Whether you’re a seasoned professional or new to the generation industry, you can easily find yourself reading some common terms and phrases that are often confused with one another. Among the common terms that professionals in the industry use, the difference between a generator set and a generator end is an important one, but one that can be confusing at first.
Below, we’ve broken down the definitions of gensets and generator ends, and explained the differences between each. For a guide of other common terms related to generation, take a look at our free comprehensive Power Systems Glossary.
What is a Generator End?
Generator ends, also known as alternators, are devices that convert mechanical energy into electrical power. They do this through a process called electromagnetic induction, which creates an electric current through the rapid movement of magnetic fields.
The name “generator end” is derived from the fact that it provides the final step of power generation in a generator. It takes the input of mechanical energy created from an engine and outputs it into electrical energy that can then be used for whatever purpose is needed.
The electricity output of a generator end is typically measured in kilowatts (kW) or kilovolt-amperes (kVa). In order to find the right generator end for your needs, determine or calculate the amount of kWs or kVAs you’ll need for your building or application and keep them in mind when you look at generator end measurements.
You’ll also want to look at other power-related specifications of the generator end, such as the voltage (in Volts) and the frequency (in Hertz). Different generator ends can produce various voltages and frequencies, which can be used for different purposes. The RPM is important as well, since it’s these revolutions that produce the mechanical power that’s converted into electricity.
What is a Generator Set?
A generator set, or genset for short, consists of an engine, a generator end, a control panel and a skid working together to generate electricity. The engine and generator end are the main components of the genset’s power generation, producing mechanical energy that then gets converted into electrical power.
The control panel is an interface that allows users to operate the generator, typically through switches or buttons. It displays details such as current, voltage and frequency for the monitoring of the genset’s condition and operation. The control panel may look like a built-in display, a gauge or a meter.
A skid is the frame or base that the generator set sits upon. It serves as a sturdy foundation for the generator set, and allows for other equipment such as fuel systems, control panels and batteries to be mounted to the frame. Skids help protect the generator from potential damage by raising it off the ground, and can also be useful for transporting the genset via forklifts or cranes.
Generator sets are called “sets” because they are intended to include everything needed to produce electrical power in one package. Because gensets include engines, they require a fuel source. The main two options are diesel and natural gas, which each have their own pros and cons.
The Difference Between Generator Ends and Gensets
As we’ve distinguished above, the main difference between gensets and generator ends is the fact that a generator end is a component of a generator set.
Because generator ends can be sold independently or as part of a genset, it can be easy to confuse these terms. But a generator end is the part of a generator set that does the final conversion of mechanical energy into electrical power. That mechanical energy is produced by an engine, which is the other main component of a generator set.
Generator sets and generator ends both deal with the output of electricity, meaning when shopping for either, you will need to ask similar questions about the amount of power needed for your purposes.
Put simply: If you need a full setup to generate electricity immediately, you are most likely looking for a generator set. On the other hand, if you’re looking to replace part of a generator set or are in need of a specialized power solution and already have an engine, then you may be in the market for a generator end.
Power Your World With Confidence
At Depco, we help companies power their world using our trusted method that guarantees quality power systems. If you need help navigating the buying process for a generator set or generator end, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our experts who can help walk you through it. For more information on buying used generators, explore our Ultimate Guide to Used Generators.