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Learn the difference between AC and DC generators

AC Generators vs. DC Backup Generators: What’s the Difference?


Is your business in need of an AC generator or a DC backup generator?  Can you tell the difference between the types of generators available on the market and which one best fits your needs? Here is what you need to know so you can invest in the right backup power solutions for your business.

There are two main types of backup generators:

  1. AC generators(alternating current)
  2. DC generators(direct current)

In order to determine which generator you need, you should understand a few things first. For example, how do they work? What is the difference between AC and DC power? What is dc power?  Will an AC generator give you what you need?

What is Produced by AC and DC Generators?

Any type of generator works by converting mechanical power into electrical power through electromagnetic induction. Electromagnetic induction occurs when an electric current passes through a shifting magnetic field, which allows mechanical energy to be converted into electrical energy. This is the main way generators produce electricity.

Uses & Design Differences

AC and DC power generators both use electromagnetic induction to generate electricity. However, the process they use is different. An AC generator creates an alternating current that periodically reverses direction. But in a DC generator, a direct current flows in one direction. AC and DC generators are very different, but your construction site could need both.

In an AC generator, the coil through which current flows is fixed, and the magnet usually moves. The south and north poles of the magnet make the current flow in opposite directions, thereby creating an alternating current.

In contrast, the coil in a DC generator is not fixed; rather, it rotates in a fixed field. The two ends of the coil are attached to the commutator, which balances the charges to and from the generator, thus resulting in a current that does not alter direction.

The two backup generators are used for different purposes. An AC generator is used to power smaller electrical items in your business – such as coffee machines, computers, etc. On the other hand, a DC generator is used to power larger electric motors, even as big as those used in subway systems.

AC Generators & DC Backup Generator Advantages

Since each backup generator serves a different purpose, there are several advantages to each.

AC Generator Advantages

  • Cost-effective
  • Perfect for small and electrical appliances in the office
  • Lower maintenance needs

DC Generator Advantages

  • Simple design
  • Runs large motors
  • Smooth voltage

What is the frequency in an AC generator?

The frequency in an AC generator is determined by the number of magnetic poles and the rotational speed. Typically, AC generators have a frequency of 60 cycles per second.

How can I convert a three-phase AC to a single-phase AC?

Depending on your circumstances, there are a couple of ways this can be done.

  • Convert 3-phase AC to DC, then to 1-phase. This is done through a power electronic rectifier and a single-phase inverter.
  • Single-phase transformer. This works for up to 13 amps, but above this level, you’ll need to convert to DC.

Overall, AC generators are the most common backup generators. But the decision for your power solutions will ultimately come down to what you need to be powered. That is why it is important to consider the differences between DC and AC to know whether you should be investing in an AC vs. DC generator.


Power Plus! is a leading provider of reliable non-radioactive power generators across the United States and Canada.

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Contact Power Plus @ (800) 863-2525 | sales@powerplus.com for more information about AC generators, generator rental and generator services.


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