A tachogenerator has the property of converting mechanical energy into electrical power by the process of turning of a shaft. If a tachogenerator is not connected to a load resistance, it will produce voltage approximately proportional to the speed of the shaft. When made with precision and an accurate design, tachogenerators can be made to produce very accurate voltages for the corresponding speeds of the shaft.
This property of tachogenerators make them perfect for working as measurement units for measuring the speed of shaft in a host of mechanical equipment. Hence, a tachogenerator works on the principle of measuring the voltage produced by a mechanical equipment, and this can be used to determine the rotational speed of the mechanical shaft it is attached to. The most common voltage signal ranges that the tachogenerators are capable of measuring is 0 to 10 volts.
As a tachogenerator is not able to produce voltage when the mechanical shaft it is attached to is not rotating, the zero cannot be considered as ‘live’ in this type of signal standard. Even though a voltage divider can be used with a tachogenerator to extend the speed range in the 0-10 volt measuring scale, it is not advisable to do so. Since over speeding a tachogenerator will damage the instrument or its life will be shortened as it is precision instrument.
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Tachogenerators are most commonly used to measure the speeds of engines and electric motors and the equipment they power such as machine tools, mixers, conveyor belts, fans, etc. Tachogenerators are also used as feedback components in circuits with speed control. They can be also used as sources of feedback for motor voltage control.
To give an example, a motor needs a substantial high voltage to work initially, but then it can run on much lesser voltage. With the help of a tachogenerator, a incessant, comparative current supply can be supplied to the motor, due to which higher speeds can be achieved under various type of loads.
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There are different types of tachogenerators. Some of the types are solid shaft tachogenerator and a hollow shaft tachogenerator. In solid shaft tachogenerator, the tachogenerator is connected to shaft which in turn is connected to an external device which is rotating. In hollow shaft tachogenerators, there are four magnetic poles rather than two.
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