There are three types of dc generators: series wound, shunt wound, and shunt series or compound wound. The difference in type depends on the relationship of the field winding to the external circuit.

Series Wound DC Generators

The field winding of a series generator is connected in series with the external circuit, called the load (figure 9-15). The field coils are composed of a few turns of large wire; the magnetic field strength depends more on the current flow rather than the number of turns in the coil. Series generators have very poor voltage regulation under changing load, since the greater the current through the field coils to the external circuit, the greater the induced e.m.f. and the greater the terminal or output voltage. Therefore, when the load is increased, the voltage increases; likewise, when the load is decreased, the voltage decreases. The output voltage of a series wound generator may be controlled by a rheostat in parallel with the field windings, as shown in A of figure 9-15. Since the series wound generator has such poor regulation, it is never employed as an airplane generator. Generators in airplanes have field windings which are connected either in shunt or in compound.

Shunt Wound DC Generators

A generator having a field winding connected in parallel with the external circuit is called a shunt generator, as shown in A and B of figure 9-16. The field coils of a shunt generator contain many turns of small wire; the magnetic strength is derived from the large number of turns rather than the current strength through the coils. If a constant voltage is desired, the shunt wound generator is not suitable for rapidly fluctuating loads. Any increase in load causes a decrease in the terminal or output voltage, and any decrease in load causes an increase in terminal voltage; since the armature and the load are connected in series, all current flowing in the external circuit passes through the armature winding. Because of the resistance in the armature winding, there is a voltage drop (IR drop = current x resistance). As the load increases, the armature current increases and the IR drop in the armature increases. The voltage delivered to the terminals is the difference between the induced voltage and the voltage drop; therefore, there is a decrease in terminal voltage. This decrease in voltage causes a decrease in field strength, because the current in the field coils decreases in proportion to the decrease in terminal voltage; with a weaker field, the voltage is further decreased.

When the load decreases, the output voltage increases accordingly, and a larger current flows in the windings. This action is cumulative, so the output voltage continues to rise to a point called field saturation, after which there is no further increase in output voltage.

The terminal voltage of a shunt generator can be controlled by means of a rheostat inserted in series with the field windings as shown in A of figure 9-16. As the resistance is increased, the field current is reduced; consequently, the generated voltage is reduced also. For a given setting of the field rheostat, the terminal voltage at the armature brushes will be approximately equal to the generated voltage minus the IR drop produced by the load current in the armature; thus, the voltage at the terminals of the generator will drop as the load is applied. Certain voltage sensitive devices are available which automatically adjust the field rheostat to compensate for variations in load. When these devices are used, the terminal voltage remains essentially constant.

Compound Wound DC Generators

A compound wound generator combines a series winding and a shunt winding in such a way that the characteristics of each are used to advantage. The series field coils are made of a relatively small number of turns of large copper conductor, either circular or rectangular in cross section, and are connected in series with the armature circuit. These coils are mounted on the same poles on which the shunt field coils are mounted and, therefore, contribute a magnetomotive force which influences the main field flux of the generator. a diagrammatic and a schematic illustration of a compound wound generator is shown in A and B of figure 9-17.

If the ampere turns of the series field act in the same direction as those of the shunt field, the combined magnetomotive force is equal to the sum of the series and shunt field components. Load is added to a compound generator in the same manner in which load is added to a shunt generator, by increasing the number of parallel paths across the generator terminals. Thus, the decrease in total load resistance with added load is accompanied by an increase in armature circuit and series field circuit current.

The effect of the additive series field is that of increased field flux with increased load. The extent of the increased field flux depends on the degree of saturation of the field as determined by the shunt field current. Thus, the terminal voltage of the generator may increase or decrease with load, depending on the influence of the series field coils. This influence is referred to as the degree of compounding.

A flat compound generator is one in which the no load and full load voltages have the same value; whereas an under compound generator has a full load voltage less than the no load value, and an over compound generator has a full load voltage which is higher than the no load value. Changes in terminal voltage with increasing load depends upon the degree of compounding.

If the series field aids the shunt field, the generator is said to be cumulative compounded (B of figure 9-17).

If the series field opposes the shunt field, the machine is said to be differentially compounded, or is called a differential generator.

Compound generators are usually designed to be overcompounded. This feature permits varied degrees of compounding by connecting a variable shunt across the series field. Such a shunt is sometimes called a diverter. Compound generators are used where voltage regulation is of prime importance.
Differential generators have somewhat the same characteristics as series generators in that they are essentially constant current generators. However, they generate rated voltage at no load, the voltage dropping materially as the load current increases. Constant current generators are ideally suited as power sources for electric arc welders and are used almost universally in electric arc welding.

If the shunt field of a compound generator is connected across both the armature and the series field, it is known as a long shunt connection, but if the shunt field is connected across the armature alone, it is called a short shunt connection. These connections produce essentially the same generator characteristics.

A summary of the characteristics of the various types of generators discussed is shown graphically in figure 9-18.

Three Wire Generators
Some dc generators, called three wire generators, are designed to deliver 240 volts, or 120 volts from either side of a neutral wire (figure 9-19). This is accomplished by connecting a reactance coil to opposite sides of the commutator, with the neutral connected to the midpoint of the reactance coil. Such a reactance coil acts as a low loss voltage divider. If resistors were used, the IR loss would be prohibitive unless the two loads were perfectly matched. The coil is built into some generators as part of the armature, with the midpoint connected to a single slip ring which the neutral contacts by means of a brush. In other generators, the two connections to the commutator are connected, in turn, to two slip rings, and the reactor is located outside the generator. 

In either case, the load unbalance on either side of the neutral must not be more than 25 percent of the rated current output of the generator. The three wire generator permits simultaneous operation of 120 volt lighting circuits and 240 volt motors from the same generator.

Armature Reaction

Current flowing through the armature sets up electromagnetic fields in the windings. These new fields tend to distort or bend the magnetic flux between the poles of the generator from a straight line path. Since armature current increases with load, the distortion becomes greater with an increase in load. This distortion of the magnetic field is called armature reaction and is illustrated in figure 9-20.

Armature windings of a generator are spaced in such a way that, during rotation of the armature, there are certain positions when the brushes contact two adjacent segments, thereby shorting the armature windings to these segments. Usually, when the magnetic field is not distorted, there is no voltage being induced in the shorted windings, and, therefore, no harmful results occur from the shorting of the windings. However, when the field is distorted, a voltage is induced in these shorted windings and sparking takes place between the brushes and the commutator segments. Consequently, the commutator becomes pitted, the wear on the brushes becomes excessive, and the output of the generator is reduced. To correct this condition, the brushes are set so that the plane of the coils which are shorted by the brushes is perpendicular to the distorted magnetic field, which is accomplished by moving the brushes forward in the direction of rotation. This operation is called shifting the brushes to the neutral plane, or plane of commutation. The neutral plane is the position where the plane of the two opposite coils is perpendicular to the magnetic field in the generator. On a few generators, the brushes can be shifted manually ahead of the normal neutral plane to the neutral plane caused by field distortion. On nonadjustable brush generators, the manufacturer sets the brushes for minimum sparking.

Interpoles may be used to counteract some of the effects of field distortion, since shifting the brushes is inconvenient and unsatisfactory, especially when the speed and load of the generator are changing constantly. An interpole is a pole placed between the main poles of a generator. For example, a four pole generator has four interpoles, which are north and south poles, alternately, as are the main poles. A four pole generator with interpoles is shown in figure 9-21.

An interpole has the same polarity as the next main pole in the direction of rotation. The magnetic flux produced by an interpole causes the current in the armature to change direction as an armature winding passes under it. This cancels the electromagnetic fields about the armature windings. The magnetic strength of the interpoles varies with the load on the generator; and since field distortion varies with the load, the magnetic field of the interpoles counteracts the effects of the field set up around the armature windings and minimizes field distortion. Thus, the interpole tends to keep the neutral plane in the same position for all loads on the generator; therefore, field distortion is reduced by the interpoles, and the efficiency, output, and service life of the brushes are improved.

Generator Ratings

A generator is rated in power output. Since a generator is designed to operate at a specified voltage, the rating usually is given as the number of amperes the generator can safely supply at its rated voltage.

Generator rating and performance data are stamped on the name plate attached to the generator. When replacing a generator, it is important to choose one of the proper rating.

The rotation of generators is termed either clockwise or counterclockwise, as viewed from the driven end. Usually, the direction of rotation is stamped on the data plate. If no direction is stamped on the plate, the rotation may be marked by an arrow on the cover plate of the brush housing. It is important that a generator with the correct direction of rotation be used; otherwise the voltage will be reversed.
The speed of an aircraft engine varies from idle rpm to takeoff rpm; however, during the major portion of a flight, it is at a constant cruising speed. The generator drive is usually geared to revolve the generator between 1 1/8 and 1 1/2 times the engine crankshaft speed. Most aircraft generators have a speed at which they begin to produce their normal voltage. Termed the "coming in" speed, it is usually about 1,500 rpm.

Generator Terminals

On most large 24 volt generators, electrical connections are made to terminals marked B, A, and E. (See figure 9-22.) The positive armature lead in the generator connects to the B terminal. The negative armature lead connects to the E terminal. The positive end of the shunt field winding connects to terminal A, and the opposite end connects to the negative terminal brush. Terminal A receives current from the negative generator brush through the shunt field winding. This current passes through the voltage regulator and back to the armature through the positive brush. Load current, which leaves the armature through the negative brushes, comes out of the E lead and passes through the load before returning to the armature through the positive brushes.