Construction and Working Principle of DC Generators

DC Generator

A DC generator is an electromechanical energy conversion device that converts mechanical power into DC electrical power through the process of electromagnetic induction.

A DC generator operates on the principle of electromagnetic induction i.e. when the magnetic flux linking a conductor changes, an EMF is induced in the conductor. A DC generator has a field winding and an armature winding.

The EMF induced in the armature winding of a DC generator is alternating one and is converted into direct voltage using a commutator mounted on the shaft of the generator. The armature winding of DC Generator is placed on the rotor whereas the field winding is placed on the stator.

Construction of a DC Generator

Here is the schematic diagram of a DC Generator

A DC generator consists of six main parts, which are as follows


The outer frame of a DC generator is a hollow cylinder made up of cast steel or rolled steel is known as yoke. The yoke serves following two purposes

  • It supports the field pole core and acts as a protecting cover to the machine.
  • It provides a path for the magnetic flux produced by the field winding.

Magnetic Field System

The magnetic field system of a DC generator is the stationary part of the machine. It produces the main magnetic flux in the generator. It consists of an even number of pole cores bolted to the yoke and field winding wound around the pole core. The field system of DC generator has salient poles i.e. the poles project inwards and each pole core has a pole shoe having a curved surface. The pole shoe serves two purposes

  • It provides support to the field coils.
  • It reduces the reluctance of magnetic circuit by increasing the cross-sectional area of it.

The pole cores are made of thin laminations of sheet steel which are insulated from each other to reduce the eddy current loss. The field coils are connected in series with one another such that when the current flows through the coils, alternate north and south poles are produced in the direction of rotation.

Armature Core

The armature core of DC generator is mounted on the shaft and rotates between the field poles. It has slots on its outer surface and the armature conductors are put in these slots. The armature core is a made up of soft iron laminations which are insulated from each other and tightly clamped together. In small machines, the laminations are keyed directly to the shaft, whereas in large machines, they are mounted on a spider. The laminated armature core is used to reduce the eddy current loss.

Armature Winding

The insulated conductors are put into the slots of the armature core. The conductors are suitably connected. This connected arrangement of conductors is known as armature winding. There are two types of armature windings are used – wave winding and lap winding.


A commutator is a mechanical rectifier which converts the alternating emf generated in the armature winding into the direct voltage across the load terminals. The commutator is made of wedge-shaped copper segments insulated from each other and from the shaft by mica sheets. Each segment of commutator is connected to the ends of the armature coils.


The brushes are mounted on the commutator and are used to collect the current from the armature winding. The brushes are made of carbon and is supported by a metal box called brush holder. The pressure exerted by the brushes on the commutator is adjusted and maintained at constant value by means of springs. The current flows from the armature winding to the external circuit through the commutator and carbon brushes.

Working of a DC Generator

Consider a single loop DC generator (as shown in the figure), in this a single turn loop ‘ABCD’ is rotating clockwise in a uniform magnetic field with a constant speed. When the loop rotates, the magnetic flux linking the coil sides ‘AB’ and ‘CD’ changes continuously. This change in flux linkage induces an EMF in coil sides and the induced EMF in one coil side adds the induced EMF in the other.

The EMF induced in a DC generator can be explained as follows

  • When the loop is in position-1, the generated EMF is zero because, the movement of coil sides is parallel to the magnetic flux.
  • When the loop is in position-2, the coil sides are moving at an angle to the magnetic flux and hence, a small EMF is generated.
  • When the loop is in position-3, the coil sides are moving at right angle to the magnetic flux, therefore the generated EMF is maximum.
  • When the loop is in position-4, the coil sides are cutting the magnetic flux at an angle, thus a reduced EMF is generated in the coil sides.
  • When the loop is in position-5, no flux linkage with the coil side and are moving parallel to the magnetic flux. Therefore, no EMF is generated in the coil.
  • At the position-6, the coil sides move under a pole of opposite polarity and hence the polarity of generated EMF is reversed. The maximum EMF will generate in this direction at position-7 and zero when at position-1. This cycle repeats with revolution of the coil.

It is clear that the generated EMF in the loop is alternating one. It is because any coil side (say AB) has EMF in one direction when under the influence of N-pole and in the other direction when under the influence of S-pole. Hence, when a load is connected across the terminals of the generator, an alternating current will flow through it. Now, by using a commutator, this alternating emf generated in the loop can be converted into direct voltage. We then have a DC generator.