In making an electric generator, how do different aspects of the wire affect the total voltage and amperage? What are the effects of wire gauge, number of turns in the coils, and whether the magnets move past the coils or the coils past the magnets? — BLM, Houston, TX
First, it doesn’t matter when the magnet moves past the coils or the coils past the magnet; a generator will work the same way in either case. The voltage produced by the generator is determined by the number of turns in its coils, the strength of its magnet, and the rate at which its magnet turns. The more turns in the coils, the more work the generator does on each charge that passes through those coils and the more voltage the charges have when they leave the generator. The current that the generator can handle is limited by the power of its engine and by the wire’s ability to handle the current without wasting too much power. In general, a generator’s wire gauge is chosen to minimize power loss while keeping the coils reasonably small and light. If you try to send too much current through the generator, its engine may stall or its wires may overheat.