Voltage control is either (1) manual or (2) automatic. In most cases the process involves changing the resistance of the field circuit. By changing the field circuit resistance, the field current is controlled. Controlling the field current permits control of the output voltage. The major difference between the various voltage control systems is merely the method by which the field circuit resistance and the current are controlled.
VOLTAGE REGULATION should not be confused with VOLTAGE CONTROL.
As described previously, voltage regulation is an internal action occurring within the generator whenever the load changes. Voltage control is an imposed action, usually through an external adjustment, for the purpose of increasing or decreasing terminal voltage.
Manual Voltage Control
The hand-operated field rheostat, shown in figure 1-21,is a typical example of manual voltage control. The field rheostat is connected in series with the shunt field circuit. This provides the simplest method of controlling the terminal voltage of a dc generator.
Figure 1-21. - Hand-operated field rheostat.
This type of field rheostat contains tapped resistors with leads to a multiterminal switch. The arm of the switch may be rotated to make contact with the various resistor taps. This varies the amount of resistance in the field circuit. Rotating the arm in the direction of the LOWER arrow (counterclockwise) increases the resistance and lowers the output voltage. Rotating the arm in the direction of the RAISE arrow (clockwise) decreases the resistance and increases the output voltage.
Most field rheostats for generators use resistors of alloy wire. They have a high specific resistance and a low temperature coefficient. These alloys include copper, nickel, manganese, and chromium. They are marked under trade names such as Nichrome, Advance, Manganin, and so forth. Some very large generators use cast-iron grids in place of rheostats, and motor-operated switching mechanisms to provide voltage control.
Automatic Voltage Control
Automatic voltage control may be used where load current variations exceed the built-in ability of the generator to regulate itself. An automatic voltage control device "senses" changes in output voltage and causes a change in field resistance to keep output voltage constant.
The actual circuitry involved in automatic voltage control will not be covered in this chapter. Whichever control method is used, the range over which voltage can be changed is a design characteristic of the generator. The voltage can be controlled only within the design limits.
PARALLEL OPERATION OF GENERATORS
When two or more generators are supplying a common load, they are said to be operating in parallel. The purpose of connecting generators in parallel is simply to provide more current than a single generator is capable of providing. The generators may be physically located quite a distance apart. However, they are connected to the common load through the power distribution system.
There are several reasons for operating generators in parallel. The number of generators used may be selected in accordance with the load demand. By operating each generator as nearly as possible to its rated capacity, maximum efficiency is achieved. A disabled or faulty generator may be taken off-line and replaced without interrupting normal operations.