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Transformers for Electronic and

Other Applications

Study Unit

38700801
Study Unit

Transformers for
Electronic and Other
Applications
By
Robert L. Cecci
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not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.

Copyright © 1998 by Education Direct, Inc.


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Printed in the United States of America
05/17/04
Transformers are very important in industry. They’re used
when the rated voltage of electrical equipment differs from
the voltage available at a voltage source. The increase or
decrease in voltage is made possible by transformers. Some

Pr eview
common uses of transformers are in the transmission of
electric power, in control and signal circuits, and in
electronic and radio equipment.
This study unit will introduce you to the fundamental
concepts of transformers.

When you complete this study unit, you’ll be able to


• Explain what the main parts of a transformer are
• Explain how mutual inductance makes it possible to change
an AC (alternating current) voltage or current from one value
to another
• Determine the turns ratio when the primary and secondary
voltages or currents are known
• Calculate primary or secondary voltage or current when
either one of these and the turns ratio are known
• Explain why transformer cores are laminated (layered)
• Explain the principle of operation of an autotransformer

iii
OPERATION OF TRANSFORMERS 1

Contents
What Is a Transformer? 1
Mutual Inductance 2
Step-Down and Step-Up Transformers 3
Turns Ratio 4
Voltage Ratio and Secondary Voltage 5
Conditions in Open and Closed Secondary Circuits 6
Power in Primary and Secondary Windings 7
Load Current in Primary and Secondary Windings 9
Transformer Losses 11
Reducing Losses 11
Transformer Regulation 12

TYPES OF TRANSFORMERS 14
Transformer Construction 14
Core-Form and Shell-Form Transformers 14
Power Transformers 16
Distribution Transformers 17
Instrument Transformers 18
Transformers with Two Secondaries 18
Autotransformers 19
Transformers for Radio and Electronics 21
Specialty Transformers 21
Inductors 22
Saturable Reactors 23
Magnetic Amplifiers 23
Shielded Transformers 25
Constant-Voltage Transformers 25
Transformer Insulation 29
Transformer Ratings 30
Causes of Transformer Problems 30

SELF-CHECK ANSWERS 33

EXAMINATION 35

v
Transformers for Electronic and
Other Applications

OPERATION OF TRANSFORMERS

What Is a Transformer?
A transformer changes, or transforms, an alternating voltage
to a higher or lower alternating voltage. A transformer acts
very much like a pump in a water system that changes the
water pressure in the system.
If you take a basic transformer apart, you’ll find two separate
coils wound around an iron core (Figure 1). These are the
main parts of the transformer. The alternating voltage from a
voltage source (an alternator or a distribution power line) is

FIGURE 1—The primary winding in this transformer has 16 turns and the secondary has eight turns. The second-
ary voltage will therefore have one-half the value of the primary voltage. (The lower transformer symbol shown is
now the most commonly used transformer symbol.)

1
applied to one coil, which is called the primary winding, or
simply, the primary. The other coil is called the secondary
winding, or the secondary. The secondary isn’t connected in
any way to the primary or to any other voltage source. The
secondary is used to connect to the control circuit or elec-
tronic circuit.
Both coils are insulated from the core. The transformer sec-
ondary is normally connected to an electrical load, such as a
lamp or a motor. The primary is in a closed circuit with an
AC (alternating current) voltage source, the secondary is in a
closed circuit that includes the electrical load. The two cir-
cuits are magnetically coupled, but electrically isolated, from
each other. Normally the primary side of the transformer will
contain a fuse in its circuit. The secondary circuit also may
contain a fuse in its circuit.
When a voltage is applied to the primary, a voltage is induced
(or produced) in the secondary winding, and an alternating
current flows through the load. The applied voltage is also
called the primary voltage, and the induced voltage is the
secondary voltage. The induced voltage is due to mutual
inductance, which is an effect of electromagnetic induction.

Mutual Inductance
The relative movement between magnetic lines of force and a
conductor can generate, or produce, a voltage. In a generator,
a group of conductors is moving in a magnetic field, and a
voltage is induced in them. In a transformer, the conductors
don’t move, but the magnetic lines of force change because
the applied voltage changes.
The magnetic lines of force (or flux) created by the applied
voltage are shown by broken lines through the iron core
(Figure 1). The magnetic field indicated by these lines
changes with any variation in the applied voltage. The lines of
force change in number and in direction as they pass over
the turns of the secondary. The change of the magnetic field
has the same effect as movement, and the result is mutual
inductance—or a voltage induced in the secondary winding.

2 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


The voltage induced in the secondary winding is proportional
to the change in the magnetic lines of force that pass through
the secondary winding.
If a battery (which is a DC voltage source) were connected to
the primary winding in place of the AC voltage source shown
in Figure 1, the magnetic lines of force in the transformer
core would be constant because the magnitude of the voltage
source is constant. The secondary voltage is therefore zero
volts because the magnetic lines of force aren’t changing.
Therefore, an important transformer principle to remember is
that transformers can transform or change only AC voltages;
they can’t transform or change DC voltages.
If the secondary is connected to a load and a closed path is
provided for the current, an alternating current will flow
through the load.
Any change in voltage magnitude and direction in the pri-
mary produces changes in the lines of force, and, therefore,
in the voltage induced in the secondary. If the voltage in the
primary is alternating at a certain frequency, the voltage
in the secondary is also alternating and has the same
frequency.
The value of the voltage induced in the secondary depends on
the ratio of the number of turns in the secondary to the
number of turns on the primary winding. If the secondary
winding has more turns than the primary, the secondary
voltage is greater than the primary voltage. If the secondary
winding has fewer turns than the primary, the secondary
voltage is less than the primary voltage. If the primary and
secondary windings have the same number of turns, the volt-
age on the secondary will be equal to the applied voltage on
the primary windings.

Step-Down and Step-Up Transformers


If a transformer has more turns in the primary winding than
in the secondary winding, the secondary voltage is less than
the primary voltage. This means that the secondary voltage
has been decreased, or stepped down. Such a transformer is
called a step-down transformer. For example, if the voltage
available from the distribution line is 4600 V (volts) and the

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 3


motors used in the plant are rated at 240 V, a step-down
transformer is needed. The transformer is placed between the
distribution line and the motor to step down the voltage from
4600 V to 240 V. Since the secondary voltage must be 20
times lower than the primary voltage, the secondary winding
of the transformer must have 20 times fewer turns than the
primary winding.
A transformer can also have the secondary voltage higher
than the primary voltage. Such a transformer is a step-up
transformer. For example, if a voltage generated in an alterna-
tor is 2300 V and the transmission lines carry the electric
power at 230,000 V, a step-up transformer is needed. The
transformer is connected between the alternator and the
transmission line. The secondary of such a step-up trans-
former must have 100 times more turns than the primary.
Figure 2 shows typical step-down and step-up transformers.

FIGURE 2—The ratio of the


number of turns between
the primary and secondary
windings determines if the
transformer is a step-down or
step-up transformer.

Turns Ratio
The change, or transformation, of voltage depends on the
ratio of number of turns in the primary to number of turns in
the secondary. The turns ratio is therefore a very important
factor in transformer structure. If the number of turns in the
primary is indicated by the symbol Np and the number of
turns in the secondary by the symbol Ns, the turns ratio can
be written as follows:
Np
ᎏᎏ or Np : Ns
Ns

4 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


For example, if a step-down transformer has 1000 turns in
the primary and 20 turns in the secondary, the turns ratio
for that transformer is
Np 1000 50
ᎏᎏ = ᎏᎏ = ᎏᎏ or 50 : 1 (50 to 1)
Ns 20 1
That is, the primary voltage in the transformer is 50 times
higher than the secondary voltage.
A second example: If a step-up transformer has 10 turns in
the primary and 400 turns in the secondary, its turns ratio is
Np 10 1
ᎏᎏ = ᎏᎏ = ᎏᎏ or 1 : 40
Ns 400 40
Here, the secondary voltage in the transformer is 40 times
higher than the primary voltage.
And still another example: If a transformer has 100 turns in
the primary and 100 turns in the secondary, its turns ratio is
Np 100
ᎏᎏ = ᎏᎏ = 1 or 1 : 1
Ns 100
In this transformer, the primary voltage is equal to the sec-
ondary voltage. Here, the voltage isn’t transformed at all, so
you might wonder why the device is even called a trans-
former. The answer is that such a transformer may be used
for special applications, such as to electrically isolate two cir-
cuits without changing their voltage. These transformers are
called isolation transformers. Isolation transformers are often
used by technicians for safety reasons when they’re working
on ungrounded equipment.

Voltage Ratio and Secondary Voltage


The ratio of the primary voltage and the secondary voltage is
equal to the turns ratio. If the primary voltage is indicated as
Ep and the secondary voltage as Es, the ratio of voltages can
be expressed by the formula
Ep Np
ᎏᎏ = ᎏᎏ
Es Ns
If both the number of turns and the primary voltage are
known, the secondary voltage can be calculated by solving
the voltage formula for Es as follows:
Ns
Es = ᎏᎏ ⫻ Ep
Np

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 5


For example, if a primary voltage (Ep) of 50 V is applied to a
step-up transformer with 100 primary turns (Np) and 1200
secondary turns (Ns), the secondary voltage will be
Ns
Es = ᎏᎏ ⫻ Ep Write the formula.
Np

1200
Es = ᎏᎏ ⫻ 50 Substitute the vaules of Ns, Np,
100
and Ep. Divide 1200 by 100.

Es = 12 ⫻ 50 Multiply 12 ⫻ 50.

Es = 600 V Answer: Es = 600 V

Without using the formula, you can find the secondary volt-
age by reasoning as follows: The turns ratio is 100 : 1200 =
1 : 12. That means that the secondary has 12 times more
turns than the primary. It must, therefore, have a voltage 12
times higher, or 12 ⫻ 50 = 600 V.
Or, if a primary voltage of 24 V is applied to a step-down
transformer with 200 primary turns and 50 secondary turns,
the secondary voltage will be
Ns 50
Es = ᎏᎏ ⫻ Ep = ᎏᎏ ⫻ 24 = 6 V
Np 200

Again, this problem can be solved by reasoning. The turns


ratio is 200 : 50 = 4 : 1, which means that the primary has 4
times more turns and 4 times higher voltage than the sec-
ondary. The secondary voltage is thus one-fourth of the
primary voltage, or 24/4 = 6 V.

Conditions in Open and Closed


Secondary Circuits
Figure 3 shows transformer circuits in a schematic diagram.
Standard symbols are used to indicate the components. In
this example, we’ll use a resistor connected to the trans-
former secondary windings to provide the electrical load.
When the switch in the secondary circuit is open, there’s no
load connected to the transformer and no current flows in
the secondary winding (although a voltage is induced in that
winding). This is the no-load condition of the transformer.

6 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


FIGURE 3—This schematic
diagram uses symbols to
indicate the components.
The sine wave enclosed by
the circle is the symbol for
an AC generator (or alterna-
tor). The two scalloped lines
represent the windings of
the transformer, and the two
straight lines between the
scalloped lines represent the
iron core. The switch and the
resistor are also shown by
their standard symbols.
The primary is connected to a an AC voltage source, and a
no-load current flows in the primary circuit. The no-load pri-
mary current is very small and is called the exciting current.
When the switch is closed, a current flows through the
secondary winding and the load. This current is called the
secondary load current. A larger primary current starts to flow
in the primary, automatically adjusting itself to the load
current in the secondary.
When working with transformers, you must be able to distin-
guish between no-load and load conditions. That’s because
you’ll have to know what voltage and current levels should be
present when you make voltage and current measurements
under these two conditions.

Power in Primary and Secondary


Windings
An ideal, (or perfect) transformer is a transformer in which
there are no losses. In an ideal transformer, under load condi-
tions, the power in the primary circuit is equal to the power
delivered to the load by the secondary circuit. You learned
earlier that electric power (P ), in watts, is equal to the voltage
(E ), in volts, times the current (I ), in amperes. Or,
P=E⫻I
In a transformer, the product of the primary voltage (Ep) and
the primary current (Ip) is equal to the product of the second-
ary voltage (Es) and the secondary current (Is). This is
expressed as a basic formula below.

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 7


Pp = Ps
or
Ep⫻ Ip = Es ⫻ Is
The secondary of a transformer can’t supply any more power
than it receives from the primary, just as a water pump can’t
pump out any more water than it takes in. Step-up and step-
down transformers have different voltages and currents in
their primary and secondary circuits, but the power in each
circuit is the same. Therefore, in a step-up transformer, the
secondary voltage becomes higher than the primary voltage,
and the secondary current must become lower than the pri-
mary current to keep their product the same. Figure 4 shows
an example of this. Here the secondary current (Is) will be
lower than the primary current (Ip).

FIGURE 4—In this step-up


transformer, the secondary
voltage will be higher than
the primary voltage and the
secondary current will be
lower than the primary
current.

Similarly, in a step-down transformer, the secondary voltage


is lower than the primary voltage, but the secondary current
is higher than the primary current to keep their product the
same.
The primary current under load can be calculated if the pri-
mary voltage, secondary current, and secondary voltage are
known. (Remember that the power doesn’t change.) Use the
formula
Es
Ip = ᎏᎏ ⫻ Is
Ep

For example, if the primary voltage is 14 V, the secondary


voltage 140 V, and the secondary current 20 A (amperes), the
primary current is

8 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


Es 140
Ip = ᎏᎏ ⫻ Is = ᎏᎏ ⫻ 20 = 200 A
Ep 14

The secondary voltage is 10 times greater than the primary


voltage, and the primary current must then be 10 times
greater than the secondary current.
Any quantity can be found by using the basic formula if the
other three quantities are known.

Load Current in Primary and Secondary


Windings
If the load in the secondary circuit of a transformer is a
resistance, as shown in Figure 3, the secondary current can
be found by Ohm’s law. The secondary current (Is), in
amperes, is equal to the secondary voltage (Es), in volts,
divided by the load resistance (R), in ohms, or
Es
Is = ᎏᎏ
R
Suppose that in a step-up transformer the turns ratio is
1 : 2. The secondary voltage is twice the primary voltage.
The secondary current must then be one-half the primary
current.
The load currents can also be determined without knowing
the voltage if the turns ratio is known. The magnetic field
produced in the transformer core is the same on the primary
and the secondary side of the transformer. The strength of
the magnetic field, or the magnetomotive force, is measured
in ampere-turns. If the number of primary turns (Np) is
multiplied by the primary current (Ip), the product, Np ⫻ Ip, is
the magnetomotive force (in ampere-turns) produced in the
transformer. Since the same magnetic field exists in the
entire transformer, the product of the number of secondary
turns, Ns, and the secondary current Is, must be the same as
the product NpIp, or NpIp = NsIs.
The primary current can then be determined by the formula
Ns
Ip = ᎏᎏ ⫻ Is
Np

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 9


For example, if a primary has 100 turns and the secondary
200 turns, and if the secondary current is 2 A (as determined
by the load resistance), the primary current is
Ns
Ip = ᎏᎏ ⫻ Is
Np

200
Ip = ᎏᎏ ⫻ 2 = 4 A
100

Transformers are often rated in terms of VA (volt-amperes) or


kVA (kilovolt-amperes). This rating system is used because
both the secondary voltage and the current are included in
the transformer’s rating.
Transformers can be purchased in standard kVA sizes from
.05 kVA (small) to thousands of kVA (large).
To determine the capacity of a transformer, you simply
multiply the secondary voltage by the secondary current. For
example, if a transformer has 20 A at 120 V on the second-
ary, the secondary rating would be
VA = Is ⫻ Es
VA = 20 A ⫻ 120 V = 2400 VA or 2.4 kVA
For this situation, a 3 kVA transformer would be used. A
transformer should always be selected that’s the next higher
standard kVA rating than is calculated. This will prevent heat
buildup and transformer failure. It also allows for future
expansion of the circuit that’s powered by the transformer.
Let’s try a practical example. Suppose a single-phase motor
rated at 12 A at 120 VAC (volts alternating current) will be
attached to a 480 VAC system. The transformer will obviously
be a step-down transformer with a turns ratio of 4 : 1. What
will be the size of the transformer for this application?
VA = Is ⫻ Es
VA = 12 A ⫻ 120 V
VA = 1440 VA or 1.44 kVA
A 2 kVA transformer should be used.

10 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


Transformer Losses
Of course, there’s no such thing as an ideal transformer. If
such a transformer were possible, it would have no losses. A
typical transformer, however, approaches the ideal in effi-
ciency, although it’s not 100 percent perfect.
Here are the main reasons why transformers aren’t perfect:
• The resistance of the windings is never zero. Therefore,
there’s a power loss due to resistance (I2R).

• The lines of force set up by the current in the windings


should all pass through the iron core; however, some of
them follow other paths through the air, producing what’s
known as magnetic leakage.

• Most magnetic materials don’t immediately demagnetize


when the magnetizing force is removed, resulting in
hysteresis losses. Hysteresis losses result due to the
energy required to magnetize or demagnetize a magnetic
material.

• The magnetic core material is also a conductor of


electricity and may form a closed circuit with circulating
currents, known as eddy currents, present in it.

The sum of all losses is subtracted from the input power to


give the output power.
Transformer efficiency may be expressed as:
output power
Efficiency = ᎏᎏ ⫻ 100
input power

For example, a transformer whose apparent input power is


220 VA when it’s providing 210 VA to a load has an efficiency
of
210
ᎏᎏ ⫻ 100 = 95%
220

Reducing Losses
In a high-quality transformer, the losses are very small. For
example, the coils are wound with a wire large enough to keep
the I2R losses low, and the reluctance of the iron core is low,
keeping magnetic leakage very low. The use of certain alloys

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 11


also reduces hysteresis losses. Finally, building the core of
laminations (thin sheets of magnetic iron), instead of using a
solid core helps to reduce eddy current losses. All these fac-
tors are considered in the design of commercial transformers.

Transformer Regulation
The resistance and other losses in a transformer reduce the
secondary voltage, making the value of the secondary voltage
under load different from the no-load value. When no load is
connected to the secondary, the ratio of primary to secondary
voltage is practically equal to the turns ratio. However, when
a load is connected to the secondary and current flows in the
transformer windings, there will usually be a decrease in the
secondary voltage. The change in secondary voltage resulting
from applying a load to a transformer divided by the full-load
secondary voltage is called the regulation of the transformer.
Transformer regulation, which is expressed as a percent is
given by the following formula:
Vs No Load – Vs Full Load
% Regulation = ⫻ 100
Vs Full Load
In a perfect transformer, which has no losses, the no-load
secondary voltage will be the same as the full-load voltage
and the transformer will have 0% regulation. Special trans-
formers known as constant-voltage transformers will be
discussed later in this study unit. Now, review what you’ve
learned by completing Self-Check 1.

12 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


Self-Check 1
At the end of each section of Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications, you’ll be
asked to pause and check your understanding of what you’ve just read by completing a “Self-
Check” exercise. Answering these questions will help you review what you’ve studied so far.
Please complete Self-Check 1 now.

1. The device that can change an AC voltage from one value to another is called a(n)
_______.

2. A change of voltage in one coil that leads to a voltage in another nearby coil is a result
of (self-, mutual) inductance.

3. If the secondary winding has five times as many turns as the primary winding, the
secondary voltage is _______ the primary voltage.
a. one-fifth c. five times
b. the same as d. twenty-five times
4. If the primary winding of a transformer has more turns than the secondary winding, it’s
called a step-_______ transformer. If the secondary has more turns, it’s called a step-
_______ transformer.

5. In the transformer shown below, find the secondary voltage if the primary voltage is
12 V.

6. The current that flows in the transformer primary with no load connected to the
secondary is called the _______ current.

7. What is the primary current in the transformer of question 5 when the secondary load
current is 4 A?
__________________________________________________________________________

Check your answers with those on page 33.

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 13


TYPES OF TRANSFORMERS

Transformer Construction
A transformer, no matter what its type or form, is relatively
simple. It consists of an iron core, primary and secondary
windings, insulation, mechanical bracing (or other means of
holding the parts together as a unit), cooling means, case,
and bushings.
An iron core is needed in a transformer to provide an intense
magnetic field. An intense magnetic field produces the rated
voltage in the windings with a minimum of exciting current.
The iron core permits more lines of force to concentrate
within its own volume than within the same volume of air or
some other nonmagnetic material.
Cores are always laminated, that is, they’re made of thin steel
sheets called laminations. The laminations make transformers
cost more. They also reduce the eddy currents (currents
induced in the iron parts of the transformer). Laminations
are usually rectangle-shaped. However, on small transform-
ers, L-shaped and E-shaped laminations are sometimes used.

Core-Form and Shell-Form Transformers


According to the form of core construction, a transformer
may be either core form or shell form. Any transformer can be
built in either form, but, for a given application, one or the
other form is often easier or less costly to use.
In the core form, windings surround the iron core. In the shell
form, there’s a frame (or shell) of iron around the windings.
Figure 5A shows a single-phase transformer of the core form.
It has two core legs, and each leg carries a part of the pri-
mary winding and a part of the secondary winding wound on
top of it. The iron yoke provides a closed path for the flux.
(A single-phase transformer may also be built with all of the
windings on one core leg.)
In the single-phase shell-form transformer (Figure 5B), both
windings are wound on the center leg. The yoke provides a
shell, or return path, for the flux.

14 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


FIGURE 5—The low-voltage
winding in a transformer is
usually next to the iron core,
and the high-voltage winding
farther from the core. This
reduces the possibility of
a short circuit, as from
high-voltage rupture of the
conductor insulation.

Figure 6A shows a three-phase transformer of the core form. It


has three core legs, each carrying one phase of the low-voltage
winding and one phase of the high-voltage winding. Figure 6B
shows a three-phase shell transformer, which has five core
legs. A set of low-voltage and high-voltage windings is wound
on each of the three inner legs. The two outer legs don’t carry
windings.

FIGURE 6—Each of the three-phase transformers here has three sets of primary windings and three sets of
secondary windings.

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 15


Power Transformers
Industry uses some transformers for power applications.
These transformers are known as power, distribution, and
instrument transformers.
Power transformers are large transformers usually used at
generating stations to step up the voltage for transmission
systems. Substations use power transformers to step down
the voltage for supplying distribution systems. Figure 7
shows a three-phase power transformer. According to com-
mon usage, any transformer rated over 500 kVA (kilovolt-
amperes) is a power transformer. The high-voltage rating may
be any value up to the highest voltage in use on transmission
lines. The low-voltage rating is usually between 2400 V and
345,000 V. However, the high-voltage and low-voltage ratings
can have any value desired.

FIGURE 7—Transformers of
this size are seldom
installed inside a building.
Much of the equipment on
this transformer is required
for cooling the coils.

16 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


Distribution Transformers
Distribution transformers are primarily transformers used to
step down the voltage from a distribution voltage to a load
voltage (2400 V, 600 V, or 480 V for industrial plants; and
240 V and 120 V for residential and commercial use).
According to common usage, such transformers are rated
up to 500 kVA. Their high-voltage rating can be up to
67,000 V, and their low-voltage rating can be rated up to
15,000 V. Figure 8 shows a bank of three pole-mounted
distribution transformers.
If you were to open the case of a distribution transformer,
the transformer would appear as shown in Figure 9. Note
that the high voltage is applied to the transformer through
heavily insulated bushings and wires. Also, note that
there’s a surge diverter used to protect the transformer. FIGURE 8—Distribution trans-
This surge diverter protects the transformer and its load former banks like these are
commonly used to service
circuit from power surges such as lightning strikes. industrial and commercial
businesses.

FIGURE 9—An assembled


distribution transformer is
shown here in a cutaway
view with part of the outside
cover removed.

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 17


Instrument Transformers
Instrument transformers are either potential or current
transformers. Potential transformers are small transformers
rated about 200 VA or 500 VA. They’re built to transform the
higher transmission or distribution voltage to a lower distri-
bution voltage. This voltage is usually 120 V or 115 V. They
permit the use of low-voltage measuring instruments such
as meters and relays. Current transformers are small trans-
formers of about 50 to 200 VA with low current (usually 5 A)
on the secondary side. This current is applied to measuring
instruments and relays. Figure 10 shows two current trans-
formers and a potential transformer.

FIGURE 10—The potential transformer and two current transformers shown here are examples of instrument
transformers. The number on a current transformer is the value of full-load primary current required for a 5A sec-
ondary current.

Transformers with Two Secondaries


A transformer may be specially designed for a specific
purpose. The principle of operation is the same for all trans-
formers. However, the forms, connections, and auxiliary
devices differ widely.
One common type of transformer is a single-phase trans-
former with two secondaries (Figure 11). The primary voltage
is 120 V, and the secondary voltages are 240 V and 24 V

18 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


FIGURE 11—This transformer has two
secondaries. Theoretically, there’s no limit
to the number of windings a transformer
can have. Secondary No. 1 has a step-up
turns ratio of 1 : 2, while secondary No. 2
has a step-down turns ratio of 5 : 1.

respectively. The number of secondaries is usually not more


than two to four, except for some applications in electronic
equipment.

Autotransformers
The usual transformer has two windings that aren’t wired
directly to each other. In an autotransformer, one of the
windings is connected in series with the other, as shown in
Figure 12A. (This is a step-up autotransformer.)

FIGURE 12—Figure 12A


shows an autotransformer
wired as a step-up trans-
former. Figure 12B shows
this same transformer used
as a step-down transformer
by interchanging Ep and Es.

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 19


The primary voltage (Ep) is applied to the primary (or
common) winding. The secondary (or series) winding connects
in series with the primary at the junction point, or terminal.
This point may be obtained by a tap. This tap will divide
a single winding into a primary and a secondary of the
autotransformer.
A voltage induced in the secondary winding adds to the volt-
age in the primary winding. The secondary voltage (Es) is
higher than the applied voltage. The transformation ratio
depends on the turns ratio, as in a two-winding transformer.
The autotransformer shown in Figure 12B can be used as a
step-down autotransformer by applying a primary voltage
across both the primary and secondary windings.
Autotransformers are less costly than conventional two-
winding transformers. They also have better voltage regula-
tion and efficiency. They’re used in motor starters, so a
voltage lower than the line voltage may be applied during the
starting period. Autotransformers are also used economically
on high-voltage power lines where the values of the primary
and secondary voltages are about the same. For low-power
applications, variable autotransformers are available in which
the tap is a sliding contact rather than a fixed contact.
In the variable autotransformer shown in Figure 13, the mov-
able tap is a brush, which turns by means of a knob. Holes
are provided for mounting the transformer on a panel.

FIGURE 13—The variable


autotransformer requires
periodic maintenance: the
sliding contact, which is a
carbon brush, must occasion-
ally be replaced. Also, the
windings on which the brush
moves must be kept clean
and smooth.

20 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


Adjustable autotransformers in which the load voltage isn’t
continuously variable are also available. Instead, a limited
selection of voltages is available by means of movable taps
operated by a selector switch.

Transformers for Radio and Electronics


Most transformers you’ll work with in plant maintenance
operate at an input power frequency of 60 Hz (hertz).
However, there are small, specially designed transformers
that are used in communications, inductive heating, and
other electronic equipment. These transformers are designed
to operate at audio, intermediate, or radio frequencies. They
include electronic power transformers with one primary
winding and several secondaries. They also include pulse
transformers and many other types of transformers.

Specialty Transformers
Specialty transformers make up a large class of transformers
used for changing line voltage to some particular value best
suited to the load. The primary voltage is generally 600 V, or
less. A sign-lighting transformer is one example of a specialty
transformer in which the 120 V is stepped down to 25 V for
low-voltage tungsten sign lamps. Other examples include
arc-lamp autotransformers, where 240 V is stepped down to
the voltage required for best operation of the arc, and trans-
formers that are used to change 240 V power to 120 V for
operating portable tools, fans, welders, and other devices.
Also included in this specialty class are neon-sign transform-
ers that step the 120 V up to between 2000 and 15,000 V for
the operation of neon signs. Many special step-down trans-
formers are used for small work, such as ringing bells,
running electrical toys, operating battery-charging rectifiers,
and lighting individual low-voltage lamps.

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 21


Inductors
An inductor is a coil or winding wrapped around a magnetic
core. Other names for an inductor are choke and reactor.
Inductors are used in AC circuits and oppose any change in
the current value in the circuit.
Figure 14 shows a very common application of an inductor—
a filter circuit. The input to this circuit is an AC voltage. This
AC input is coupled through a transformer to a device called
a rectifier. A rectifier converts an AC voltage into pulsating DC
voltage.

FIGURE 14—Pulsating DC is
the voltage output of the
rectifier. It always has the
same polarity because it
varies between zero and a
positive maximum value. It
isn’t constant in value, hav-
ing pulses like the tips of an
AC wave.

The pulsating DC voltage consists of a DC voltage and several


AC voltages that have frequencies that are multiples of the
frequency of the AC input voltage. This pulsating DC voltage
is supplied to the filter circuit, which consists of an inductor
and a capacitor. The inductor is a low impedance for the DC
component of the pulsating DC voltage, which passes
through the inductor easily. The capacitor is a high imped-
ance to the DC voltage, and doesn’t affect this component of
the pulsating DC voltage. The inductor is a high impedance
to the AC voltages, which are present in the pulsating DC
voltage and therefore resists passage of these AC voltages
through the inductor. The capacitor is a low impedance to
any AC voltages that might get through the inductor and it
will short them to ground. The result is a pure DC voltage at
the junction of the inductor and capacitor.
In electronic equipment, an inductor like the one shown in
Figure 14 is usually referred to as a filter choke.
You may come across other uses for inductors in your work
as well.

22 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


Saturable Reactors
If a second winding is added to a inductor, as shown
in Figure 15, and direct current is supplied to the
winding, the reactance of the AC winding of the induc-
tor will vary as the direct current through the DC
control winding is varied. Such a two-winding inductor
with provision for DC control is referred to as a
saturable reactor. As the DC current, or signal, in the
control winding is increased (by varying the resistor
(R), for example), the reactance of the AC winding
decreases. As the DC signal is decreased, the reac-
tance of the AC winding increases. Thus, a saturable
reactor provides a method of controlling the reactance
in an AC circuit with a DC signal.
Saturable reactors are used in applications similar to
those of ordinary single-winding inductors. However, FIGURE 15—Saturable reactors are
unlike ordinary inductors, saturable reactors provide a widely used in industrial control and
processing equipment. A reactor of
method of varying the reactance of the reactor. this type can be magnetically satu-
rated just as a sponge can be
saturated with water.
Magnetic Amplifiers
A magnetic amplifier uses a saturable reactor to amplify a
small AC or DC control voltage to control a large load, which
may be a bank of lights or a motor. The magnetic amplifier
may consist of just the saturable reactor or the saturable
reactor may be combined with other components. Two or
more magnetic amplifiers may even be cascaded, with the
output from the first amplifier connected to the control input
of a second amplifier.
The saturable reactor shown in Figure 15 is rarely used for
magnetic amplifiers because the magnetic lines of force
developed by the AC winding are directly coupled into the DC
control winding by normal transformer action. Therefore an
AC voltage is introduced into the DC control circuit. This
problem is overcome using the saturable reactor shown in
Figure 16. The saturable reactor in this figure uses an iron
core with three legs. There are two AC windings, one wound
on each of the outer core legs. The DC control winding is
wound on the center leg of the core. The path of the magnetic

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 23


lines of force developed by the AC supply voltage is shown as
a solid line in Figure 16. Notice how these lines of force flow
only in the outside portions of the iron core. Since none of
the magnetic lines of force developed by the AC supply volt-
age flow in the center leg of the core, there’s no AC voltage
developed in the DC winding of the saturable reactor. The
magnetic lines of force developed by the DC winding are
shown by the dashed lines of Figure 16. These lines of force
flow in all three legs of the iron core and can saturate the
outer core legs in the same manner as the saturable reactor
shown in Figure 15.

FIGURE 16—By the use of


the magnetic amplifier, a
small AC voltage can control
a large AC voltage.

The rectifier and filter shown in Figure 16 are a part of the


magnetic amplifier and convert the AC supply voltage to a DC
voltage. This DC voltage can now be varied by adjusting the
resistor located in the DC control winding circuit. If a small
AC control voltage is now added in series with the DC supply
voltage, the DC output voltage across the load will now vary
in a sinusoidal manner to produce an AC voltage at the load,

24 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


which has the same frequency as the AC control voltage. The
frequency of the AC supply voltage doesn’t have to be the
same as the frequency of the AC control voltage.
The overall effect of the magnetic amplifier is that a small AC
signal on the control winding produces a much larger change
in the AC signal in the AC winding. Any time a small input
signal produces a large change in the output signal, the
device has effectively amplified (or strengthened) the input
signal.

Shielded Transformers
In a typical transformer, the primary and secondary windings
are somewhat linked together by the capacitance between the
windings. This capacitance will allow electrical noise or a
voltage to pass directly from the primary to the secondary
windings without being magnetically coupled through the
transformer core. A special transformer, known as a shielded
transformer, has been designed to eliminate the passage of
this noise.
In a shielded transformer, a metallic shield is placed between
the primary and secondary windings. This shield is then
grounded. The grounding prevents the capacitive coupling
from being present, and all but eliminates the transfer of
electrical noise between the primary and secondary windings
by means of the capacitance between these windings.

Constant-Voltage Transformers
Most modern electronic equipment is very sensitive to voltage
fluctuations. For example, electronic motor controllers con-
tain circuitry that monitors the incoming voltage and will
shut down the controller if the AC voltage becomes too high
or too low. A constant-voltage transformer supplies a constant
AC secondary voltage even if the primary winding voltage
varies over a wide range.
The constant-voltage transformer consists of a transformer
core, a primary winding, a secondary winding, a resonating
winding, and two magnetic shunts. Figure 17A shows a side
view of the transformer core before the windings and

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 25


magnetic shunts are installed. The core is made up of many
thin sheets of steel assembled in the same manner as an
ordinary transformer. Figure 17B shows the windings and
magnetic shunts installed on the core. Notice that the pri-
mary winding is separated from the resonating and second-
ary windings by the magnetic shunts. The resonating and
secondary windings are usually wound one on top of the
other. The magnetic shunts are made from thin sheets of
steel assembled in the same manner as the core. Notice that
the magnetic shunts don’t completely touch the inner and
outer core legs. There’s a small air gap between each mag-
netic shunt and the transformer core.

FIGURE 17—A side view of


a constant-voltage trans-
former. Figure 17A shows
the side view of the trans-
former core before the
windings and magnetic
shunts are installed.
Figure 17B shows a side
view of the completed
transformer. Note the
small air gap between the
magnetic shunts and the
transformer core.

(A)
SIDE VIEW OF CONSTANT–VOLTAGE
TRANSFORMER CORE

(B)
SIDE VIEW OF
CONSTANT–VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER

26 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


Figure 18 shows the circuit for a typical constant-voltage
transformer. The capacitor and the resonating winding form a
tuned circuit that’s resonant at the frequency of the voltage
applied to the primary winding. The resonating winding
increases the magnetic lines of force in the lower half of the
transformer core until the core becomes saturated—first in
one direction and then in the opposite direction as the
voltage applied to the primary winding changes direction.
However the magnetic lines of force in the upper part of the
core, which surrounds the primary winding, doesn’t saturate
this area of the core because some of the magnetic lines of
force from the lower part of the core are shunted away from
the upper part of the core by the magnetic shunts. Because
the magnetic lines of force linking the secondary and resonat-
ing windings are greater than the magnetic lines of force that
link the primary winding, the constant-voltage transformer
doesn’t obey the rules regarding the turns ratio between the
primary and secondary windings.
The voltage induced in the resonating winding depends only
on the change in the magnetic lines of force (which is varying
between the positive and negative saturation levels of the
core) and the rate of change in those lines of force (which is
fixed by the frequency of the voltage applied to the primary
winding). As long as the primary winding voltage can supply
enough energy to keep the lower part of the
transformer core in saturation, the resonat-
ing winding voltage will be independent of
the primary voltage. All of the magnetic
lines of force that link the resonating wind-
ing also link the secondary winding (since
they’re wound one on top of the other);
therefore, the turns ratio formula does
apply to the number of turns on the res-
onating and secondary windings. Since the
resonating winding voltage is fixed, the sec-
ondary voltage is also fixed and may be set
to any desired value by adjusting the turns
ratio between the
secondary wind-
ing and the res- FIGURE 18—This is an
onating winding. electrical schematic for a
constant-voltage transformer.

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 27


There are several advantages in using the constant-voltage
transformer:
• Voltage regulation. The secondary voltage doesn’t change
when the primary voltage varies over a wide range.

• Electrical noise isolation. Because the primary and sec-


ondary windings are physically separated, electrical noise
can’t pass from the primary winding to the secondary
winding. In this respect the constant-voltage transformer
is very similar to a shielded transformer.

• Voltage spike protection. Large voltage spikes which may


appear on the primary winding can’t be passed to the
secondary winding since the value of the secondary
winding voltage depends on the core saturation. A volt-
age spike on the primary winding can’t cause the core
around the secondary winding to become any more
saturated than it already is.

There are also several disadvantages to using the constant


voltage transformer:
• The constant-voltage transformer runs hotter than a
similar-size regular transformer. This is because a large
part of the constant-voltage transformer core is always
in saturation and the transformer core losses increase as
the magnetic lines of force in the core increase. A core in
saturation has the maximum number of lines of force
that are possible for the type of steel used for the core.
In addition, the resonating winding has copper losses
because there’s current flowing in this winding. A regular
transformer doesn’t have this winding.

• The constant-voltage transformer secondary voltage will


vary if the frequency of the primary voltage varies. If the
primary voltage is supplied from a utility, this effect
won’t be seen because the utility frequency is very tightly
controlled by the speed of the utility’s generators.
However if a constant-voltage transformer is connected
to the output of a small portable generator, this effect
will be seen because the generator speed can’t be tightly
controlled as the generator load is changed.

28 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


• The constant-voltage transformer secondary voltage won’t
be a pure sinusoidal wave. The output voltage waveform
will tend to have flat tops instead of the rounded ones in
a pure sinusoidal wave. This won’t usually be a problem
for most equipment connected to the constant-voltage
transformer. Several types of compensating constant-
voltage transformers exist in which a small portion of the
primary voltage is added to the secondary voltage to
improve the output voltage waveform and make it more
sinusoidal.

Transformer Insulation
The transformers used in industrial plants
include the dry, the askarel-insulated, and
the oil-insulated types. Figure 19 shows a
dry-type transformer. Dry-type transformers
don’t use any liquid to cool the windings.
They can be installed without fireproof
vaults in all areas except some hazardous
ones. Transformers rated at less than
112 1/2 kVA or 35,000 V can be installed
within a plant without the use of a trans-
former room or vault. However, they must FIGURE 19—Dry-type transformers like this one are
frequently used in industrial plants to step 480 V
be kept isolated from combustible materials. down (to 120 V or 240 V) to supply electric lights.
Askarel-insulated transformers contain
special nonflammable liquids within their
cases. These liquids help to insulate the windings and cool
the transformer. Transformers rated in excess of 25 kVA are
provided with pressure-relief valves and require special venti-
lation if they’re installed in poorly ventilated areas. They’re
installed in vaults if the rated voltage exceeds 35,000 V.
Oil-insulated transformers are filled with oil to provide insula-
tion for the windings and to cool the transformer. Generally,
oil-insulated transformers of any voltage are placed in vaults
when used within a building. Oil-insulated transformers are
either self-cooled by radiators exposed to the atmosphere, as
shown in Figure 20, or cooled by fans that circulate the air.

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 29


FIGURE 20—These oil-cooled transformers
are installed outside the building and are pad
mounted.

Transformer Ratings
Small transformers are usually rated in terms of secondary
volts and amperes. Larger transformers are rated in
kilovolt-amperes, or kVA. Transformers that supply lighting
loads shouldn’t have a capacity less than the total connected
load. For incandescent-lamp circuits, the kilovolt-ampere
rating of the transformer should equal the total wattage of
the lamps. For example, a 10 kW (kilowatt) incandescent
lamp load could be supplied by a transformer furnishing
240 V at 41.7 A (240 ⫻ 41.7 = 10,008 VA) = 10 kVA.
Power and motor loads should be computed as being equal to
the connected load. In practical applications, 1 kVA of trans-
former rating is to be supplied for each horsepower. For
example, a 5 hp (horsepower) motor will be supplied by a
5 kVA transformer.

Causes of Transformer Problems


The main enemies of transformers (especially larger trans-
formers), are heat, moisture, vibration, a corrosive atmos-
phere, dust, and dirt. Excessive heat and moisture can cause
a breakdown of insulation between turns or windings, or
between windings and the core. Excessive vibration can
loosen the bolts and lock washers that hold laminations
together. A corrosive atmosphere can cause deterioration of

30 Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications


copper conductors and poor contact at terminals. Metallic
particles carried by a ventilating system or dust can result in
poor air circulation, insulation breakdown, or both.
Small, electronic transformers such as those used in small
control circuits need little attention if the equipment they’re
used in is installed in clean, dry, open locations.
The larger transformers (some weighing up to several tons or
more), require much more maintenance. Such maintenance
includes cleaning the air paths and tightening the connec-
tions during downtime periods of the plant.
Now, take a few moments to review what you’ve learned by
completing Self-Check 2.

Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications 31


Self-Check 2
1. The two forms of core construction are _______ form and _______ form.

2. The output of a current transformer is usually


a. 1 A. c. 10 A.
b. 5 A. d. 100 A.
3. In the box, draw the symbol for a step-down transformer. Label Ep and Es.

4. Fill in each of the spaces with one of the four words from the list below.

power distribution electronic specialty


a. Small power transformers that have one primary winding and several secondary wind-
ings are referred to as _______ transformers.

b. Transformers which are used to change a primary voltage to another value for operat-
ing bells, signs, and battery-charging rectifiers are known as _______ transformers.
5. Which current(s) is/are applied to the control winding of a magnetic amplifer?
a. Output current c. AC signal current only
b. DC control current only d. DC supply and AC control currents

Check your answers with those on page 33.

32
Transformers for Electronic and Other Applications
Self-Check 1
1. transformer

Answers
2. mutual
3. c
4. down, up
5. 36 V
Ns
Es = ᎏᎏ ⫻ Ep
Np

600
= ᎏᎏ ⫻ 12
200
= 3 ⫻ 12
= 36 V
6. exciting
7. 12 A

Self-Check 2
1. core, shell
2. b
3.

4. a. electronic
b. specialty
5. d

33
NOTES

34 Self-Check Answers
Examination
925 Oak Street
Scranton, Pennsylvania 18515-0001

Transformers for Electronic and


Other Applications

EXAMINATION NUMBER:

38700801
Whichever method you use in submitting your exam
answers to the school, you must use the number above.

For the quickest test results, go to


http://www.takeexamsonline.com

When you feel confident that you have mastered the material in
this study unit, complete the following examination. Then submit
only your answers to the school for grading, using one of the
examination answer options described in your “Test Materials”
envelope. Send your answers for this examination as soon as you
complete it. Do not wait until another examination is ready.

Questions 1–20: Select the one best answer to each question.


1. What is the efficiency of a transformer that has an input of 600
VA and an output to a load of 580 VA?
A. 20 VA C. 83.8%
B. 180 VA D. 96.6%

2. A power transformer connected to a 120 VAC line delivers 12


VAC at the secondary. What type of transformer is this?
A. A step-up transformer
B. A step-over transformer
C. A step-down transformer
D. A step-out transformer

35
3. In a magnetic amplifier, a large AC voltage is controlled by a
A. varistor and resistor combination.
B. set of three batteries.
C. small AC voltage.
D. rectifier.

4. An inductor for which reactance can be varied by supplying current through a separate DC
winding is called a(n)
A. reactance tube. C. autotransformer.
B. current transformer. D. saturable reactor.

5. If the turns ratio of a transformer is 4 : 1 and the incoming voltage is 120 VAC, what is the
secondary voltage?
A. 30 VAC C. 240 VAC
B. 120 VAC D. 480 VAC

6. If the primary in a transformer has more turns than the secondary, the secondary has
A. lower current. C. higher power.
B. lower voltage. D. lower ampere-turns.

7. What type of transformer is used to prevent electrical noise from passing from the primary
winding to the secondary winding?
A. Dry-type transformer C. Shielded transformer
B. Oil-filled transformer D. Delta transformer

8. You’ll work at times with a transformer that has one winding connected in series with the
other to form the equivalent of a single winding. This is called a(n)
A. distribution transformer. C. specialty transformer.
B. electronic transformer. D. autotransformer.

9. If the power in the primary circuit of a 4 : 1 transformer is 12 watts, what will be the power
in the secondary of this transformer?
A. 3 watts C. 12 watts
B. 4 watts D. 48 watts

10. What would be the power in the secondary of a transformer that has a voltage of 48 VAC
and a current of 2.2 A?
A. 52.8 watts C. 121.8 watts
B. 105.6 watts D. 212.6 watts

36 Examination
11. What is the kVA rating of a transformer in which the secondary winding is delivering 10
amps at 480 VAC?
A. 4.8 kVA C. 480 kVA
B. 48 kVA D. 4800 kVA

12. A basic transformer consists of two separate conductive coils wrapped around a(n) _____
core.
A. copper C. iron
B. oiled paper D. plastic

13. Inductors are used in AC circuits to oppose changes in current value. What are two com-
mon names for inductors?
A. Choke and rectifier C. Choke and reactor
B. Rectifier and reactor D. Coil and rectifier

14. The primary current drawn by the transformer shown below will be
A. 2 A. C. 10 A.
B. 5 A. D. 50 A.

15. What special installation or maintenance requirements are needed for askarel-insulated
transformers?
A. Cooling water must be supplied to the transformer core.
B. The transformer must be installed in a vault if the voltage exceeds 35,000 VAC.
C. The oil must be changed at least once a year.
D. The radiator must be installed where air can circulate and the fins must remain clean.

16. The property that allows the change of voltage in one coil to lead to a change of voltage in
another coil is called mutual
A. reactance. C. reduction.
B. inductance D. impedance.

17. Why are high-quality transformers wound with large-diameter wire?


A. To lower the hysteresis losses
B. To lower the I2R losses
C. To lower the eddy current losses
D. To lower the magnetic leakage losses

Examination 37
18. If 120 VAC is applied to a transformer with a turns ratio of 6 : 1, what type of transformer is
present and what is the output voltage of the secondary?
A. Step-up, 720 VAC C. Step-down, 20 VAC
B. Step-up, 600 VAC D. Step-down, 60 VAC

19. When a load is suddenly connected to a transformer, the secondary voltage will be
reduced. This drop in voltage is called transformer
A. seduction. C. excitation.
B. regulation. D. conductance.

20. Most small electronic devices, such as portable radios, contain an internal 120 VAC trans-
former. Usually, what type of transformer is this?
A. Step-down C. Oil-filled
B. Step-up D. Air-gap

38 Examination