Self-excited generators are classed according to the type of field connection they use. There are three general types of field connections — SERIES-WOUND, SHUNT-WOUND (parallel), and COMPOUND-WOUND. Compound-wound generators are further classified as cumulative-compound and differential-compound. These last two classifications are not discussed in this chapter.
In the series-wound generator, shown in the first illustration below, the field windings are connected in series with the armature. Current that flows in the armature flows through the external circuit and through the field windings. The external circuit connected to the generator is called the load circuit.
A series-wound generator uses very low resistance field coils, which consist of a few turns of large diameter wire. The voltage output increases as the load circuit starts drawing more current.
Under low-load current conditions, the current that flows in the load and through the generator is small. Since small current means that a small magnetic field is set up by the field poles, only a small voltage is induced in the armature.
If the resistance of the load decreases, the load current increases. Under this condition, more current flows through the field. This increases the magnetic field and increases the output voltage.
A series-wound dc generator has the characteristic that the output voltage varies with load current. This is undesirable in most applications. For this reason, this type of generator is rarely used in everyday practice. The series-wound generator has provided an easy method to introduce you to the subject of self- excited generators.
In a shunt-wound generator, like the one shown in the illustration that follows below, the field coils consist of many turns of small wire. They are connected in parallel with the load. In other words, they are connected across the output voltage of the armature.
Current in the field windings of a shunt-wound generator is independent of the load current (currents in parallel branches are independent of each other). Since field current, and therefore field strength, is not affected by load current, the output voltage remains more nearly constant than does the output voltage of the series-wound generator.
In actual use, the output voltage in a dc shunt-wound generator varies inversely as load current varies. The output voltage decreases as load current increases because the voltage drop across the armature resistance increases (E = IR).
In a series-wound generator, output voltage varies directly with load current. In the shunt-wound generator, output voltage varies inversely with load current. A combination of the two types can overcome the disadvantages of both. This combination of windings is called the compound-wound dc generator.
Compound-wound generators have a series-field winding in addition to a shunt-field winding, as shown in the next illustration. The shunt and series windings are wound on the same pole pieces.
In the compound-wound generator when load current increases, the armature voltage decreases just as in the shunt-wound generator. This causes the voltage applied to the shunt-field winding to decrease, which results in a decrease in the magnetic field.
This same increase in load current, since it flows through the series winding, causes an increase in the magnetic field produced by that winding. By proportioning the two fields so that the decrease in the shunt field is just compensated by the increase in the series field, the output voltage remains constant.
In the last illustration this shows the voltage characteristics of the series-, shunt-, and compound-wound generators. As you can see, by proportioning the effects of the two fields (series and shunt), a compound-wound generator provides a constant output voltage under varying load conditions. Actual curves are seldom, if ever, as perfect as shown.
Voltage output characteristics of the series-, shunt-, and compound-wound dc generators.