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How Does an Aircraft Ground Power Unit Work?

Aircraft Ground Power Units, or GPU electrical power distribution equipment delivers clean alternating power directly to aircraft which are either in the air or on the ground. The term "ground power" was first used in World War 2 when radar was still being used by military units. Radar had started to become more obsolete by the end of the war, so a new source of power had to be found.

Aircraft Ground Power Units are basically the same as the standard battery setup that many airplanes have. The difference is that instead of the alternator being run off a standard battery, the GPU is run off the aircraft's battery. This is an incredibly efficient way to store power since there is no need to constantly replace older batteries.

If you want to upgrade your aircraft's battery or if you want to extend the life of your current battery, then it may be time to consider purchasing one of the many Aircraft Ground Power Units available.

These types of devices run on either gasoline or electricity making them both utility and long lasting. What makes these units unique is that they can be either fuel powered or internal combustion. This means that you can have an aircraft ground power unit that is either electric or gasoline powered, or even a combination of both. There are even some that have a direct current connection to the battery, much like a car's alternator, but there is none of the heat produced by the friction of turning the engine that you get with a utility powered generator.

A Ground Power Unit also tends to be much smaller than other types of generators making them good for use in tighter spaces.

Before purchasing an Aircraft Ground Power Unit, it is important to know the difference between the two different types of technology that are used to convert electrical energy into aircraft.

Most aircraft ground power units are electric, which means that they will function on either a 12-volt DC battery or a standard gasoline driven system. The gasoline alternative will allow you to fly longer distances farther and at higher altitudes because it will give you more flying time without recharging. However, the batteries will need to be replaced after continual use because they are not capable of holding their charge for as long as the electric type will.

A/C vs D/C Power - Which Is Better for You?

There is a vast difference between D/C Power and A/C Power.

Small aircraft operate on D/C, which stands for direct current electrical system, like a car battery. They may be either 12-volt or 24-volt, requiring a 14-volt DC or 28-volt DC power generation to maintain their charge.

Large airplanes require running A/C, which stands for alternating current electrical system, generally in the 400-Hz band. This is the same type of electricity that runs our houses. Large aircraft run AC systems because they require much more energy than a DC system can provide. 

Choosing a combustion or electrical rectifier

GPUs powered by an internal combustion engine use an electrical frequency converter which convert standard, 3-phase electrical power to the specified AC or DC rate.

An Electrical Rectifier is a device that is used to convert electric current from DC to AC. The main function of an electrical rectifier is to convert AC current to alternating current in a safer and more convenient manner. In addition to rectifying electricity, this unit also enhances the power of any device. It increases the power output by increasing the input or output capacitance.

It should be noted that the industrial grade or heavy-duty rectifiers can deliver regulated and safe voltage to all your equipment.  It is recommended to buy a device from a reputed manufacturer to get better output and ensure maximum safety. Also check out for product reviews before purchasing any kind of rectifier unit for your industry.

Gas and diesel-powered units are more portable than electric units, but you must provide fuel, and upkeep the engine as well as the electrical components.

Types of Ground Power Units Available

GPU options include those powered by a standard 3-phase electrical system, others are a large battery pack, while others use either a gasoline or diesel engine, and some use a small turbine engine which produces both bleed air for engine starting and electrical power to run inside the aircraft.

There are two basic types of electrical power generators for commercial and personal aircraft use. These are gasoline-powered or electric-powered generators. The most popular electrical ground power units use either a gas turbine or a diesel engine.

Ground power units used in aircraft, like jet planes, helicopters, and gliders are much larger than electric units. The main differences are that the rotary fan is usually located on the front of the aircraft and there is no electrical system because it doesn't generate electricity. Instead, there is a retractable tow bar used to pull the unit into the plane. The battery is recharged during the flight and is then ready to go again.

Another popular option is a self-contained electric generator. It comes with both the motor and the electrical cable that power it. The electrical cable is connected to a small engine that will power all the functions of the generator. It is designed to power small electric machines.

These are just three of the most popular choices for ground power units, and each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Each is designed for a specific application so you should look at your needs before you purchase one. Think about what it is you want to use this machine for and then look for the best unit that fits your needs. It is a good idea to consult with a qualified electrician to make sure you purchase the right equipment.