Generator excitation

How common are generators(alternators) that don’t have permanent magnet generators? I haven’t seen any personally but was browsing the CFRs and it doesn’t specifically say for main generators. Although 111.12-3 does mention something about e-gen excitation.

Very common. Either with an external exciter or onboard the main rotor as brushless arrangment or with the static exciters. Just about any AC generator of size on ships will have this arrangement.


I’ve never seen a permanent magnet setup in service generators. The generators rely on residual magnetism in the field windings for start-up. On occasion, if the genset has been dormant for months, or new installations, an external flash excitation may be required.

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I wasn’t very accurate in my OP. What I meant was permanent magnet generators (PMG) to power the AVR which in turn powers the exciter field for the exciter armature and rotating rectifier assy powering the actual field(maybe done with brushes on older gens?). All the generators I’ve personally been around have been Kato between 2000-2500 with PMGs mounted on the end of the rotor.

Just curious if it’s common to power the AVR via auxiliary winding or shunt both of which aren’t the greatest for marine use as far as losing residual magnetism and reflashing issues as injunear said

what types of vessels are these on? do many of these gensets have built in flashing circuits or do you use batteries typically?

I must have misread your OP or inverted something in my reading of it. I thought you were saying have you ever seen a non PMG generator.

Not sure I’ve seen a true PMG in that application but as mentioned above. residual magnetism does play a part in starting with even an engine driven DC exciter.


In the old days it was common to have a separate DC generator (sometime called PMG or rotating exciter) that was connected to the main generator (technically, an alternator). This things are just like DC motors (and look like them) with all the PITA in maintenance, and most have been shit-canned. This is likely what the CFR is referring to.


I’ve never seen a built in flashing circuit but that doesn’t mean they’re not in use.

Depending on the layout, I’d normally flash off the starting battery. Air or hydraulic start units, if no battery banks or DC buss in reach, I’ve used portable battery charger. I once used a 6 volt gel cell emergency light battery to flash a 50 KW gen.


Ok this explains what I’m talking about better, more specifically PMGs which don’t rely on residual magnetism in the in the rotor to begin building up voltage. Basically powering the AVR which powers the field.


Yes, not all the generators(alternators) are PMG. But like Stamford generator and Marathon generator, they are permanent magnet generators and self-excitation. And meet UL standard. These two brand of alternators are popular with users.

When I was a dealer for Northern Lights, we would flash the exciter field if it lost residual magnetism. No permanent magnets in there.

car alternator, no magnets but some residual magnetism so rely on the power via the slip rings to excite and control output

One-wire alternators use residual magnetism to fire off, but other than that they rely on battery power for the regulator to supply the field at first.

Slightly misleading, the voltage regulator uses the very small product of residual magnetism to sense field rotation and turn the regulator on which then supplies battery voltage to the field.

“Flashing” that type of alternator just fools the regulator, it does not energize the field on its own.

Back to the original topic, referring to oneself as “Captain” in casual conversation off the boat would be very odd I think. I sure as hell would not go put it on my mailbox.

I’m almost certain you meant this to go here: What is a paper captain?

3 posts were split to a new topic: Yacht generator selection