Quantcast Single-phase alternators

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A generator that produces a single, continuously alternating voltage is known as a SINGLE-PHASE alternator. All of the alternators that have been discussed so far fit this definition. The stator (armature) windings are connected in series. The individual voltages, therefore, add to produce a single-phase ac voltage. Figure 3-5 shows a basic alternator with its single-phase output voltage.

Figure 3-5. - Single-phase alternator.

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The definition of phase as you learned it in studying ac circuits may not help too much right here. Remember, "out of phase" meant "out of time." Now, it may be easier to think of the word phase as meaning voltage as in single voltage. The need for a modified definition of phase in this usage will be easier to see as we go along.

Single-phase alternators are found in many applications. They are most often used when the loads being driven are relatively light. The reason for this will be more apparent as we get into multiphase alternators (also called polyphase).

Power that is used in homes, shops, and ships to operate portable tools and small appliances is single-phase power. Single-phase power alternators always generate single-phase power. However, all single-phase power does not come from single-phase alternators. This will sound more reasonable to you as we get into the next subjects.

Q.9 What does the term single phase indicate? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.10 In single-phase alternators, in order for the voltages induced in all the armature windings to add together for a single output, how must the windings be connected? answer.gif (214 bytes)


Two phase implies two voltages if we apply our new definition of phase. And, it's that simple. A two-phase alternator is designed to produce two completely separate voltages. Each voltage, by itself, may be considered as a single-phase voltage. Each is generated completely independent of the other. Certain advantages are gained. These and the mechanics of generation will be covered in the following paragraphs.

Generation of Two-Phase Power Figure 3-6 shows a simplified two-pole, two-phase alternator. Note that the windings of the two phases are physically at right angles (90) to each other. You would expect the outputs of each phase to be 90 apart, which they are. The graph shows the two phases to be 90 apart, with A leading B. Note that by using our original definition of phase (from previous modules), we could say that A and B are 90 out of phase. There will always be 90 between the phases of a two-phase alternator. This is by design.

Figure 3-6. - Two-phase alternator.

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Now, let's go back and see the similarities and differences between our original (single-phase) alternators and this new one (two-phase). Note that the principles applied are not new. This alternator works the same as the others we have discussed.

The stator in figure 3-6 consists of two single-phase windings completely separated from each other. Each winding is made up of two windings that are connected in series so that their voltages add. The rotor is identical to that used in the single-phase alternator. In the left-hand schematic, the rotor poles are opposite all the windings of phase A. Therefore, the voltage induced in phase A is maximum, and the voltage induced in phase B is zero. As the rotor continues rotating counterclockwise, it moves away from the A windings and approaches the B windings. As a result, the voltage induced in phase A decreases from its maximum value, and the voltage induced in phase B increases from zero. In the right-hand schematic, the rotor poles are opposite the windings of phase B. Now the voltage induced in phase B is maximum, whereas the voltage induced in phase A has dropped to zero.

Notice that a 90-degree rotation of the rotor corresponds to one-quarter of a cycle, or 90 electrical degrees. The waveform picture shows the voltages induced in phase A and B for one cycle. The two voltages are 90 out of phase. Notice that the two outputs, A and B, are independent of each other.

Each output is a single-phase voltage, just as if the other did not exist.

The obvious advantage, so far, is that we have two separate output voltages. There is some saving in having one set of bearings, one rotor, one housing, and so on, to do the work of two. There is the disadvantage of having twice as many stator coils, which require a larger and more complex stator.

The large schematic in figure 3-7 shows four separate wires brought out from the A and B stator windings. This is the same as in figure 3-6. Notice, however, that the dotted wire now connects one end of B1 to one end of A2. The effect of making this connection is to provide a new output voltage. This sine-wave voltage, C in the picture, is larger than either A or B. It is the result of adding the instantaneous values of phase A and phase B. For this reason it appears exactly half way between A and B. Therefore, C must lag A by 45 and lead B by 45, as shown in the small vector diagram.

Figure 3-7. - Connections of a two-phase, three-wire alternator output.

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Now, look at the smaller schematic diagram in figure 3-7. Only three connections have been brought out from the stator. Electrically, this is the same as the large diagram above it. Instead of being connected at the output terminals, the B1-A2 connection was made internally when the stator was wired. A two-phase alternator connected in this manner is called a two-phase, three-wire alternator.

The three-wire connection makes possible three different load connections: A and B (across each phase), and C (across both phases). The output at C is always 1.414 times the voltage of either phase. These multiple outputs are additional advantages of the two-phase alternator over the single-phase type.

Now, you can understand why single-phase power doesn't always come from single-phase alternators. It can be generated by two-phase alternators as well as other multiphase (polyphase) alternators, as you will soon see.

The two-phase alternator discussed in the preceding paragraphs is seldom seen in actual use. However, the operation of polyphase alternators is more easily explained using two phases than three phases. The three-phase alternator, which will be covered next, is by far the most common of all alternators in use today, both in military and civilian applications.

Q.11 What determines the phase relationship between the voltages in a two-phase ac generator? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.12 How many voltage outputs are available from a two-phase three-wire alternator? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.13 What is the relationship of the voltage at C in figure 3-7 to the voltages at A and B? answer.gif (214 bytes)

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