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Why is my Generator not Producing Power?


If there is a lack of residual magnetism in the generator (that has not been used for a long time or if it was left with a load attached), there will be no electricity produced when it starts up. Of course, it’s a good idea to check if the fuse is blown as well. A bad voltage regulator or bad brushes could also be a problem.

It’s called “residual magnetism” when there’s a tiny amount of magnetism left over from the last time the generator ran. The generator will generate no power at start-up if the residual magnetism is lost.

Generators must work in order to preserve residual magnetism and a load should be attached to them when they are working. It aids in the development of a more powerful magnetic field.

Your generator generates even more power as the motor spins, driving the magnet’s electric field through the stator windings. This cycle continues until the generator produces its rated power (after a very short period of time, usually by the time the engine has spun up to normal operating speed).

How to restore residual magnetism

There are a few ways to restore residual magnetism in a generator.

Method #1. With a 12 Volt Generator Battery

  • Step 1. Locate your generator’s voltage regulator.
  • Step 2. Remove the two wires that are connected to the generator brushes and unplug them. One is usually red, while the other is black or white.
  • Step 3. Connect the black or white wires to the ground battery terminal on the generator.
  • Step 4. Connect a lamp, activate the generator’s breaker or switch, and turn ON the engine.
  • Step 5. For three seconds, connect the battery +12 volts (red cable) to the red wire on the terminals you removed.
  • Step 6. Replace the plug after removing the wires.

The generator should now be generating electricity once more.

Make sure the brush wires are disconnected from the automatic voltage regulator, otherwise the regulator will be damaged. Contacting the voltage regulator or other wires may result in electric shock if dangerous voltages are present.

Here is a more complicated way to do it:

Alternator Excitation Procedure

Here is a simpler way that many people have success with:

Method #2: “Flashing” a generator with an electric drill

Some say that it doesn’t work, but the person in this video sure knows how to make it happen:

Energizing (flashing) your generator with a car battery

So, how do we do it?

  • Step 1. First of all, use a glove! The generator will generate power and the drill will turn on as soon as the field is exited. Be careful and don’t hurt yourself!
  • Step 2. Connect an electric drill to the receptacle on the generator.
  • Step 3. Change the direction of drill rotation to “forward”.
  • Step 4. To begin, start the generator.
  • Step 5. Spin the drill chuck backward when depressing the drill trigger.

This will excite the magnetic field, resulting in the generator producing electricity. If spinning the chuck in one direction fails, try spinning it in the opposite direction.

The reason this works is that when the drill’s electric motor is rotated backward, it acts as a small generator. The magnets in the drill’s motor generate a voltage in the motor winding, which is then fed back into the generator receptacle through the trigger cable.

Once the current flow has been established in the rotor winding, your generator will produce power.

How to make the generator work

Still no power? Let’s check few more things. Other reasons why your generator is not producing electricity could be:

  • Generator overload. Before checking the next point (tripped circuit breaker), make sure that you are not OVERLOADING your generator in the first place!
  • Tripped circuit breaker. The breaker is a safety feature that upon detecting a voltage spike or an overload and automatically shuts off the power. An overload can occur when a system draws more power than the breaker is rated for, or when the circuit is shorted. If the breaker tripped, reset it.
  • Faulty circuit breaker. If the outlet still doesn’t operate after you turn it ON, while keeping it in the ON position, test resistance on the lead wire connections with a multimeter. If any resistance is detected, the breaker is in good working condition. The breaker should be replaced if the meter reads OL (overload) or Infinity.
  • Bad capacitor. The capacitor in your generator serves two purposes – voltage induction and control. You will need a capacitance-testing multimeter to test a capacitor. Prior to testing, a capacitor must first be disconnected from the generator and discharged. Be careful not to generate a short through the capacitor terminals as you remove wire leads. To discharge the capacitor, cross the terminals with a screwdriver with an insulated handle (this will result in a loud pop and a spark). Take a reading from the capacitor after it has been discharged. The capacitance should be within +/-5uf of the capacitor’s defined rating printed on the label. The capacitor should be replaced if this is not the case.
  • Bad brushes. Examine the condition of the brushes. If you ever overloaded your generator, your brushes could be damaged. The good part? They are not complicated to replace.
  • Bad windings. Verify if the windings are in the good condition. Damaged windings is one of the most frequent causes of generator failure.
  • Short circuits. If there are any short circuits between the windings, your generator will not function properly and in most cases, the breaker will trip. This could happen if the insulation fails, for example. This is something you don’t want to diagnose by yourself and the best idea is to take your generator to a specialist for repair.
  • Demagnetized rotor. Examine the rotor for any signs of demagnetization.
  • Bad stator. Both brushed and brushless stators should be tested for resistance according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Faulty AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulator). These regulators will often have an adjustment screw that allows the voltage output to be fine-tuned. If the breaker passes the continuity inspection, wiring appears to be in good working order, rotor brushes are in good working order and making contact with the rotor, the stator generates electricity, but your generator STILL DOES NOT produce electricity, then the AVR is defective and must be replaced

Video Tutorial

Here is a nice video on generator troubleshooting a repair (when it produces no power):

Generator Repair - Troubleshooting - Runs But No Power

Click on the white button above to find your electrician!

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