voltage generation.