What makes the ZENA® power generator different from a standard alternator? It looks like an alternator to me.
This is a question that we get quite often. The simple answer is that ZENA power generators are NOT standard alternators of the type used in automotive and marine applications. Automotive and marine alternators, even high current alternators, are just NOT built for ultra-extreme heavy-duty uses -- like welding.
Admittedly, there is some resemblance to "standard" high-amp alternators.
Because ZENA generators are designed to take advantage of conventional alternator mounting systems used, worldwide, on vehicle and equipment engines, it's inevitable that they will be quite similar, in size and shape, to larger conventional high-output alternators.
In fact, when first designing our generators, we decided to modify existing tooling for our generator case parts rather than to spend a huge amount of time and cash designing and life testing completely unique parts. This decision saved a huge amount of tooling expense and greatly reduced our manufacturing costs (savings which we pass on to our customers) and, even more importantly, virtually guaranteed optimal product reliability and compatibility, insured a virtually unlimited supply of these critical parts, and allowed us to go to market with very well tested case designs proven by use in millions of vehicle applications -- a huge benefit for us and for our customers.
However, do not be confused by our generator's superficial outward appearance. Electrically and mechanically ZENA power generators are designed, from scratch,
to be highly efficient, ultra-compact, sources of DC welding power and, as such,
they differ in a number of ways from other alternators.
For example, ZENA power generators:
are completely isolated, electrically, from whatever engine/vehicle that they are attached to. (A critical feature which is absolutely necessary when welding with different polarities on the vehicle in which the system is installed.) (And, a MAJOR safety feature as well -- one that serves to protect operators and delicate electronic devices.)
There is no ground, or other common electrical connection, of any type, between the power generator's output terminals and any other point in the power generator.
There is no ground, or other common electrical connection, between the power generator's field (rotor/control) terminals and any other point in the power generator.
use front frame components from standard automotive type alternators which feature the world's most commonly used automotive and marine alternator mounting system. (Insuring maximum compatibility with existing mounting hardware and making installation much easier for ZENA system owners.)
use custom made and/or specially modified case components which are designed to insure maximum system cooling as well as to maintain electrical isolation of all internal components.
use custom made internal and (for some models, eternal) rectifier assemblies which are capable of handing more than twice rated output current.
use ONLY moving parts (bearings, etc.) which are rated, by their manufacturers, to have a mean time before failure, under maximum load, of at least 50,000 hours.
incorporate ultra heavy duty output terminals -- fabricated from silicon bronze (almost pure copper, but more durable) to insure minimal corrosion in harsh operating environments as well as minimal electrical resistance to the huge current that ZENA power generators can produce. (AND, these oversize terminals are no less than 5/16" in diameter at any point and are designed to physically contact internal components over an exceptionally a large surface area, thereby eliminating any possibility of internal hot spots, even when generating maximum design current for long periods of time.)
use internal electrical connections, or connecting components, which are sized to provide a significant margin of extra current handling capability (at least 2X).
feature custom, hand wound stators and rotors which are designed (when used with ZENA's unique electronic control system) to insure exactly appropriate open circuit and closed circuit voltages, and to continuously supply at least 125% of rated maximum output current -- with an insulating system capable of withstanding temperatures of more than 150 degrees Celsius (over 298 degrees Fahrenheit) without failure.
feature high-speed spin balanced rotors, machined to ultra close internal tolerances.
when used with ZENA's proprietary electronic control system, the power generator is incredibly efficient, generating remarkably little waste heat, even when producing maximum output current. (A feature which greatly enhances long term reliability. Check out our warranty!)
are modular. Unlike any other alternator, ZENA's power generators, when used with ZENA's proprietary electronic controls, can be combined, in parallel, so as to multiply output current (to as much as 1,200 amps). OR, multiple generators may be used, connected in series, in such a way as to function as completely independent, and independently controlled, sources of DC power.
The features which make the ZENA power generator such a great welding current generator dramatically enhance their ability to function as superior high current alternators which can be adapted to a wide range of automotive and marine alternator applications -- including the construction of DC gensets.