Voltage Regulation

The voltage regulation of a generator refers to the VOLTAGE CHANGE that takes place when the load changes. It is usually expressed as the change in voltage from a no-load condition to a full-load condition, and is expressed as a percentage of full-load. It is expressed in the following formula:

voltage regulation formula

where EnL is the no-load terminal voltage and EfL is the full-load terminal voltage of the generator.

For example, to calculate the percent of regulation of a generator with a no-load voltage of 462 volts and a full-load voltage of 440 volts


· No-load voltage 462 V

· Full-load voltage 440 V


voltage regulation formula

NOTE: The lower the percent of regulation, the better the generator. In the above example, the 5% regulation represented a 22-volt change from no load to full load. A 1% change would represent a change of 4.4 volts, which, of course, would be better.


Voltage control is either (1) manual or (2) automatic. In most cases the process involves changing the resistance of the field circuit. By changing the field circuit resistance, the field current is controlled. Controlling the field current permits control of the output voltage.

The major difference between the various voltage control systems is merely the method by which the field circuit resistance and the current are controlled. VOLTAGE REGULATION should not be confused with VOLTAGE CONTROL.

As described previously, voltage regulation is an internal action occurring within the generator whenever the load changes. Voltage control is an imposed action, usually through an external adjustment, for the purpose of increasing or decreasing terminal voltage.

Manual Voltage Control

The hand-operated field rheostat, shown in the illustration below, is a typical example of manual voltage control. The field rheostat is connected in series with the shunt field circuit. This provides the simplest method of controlling the terminal voltage of a dc generator.

Hand-operated field rheostat

Hand-operated field rheostat.

This type of field rheostat contains tapped resistors with leads to a multiterminal switch. The arm of the switch may be rotated to make contact with the various resistor taps. This varies the amount of resistance in the field circuit.

Rotating the arm in the direction of the LOWER arrow (counterclockwise) increases the resistance and lowers the output voltage. Rotating the arm in the direction of the RAISE arrow (clockwise) decreases the resistance and increases the output voltage.

Most field rheostats for generators use resistors of alloy wire. They have a high specific resistance and a low temperature coefficient. These alloys include copper, nickel, manganese, and chromium. They are marked under trade names such as Nichrome, Advance, Manganin, and so forth. Some very large generators use cast-iron grids in place of rheostats, and motor-operated switching mechanisms to provide voltage control.

Automatic Voltage Control

Automatic voltage control may be used where load current variations exceed the built-in ability of the generator to regulate itself. An automatic voltage control device "senses" changes in output voltage and causes a change in field resistance to keep output voltage constant.

The actual circuitry involved in automatic voltage control will not be covered in this chapter. Whichever control method is used, the range over which voltage can be changed is a design characteristic of the generator. The voltage can be controlled only within the design limits.


When two or more generators are supplying a common load, they are said to be operating in parallel. The purpose of connecting generators in parallel is simply to provide more current than a single generator is capable of providing.

The generators may be physically located quite a distance apart. However, they are connected to the common load through the power distribution system. There are several reasons for operating generators in parallel. The number of generators used may be selected in accordance with the load demand.

By operating each generator as nearly as possible to its rated capacity, maximum efficiency is achieved. A disabled or faulty generator may be taken off-line and replaced without interrupting normal operations

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