In electricity generation, a generator is a device that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy for use in an external circuit. The source of mechanical energy may vary widely from a hand crank to an internal combustion engine. Generators provide nearly all of the power for electric power grids.
The reverse conversion of electrical energy into mechanical energy is done by an electric motor, and motors and generators have many similarities. Many motors can be mechanically driven to generate electricity and frequently make acceptable generators.
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