A generating set’s alternator can be protected in five different ways:

THERMAL PROTECTION

The thermal protection (or thermal switch) protects the alternator from overload. It switches off when the current is too high.
 
THERMOMAGNETIC PROTECTION

The thermomagnetic protection protects the alternator from overload as well as from short circuit.
When an overload occurs, the thermal part of the thermomagnetic protection will switch off after some time. This time span depends on the kind of overload: the heavier the overload, the shorter the time needed for the thermomagnetic protection to switch off. In case of short circuit, the magnetic part of the thermomagnetic protection will immediately switch off.

EARTH LEAKING CIRCUIT BREAKER

The earth leaking circuit breaker immediately interrupts a circuit when a leaking current (insulation fault) higher than 30, respectively 100 or 300mA is detected between (a) phase(s) and the earth, depending on the type of earth leaking circuit breaker you use.
The earth leaking circuit breaker protects all loads behind the alternator but offers no protection to the alternator itself. Users are protected against electrical shocks caused by indirect contact. The use of an earthing pin is mandatory.

INSULATION PROTECTION

An insulation protection relay is used to measure and guard the insulation (resistance) between an unearthed AC-mains and an earth of choice (e.g. the system, the frame or the mass of the generating set). Insulation protection protects the user as well as the alternator itself from unwanted contact with the AC-mains.
If an insulation fault occurs, the insulation resistance drops under the minimum set value of the insulation protection and the voltage is taken away. This system does not require an earthing pin.

TEMPERATURE PROTECTION

A temperature switch on the alternator’s windings interrupts the supply of current to the sockets when the windings’ temperature rises too high.

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