A transformer changes electrical energy of a given voltage into electrical energy at a different voltage level. It consists of two coils that are not electrically connected, but are arranged so that the magnetic field surrounding one coil cuts through the other coil. When an alternating voltage is applied to (across) one coil, the varying magnetic field set up around that coil creates an alternating voltage in the other coil by mutual induction. A transformer can also be used with pulsating DC, but a pure DC voltage cannot be used, since only a varying voltage creates the varying magnetic field that is the basis of the mutual induction process.
A transformer consists of three basic parts. [Figure 12-142] These are an iron core, which provides a circuit of low reluctance for magnetic lines of force; a primary winding, which receives the electrical energy from the source of applied voltage; and a secondary winding, which receives electrical energy by induction from the primary coil.
The primary and secondary of this closed core transformer are wound on a closed core to obtain maximum inductive effect between the two coils.
There are two classes of transformers: voltage transformers, used for stepping up or stepping down voltages; and current transformers used in instrument circuits. In voltage transformers, the primary coils are connected in parallel across the supply voltage. [Figure 12-143A] The primary windings of current transformers are connected in series in the primary circuit. [Figure 12-143B] Of the two types, the voltage transformer is the more common.
There are many types of voltage transformers. Most of these are either step-up or step-down transformers. The factor that determines whether a transformer is a step-up or step-down type is the “turns” ratio. The turns ratio is the ratio of the number of turns in the primary winding to the number of turns in the secondary winding. For example, the turns ratio of the step-down transformer is 5 to 1, since there are five times as many turns in the primary as in the secondary. [Figure 12-144A] The step-up transformer has a 1 to 4 turns ratio. [Figure 12-144B]
The ratio of the transformer input voltage to the output voltage is the same as the turns ratio if the transformer is 100 percent efficient. Thus, when 10 volts are applied to the primary of the transformer, two volts are induced in the secondary. [Figure 12-144A] If 10 volts are applied to the primary of the transformer, the output voltage across the terminals of the secondary is 40 volts. [Figure 12-144B]
No transformer can be constructed that is 100 percent efficient, although iron core transformers can approach this figure. This is because all the magnetic lines of force set up in the primary do not cut across the turns of the secondary coil. A certain amount of the magnetic flux, called leakage flux, leaks out of the magnetic circuit. The measure of how well the flux of the primary is coupled into the secondary is called the “coefficient of coupling.” For example, if it is assumed that the primary of a transformer develops 10,000 lines of force and only 9,000 cut across the secondary, the coefficient of coupling would be 0.9. Stated another way, the transformer would be 90 percent efficient.
When an AC voltage is connected across the primary terminals of a transformer, an AC flows and self induces a voltage in the primary coil that is opposite and nearly equal to the applied voltage. The difference between these two voltages allows just enough current in the primary to magnetize its core. This is called the exciting, or magnetizing, current. The magnetic field caused by this exciting current cuts across the secondary coil and induces a voltage by mutual induction.
If a load is connected across the secondary coil, the load current flowing through the secondary coil produces a magnetic field that tends to neutralize the magnetic field produced by the primary current. This reduces the self-induced (opposition) voltage in the primary coil and allows more primary current to flow. The primary current increases as the secondary load current increases, and decreases as the secondary load current decreases. When the secondary load is removed, the primary current is again reduced to the small exciting current sufficient only to magnetize the iron core of the transformer.
If a transformer steps up the voltage, it steps down the current by the same ratio. This should be evident if the power formula is considered, for the power (I × E) of the output (secondary) electrical energy is the same as the input (primary) power minus that energy loss in the transforming process. Thus, if 10 volts and 4 amps (40 watts of power) are used in the primary to produce a magnetic field, there is 40 watts of power developed in the secondary (disregarding any loss). If the transformer has a step-up ratio of 4 to 1, the voltage across the secondary is 40 volts and the current is 1 amp. The voltage is 4 times greater and the current is one-fourth the primary circuit value, but the power (I × E value) is the same.
When the turns ratio and the input voltage are known, the output voltage can be determined as follows:
Where E is the voltage of the primary, E2 is the output voltage of the secondary, and N1 and N2 are the number of turns of the primary and secondary, respectively.
Transposing the equation to find the output voltage gives:
The most commonly used types of voltage transformers are:
- Power transformers are used to step up or step down voltages and current in many types of power supplies. They range in size from the small power transformer [Figure 12-145] used in a radio receiver to the large transformers used to step down high power line voltage to the 110–120 volt level used in homes.
Figure 12-146 shows the schematic symbol for an iron core transformer. In this case, the secondary is made up of three separate windings. Each winding supplies a different circuit with a specific voltage, which saves the weight, space, and expense of three separate transformers. Each secondary has a midpoint connection called a “center tap,” which provides a selection of half the voltage across the whole winding. The leads from the various windings are color coded by the manufacturer. [Figure 12-146] This is a standard color code, but other codes or numbers may be used.
- Audio transformers resemble power transformers. They have only one secondary and are designed to operate over the range of audio frequencies (20 to 20,000 cps).
- RF transformers are designed to operate in equipment that functions in the radio range of frequencies. The symbol for the RF transformer is the same as for an RF choke coil. It has an air core as shown in Figure 12-147.
- Autotransformers are normally used in power circuits; however, they may be designed for other uses. Two different symbols for autotransformers used in power or audio circuits are shown in Figure 12-148. If used in an RF communication or navigation circuit [Figure 12-148B], it is the same, except there is no symbol for an iron core. The autotransformer uses part of a winding as a primary; and, depending on whether it is step up or step down, it uses all or part of the same winding as the secondary. For example, the autotransformer shown in Figure 12-148A could use the following possible choices for primary and secondary terminals.
Current transformers are used in AC power supply systems to sense generator line current and to provide a current, proportional to the line current, for circuit protection and control devices.
The current transformer is a ring-type transformer using a current carrying power lead as a primary (either the power lead or the ground lead of the AC generator). The current in the primary induces a current in the secondary by magnetic induction. The sides of all current transformers are marked “H1” and “H2” on the unit base. The transformers must be installed with the “H1” side toward the generator in the circuit in order to have proper polarity. The secondary of the transformer should never be left open while the system is being operated; to do so could cause dangerously high voltages and could overheat the transformer. Therefore, the transformer output connections should always be connected with a jumper when the transformer is not being used but is left in the system.
In addition to the power loss caused by imperfect coupling, transformers are subject to “copper” and “iron” losses. The resistance of the conductor comprising the turns of the coil causes copper loss. The iron losses are of two types: hysteresis loss and eddy current loss. Hysteresis loss is the electrical energy required to magnetize the transformer core, first in one direction and then in the other, in step with the applied alternating voltage. Eddy current loss is caused by electric currents (eddy currents) induced in the transformer core by the varying magnetic fields. To reduce eddy current losses, cores are made of laminations coated with an insulation, which reduces the circulation of induced currents.
Power in Transformers
Since a transformer does not add any electricity to the circuit but merely changes or transforms the electricity that already exists in the circuit from one voltage to another, the total amount of energy in a circuit must remain the same. If it were possible to construct a perfect transformer, there would be no loss of power in it; power would be transferred undiminished from one voltage to another.
Since power is the product of volts times amperes, an increase in voltage by the transformer must result in a decrease in current and vice versa. There cannot be more power in the secondary side of a transformer than there is in the primary. The product of amperes times volts remains the same.
The transmission of power over long distances is accomplished by using transformers. At the power source, the voltage is stepped up in order to reduce the line loss during transmission. At the point of utilization, the voltage is stepped down, since it is not feasible to use high voltage to operate motors, lights, or other electrical appliances.