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Transformer

Transformer

Overview
A transformer is a device that transfers electrical energy from one circuit
Electrical network
An electrical network is an interconnection of electrical elements such as resistors, inductors, capacitors, transmission lines, voltage sources, current sources and switches. An electrical circuit is a special type of network, one that has a closed loop giving a return path for the current...

 to another through inductively coupled
Inductive coupling
In electrical engineering, two conductors are referred to as mutual-inductively coupled or magnetically coupled when they are configured such that change in current flow through one wire induces a voltage across the ends of the other wire through electromagnetic induction...

 conductors—the transformer's coils. A varying current
Electric current
Electric current is a flow of electric charge through a medium.This charge is typically carried by moving electrons in a conductor such as wire...

 in the first or primary winding creates a varying magnetic flux
Magnetic flux
Magnetic flux , is a measure of the amount of magnetic B field passing through a given surface . The SI unit of magnetic flux is the weber...

 in the transformer's core and thus a varying magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

 through the secondary winding. This varying magnetic field induces
Electromagnetic induction
Electromagnetic induction is the production of an electric current across a conductor moving through a magnetic field. It underlies the operation of generators, transformers, induction motors, electric motors, synchronous motors, and solenoids....

 a varying electromotive force (EMF)
Electromotive force
In physics, electromotive force, emf , or electromotance refers to voltage generated by a battery or by the magnetic force according to Faraday's Law, which states that a time varying magnetic field will induce an electric current.It is important to note that the electromotive "force" is not a...

, or "volt
Volt
The volt is the SI derived unit for electric potential, electric potential difference, and electromotive force. The volt is named in honor of the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta , who invented the voltaic pile, possibly the first chemical battery.- Definition :A single volt is defined as the...

age", in the secondary winding. This effect is called inductive coupling
Inductive coupling
In electrical engineering, two conductors are referred to as mutual-inductively coupled or magnetically coupled when they are configured such that change in current flow through one wire induces a voltage across the ends of the other wire through electromagnetic induction...

.

If a load is connected to the secondary, current will flow in the secondary winding and electrical energy will be transferred from the primary circuit through the transformer to the load.
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Encyclopedia
A transformer is a device that transfers electrical energy from one circuit
Electrical network
An electrical network is an interconnection of electrical elements such as resistors, inductors, capacitors, transmission lines, voltage sources, current sources and switches. An electrical circuit is a special type of network, one that has a closed loop giving a return path for the current...

 to another through inductively coupled
Inductive coupling
In electrical engineering, two conductors are referred to as mutual-inductively coupled or magnetically coupled when they are configured such that change in current flow through one wire induces a voltage across the ends of the other wire through electromagnetic induction...

 conductors—the transformer's coils. A varying current
Electric current
Electric current is a flow of electric charge through a medium.This charge is typically carried by moving electrons in a conductor such as wire...

 in the first or primary winding creates a varying magnetic flux
Magnetic flux
Magnetic flux , is a measure of the amount of magnetic B field passing through a given surface . The SI unit of magnetic flux is the weber...

 in the transformer's core and thus a varying magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

 through the secondary winding. This varying magnetic field induces
Electromagnetic induction
Electromagnetic induction is the production of an electric current across a conductor moving through a magnetic field. It underlies the operation of generators, transformers, induction motors, electric motors, synchronous motors, and solenoids....

 a varying electromotive force (EMF)
Electromotive force
In physics, electromotive force, emf , or electromotance refers to voltage generated by a battery or by the magnetic force according to Faraday's Law, which states that a time varying magnetic field will induce an electric current.It is important to note that the electromotive "force" is not a...

, or "volt
Volt
The volt is the SI derived unit for electric potential, electric potential difference, and electromotive force. The volt is named in honor of the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta , who invented the voltaic pile, possibly the first chemical battery.- Definition :A single volt is defined as the...

age", in the secondary winding. This effect is called inductive coupling
Inductive coupling
In electrical engineering, two conductors are referred to as mutual-inductively coupled or magnetically coupled when they are configured such that change in current flow through one wire induces a voltage across the ends of the other wire through electromagnetic induction...

.

If a load is connected to the secondary, current will flow in the secondary winding and electrical energy will be transferred from the primary circuit through the transformer to the load. In an ideal transformer, the induced voltage in the secondary winding (Vs) is in proportion to the primary voltage (Vp), and is given by the ratio of the number of turns in the secondary (Ns) to the number of turns in the primary (Np) as follows:


By appropriate selection of the ratio of turns, a transformer thus enables an alternating current (AC)
Alternating current
In alternating current the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction. In direct current , the flow of electric charge is only in one direction....

 voltage to be "stepped up" by making Ns greater than Np, or "stepped down" by making Ns less than Np.

In the vast majority of transformers, the windings are coils wound around a ferromagnetic core
Magnetic core
A magnetic core is a piece of magnetic material with a high permeability used to confine and guide magnetic fields in electrical, electromechanical and magnetic devices such as electromagnets, transformers, electric motors, inductors and magnetic assemblies. It is made of ferromagnetic metal such...

, air-core transformers being a notable exception.

Transformers range in size from a thumbnail-sized coupling transformer hidden inside a stage microphone
Microphone
A microphone is an acoustic-to-electric transducer or sensor that converts sound into an electrical signal. In 1877, Emile Berliner invented the first microphone used as a telephone voice transmitter...

 to huge units weighing hundreds of tons used to interconnect portions of power grids. All operate on the same basic principles, although the range of designs is wide. While new technologies have eliminated the need for transformers in some electronic circuits, transformers are still found in nearly all electronic devices designed for household ("mains") voltage
Mains electricity
Mains is the general-purpose alternating current electric power supply. In the US, electric power is referred to by several names including household power, household electricity, powerline, domestic power, wall power, line power, AC power, city power, street power, and grid power...

. Transformers are essential for high-voltage electric power transmission
Electric power transmission
Electric-power transmission is the bulk transfer of electrical energy, from generating power plants to Electrical substations located near demand centers...

, which makes long-distance transmission economically practical.

Discovery


The phenomenon of electromagnetic induction
Electromagnetic induction
Electromagnetic induction is the production of an electric current across a conductor moving through a magnetic field. It underlies the operation of generators, transformers, induction motors, electric motors, synchronous motors, and solenoids....

 was discovered independently by Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday, FRS was an English chemist and physicist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry....

 and Joseph Henry
Joseph Henry
Joseph Henry was an American scientist who served as the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as a founding member of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, a precursor of the Smithsonian Institution. During his lifetime, he was highly regarded...

 in 1831. However, Faraday was the first to publish the results of his experiments and thus receive credit for the discovery. The relationship between electromotive force
Electromotive force
In physics, electromotive force, emf , or electromotance refers to voltage generated by a battery or by the magnetic force according to Faraday's Law, which states that a time varying magnetic field will induce an electric current.It is important to note that the electromotive "force" is not a...

 (EMF) or "volt
Volt
The volt is the SI derived unit for electric potential, electric potential difference, and electromotive force. The volt is named in honor of the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta , who invented the voltaic pile, possibly the first chemical battery.- Definition :A single volt is defined as the...

age" and magnetic flux
Magnetic flux
Magnetic flux , is a measure of the amount of magnetic B field passing through a given surface . The SI unit of magnetic flux is the weber...

 was formalized in an equation now referred to as "Faraday's law of induction
Faraday's law of induction
Faraday's law of induction dates from the 1830s, and is a basic law of electromagnetism relating to the operating principles of transformers, inductors, and many types of electrical motors and generators...

":
.

where is the magnitude of the EMF in volts and ΦB is the magnetic flux
Magnetic flux
Magnetic flux , is a measure of the amount of magnetic B field passing through a given surface . The SI unit of magnetic flux is the weber...

 through the circuit in webers.

Faraday performed the first experiments on induction between coils of wire, including winding a pair of coils around an iron ring, thus creating the first toroidal
Toroid (geometry)
In mathematics, a toroid is a doughnut-shaped object, such as an O-ring. Its annular shape is generated by revolving a plane geometrical figure about an axis external to that figure which is parallel to the plane of the figure and does not intersect the figure...

 closed-core transformer.

Induction coils


The first type of transformer to see wide use was the induction coil
Induction coil
An induction coil or "spark coil" is a type of disruptive discharge coil. It is a type of electrical transformer used to produce high-voltage pulses from a low-voltage direct current supply...

, invented by Rev. Nicholas Callan
Nicholas Callan
Father Nicholas Joseph Callan was an Irish priest and scientist from Darver, Co. Louth, Ireland. He was Professor of Natural Philosophy in Maynooth College near Dublin from 1834, and is best known for his work on the induction coil....

 of Maynooth College, Ireland in 1836. He was one of the first researchers to realize that the more turns the secondary winding has in relation to the primary winding, the larger is the increase in EMF. Induction coils evolved from scientists' and inventors' efforts to get higher voltages from batteries. Since batteries produce direct current
Direct current
Direct current is the unidirectional flow of electric charge. Direct current is produced by such sources as batteries, thermocouples, solar cells, and commutator-type electric machines of the dynamo type. Direct current may flow in a conductor such as a wire, but can also flow through...

 (DC) rather than alternating current
Alternating current
In alternating current the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction. In direct current , the flow of electric charge is only in one direction....

 (AC), induction coils relied upon vibrating electrical contacts that regularly interrupted the current in the primary to create the flux changes necessary for induction. Between the 1830s and the 1870s, efforts to build better induction coils, mostly by trial and error, slowly revealed the basic principles of transformers.

By the 1870s, efficient generators that produced alternating current
Alternating current
In alternating current the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction. In direct current , the flow of electric charge is only in one direction....

 (alternator
Alternator
An alternator is an electromechanical device that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy in the form of alternating current.Most alternators use a rotating magnetic field but linear alternators are occasionally used...

s) were available, and it was found that alternating current could power an induction coil directly, without an interrupter. In 1876, Russian engineer Pavel Yablochkov
Pavel Yablochkov
Pavel Nikolayevich Yablochkov was a Russian electrical engineer, the inventor of the Yablochkov candle and businessman.-Biography:...

 invented a lighting system based on a set of induction coils where the primary windings were connected to a source of alternating current and the secondary windings could be connected to several "electric candles"
Yablochkov candle
A Yablochkov candle is a type of electric carbon arc lamp, invented in 1876 by Pavel Yablochkov.-Design:A Yablochkov candle consists of a sandwich of two long carbon blocks, approximately 6 by 12 millimetres in cross-section, separated by a block of inert material such as plaster of paris or kaolin...

 (arc lamps) of his own design. The coils Yablochkov employed functioned essentially as transformers.

In 1878, the Ganz
Ganz
The Ganz electric works in Budapest is probably best known for the manufacture of tramcars, but was also a pioneer in the application of three-phase alternating current to electric railways. Ganz also made / makes: ships , bridge steel structures , high voltage equipment...

 Company in Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 began manufacturing equipment for electric lighting and, by 1883, had installed over fifty systems in Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

. Their systems used alternating current exclusively and included those comprising both arc
Arc lamp
"Arc lamp" or "arc light" is the general term for a class of lamps that produce light by an electric arc . The lamp consists of two electrodes, first made from carbon but typically made today of tungsten, which are separated by a gas...

 and incandescent lamps, along with generators
Electrical generator
In electricity generation, an electric generator is a device that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. A generator forces electric charge to flow through an external electrical circuit. It is analogous to a water pump, which causes water to flow...

 and other equipment.

Lucien Gaulard
Lucien Gaulard
Lucien Gaulard invented devices for the transmission of alternating current electrical energy.-Biography:Gaulard was born in Paris, France....

 and John Dixon Gibbs first exhibited a device with an open iron core called a "secondary generator" in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in 1882, then sold the idea to the Westinghouse company in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. They also exhibited the invention in Turin, Italy
Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

 in 1884, where it was adopted for an electric lighting system. However, the efficiency of their open-core bipolar apparatus remained very low.

Induction coils with open magnetic circuits are inefficient for transfer of power to loads. Until about 1880, the paradigm for AC power transmission from a high voltage supply to a low voltage load was a series circuit. Open-core transformers with a ratio near 1:1 were connected with their primaries in series to allow use of a high voltage for transmission while presenting a low voltage to the lamps. The inherent flaw in this method was that turning off a single lamp affected the voltage supplied to all others on the same circuit. Many adjustable transformer designs were introduced to compensate for this problematic characteristic of the series circuit, including those employing methods of adjusting the core or bypassing the magnetic flux around part of a coil.

Efficient, practical transformer designs did not appear until the 1880s, but within a decade, the transformer would be instrumental in the "War of Currents
War of Currents
In the "War of Currents" era in the late 1880s, George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison became adversaries due to Edison's promotion of direct current for electric power distribution over alternating current advocated by several European companies and Westinghouse Electric based out of Pittsburgh,...

", and in seeing AC distribution systems triumph over their DC counterparts, a position in which they have remained dominant ever since.

Closed-core transformers and the introduction of parallel connection


In the autumn of 1884, Ganz
Ganz
The Ganz electric works in Budapest is probably best known for the manufacture of tramcars, but was also a pioneer in the application of three-phase alternating current to electric railways. Ganz also made / makes: ships , bridge steel structures , high voltage equipment...

 Company engineers Károly Zipernowsky
Károly Zipernowsky
Károly Zipernowsky was a Hungarian electrical engineer of Jewish descent. He was the co-inventor of the transformer and other AC technologies.-Biography:...

, Ottó Bláthy
Ottó Bláthy
Ottó Titusz Bláthy was a Hungarian electrical engineer. In his career, he became the co-inventor of the modern electric transformer, the tension regulator, , the AC watt-hour meter, the single-phase alternating current electric motor, the turbo generator, and the high efficiency turbo...

 and Miksa Déri
Miksa Déri
Miksa Déri was a Hungarian electrical engineer. He was, with his partners Károly Zipernowsky and Ottó Bláthy, co-inventor of the closed iron core transformer and the ZBD model AC electrical generator....

 had determined that open-core devices were impracticable, as they were incapable of reliably regulating voltage. In their joint patent application for the "Z.B.D." transformers, they described two designs with closed magnetic circuits: the "closed-core" and "shell-core" transformers. In the closed-core, the primary and secondary windings were wound around a closed iron ring; in the shell-core, the windings were passed through the iron core. In both designs, the magnetic flux linking the primary and secondary windings traveled almost entirely within the iron core, with no intentional path through air. The new Z.B.D. transformers reached 98 percent efficiency, which was 3.4 times higher than the open core bipolar devices of Gaulard and Gibbs. The patent has also included a claim for the usage of their invention in parallel consumer supply and distribution systems. When they employed it in parallel connected electric distribution systems, closed-core transformers finally made it technically and economically feasible to provide electric power for lighting in homes, businesses and public spaces. Bláthy had suggested the use of closed-cores, Zipernowsky the use of shunt connections
Shunt (electrical)
In electronics, a shunt is a device which allows electric current to pass around another point in the circuit. The term is also widely used in photovoltaics to describe an unwanted short circuit between the front and back surface contacts of a solar cell, usually caused by wafer damage.-Defective...

, and Déri had performed the experiments; Bláthy also discovered the transformer formula, Vs/Vp = Ns/Np. The vast majority of transformers in use today rely on the basic principles discovered by the three engineers. They also reportedly popularized the word "transformer" to describe a device for altering the EMF of an electric current, although the term had already been in use by 1882. In 1886, the Ganz Company installed the world's first power station
Power station
A power station is an industrial facility for the generation of electric energy....

 that used AC generators
Electrical generator
In electricity generation, an electric generator is a device that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. A generator forces electric charge to flow through an external electrical circuit. It is analogous to a water pump, which causes water to flow...

 to power a parallel-connected common electrical network, the steam-powered Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

-Cerchi
Cerchi
The Florentine banking family of the Cerchi, minor nobles of the Valdarno, with a seat especially at Acone near Pontassieve, settled in Florence in the early thirteenth century and increased their fortunes. The family became the heads of a consortium of the prominent Guelfs that securely...

 power plant.

Although George Westinghouse
George Westinghouse
George Westinghouse, Jr was an American entrepreneur and engineer who invented the railway air brake and was a pioneer of the electrical industry. Westinghouse was one of Thomas Edison's main rivals in the early implementation of the American electricity system...

 had bought Gaulard and Gibbs' patents in 1885, the Edison Electric Light Company held an option on the U.S. rights for the Z.B.D. transformers, requiring Westinghouse to pursue alternative designs on the same principles. He assigned to William Stanley
William Stanley, Jr.
William Stanley, Jr. was an American physicist born in Brooklyn, New York. In his career, he obtained 129 patents covering a variety of electric devices.-Biography:...

 the task of developing a device for commercial use in United States. Stanley's first patented design was for induction coils with single cores of soft iron and adjustable gaps to regulate the EMF present in the secondary winding. (See drawing at left.) This design was first used commercially in the U.S. in 1886. But Westinghouse soon had his team working on a design whose core comprised a stack of thin "E-shaped" iron plates, separated individually or in pairs by thin sheets of paper or other insulating material. Prewound copper coils could then be slid into place, and straight iron plates laid in to create a closed magnetic circuit. Westinghouse applied for a patent for the new design in December 1886; it was granted in July 1887.

Other early transformers


In 1889, Russian-born engineer Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky developed the first three-phase
Three-phase
In electrical engineering, three-phase electric power systems have at least three conductors carrying voltage waveforms that are radians offset in time...

 transformer at the Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft ("General Electricity Company") in Germany.

In 1891, Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer...

 invented the Tesla coil
Tesla coil
A Tesla coil is a type of resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla around 1891. It is used to produce high voltage, low current, high frequency alternating current electricity. Tesla coils produce higher current than the other source of high voltage discharges, electrostatic machines...

, an air-cored, dual-tuned resonant transformer for generating very high voltage
High voltage
The term high voltage characterizes electrical circuits in which the voltage used is the cause of particular safety concerns and insulation requirements...

s at high frequency.

Audio frequency
Audio frequency
An audio frequency or audible frequency is characterized as a periodic vibration whose frequency is audible to the average human...

 transformers ("repeating coil
Repeating coil
In telecommunications, a repeating coil is a voice-frequency transformer characterized by a closed magnetic core, a pair of identical balanced primary windings, a pair of identical but not necessarily balanced secondary windings, and low transmission loss at voice frequencies...

s") were used by early experimenters in the development of the telephone
Telephone
The telephone , colloquially referred to as a phone, is a telecommunications device that transmits and receives sounds, usually the human voice. Telephones are a point-to-point communication system whose most basic function is to allow two people separated by large distances to talk to each other...

.

Basic principles


The transformer is based on two principles: first, that an electric current
Electric current
Electric current is a flow of electric charge through a medium.This charge is typically carried by moving electrons in a conductor such as wire...

 can produce a magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

 (electromagnetism
Electromagnetism
Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The other three are the strong interaction, the weak interaction and gravitation...

), and, second that a changing magnetic field within a coil of wire induces a voltage across the ends of the coil (electromagnetic induction
Electromagnetic induction
Electromagnetic induction is the production of an electric current across a conductor moving through a magnetic field. It underlies the operation of generators, transformers, induction motors, electric motors, synchronous motors, and solenoids....

). Changing the current in the primary coil changes the magnetic flux that is developed. The changing magnetic flux induces a voltage in the secondary coil.

An ideal transformer is shown in the adjacent figure. Current passing through the primary coil creates a magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

. The primary and secondary coils are wrapped around a core
Magnetic core
A magnetic core is a piece of magnetic material with a high permeability used to confine and guide magnetic fields in electrical, electromechanical and magnetic devices such as electromagnets, transformers, electric motors, inductors and magnetic assemblies. It is made of ferromagnetic metal such...

 of very high magnetic permeability
Permeability (electromagnetism)
In electromagnetism, permeability is the measure of the ability of a material to support the formation of a magnetic field within itself. In other words, it is the degree of magnetization that a material obtains in response to an applied magnetic field. Magnetic permeability is typically...

, such as iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

, so that most of the magnetic flux passes through both the primary and secondary coils. If a load is connected to the secondary winding, the load current and voltage will be in the directions indicated, given the primary current and voltage in the directions indicated (each will be alternating current
Alternating current
In alternating current the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction. In direct current , the flow of electric charge is only in one direction....

 in practice).

Induction law


The voltage induced across the secondary coil may be calculated from Faraday's law of induction
Faraday's law of induction
Faraday's law of induction dates from the 1830s, and is a basic law of electromagnetism relating to the operating principles of transformers, inductors, and many types of electrical motors and generators...

, which states that:



where Vs is the instantaneous voltage
Voltage
Voltage, otherwise known as electrical potential difference or electric tension is the difference in electric potential between two points — or the difference in electric potential energy per unit charge between two points...

, Ns is the number of turns in the secondary coil and Φ is the magnetic flux
Magnetic flux
Magnetic flux , is a measure of the amount of magnetic B field passing through a given surface . The SI unit of magnetic flux is the weber...

 through one turn of the coil. If the turns of the coil are oriented perpendicular to the magnetic field lines, the flux is the product of the magnetic flux density B and the area A through which it cuts. The area is constant, being equal to the cross-sectional area of the transformer core, whereas the magnetic field varies with time according to the excitation of the primary. Since the same magnetic flux passes through both the primary and secondary coils in an ideal transformer, the instantaneous voltage across the primary winding equals


Taking the ratio of the two equations for Vs and Vp gives the basic equation for stepping up or stepping down the voltage

Np/Ns is known as the turns ratio, and is the primary functional characteristic of any transformer. In the case of step-up transformers, this may sometimes be stated as the reciprocal, Ns/Np. Turns ratio is commonly expressed as an irreducible fraction
Irreducible fraction
An irreducible fraction is a vulgar fraction in which the numerator and denominator are smaller than those in any other equivalent vulgar fraction...

 or ratio: for example, a transformer with primary and secondary windings of, respectively, 100 and 150 turns is said to have a turns ratio of 2:3 rather than 0.667 or 100:150.

Ideal power equation


If the secondary coil is attached to a load that allows current to flow, electrical power is transmitted from the primary circuit to the secondary circuit. Ideally, the transformer is perfectly efficient. All the incoming energy is transformed from the primary circuit to the magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

 and into the secondary circuit. If this condition is met, the input electric power
Electric power
Electric power is the rate at which electric energy is transferred by an electric circuit. The SI unit of power is the watt.-Circuits:Electric power, like mechanical power, is represented by the letter P in electrical equations...

 must equal the output power:


giving the ideal transformer equation

Transformers normally have high efficiency, so this formula is a reasonable approximation.

If the voltage is increased, then the current is decreased by the same factor. The impedance in one circuit is transformed by the square of the turns ratio. For example, if an impedance Zs is attached across the terminals of the secondary coil, it appears to the primary circuit to have an impedance of (Np/Ns)2Zs. This relationship is reciprocal, so that the impedance Zp of the primary circuit appears to the secondary to be (Ns/Np)2Zp.

Detailed operation


The simplified description above neglects several practical factors, in particular, the primary current required to establish a magnetic field in the core, and the contribution to the field due to current in the secondary circuit.

Models of an ideal transformer typically assume a core of negligible reluctance
Magnetic reluctance
Magnetic reluctance, or magnetic resistance, is a concept used in the analysis of magnetic circuits. It is analogous to resistance in an electrical circuit, but rather than dissipating magnetic energy it stores magnetic energy...

 with two windings of zero resistance
Electrical resistance
The electrical resistance of an electrical element is the opposition to the passage of an electric current through that element; the inverse quantity is electrical conductance, the ease at which an electric current passes. Electrical resistance shares some conceptual parallels with the mechanical...

. When a voltage is applied to the primary winding, a small current flows, driving flux
Magnetic flux
Magnetic flux , is a measure of the amount of magnetic B field passing through a given surface . The SI unit of magnetic flux is the weber...

 around the magnetic circuit
Magnetic circuit
A magnetic circuit is made up of one or more closed loop paths containing a magnetic flux. The flux is usually generated by permanent magnets or electromagnets and confined to the path by magnetic cores consisting of ferromagnetic materials like iron, although there may be air gaps or other...

 of the core. The current required to create the flux is termed the magnetizing current; since the ideal core has been assumed to have near-zero reluctance, the magnetizing current is negligible, although still required, to create the magnetic field.

The changing magnetic field induces an electromotive force
Electromotive force
In physics, electromotive force, emf , or electromotance refers to voltage generated by a battery or by the magnetic force according to Faraday's Law, which states that a time varying magnetic field will induce an electric current.It is important to note that the electromotive "force" is not a...

 (EMF) across each winding. Since the ideal windings have no impedance, they have no associated voltage drop, and so the voltages VP and VS measured at the terminals of the transformer, are equal to the corresponding EMFs. The primary EMF, acting as it does in opposition to the primary voltage, is sometimes termed the "back EMF
Counter-electromotive force
The counter-electromotive force also known as back electromotive force is the voltage, or electromotive force, that pushes against the current which induces it. CEMF is caused by a changing electromagnetic field. It is the effect of Lenz's Law of electromagnetism...

". This is in accordance with Lenz's law
Lenz's law
Lenz's law is a common way of understanding how electromagnetic circuits must always obey Newton's third law and The Law of Conservation of Energy...

, which states that induction of EMF always opposes development of any such change in magnetic field.

Leakage flux




The ideal transformer model assumes that all flux generated by the primary winding links all the turns of every winding, including itself. In practice, some flux traverses paths that take it outside the windings. Such flux is termed leakage flux, and results in leakage inductance
Leakage inductance
Leakage inductance is the property of an electrical transformer that causes a winding to appear to have some inductance in series with the mutually-coupled transformer windings...

 in series
Series and parallel circuits
Components of an electrical circuit or electronic circuit can be connected in many different ways. The two simplest of these are called series and parallel and occur very frequently. Components connected in series are connected along a single path, so the same current flows through all of the...

 with the mutually coupled transformer windings. Leakage results in energy being alternately stored in and discharged from the magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

s with each cycle of the power supply. It is not directly a power loss (see "Stray losses" below), but results in inferior voltage regulation
Voltage regulation
In electrical engineering, particularly power engineering, voltage regulation is the ability of a system to provide near constant voltage over a wide range of load conditions.-Electrical power systems:...

, causing the secondary voltage to not be directly proportional to the primary voltage, particularly under heavy load. Transformers are therefore normally designed to have very low leakage inductance
Leakage inductance
Leakage inductance is the property of an electrical transformer that causes a winding to appear to have some inductance in series with the mutually-coupled transformer windings...

. Nevertheless, it is impossible to eliminate all leakage flux because it plays an essential part in the operation of the transformer. The combined effect of the leakage flux and the electric field around the windings is what transfers energy from the primary to the secondary.

In some applications increased leakage is desired, and long magnetic paths, air gaps, or magnetic bypass shunts may deliberately be introduced in a transformer design to limit the short-circuit current it will supply. Leaky transformers may be used to supply loads that exhibit negative resistance
Negative resistance
Negative resistance is a property of some electric circuits where an increase in the current entering a port results in a decreased voltage across the same port. This is in contrast to a simple ohmic resistor, which exhibits an increase in voltage under the same conditions. Negative resistors are...

, such as electric arc
Electric arc
An electric arc is an electrical breakdown of a gas which produces an ongoing plasma discharge, resulting from a current flowing through normally nonconductive media such as air. A synonym is arc discharge. An arc discharge is characterized by a lower voltage than a glow discharge, and relies on...

s, mercury vapor lamps, and neon sign
Neon sign
Neon signs are made using electrified, luminous tube lights that contain rarefied neon or other gases. They are the most common use for neon lighting, which was first demonstrated in a modern form in December, 1910 by Georges Claude at the Paris Motor Show. While they are used worldwide, neon signs...

s; or for safely handling loads that become periodically short-circuited such as electric arc welders
Arc welding
Arc welding is a type of welding that uses a welding power supply to create an electric arc between an electrode and the base material to melt the metals at the welding point. They can use either direct or alternating current, and consumable or non-consumable electrodes...

.

Air gaps are also used to keep a transformer from saturating, especially audio-frequency transformers in circuits that have a direct current component flowing through the windings.

Leakage inductance is also helpful when transformers are operated in parallel. It can be shown that if the "per-unit" inductance of two transformers is the same (a typical value is 5%), they will automatically split power "correctly" (e.g. 500 kVA unit in parallel with 1,000 kVA unit, the larger one will carry twice the current).

Effect of frequency


The time-derivative term in Faraday's Law
Faraday's law of induction
Faraday's law of induction dates from the 1830s, and is a basic law of electromagnetism relating to the operating principles of transformers, inductors, and many types of electrical motors and generators...

 shows that the flux in the core is the integral
Integral
Integration is an important concept in mathematics and, together with its inverse, differentiation, is one of the two main operations in calculus...

 with respect to time of the applied voltage. Hypothetically an ideal transformer would work with direct-current excitation, with the core flux increasing linearly with time. In practice, the flux rises to the point where magnetic saturation
Saturation (magnetic)
Seen in some magnetic materials, saturation is the state reached when an increase in applied external magnetizing field H cannot increase the magnetization of the material further, so the total magnetic field B levels off...

 of the core occurs, causing a large increase in the magnetizing current and overheating the transformer. All practical transformers must therefore operate with alternating (or pulsed direct) current.

The EMF of a transformer at a given flux density increases with frequency. By operating at higher frequencies, transformers can be physically more compact because a given core is able to transfer more power without reaching saturation and fewer turns are needed to achieve the same impedance. However, properties such as core loss and conductor skin effect
Skin effect
Skin effect is the tendency of an alternating electric current to distribute itself within a conductor with the current density being largest near the surface of the conductor, decreasing at greater depths. In other words, the electric current flows mainly at the "skin" of the conductor, at an...

 also increase with frequency. Aircraft and military equipment employ 400 Hz power supplies which reduce core and winding weight. Conversely, frequencies used for some railway electrification system
Railway electrification system
A railway electrification system supplies electrical energy to railway locomotives and multiple units as well as trams so that they can operate without having an on-board prime mover. There are several different electrification systems in use throughout the world...

s were much lower (e.g. 16.7 Hz and 25 Hz) than normal utility frequencies (50 – 60 Hz) for historical reasons concerned mainly with the limitations of early electric traction motors
Traction motor
Traction motor refers to an electric motor providing the primary rotational torque of a machine, usually for conversion into linear motion ....

. As such, the transformers used to step down the high over-head line voltages (e.g. 15 kV) were much heavier for the same power rating than those designed only for the higher frequencies.

Operation of a transformer at its designed voltage but at a higher frequency than intended will lead to reduced magnetizing current. At a lower frequency, the magnetizing current will increase. Operation of a transformer at other than its design frequency may require assessment of voltages, losses, and cooling to establish if safe operation is practical. For example, transformers may need to be equipped with "volts per hertz" over-excitation relays
Protective relay
In electrical engineering, a protective relay is a complex electromechanical apparatus, often with more than one coil, designed to calculate operating conditions on an electrical circuit and trip circuit breakers when a fault is detected...

 to protect the transformer from overvoltage at higher than rated frequency.

One example of state-of-the-art design is transformers used for electric multiple unit
Electric multiple unit
An electric multiple unit or EMU is a multiple unit train consisting of self-propelled carriages, using electricity as the motive power. An EMU requires no separate locomotive, as electric traction motors are incorporated within one or a number of the carriages...

 high speed trains
High-speed rail
High-speed rail is a type of passenger rail transport that operates significantly faster than the normal speed of rail traffic. Specific definitions by the European Union include for upgraded track and or faster for new track, whilst in the United States, the U.S...

, particularly those required to operate across the borders of countries using different electrical standards. The position of such transformers is restricted to being hung below the passenger compartment. They have to function at different frequencies (down to 16.7 Hz) and voltages (up to 25 kV) whilst handling the enhanced power requirements needed for operating the trains at high speed.

Knowledge of natural frequencies of transformer windings is necessary for the determination of winding transient response and switching surge voltages.

Energy losses


An ideal transformer would have no energy losses, and would be 100% efficient. In practical transformers, energy is dissipated in the windings, core, and surrounding structures. Larger transformers are generally more efficient, and those rated for electricity distribution usually perform better than 98%.

Experimental transformers using superconducting
Superconductivity
Superconductivity is a phenomenon of exactly zero electrical resistance occurring in certain materials below a characteristic temperature. It was discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes on April 8, 1911 in Leiden. Like ferromagnetism and atomic spectral lines, superconductivity is a quantum...

 windings achieve efficiencies of 99.85%.
The increase in efficiency can save considerable energy, and hence money, in a large heavily loaded transformer; the trade-off is in the additional initial and running cost of the superconducting design.

Losses in transformers (excluding associated circuitry) vary with load current, and may be expressed as "no-load" or "full-load" loss. Winding resistance
Electrical resistance
The electrical resistance of an electrical element is the opposition to the passage of an electric current through that element; the inverse quantity is electrical conductance, the ease at which an electric current passes. Electrical resistance shares some conceptual parallels with the mechanical...

 dominates load losses, whereas hysteresis
Hysteresis
Hysteresis is the dependence of a system not just on its current environment but also on its past. This dependence arises because the system can be in more than one internal state. To predict its future evolution, either its internal state or its history must be known. If a given input alternately...

 and eddy current
Eddy current
Eddy currents are electric currents induced in conductors when a conductor is exposed to a changing magnetic field; due to relative motion of the field source and conductor or due to variations of the field with time. This can cause a circulating flow of electrons, or current, within the body of...

s losses contribute to over 99% of the no-load loss. The no-load loss can be significant, so that even an idle transformer constitutes a drain on the electrical supply and a running cost; designing transformers for lower loss requires a larger core, good-quality silicon steel
Electrical steel
Electrical steel, also called lamination steel, silicon electrical steel, silicon steel, relay steel or transformer steel, is specialty steel tailored to produce certain magnetic properties, such as a small hysteresis area and high permeability.The material is usually manufactured in the form of...

, or even amorphous steel, for the core, and thicker wire, increasing initial cost, so that there is a trade-off
Trade-off
A trade-off is a situation that involves losing one quality or aspect of something in return for gaining another quality or aspect...

 between initial cost and running cost. (Also see energy efficient transformer
Energy efficient transformer
In a typical power distribution grid, electric transformer power loss typically contributes about 40-50% of the total transmission & distribution loss. Energy efficient transformers are therefore an important means to reduce T&D loss. With the improvement of electrical steel properties, the losses...

).

Transformer losses are divided into losses in the windings, termed copper loss
Copper loss
Copper loss is the term often given to heat produced by electrical currents in the conductors of transformer windings, or other electrical devices. Copper losses are an undesirable transfer of energy, as are core losses, which result from induced currents in adjacent components...

, and those in the magnetic circuit, termed iron loss. Losses in the transformer arise from:
Winding resistance
Current flowing through the windings causes resistive heating of the conductors. At higher frequencies, skin effect
Skin effect
Skin effect is the tendency of an alternating electric current to distribute itself within a conductor with the current density being largest near the surface of the conductor, decreasing at greater depths. In other words, the electric current flows mainly at the "skin" of the conductor, at an...

 and proximity effect
Proximity effect (electromagnetism)
In a conductor carrying alternating current, if currents are flowing through one or more other nearby conductors, such as within a closely wound coil of wire, the distribution of current within the first conductor will be constrained to smaller regions. The resulting current crowding is termed the...

 create additional winding resistance and losses.

Hysteresis losses
Each time the magnetic field is reversed, a small amount of energy is lost due to hysteresis
Hysteresis
Hysteresis is the dependence of a system not just on its current environment but also on its past. This dependence arises because the system can be in more than one internal state. To predict its future evolution, either its internal state or its history must be known. If a given input alternately...

 within the core. For a given core material, the loss is proportional to the frequency, and is a function of the peak flux density to which it is subjected.

Eddy currents
Ferromagnetic materials are also good conductors
Electrical conductor
In physics and electrical engineering, a conductor is a material which contains movable electric charges. In metallic conductors such as copper or aluminum, the movable charged particles are electrons...

, and a core made from such a material also constitutes a single short-circuited turn throughout its entire length. Eddy current
Eddy current
Eddy currents are electric currents induced in conductors when a conductor is exposed to a changing magnetic field; due to relative motion of the field source and conductor or due to variations of the field with time. This can cause a circulating flow of electrons, or current, within the body of...

s therefore circulate within the core in a plane normal to the flux, and are responsible for resistive heating of the core material. The eddy current loss is a complex function of the square of supply frequency and inverse square of the material thickness. Eddy current losses can be reduced by making the core of a stack of plates electrically insulated from each other, rather than a solid block; all transformers operating at low frequencies use laminated or similar cores.

Magnetostriction
Magnetic flux in a ferromagnetic material, such as the core, causes it to physically expand and contract slightly with each cycle of the magnetic field, an effect known as magnetostriction
Magnetostriction
Magnetostriction is a property of ferromagnetic materials that causes them to change their shape or dimensions during the process of magnetization. The variation of material's magnetization due to the applied magnetic field changes the magnetostrictive strain until reaching its saturation value, λ...

. This produces the buzzing sound commonly associated with transformers, and can cause losses due to frictional heating.

Mechanical losses
In addition to magnetostriction, the alternating magnetic field causes fluctuating forces between the primary and secondary windings. These incite vibrations within nearby metalwork, adding to the buzzing noise
Mains hum
Mains hum, electric hum, or power line hum is an audible oscillation of alternating current at the frequency of the mains electricity, which is usually 50 Hz or 60 Hz, depending on the local power line frequency...

, and consuming a small amount of power.

Stray losses
Leakage inductance is by itself largely lossless, since energy supplied to its magnetic fields is returned to the supply with the next half-cycle. However, any leakage flux that intercepts nearby conductive materials such as the transformer's support structure will give rise to eddy currents and be converted to heat. There are also radiative losses due to the oscillating magnetic field, but these are usually small.

Dot convention



It is common in transformer schematic symbols for there to be a dot at the end of each coil within a transformer, particularly for transformers with multiple primary and secondary windings. The dots indicate the direction of each winding relative to the others. Voltages at the dot end of each winding are in phase; current flowing into the dot end of a primary coil will result in current flowing out of the dot end of a secondary coil.

Equivalent circuit

Refer to the diagram below

The physical limitations of the practical transformer may be brought together as an equivalent circuit model (shown below) built around an ideal lossless transformer. Power loss in the windings is current-dependent and is represented as in-series resistances Rp and Rs. Flux leakage results in a fraction of the applied voltage dropped without contributing to the mutual coupling, and thus can be modeled as reactances of each leakage inductance
Leakage inductance
Leakage inductance is the property of an electrical transformer that causes a winding to appear to have some inductance in series with the mutually-coupled transformer windings...

 Xp and Xs in series with the perfectly coupled region.

Iron losses are caused mostly by hysteresis and eddy current effects in the core, and are proportional to the square of the core flux for operation at a given frequency. Since the core flux is proportional to the applied voltage, the iron loss can be represented by a resistance RC in parallel with the ideal transformer.

A core with finite permeability
Permeability (electromagnetism)
In electromagnetism, permeability is the measure of the ability of a material to support the formation of a magnetic field within itself. In other words, it is the degree of magnetization that a material obtains in response to an applied magnetic field. Magnetic permeability is typically...

 requires a magnetizing current Im to maintain the mutual flux in the core. The magnetizing current is in phase with the flux; saturation effects cause the relationship between the two to be non-linear, but for simplicity this effect tends to be ignored in most circuit equivalents. With a sinusoidal supply, the core flux lags the induced EMF by 90° and this effect can be modeled as a magnetizing reactance (reactance of an effective inductance) Xm in parallel
Series and parallel circuits
Components of an electrical circuit or electronic circuit can be connected in many different ways. The two simplest of these are called series and parallel and occur very frequently. Components connected in series are connected along a single path, so the same current flows through all of the...

 with the core loss component. Rc and Xm are sometimes together termed the magnetizing branch of the model. If the secondary winding is made open-circuit, the current I0 taken by the magnetizing branch represents the transformer's no-load current.

The secondary impedance
Electrical impedance
Electrical impedance, or simply impedance, is the measure of the opposition that an electrical circuit presents to the passage of a current when a voltage is applied. In quantitative terms, it is the complex ratio of the voltage to the current in an alternating current circuit...

 Rs and Xs is frequently moved (or "referred") to the primary side after multiplying the components by the impedance scaling factor (Np/Ns)2.

The resulting model is sometimes termed the "exact equivalent circuit", though it retains a number of approximations, such as an assumption of linearity. Analysis may be simplified by moving the magnetizing branch to the left of the primary impedance, an implicit assumption that the magnetizing current is low, and then summing primary and referred secondary impedances, resulting in so-called equivalent impedance.

The parameters of equivalent circuit of a transformer can be calculated from the results of two transformer tests: open-circuit test
Open circuit test
The Open circuit test, or "no-load test", is one of the methods used in electrical engineering to determine the no load impedance in the excitation branch of a real transformer.-Method:...

 and short-circuit test
Short circuit test
The purpose of a short circuit test is to determine the series branch parameters of the equivalent circuit. As the name suggests, in this test primary applied voltage, the current and power input are measured keeping the secondary terminals short circuited. Let these values be Vsc, Isc and Wsc...

.

Types



A wide variety of transformer designs are used for different applications, though they share several common features. Important common transformer types include:

Autotransformer



In an autotransformer portions of the same winding act as both the primary and secondary. The winding has at least three taps
Tap (transformer)
A transformer tap is a connection point along a transformer winding that allows a certain number of turns to be selected. This means, a transformer with a variable turns ratio is produced, enabling voltage regulation of the output...

 where electrical connections are made. An autotransformer can be smaller, lighter and cheaper than a standard dual-winding transformer however the autotransformer does not provide electrical isolation.

Autotransformers are often used to step up or down between voltages in the 110-117-120 volt range and voltages in the 220-230-240 volt range, e.g., to output either 110 or 120V (with taps) from 230V input, allowing equipment from a 100 or 120V region to be used in a 230V region.

A variable autotransformer is made by exposing part of the winding coils and making the secondary connection through a sliding brush
Brush (electric)
A brush is a device which conducts current between stationary wires and moving parts, most commonly in a rotating shaft. Typical applications include electric motors, alternators and electric generators.-Etymology:...

, giving a variable turns ratio. Such a device is often referred to by the trademark name Variac.

Polyphase transformers



For three-phase
Three-phase
In electrical engineering, three-phase electric power systems have at least three conductors carrying voltage waveforms that are radians offset in time...

 supplies, a bank of three individual single-phase transformers can be used, or all three phases can be incorporated as a single three-phase transformer. In this case, the magnetic circuits are connected together, the core thus containing a three-phase flow of flux. A number of winding configurations are possible, giving rise to different attributes and phase shifts
Phase (waves)
Phase in waves is the fraction of a wave cycle which has elapsed relative to an arbitrary point.-Formula:The phase of an oscillation or wave refers to a sinusoidal function such as the following:...

. One particular polyphase configuration is the zigzag transformer
Zigzag transformer
A Zigzag transformer is a special purpose transformer with a zigzag arrangement. It has primary windings but no secondary winding. One application is to derive an earth reference point for an ungrounded electrical system. Another is to control harmonic currents.As with other three-phase...

, used for grounding
Ground (electricity)
In electrical engineering, ground or earth may be the reference point in an electrical circuit from which other voltages are measured, or a common return path for electric current, or a direct physical connection to the Earth....

 and in the suppression of harmonic
Harmonic
A harmonic of a wave is a component frequency of the signal that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency, i.e. if the fundamental frequency is f, the harmonics have frequencies 2f, 3f, 4f, . . . etc. The harmonics have the property that they are all periodic at the fundamental...

 currents.

Leakage transformers



A leakage transformer, also called a stray-field transformer, has a significantly higher leakage inductance
Leakage inductance
Leakage inductance is the property of an electrical transformer that causes a winding to appear to have some inductance in series with the mutually-coupled transformer windings...

 than other transformers, sometimes increased by a magnetic bypass or shunt in its core between primary and secondary, which is sometimes adjustable with a set screw. This provides a transformer with an inherent current limitation due to the loose coupling between its primary and the secondary windings. The output and input currents are low enough to prevent thermal overload under all load conditions—even if the secondary is shorted.

Leakage transformers are used for arc welding
Arc welding
Arc welding is a type of welding that uses a welding power supply to create an electric arc between an electrode and the base material to melt the metals at the welding point. They can use either direct or alternating current, and consumable or non-consumable electrodes...

 and high voltage discharge lamps (neon lights and cold cathode fluorescent lamps, which are series-connected up to 7.5 kV AC). It acts then both as a voltage transformer and as a magnetic ballast.

Other applications are short-circuit-proof extra-low voltage transformers for toys or doorbell
Doorbell
A doorbell is a signaling device typically placed near a door. Most doorbells emit a ringing sound to alert the occupant of the building to a visitor's presence, when the visitor presses a button. Many modern doorbells are electric — they are actuated by an electric switch...

 installations.

Resonant transformers



A resonant
Electrical resonance
Electrical resonance occurs in an electric circuit at a particular resonance frequency where the imaginary parts of circuit element impedances or admittances cancel each other...

 transformer is a kind of leakage transformer. It uses the leakage inductance
Leakage inductance
Leakage inductance is the property of an electrical transformer that causes a winding to appear to have some inductance in series with the mutually-coupled transformer windings...

 of its secondary windings in combination with external capacitors, to create one or more resonant circuits. Resonant transformers such as the Tesla coil
Tesla coil
A Tesla coil is a type of resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla around 1891. It is used to produce high voltage, low current, high frequency alternating current electricity. Tesla coils produce higher current than the other source of high voltage discharges, electrostatic machines...

 can generate very high voltages, and are able to provide much higher current than electrostatic high-voltage generation machines such as the Van de Graaff generator
Van de Graaff generator
A Van de Graaff generator is an electrostatic generator which uses a moving belt to accumulate very high voltages on a hollow metal globe on the top of the stand. It was invented in 1929 by American physicist Robert J. Van de Graaff. The potential differences achieved in modern Van de Graaff...

. One of the applications of the resonant transformer is for the CCFL inverter
CCFL inverter
A CCFL inverter is a device for providing drive power to a Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp . CCFLs are often used as inexpensive light units in electrical devices.-Applications:#widely used in backlights for LCDs...

. Another application of the resonant transformer is to couple between stages of a superheterodyne receiver
Superheterodyne receiver
In electronics, a superheterodyne receiver uses frequency mixing or heterodyning to convert a received signal to a fixed intermediate frequency, which can be more conveniently processed than the original radio carrier frequency...

, where the selectivity of the receiver is provided by tuned transformers in the intermediate-frequency amplifiers.

Audio transformers


Audio transformers are those specifically designed for use in audio circuits. They can be used to block radio frequency interference or the DC component of an audio signal, to split or combine audio signals, or to provide impedance matching between high and low impedance circuits, such as between a high impedance tube (valve) amplifier
Valve amplifier
A valve amplifier or tube amplifier is a type of electronic amplifier that makes use of vacuum tubes to increase the power and/or amplitude of a signal. Low to medium power valve amplifiers for frequencies below the microwaves were largely replaced by solid state amplifiers during the 1960s and...

 output and a low impedance loudspeaker
Loudspeaker
A loudspeaker is an electroacoustic transducer that produces sound in response to an electrical audio signal input. Non-electrical loudspeakers were developed as accessories to telephone systems, but electronic amplification by vacuum tube made loudspeakers more generally useful...

, or between a high impedance instrument output and the low impedance input of a mixing console
Mixing console
In professional audio, a mixing console, or audio mixer, also called a sound board, mixing desk, or mixer is an electronic device for combining , routing, and changing the level, timbre and/or dynamics of audio signals. A mixer can mix analog or digital signals, depending on the type of mixer...

.

Such transformers were originally designed to connect different telephone systems to one another while keeping their respective power supplies isolated, and are still commonly used to interconnect professional audio
Professional audio
Professional audio, also 'pro audio', refers to both an activity and a type of audio equipment. Typically it encompasses the production or reproduction of sound for an audience, by individuals who do such work as an occupation like live event support, using sound reinforcement systems designed for...

 systems or system components.

Being magnetic devices, audio transformers are susceptible to external magnetic fields such as those generated by AC current-carrying conductors. "Hum" is a term commonly used to describe unwanted signals originating from the "mains
Mains electricity
Mains is the general-purpose alternating current electric power supply. In the US, electric power is referred to by several names including household power, household electricity, powerline, domestic power, wall power, line power, AC power, city power, street power, and grid power...

" power supply (typically 50 or 60 Hz). Audio transformers used for low-level signals, such as those from microphones, often include shielding to protect against extraneous magnetically coupled signals.

Instrument transformers


Instrument transformers are used for measuring voltage and current in electrical power systems, and for power system protection
Power system protection
Power system protection is a branch of electrical power engineering that deals with the protection of electrical power systems from faults through the isolation of faulted parts from the rest of the electrical network...

 and control. Where a voltage or current is too large to be conveniently used by an instrument, it can be scaled down to a standardized, low value. Instrument transformers isolate measurement, protection and control circuitry from the high currents or voltages present on the circuits being measured or controlled.
A current transformer
Current transformer
In electrical engineering, a current transformer is used for measurement of electric currents. Current transformers, together with voltage transformers , are known as instrument transformers...

 is a transformer designed to provide a current in its secondary coil proportional to the current flowing in its primary coil.

Voltage transformers (VTs), also referred to as "potential transformers" (PTs), are designed to have an accurately known transformation ratio in both magnitude and phase, over a range of measuring circuit impedances. A voltage transformer is intended to present a negligible load to the supply being measured. The low secondary voltage allows protective relay equipment and measuring instruments to be operated at a lower voltages.

Both current and voltage instrument transformers are designed to have predictable characteristics on overloads. Proper operation of over-current protective relay
Protective relay
In electrical engineering, a protective relay is a complex electromechanical apparatus, often with more than one coil, designed to calculate operating conditions on an electrical circuit and trip circuit breakers when a fault is detected...

s requires that current transformers provide a predictable transformation ratio even during a short-circuit.

Classification


Transformers can be considered a class of electric machine
Electric machine
The academic study of electric machines is the universal study of electric motors and electric generators. By the classic definition, electric machine is synonymous with electric motor or electric generator, all of which are electro-mechanical energy converters: converting electricity to mechanical...

 with no moving parts; as such they are described as static electric machines. They can be classified in many different ways; an incomplete list is:
  • By power capacity: from a fraction of a volt-ampere
    Volt-ampere
    A volt-ampere is the unit used for the apparent power in an electrical circuit, equal to the product of root-mean-square voltage and RMS current. In direct current circuits, this product is equal to the real power in watts...

     (VA) to over a thousand MVA;
  • By frequency range: power-
    Utility frequency
    The utility frequency, line frequency or mains frequency is the frequency at which alternating current is transmitted from a power plant to the end-user. In most parts of the world this is 50 Hz, although in the Americas it is typically 60 Hz...

    , audio-
    Audio frequency
    An audio frequency or audible frequency is characterized as a periodic vibration whose frequency is audible to the average human...

    , or radio frequency
    Radio frequency
    Radio frequency is a rate of oscillation in the range of about 3 kHz to 300 GHz, which corresponds to the frequency of radio waves, and the alternating currents which carry radio signals...

    ;
  • By voltage class: from a few volts to hundreds of kilovolts;
  • By cooling type: air-cooled, oil-filled, fan-cooled, or water-cooled;
  • By application: such as power supply, impedance matching, output voltage and current stabilizer, or circuit isolation;
  • By purpose: distribution
    Electricity distribution
    File:Electricity grid simple- North America.svg|thumb|380px|right|Simplified diagram of AC electricity distribution from generation stations to consumers...

    , rectifier
    Rectifier
    A rectifier is an electrical device that converts alternating current , which periodically reverses direction, to direct current , which flows in only one direction. The process is known as rectification...

    , arc furnace, amplifier output, etc.;
  • By winding turns ratio: step-up, step-down, isolating with equal or near-equal ratio, variable, multiple windings.


Cores



Laminated steel cores


Transformers for use at power or audio frequencies typically have cores made of high permeability
Permeability (electromagnetism)
In electromagnetism, permeability is the measure of the ability of a material to support the formation of a magnetic field within itself. In other words, it is the degree of magnetization that a material obtains in response to an applied magnetic field. Magnetic permeability is typically...

 silicon steel. The steel has a permeability many times that of free space, and the core thus serves to greatly reduce the magnetizing current, and confine the flux to a path which closely couples the windings. Early transformer developers soon realized that cores constructed from solid iron resulted in prohibitive eddy-current losses, and their designs mitigated this effect with cores consisting of bundles of insulated iron wires. Later designs constructed the core by stacking layers of thin steel laminations, a principle that has remained in use. Each lamination is insulated from its neighbors by a thin non-conducting layer of insulation. The universal transformer equation indicates a minimum cross-sectional area for the core to avoid saturation.

The effect of laminations is to confine eddy currents to highly elliptical paths that enclose little flux, and so reduce their magnitude. Thinner laminations reduce losses, but are more laborious and expensive to construct. Thin laminations are generally used on high frequency transformers, with some types of very thin steel laminations able to operate up to 10 kHz.


One common design of laminated core is made from interleaved stacks of E-shaped steel sheets capped with I-shaped pieces, leading to its name of "E-I transformer". Such a design tends to exhibit more losses, but is very economical to manufacture. The cut-core or C-core type is made by winding a steel strip around a rectangular form and then bonding the layers together. It is then cut in two, forming two C shapes, and the core assembled by binding the two C halves together with a steel strap. They have the advantage that the flux is always oriented parallel to the metal grains, reducing reluctance.

A steel core's remanence
Remanence
Remanence or remanent magnetization is the magnetization left behind in a ferromagnetic material after an external magnetic field is removed. It is also the measure of that magnetization. Colloquially, when a magnet is "magnetized" it has remanence...

 means that it retains a static magnetic field when power is removed. When power is then reapplied, the residual field will cause a high inrush current
Inrush current
Inrush current, input surge current or switch-on surge refers to the maximum, instantaneous input current drawn by an electrical device when first turned on. For example, incandescent light bulbs have high inrush currents until their filaments warm up and their resistance increases...

 until the effect of the remaining magnetism is reduced, usually after a few cycles of the applied alternating current. Overcurrent protection devices such as fuses
Fuse (electrical)
In electronics and electrical engineering, a fuse is a type of low resistance resistor that acts as a sacrificial device to provide overcurrent protection, of either the load or source circuit...

 must be selected to allow this harmless inrush to pass. On transformers connected to long, overhead power transmission lines, induced currents due to geomagnetic disturbances
Geomagnetically induced current
Geomagnetically induced currents , affecting the normal operation of long electrical conductor systems, are a manifestation at ground level of space weather. During space weather events, electric currents in the magnetosphere and ionosphere experience large variations, which manifest also in the...

 during solar storms
Geomagnetic storm
A geomagnetic storm is a temporary disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a disturbance in the interplanetary medium. A geomagnetic storm is a major component of space weather and provides the input for many other components of space weather...

 can cause saturation of the core and operation of transformer protection devices.

Distribution transformers can achieve low no-load losses by using cores made with low-loss high-permeability silicon steel or amorphous (non-crystalline) metal alloy. The higher initial cost of the core material is offset over the life of the transformer by its lower losses at light load.

Solid cores


Powdered iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 cores are used in circuits (such as switch-mode power supplies) that operate above main frequencies and up to a few tens of kilohertz. These materials combine high magnetic permeability
Permeability (electromagnetism)
In electromagnetism, permeability is the measure of the ability of a material to support the formation of a magnetic field within itself. In other words, it is the degree of magnetization that a material obtains in response to an applied magnetic field. Magnetic permeability is typically...

 with high bulk electrical resistivity
Resistivity
Electrical resistivity is a measure of how strongly a material opposes the flow of electric current. A low resistivity indicates a material that readily allows the movement of electric charge. The SI unit of electrical resistivity is the ohm metre...

. For frequencies extending beyond the VHF band
Very high frequency
Very high frequency is the radio frequency range from 30 MHz to 300 MHz. Frequencies immediately below VHF are denoted High frequency , and the next higher frequencies are known as Ultra high frequency...

, cores made from non-conductive magnetic ceramic
Ceramic
A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous...

 materials called ferrites
Ferrite (magnet)
Ferrites are chemical compounds consisting of ceramic materials with iron oxide as their principal component. Many of them are magnetic materials and they are used to make permanent magnets, ferrite cores for transformers, and in various other applications.Many ferrites are spinels with the...

 are common. Some radio-frequency transformers also have movable cores (sometimes called 'slugs') which allow adjustment of the coupling coefficient (and bandwidth) of tuned radio-frequency circuits.

Toroidal cores



Toroidal transformers are built around a ring-shaped core, which, depending on operating frequency, is made from a long strip of silicon steel or permalloy
Permalloy
Permalloy is a nickel-iron magnetic alloy, with about 20% iron and 80% nickel content. It is notable for its very high magnetic permeability, which makes it useful as a magnetic core material in electrical and electronic equipment, and also in magnetic shielding to block magnetic fields...

 wound into a coil, powdered iron, or ferrite
Ferrite (magnet)
Ferrites are chemical compounds consisting of ceramic materials with iron oxide as their principal component. Many of them are magnetic materials and they are used to make permanent magnets, ferrite cores for transformers, and in various other applications.Many ferrites are spinels with the...

. A strip construction ensures that the grain boundaries
Grain boundary
A grain boundary is the interface between two grains, or crystallites, in a polycrystalline material. Grain boundaries are defects in the crystal structure, and tend to decrease the electrical and thermal conductivity of the material...

 are optimally aligned, improving the transformer's efficiency by reducing the core's reluctance. The closed ring shape eliminates air gaps inherent in the construction of an E-I core. The cross-section of the ring is usually square or rectangular, but more expensive cores with circular cross-sections are also available. The primary and secondary coils are often wound concentrically to cover the entire surface of the core. This minimizes the length of wire needed, and also provides screening to minimize the core's magnetic field from generating electromagnetic interference
Electromagnetic interference
Electromagnetic interference is disturbance that affects an electrical circuit due to either electromagnetic induction or electromagnetic radiation emitted from an external source. The disturbance may interrupt, obstruct, or otherwise degrade or limit the effective performance of the circuit...

.

Toroidal transformers are more efficient than the cheaper laminated E-I types for a similar power level. Other advantages compared to E-I types, include smaller size (about half), lower weight (about half), less mechanical hum (making them superior in audio amplifiers), lower exterior magnetic field (about one tenth), low off-load losses (making them more efficient in standby circuits), single-bolt mounting, and greater choice of shapes. The main disadvantages are higher cost and limited power capacity (see "Classification" above). Because of the lack of a residual gap in the magnetic path, toroidal transformers also tend to exhibit higher inrush current
Inrush current
Inrush current, input surge current or switch-on surge refers to the maximum, instantaneous input current drawn by an electrical device when first turned on. For example, incandescent light bulbs have high inrush currents until their filaments warm up and their resistance increases...

, compared to laminated E-I types.

Ferrite toroidal cores are used at higher frequencies, typically between a few tens of kilohertz to hundreds of megahertz, to reduce losses, physical size, and weight of a switched-mode power supply
Switched-mode power supply
A switched-mode power supply is an electronic power supply that incorporates a switching regulator in order to be highly efficient in the conversion of electrical power...

. A drawback of toroidal transformer construction is the higher labor cost of winding. This is because it is necessary to pass the entire length of a coil winding through the core aperture each time a single turn is added to the coil. As a consequence, toroidal transformers are uncommon above ratings of a few kVA. Small distribution transformers may achieve some of the benefits of a toroidal core by splitting it and forcing it open, then inserting a bobbin containing primary and secondary windings.

Air cores


A physical core is not an absolute requisite and a functioning transformer can be produced simply by placing the windings near each other, an arrangement termed an "air-core" transformer. The air which comprises the magnetic circuit is essentially lossless, and so an air-core transformer eliminates loss due to hysteresis
Hysteresis
Hysteresis is the dependence of a system not just on its current environment but also on its past. This dependence arises because the system can be in more than one internal state. To predict its future evolution, either its internal state or its history must be known. If a given input alternately...

 in the core material. The leakage inductance is inevitably high, resulting in very poor regulation, and so such designs are unsuitable for use in power distribution. They have however very high bandwidth, and are frequently employed in radio-frequency applications, for which a satisfactory coupling coefficient is maintained by carefully overlapping the primary and secondary windings. They're also used for resonant transformers
Resonant inductive coupling
Resonant inductive coupling or electrodynamic induction is the near field wireless transmission of electrical energy between two coils that are highly resonant at the same frequency.  The equipment to do this is sometimes called a resonant or resonance transformer.  While many...

 such as Tesla coil
Tesla coil
A Tesla coil is a type of resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla around 1891. It is used to produce high voltage, low current, high frequency alternating current electricity. Tesla coils produce higher current than the other source of high voltage discharges, electrostatic machines...

s where they can achieve reasonably low loss in spite of the high leakage inductance.

Windings


The conducting material
Electrical conductor
In physics and electrical engineering, a conductor is a material which contains movable electric charges. In metallic conductors such as copper or aluminum, the movable charged particles are electrons...

 used for the windings depends upon the application, but in all cases the individual turns must be electrically insulated from each other to ensure that the current travels throughout every turn. For small power and signal transformers, in which currents are low and the potential difference between adjacent turns is small, the coils are often wound from enamelled magnet wire
Enameled wire
Enamelled wire is wire coated with a very thin insulating layer. It is used in applications such as winding electric motor coils, speakers and transformers. It is also used in the construction of electromagnets and inductors....

, such as Formvar wire. Larger power transformers operating at high voltages may be wound with copper rectangular strip conductors insulated by oil-impregnated paper and blocks of pressboard.

High-frequency transformers operating in the tens to hundreds of kilohertz often have windings made of braided Litz wire
Litz wire
Litz wire is a type of cable used in electronics to carry alternating current. The wire is designed to reduce the skin effect and proximity effect losses in conductors used at frequencies up to about 1 MHz...

 to minimize the skin-effect and proximity effect
Proximity effect (electromagnetism)
In a conductor carrying alternating current, if currents are flowing through one or more other nearby conductors, such as within a closely wound coil of wire, the distribution of current within the first conductor will be constrained to smaller regions. The resulting current crowding is termed the...

 losses. Large power transformers use multiple-stranded conductors as well, since even at low power frequencies non-uniform distribution of current would otherwise exist in high-current windings. Each strand is individually insulated, and the strands are arranged so that at certain points in the winding, or throughout the whole winding, each portion occupies different relative positions in the complete conductor. The transposition equalizes the current flowing in each strand of the conductor, and reduces eddy current losses in the winding itself. The stranded conductor is also more flexible than a solid conductor of similar size, aiding manufacture.

For signal transformers, the windings may be arranged in a way to minimize leakage inductance and stray capacitance to improve high-frequency response. This can be done by splitting up each coil into sections, and those sections placed in layers between the sections of the other winding. This is known as a stacked type or interleaved winding.

Both the primary and secondary windings on power transformers may have external connections, called taps
Tap (transformer)
A transformer tap is a connection point along a transformer winding that allows a certain number of turns to be selected. This means, a transformer with a variable turns ratio is produced, enabling voltage regulation of the output...

, to intermediate points on the winding to allow selection of the voltage ratio. In distribution transformers the taps may be connected to an automatic on-load tap changer for voltage regulation of distribution circuits. Audio-frequency transformers, used for the distribution of audio to public address loudspeakers, have taps to allow adjustment of impedance to each speaker. A center-tapped transformer
Center tap
In electronics, a center tap is a connection made to a point half way along a winding of a transformer or inductor, or along the element of a resistor or a potentiometer....

 is often used in the output stage of an audio power amplifier
Amplifier
Generally, an amplifier or simply amp, is a device for increasing the power of a signal.In popular use, the term usually describes an electronic amplifier, in which the input "signal" is usually a voltage or a current. In audio applications, amplifiers drive the loudspeakers used in PA systems to...

 in a push-pull circuit
Push-pull converter
A push–pull converter is a type of DC to DC converter that uses a transformer to change the voltage of a DC power supply. The transformer's ratio is arbitrary but fixed; however, in many circuit implementations the duty cycle of the switching action can be varied to effect a range of voltage ratios...

. Modulation transformers in AM
Amplitude modulation
Amplitude modulation is a technique used in electronic communication, most commonly for transmitting information via a radio carrier wave. AM works by varying the strength of the transmitted signal in relation to the information being sent...

 transmitters are very similar.

Certain transformers have the windings protected by epoxy resin. By impregnating
Resin dispensing
A resin dispensing system is a technical installation to process casting resin for the purpose of filling, sealing, covering or soaking technical parts, especially in the field of electricity and electronics like transformers, LCDs and other devices of various size.Due to progressing...

 the transformer with epoxy under a vacuum
Vacuum
In everyday usage, vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, such that its gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. The word comes from the Latin term for "empty". A perfect vacuum would be one with no particles in it at all, which is impossible to achieve in...

, one can replace air spaces within the windings with epoxy, thus sealing the windings and helping to prevent the possible formation of corona and absorption of dirt or water. This produces transformers more suited to damp or dirty environments, but at increased manufacturing cost.

Coolant



High temperatures will damage the winding insulation
Insulation system
The insulation system for wires used in generators, electric motors, transformers, and other wire-wound electrical components is divided into different classes by temperature and temperature rise. The insulation system is sometimes referred to as insulation class...

. Small transformers do not generate significant heat
Heat
In physics and thermodynamics, heat is energy transferred from one body, region, or thermodynamic system to another due to thermal contact or thermal radiation when the systems are at different temperatures. It is often described as one of the fundamental processes of energy transfer between...

 and are cooled by air circulation and radiation
Radiation
In physics, radiation is a process in which energetic particles or energetic waves travel through a medium or space. There are two distinct types of radiation; ionizing and non-ionizing...

 of heat. Power transformers rated up to several hundred kVA can be adequately cooled by natural convective
Convection
Convection is the movement of molecules within fluids and rheids. It cannot take place in solids, since neither bulk current flows nor significant diffusion can take place in solids....

 air-cooling, sometimes assisted by fans. In larger transformers, part of the design problem is removal of heat. Some power transformers are immersed in transformer oil
Transformer oil
Transformer oil or insulating oil is usually a highly-refined mineral oil that is stable at high temperatures and has excellent electrical insulating properties. It is used in oil-filled transformers, some types of high voltage capacitors, fluorescent lamp ballasts, and some types of high voltage...

 that both cools and insulates the windings. The oil is a highly refined mineral oil
Mineral oil
A mineral oil is any of various colorless, odorless, light mixtures of alkanes in the C15 to C40 range from a non-vegetable source, particularly a distillate of petroleum....

 that remains stable at transformer operating temperature
Operating temperature
An operating temperature is the temperature at which an electrical or mechanical device operates. The device will operate effectively within a specified temperature range which varies based on the device function and application context, and ranges from the minimum operating temperature to the...

. Indoor liquid-filled transformers are required by building regulations in many jurisdictions to use a non-flammable liquid, or to be located in fire-resistant rooms. Air-cooled dry transformers are preferred for indoor applications even at capacity ratings where oil-cooled construction would be more economical, because their cost is offset by the reduced building construction cost.

The oil-filled tank often has radiators through which the oil circulates by natural convection; some large transformers employ forced circulation of the oil by electric pumps, aided by external fans or water-cooled heat exchangers. Oil-filled transformers undergo prolonged drying processes to ensure that the transformer is completely free of water vapor
Water vapor
Water vapor or water vapour , also aqueous vapor, is the gas phase of water. It is one state of water within the hydrosphere. Water vapor can be produced from the evaporation or boiling of liquid water or from the sublimation of ice. Under typical atmospheric conditions, water vapor is continuously...

 before the cooling oil is introduced. This helps prevent electrical breakdown under load. Oil-filled transformers may be equipped with Buchholz relay
Buchholz relay
In the field of electric power distribution and transmission, a Buchholz relay is a safety device mounted on some oil-filled power transformers and reactors, equipped with an external overhead oil reservoir called a conservator...

s, which detect gas evolved during internal arcing and rapidly de-energize the transformer to avert catastrophic failure. Oil-filled transformers may fail, rupture, and burn, causing power outages and losses. Installations of oil-filled transformers usually includes fire protection measures such as walls, oil containment, and fire-suppression sprinkler systems.

Polychlorinated biphenyl
Polychlorinated biphenyl
Polychlorinated biphenyls are a class of organic compounds with 2 to 10 chlorine atoms attached to biphenyl, which is a molecule composed of two benzene rings. The chemical formula for PCBs is C12H10-xClx...

s have properties that once favored their use as a coolant
Coolant
A coolant is a fluid which flows through a device to prevent its overheating, transferring the heat produced by the device to other devices that use or dissipate it. An ideal coolant has high thermal capacity, low viscosity, is low-cost, non-toxic, and chemically inert, neither causing nor...

, though concerns over their environmental persistence
Persistent organic pollutant
thumb|right|275px|State parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic PollutantsPersistent organic pollutants are organic compounds that are resistant to environmental degradation through chemical, biological, and photolytic processes...

 led to a widespread ban on their use. Today, non-toxic, stable silicone
Silicone
Silicones are inert, synthetic compounds with a variety of forms and uses. Typically heat-resistant and rubber-like, they are used in sealants, adhesives, lubricants, medical applications , cookware, and insulation....

-based oils, or fluorinated hydrocarbons
Fluorocarbon
Fluorocarbons, sometimes referred to as perfluorocarbons or PFCs, are organofluorine compounds that contain only carbon and fluorine bonded together in strong carbon–fluorine bonds. Fluoroalkanes that contain only single bonds are more chemically and thermally stable than alkanes...

 may be used where the expense of a fire-resistant liquid offsets additional building cost for a transformer vault. Before 1977, even transformers that were nominally filled only with mineral oils may also have been contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls at 10-20 ppm. Since mineral oil and PCB fluid mix, maintenance equipment used for both PCB and oil-filled transformers could carry over small amounts of PCB, contaminating oil-filled transformers.

Some "dry" transformers (containing no liquid) are enclosed in sealed, pressurized tanks and cooled by nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 or sulfur hexafluoride
Sulfur hexafluoride
Sulfur hexafluoride is an inorganic, colorless, odorless, and non-flammable greenhouse gas. has an octahedral geometry, consisting of six fluorine atoms attached to a central sulfur atom. It is a hypervalent molecule. Typical for a nonpolar gas, it is poorly soluble in water but soluble in...

 gas.

Experimental power transformers in the 2 MVA range have been built with superconducting
Superconductivity
Superconductivity is a phenomenon of exactly zero electrical resistance occurring in certain materials below a characteristic temperature. It was discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes on April 8, 1911 in Leiden. Like ferromagnetism and atomic spectral lines, superconductivity is a quantum...

 windings which eliminates the copper losses, but not the core steel loss. These are cooled by liquid nitrogen
Liquid nitrogen
Liquid nitrogen is nitrogen in a liquid state at a very low temperature. It is produced industrially by fractional distillation of liquid air. Liquid nitrogen is a colourless clear liquid with density of 0.807 g/mL at its boiling point and a dielectric constant of 1.4...

 or helium
Liquid helium
Helium exists in liquid form only at extremely low temperatures. The boiling point and critical point depend on the isotope of the helium; see the table below for values. The density of liquid helium-4 at its boiling point and 1 atmosphere is approximately 0.125 g/mL Helium-4 was first liquefied...

.

Insulation drying


Construction of oil-filled transformers requires that the insulation covering the windings be thoroughly dried before the oil is introduced. There are several different methods of drying. Common for all is that they are carried out in vacuum environment. The vacuum makes it difficult to transfer energy (heat) to the insulation. For this there are several different methods. The traditional drying is done by circulating hot air over the active part and cycle this with periods of vacuum (hot-air vacuum drying, HAV). More common for larger transformers is to use evaporated solvent which condenses on the colder active part. The benefit is that the entire process can be carried out at lower pressure and without influence of added oxygen. This process is commonly called vapour-phase drying (VPD).

For distribution transformers, which are smaller and have a smaller insulation weight, resistance heating can be used. This is a method where current is injected in the windings to heat the insulation. The benefit is that the heating can be controlled very well and it is energy efficient. The method is called low-frequency heating (LFH) since the current is injected at a much lower frequency than the nominal of the grid, which is normally 50 or 60 Hz. A lower frequency reduces the effect of the inductance in the transformer, so the voltage needed to induce the current can be reduced.

Terminals


Very small transformers will have wire leads connected directly to the ends of the coils, and brought out to the base of the unit for circuit connections. Larger transformers may have heavy bolted terminals, bus bars or high-voltage insulated bushings
Bushing (electrical)
A bushing is a hollow insulating liner through which a conductor may pass. Bushings appear on switchgear, transformers, circuit breakers and other high voltage equipment.- Description :...

 made of polymers or porcelain. A large bushing can be a complex structure since it must provide careful control of the electric field gradient
Electric field gradient
In atomic, molecular, and solid-state physics, the electric field gradient measures the rate of change of the electric field at an atomic nucleus generated by the electronic charge distribution and the other nuclei...

 without letting the transformer leak oil.

Applications


A major application of transformers is to increase voltage before transmitting electrical energy
Electric power transmission
Electric-power transmission is the bulk transfer of electrical energy, from generating power plants to Electrical substations located near demand centers...

 over long distances through wire
Wire
A wire is a single, usually cylindrical, flexible strand or rod of metal. Wires are used to bear mechanical loads and to carry electricity and telecommunications signals. Wire is commonly formed by drawing the metal through a hole in a die or draw plate. Standard sizes are determined by various...

s. Wires have resistance
Electrical resistance
The electrical resistance of an electrical element is the opposition to the passage of an electric current through that element; the inverse quantity is electrical conductance, the ease at which an electric current passes. Electrical resistance shares some conceptual parallels with the mechanical...

 and so dissipate electrical energy at a rate proportional to the square of the current through the wire. By transforming electrical power to a high-voltage (and therefore low-current) form for transmission and back again afterward, transformers enable economical transmission of power
Electric power transmission
Electric-power transmission is the bulk transfer of electrical energy, from generating power plants to Electrical substations located near demand centers...

 over long distances. Consequently, transformers have shaped the electricity supply industry
Electrical power industry
The electric power industry provides the production and delivery of electric energy, often known as power, or electricity, in sufficient quantities to areas that need electricity through a grid connection. The grid distributes electrical energy to customers...

, permitting generation to be located remotely from points of demand. All but a tiny fraction of the world's electrical power
Electric power
Electric power is the rate at which electric energy is transferred by an electric circuit. The SI unit of power is the watt.-Circuits:Electric power, like mechanical power, is represented by the letter P in electrical equations...

 has passed through a series of transformers by the time it reaches the consumer.

Transformers are also used extensively in electronic products
Consumer electronics
Consumer electronics are electronic equipment intended for everyday use, most often in entertainment, communications and office productivity. Radio broadcasting in the early 20th century brought the first major consumer product, the broadcast receiver...

 to step down the supply voltage
Voltage
Voltage, otherwise known as electrical potential difference or electric tension is the difference in electric potential between two points — or the difference in electric potential energy per unit charge between two points...

 to a level suitable for the low voltage circuits they contain. The transformer also electrically isolates the end user from contact with the supply voltage.

Signal
Signal (electrical engineering)
In the fields of communications, signal processing, and in electrical engineering more generally, a signal is any time-varying or spatial-varying quantity....

 and audio
Sound
Sound is a mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing and of a level sufficiently strong to be heard, or the sensation stimulated in organs of hearing by such vibrations.-Propagation of...

 transformers are used to couple stages of amplifier
Amplifier
Generally, an amplifier or simply amp, is a device for increasing the power of a signal.In popular use, the term usually describes an electronic amplifier, in which the input "signal" is usually a voltage or a current. In audio applications, amplifiers drive the loudspeakers used in PA systems to...

s and to match devices such as microphone
Microphone
A microphone is an acoustic-to-electric transducer or sensor that converts sound into an electrical signal. In 1877, Emile Berliner invented the first microphone used as a telephone voice transmitter...

s and record players to the input of amplifiers. Audio transformers allowed telephone
Telephone
The telephone , colloquially referred to as a phone, is a telecommunications device that transmits and receives sounds, usually the human voice. Telephones are a point-to-point communication system whose most basic function is to allow two people separated by large distances to talk to each other...

 circuits to carry on a two-way conversation
Hybrid coil
A hybrid coil is a transformer that has three windings, and which is designed to be configured as a circuit having four branches, that are conjugate in pairs....

 over a single pair of wires. A balun
Balun
A balun is a type of electrical transformer that can convert electrical signals that are balanced about ground to signals that are unbalanced , and the reverse. They are also often used to connect lines of differing impedance...

 transformer converts a signal that is referenced to ground to a signal that has balanced voltages to ground
Balanced line
In telecommunications and professional audio, a balanced line or balanced signal pair is a transmission line consisting of two conductors of the same type, each of which have equal impedances along their lengths and equal impedances to ground and to other circuits. The chief advantage of the...

, such as between external cable
Cable
A cable is two or more wires running side by side and bonded, twisted or braided together to form a single assembly. In mechanics cables, otherwise known as wire ropes, are used for lifting, hauling and towing or conveying force through tension. In electrical engineering cables are used to carry...

s and internal circuits.

The principle of open-circuit (unloaded) transformer is widely used for characterisation of soft magnetic materials, for example in the internationally standardised Epstein frame
Epstein frame
Epstein frame or Epstein square is a standardised measurement device for measuring the magnetic properties of soft magnetic materials, especially used for testing of electrical steels....

 method.

See also


  • Electromagnetism
    Electromagnetism
    Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The other three are the strong interaction, the weak interaction and gravitation...

  • Inductor
    Inductor
    An inductor is a passive two-terminal electrical component used to store energy in a magnetic field. An inductor's ability to store magnetic energy is measured by its inductance, in units of henries...

  • Polyphase system
    Polyphase system
    A polyphase system is a means of distributing alternating current electrical power. Polyphase systems have three or more energized electrical conductors carrying alternating currents with a definite time offset between the voltage waves in each conductor. Polyphase systems are particularly useful...

  • Load profile
    Load profile
    In electrical engineering, a load profile is a graph of the variation in the electrical load versus time. A load profile will vary according to customer type , temperature and holiday seasons....

  • Transformer types
    Transformer types
    A variety of types of electrical transformer are made for different purposes. Despite their design differences, the various types employ the same basic principle as discovered in 1831 by Michael Faraday, and share several key functional parts.-Laminated core:...

  • Faraday's law of induction
    Faraday's law of induction
    Faraday's law of induction dates from the 1830s, and is a basic law of electromagnetism relating to the operating principles of transformers, inductors, and many types of electrical motors and generators...

  • Electrical substation
    Electrical substation
    A substation is a part of an electrical generation, transmission, and distribution system. Substations transform voltage from high to low, or the reverse, or perform any of several other important functions...

  • Magnetic core
    Magnetic core
    A magnetic core is a piece of magnetic material with a high permeability used to confine and guide magnetic fields in electrical, electromechanical and magnetic devices such as electromagnets, transformers, electric motors, inductors and magnetic assemblies. It is made of ferromagnetic metal such...

  • Geomagnetic storm
    Geomagnetic storm
    A geomagnetic storm is a temporary disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a disturbance in the interplanetary medium. A geomagnetic storm is a major component of space weather and provides the input for many other components of space weather...

  • Capacitor voltage transformer
    Capacitor voltage transformer
    A capacitor voltage transformer , or capacitance coupled voltage transformer is a transformer used in power systems to step down extra high voltage signals and provide a low voltage signal, for measurement or to operate a protective relay...


External links