Losses in a DC generator and DC motor

A dc generator converts mechanical power into electrical power and a dc motor converts electrical power into mechanical power. Thus, for a dc generator, input power is in the form of mechanical and the output power is in the form of electrical. On the other hand, for a dc motor, input power is in the form of electrical and output power is in the form of mechanical. In a practical machine, whole of the input power cannot be converted into output power as some power is lost in the conversion process. This causes the efficiency of the machine to be reduced. Efficiency is the ratio of output power to the input power. Thus, in order to design rotating dc machines (or any electrical machine) with higher efficiency, it is important to study the losses occurring in them. Various losses in a rotating DC machine (DC generator or DC motor) can be characterized as follows:

Losses in a rotating DC machine

  • Copper losses
    1. Armature Cu loss
    2. Field Cu loss
    3. Loss due to brush contact resistance
  • Iron Losses
    1. Hysteresis loss
    2. Eddy current loss
  • Mechanical losses
    1. Friction loss
    2. Windage loss
The above tree categorizes various types of losses that occur in a dc generator or a dc motor. Each of these is explained in details below.

Copper losses

These losses occur in armature and field copper windings. Copper losses consist of Armature copper loss, Field copper loss and loss due to brush contact resistance.

Armature copper loss = Ia2Ra          (where, Ia = Armature current and Ra= Armature resistance)
This loss contributes about 30 to 40% to full load losses. The armature copper loss is variable and depends upon the amount of loading of the machine.

Field copper loss = If2Rf                 (where, If = field current and Rf = field resistance)
In the case of a shunt wounded field, field copper loss is practically constant. It contributes about 20 to 30% to full load losses.

Brush contact resistance also contributes to the copper losses. Generally, this loss is included into armature copper loss.

Iron losses (Core losses)

As the armature core is made of iron and it rotates in a magnetic field, a small current gets induced in the core itself too. Due to this current, eddy current loss and hysteresis loss occur in the armature iron core. Iron losses are also called as Core losses or magnetic losses.

Hysteresis loss is due to the reversal of magnetization of the armature core. When the core passes under one pair of poles, it undergoes one complete cycle of magnetic reversal. The frequency of magnetic reversal is given by, f=P.N/120  (where, P = no. of poles and N = Speed in rpm)
The loss depends upon the volume and grade of the iron, frequency of magnetic reversals and value of flux density. Hysteresis loss is given by, Steinmetz formula:
Wh=ηBmax1.6fV (watts)
where, η = Steinmetz hysteresis constant
             V = volume of the core in m3

Eddy current loss: When the armature core rotates in the magnetic field, an emf is also induced in the core (just like it induces in armature conductors), according to the Faraday's law of electromagnetic induction. Though this induced emf is small, it causes a large current to flow in the body due to the low resistance of the core. This current is known as eddy current. The power loss due to this current is known as eddy current loss.

Mechanical Losses

Mechanical losses consist of the losses due to friction in bearings and commutator. Air friction loss of rotating armature also contributes to these.
These losses are about 10 to 20% of full load losses.

Stray Losses

In addition to the losses stated above, there may be small losses present which are called as stray losses or miscellaneous losses. These losses are difficult to account. They are usually due to inaccuracies in the designing and modeling of the machine. Most of the times, stray losses are assumed to be 1% of the full load.

Power Flow Diagram

The most convenient method to understand these losses in a dc generator or a dc motor is using the power flow diagram. The diagram visualizes the amount of power that has been lost in various types of losses and the amount of power which has been actually converted into the output. Following are the typical power flow diagrams for a dc generator and a dc motor.

power flow diagram of a dc generator

power flow diagram of a dc motor