Introduction to Generators and AECM generator controllers
Q: WHAT IS A GENERATOR SET?
A: A generator set is the combination of an engine to create power and an alternator to change that power into electricity. The engine turns a shaft that in turn is connected to the alternator. This turning of the alternator creates the electrical power. As there are different types of power all over the world, different generator sets are built to create different forms of electrical power. In England the power is 230v at 50Hz the same as is supplied from your sockets at home. In the United States of America this power is usually 110v at 60Hz.
Q: WHAT IS A GENERATOR CONTROLLER?
A: A generator controller is a device used to monitor, start and stop a generator.
Just like any other engine, your car for example, a generator set has a number of things that must be monitored and checked during normal operation. Some of the items that are monitored are oil pressure, engine temperature, fuel level among others. Also just like when you are starting your car you need to control the start and fuel inputs to the engine. These are controlled with automatic switches called relays. Unlike your car, a generator must also check the output of the alternator. This will be in voltage, current and frequency. These connections allow the controller to monitor the output to ensure the generator is operating correctly and is not overloaded. The reason for all this checking is that normally a generator will be in a separate building but unlike your car, no one will be available to check these settings. In your car you would be there when driving to switch off the engine if there was a problem.
Q: WHAT IS A MANUAL START CONTROLLER?
A: A manual start controller is the simplest form of electronic generator controller and is one step above a ‘pull start’ generator. This device is almost identical to the controls in your car. The device usually has a key and button to start the generator. They only have basic controls to monitor items such as oil pressure and engine temperature.
The manual start unit is ideal for stand alone functions and portable generator sets as these would normally have personnel to start and stop the generator. Examples of this are the generators often seen at roadworks.
Q: WHAT IS AN AUTOMATIC OR REMOTE START CONTROLLER?
A: An automatic start module has all the same features as a manual start. The unit is capable of receiving a start signal from an external source. This could be a start switch or a timer located inside the factory where the generator is sited for instance. The unit can also be set to start automatically when the mains power or some other input is given to the module. These types of module are often used with an automatic transfer switch discussed later.
AECM103FRS, AECM103FBS, AECM103FK, AECM103FS, AECM103FSK and AECM104FKS are examples of this type of module. They have the advantage of being able to receive a start signal from an external source.
Q: WHAT IS AN AUTOMATIC TRANSFER SWITCH?
A: An automatic transfer switch (ATS) is different to a generator controller as it only monitors the mains and generator power but does not start the engine. The unit normally sits in a monitor panel and has connections to the AECM generator controller. When the mains power fails the ATS gives a command to the AECM generator controller to start the generator set. Once the generator set is up and running the ATS then switches over the power from mains to generator. The ATS will then check the mains to see when the power returns. Once the power returns the ATS will switch over to the mains and then tell the generator to stop.
ATS104SP and ATS104DMS modules are ATS units.