It would be difficult to imagine the world of electricity today without the functions of transformers. They are one of the oldest innovations used in electrical engineering, and their applications are felt across many different industries.
The basic functioning of transformers revolves around transferring power from one circuit to another, without requiring any physical contact. Transformers are therefore the primary medium through which electricity is transferred along different circuits.
There are many different types of transformers, and they are classified according to their usability. The key areas that are used to classify transformers include:
- Type of medium used in the core
- Winding arrangements
Take a look at each of these areas individually, as well as the types of transformers that are utilized.
Voltage transformers are the most regularly used in everyday devices. They are responsible for controlling the voltage that flows across electrical equipment. The two main types of voltage transformers used are:
Step-up transformers are responsible for increasing the voltage from the primary core to the secondary core. Voltage in a device may need to be increased so as to meet the operational requirements of the electrical system.
In a step-up transformer, the number of electrical windings are increased from the input core (the primary core) to the output core (the secondary core) so that the transformer can increase the voltage flowing in the system.
Step-down transformers operate in an opposite manner to step-up transformers. They decrease the voltage flowing in the system by reducing the number of windings in the output core.
Step-down transformers are useful for converting devices with high voltages to lower voltages that can be used in home appliances.
Type of medium used in the core
Transformers can also be classified according to the type of medium that is used in the core of the transformer. The primary and secondary cores and windings can be separated by either air or an iron core so as to maintain the flow of current.
Air core transformers
An air core transformer uses air as the medium for linking the primary and secondary windings. Such transformers are also able to eliminate losses in voltage due to eddy currents.
Iron core transformers
Iron core transformers utilize an iron plate to act as a linkage between the primary and secondary windings. The iron core makes these transformers more efficient and regularly used than the air core type.
Transformers also vary in how their windings are arranged relative to each other. Standard transformers are arranged such that the windings face in opposite directions, while autotransformers have their windings connected in the same direction, with one often following the other.