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A voltage is produced when a magnet moves into a coil of wire.

This principle is
used in generators to produce electricity - either a coil of wire rotates in a
magnetic field, or a magnet rotates in a coil of wire. Transformers are used to
increase or decrease the voltage of alternating current (AC) supplies.

Electromagnetic induction
A voltage is produced when a magnet is moved into a coil of wire. This process is
called induction. The direction of the induced voltage is reversed when the magnet is
moved out of the coil again. It can also be reversed if the other pole of the magnet is
moved into the coil.
If the coil is part of a complete circuit then a current will be induced in the circuit.

Increasing the induced voltage


To increase the induced voltage:

move the magnet faster


use a stronger magnet
increase the number of turns on the coil
increase the area of the coil

Spinning around
It is not practical to generate large amounts of electricity by passing a
magnet in and out of a coil of wire. Instead, generators induce a current
by spinning a coil of wire inside a magnetic field, or by spinning a magnet
inside a coil of wire. As this happens, a potential difference is produced
between the ends of the coil, which causes a current to flow.
One simple example of a generator is the bicycle dynamo. The dynamo has
a wheel that touches the back tyre. As the bicycle moves, the wheel turns a
magnet inside a coil. This induces enough electricity to run the bicycle's
lights.

Making AC electricity
When a wire is moved in the magnetic field of a generator, the movement, magnetic field
and current are all at right angles to each other. If the wire is moved in the opposite
direction, the induced current also moves in the opposite direction.
Remember that one side of a coil in a generator moves up during one half turn, and then
down during the next half turn.
This means that as a coil is rotated in a magnetic field, the induced current reverses
direction every half turn. This is called alternating current (AC).

It is different from the direct current (DC) produced by a battery, which is always in the
same direction.

Coil motion in a AC generator

In practical generators, the coil is fixed, and mounted outside the magnet, and it is the
magnet which moves.
The size of the induced voltage can be increased by:

rotating the coil or magnet faster


using a magnet with a stronger magnetic field
having more turns of wire in the coil
having an iron core inside the coil
The mains electricity is an AC supply. The voltage it supplies to our homes is230V.

Transformers
A transformer is an electrical device that changes the voltage of an ac supply. A transformer
changes a high-voltage supply into a low-voltage one, or vice versa.

A transformer that increases the voltage is called a step-up transformer.


A transformer that decreases the voltage is called a step-down transformer.
Step-down transformers are used in mains adapters and rechargers for mobile phones and
CD players.
Transformers do not work with dc supplies.
A transformer consists of a pair of coils wound on an iron core. The AC in one coil produces
a changing magnetic field. This changing magnetic field induces a voltage in the other
coil of the transformer.

How transformers work

A transformer needs an alternating current that will create a changing magnetic field. A
changing magnetic field also induces a changing voltage in a coil. This is the basis of how a
transformer works:

The primary coil is connected to an AC supply.


An alternating current passes through a primary coil wrapped around a soft iron core.
The changing current produces a changing magnetic field.
This induces an alternating voltage in the secondary coil.
This induces an alternating current (AC) in the circuit connected to the secondary coil.
It's important to know that:

There is no electrical connection between the primary and the secondary coils.
Transformers only work if AC is supplied to the primary coil. If DC was supplied, there would
be no current in the secondary coil.
As the current in the primary coil increases steadily or decreases steadily, there is a
constant voltage induced in the secondary coil.
As the voltage in the primary coil reaches maximum strength the voltage induced in the
secondary coil is at its weakest (zero volts).

Calculating voltages
The ratio between the voltages in the coils is the same as the ratio of the number of turns in
the coils.
primary voltage / secondary voltage = turns on primary / turns on secondary
This can also be written as:
Vp

/Vs =

Np

/Ns

Step-up transformers have more turns on the secondary coil than they do on the
primary coil.
Step-down transformers have fewer turns on the secondary coil than they do on the
primary coil.