Generating Generator Appreciation: What Generators Can Do For You

  1. History of the Generator

    The generator we know today got its start in the 1860s-70s. Before then, Michael Faraday had discovered a way to generate electricity through electromagnetic induction, but his discovery proved expensive and impractical in a world that didn’t rely much on electricity. Generators were not well-known until about 1871, when scientists like Zenobe-Theophile Gramme, Werner von Siemens, and Hippolyte Fontaine began working on DC (direct current) generators they called dynamos.

    These men also worked on AC (alternating current) generators and perfected the use of commutators that could easily turn alternating current into direct current. In 1887, fellow inventor Nikola Tesla perfected AC generators’ motors, making it possible to lower both the voltage and expense of these machines. Generators still use the Tesla motor today.

  2. The Generator’s Modern Uses

    You can find generators in businesses that serve any number of people, such as hospitals, grocery stores, retail outlets, and restaurants, as well as homes. Here are three common uses for modern generators:

    1. Off-grid business (or pleasure). Remote drilling rigs, construction sites, and similar enterprises need to take power where there is none. Additionally, generators benefit individuals who spend time “off the grid.” People who own vacation homes or hunting cabins often use generators to stay safe while promoting a reduced-stress, “unplugged” lifestyle.

    2. Powering remote events. One-time events, like concerts or athletic competitions, may take place in remote areas or need more power temporarily.

    3. Backup power. Virtually every resident and commercial interest benefits from having backup power. Generators are life-savers in emergency situations, such as when search parties must find missing persons in a hurricane or tornado or when a doctor must perform intricate surgery during a power failure. Generators can also help prevent tragedies such as the nuclear meltdowns of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl because they provide a quick, easy source of backup power for nuclear plants.

  3. Generators Safety

    If your business uses generators or you’re considering buying one for your home, make sure you use it safely. Incorrect use can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, house fires, and electrocutions. Read all labels before purchasing a generator, and only use those rated for the power you need. Familiarize yourself with any equipment you’ll hook up to the generator, as well. If you’ve never used a generator before, ask an electrician for assistance determining what kind you need. Stagger equipment use to avoid power surges and blown fuses.

    The safest way to reap a generator’s benefits is to install stationery generators in your home or business. Only certified electricians should do this since stationery generators require installing a power transfer switch that can be thrown whenever an outage occurs. Familiarize yourself with your state’s fire and electrical codes during and after installation.