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Words of power – a glossary of generator terms, phrases and acronyms Follow


When you are looking to purchase a generator you will come across a seemingly staggering amount of terminology, symbols and acronyms. This is a very rough guide to help explain them and help you make the right decision.

AC: Alternating current. The raw electricity provided to homes and businesses. Transmitted at 50H.

Alternator:A mechanism for transforming mechanical into electrical power

Amp: Shortening of Ampere. (Symbol = A) This is a measurement of electrical charge passing a single point in a circuit in a certain time (6.241×1018 electrons per second = one ampere)

AVR: Automatic Voltage Regulation. This is a method of controlling the fluctuations of a current in order to keep it constant, enabling the generator to power sensitive equipment like televisions, computers and monitors.

ATS: Automatic Transfer Switch. This is an electrical switch designed to swap a load between two sources.Some are manual, (you throw them yourself by hand) but others are automatic, clicking on when they sense a dip or rise in one of the sources. Subsequently they are often used (and highly recommended) to switch power to a generator when it is being used as a back up and the mains power fails.

Continuous Load: A load that the generator can maintain for an extended length of time with the engine at optimum efficiency

DC: Direct current. Current produced by batteries, solar cells and dynamos Hz Hertz. A unit of frequency defined as 1 cycle per second.

Inverter generator: A generator that uses microprocessor technology to condition the power, enabling the generator to that be lighter and smaller and run quieter and more efficiently. This is particularly useful in the small hobby, holiday and leisure style of generator.

kVA: Kilo Volt Amperes. This is an electrical measurement equivalent to 1000 watt amps kW Kilo Watts. A thousand watts of power.

Oil Alert: Honda trademark name for an oil shutdown system. This means if the oil level drops below a certain point, the engine shuts down preventing damage and saving money on costly repairs. Different manufacturers have different names for these systems, but many quality generators have low oil shutdown systems and it is a good feature to watch out for.

Parallel operation: The ability to link up two or more generators to provide double the rated output. 

Rated Power: This is a term for the maximum electric output a generator can provide continuously and safely under the manufacturers set conditions. The rated power is set by the manufacturer. Run time The length of time the generator will run on a full tank. :

NB: This is usually represented by manufacturers as run time on a 50% load so you will often have to halve the figure you are given

V: Volts. A volt is a measurement of electrical pressure 



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