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What is a Transformer?
A transformer is defined as a passive electrical device that transfers electrical energy from one circuit to another through the process of electromagnetic induction. It is most commonly used to increase (‘step up’) or decrease (‘step down’) voltage levels between circuits.
Working Principle of Transformer
The working principle of a Power Transformer is very simple. Mutual induction between two or more windings (also known as coils) allows for electrical energy to be transferred between circuits. This principle is explained in further detail below.
Say you have one winding (also known as a coil) which is supplied by an alternating electrical source. The alternating current through the winding produces a continually changing and alternating flux that surrounds the winding.
If another winding is brought close to this winding, some portion of this alternating flux will link with the second winding. As this flux is continually changing in its amplitude and direction, there must be a changing flux linkage in the second winding or coil.
According to Faraday’s law of electromagnetic induction, there will be an EMF induced in the second winding. If the circuit of this secondary winding is closed, then a current will flow through it. This is the basic working principle of a Distribution Transformer.
Let us use electrical symbols to help visualize this. The winding which receives electrical power from the source is known as the ‘primary winding’. In the diagram below this is the ‘First Coil’.
The winding which gives the desired output voltage due to mutual induction is commonly known as the ‘secondary winding’. This is the ‘Second Coil’ in the diagram above.
A transformer that increases voltage between the primary to secondary windings is defined as a step-up transformer. Conversely, a transformer that decreases voltage between the primary to secondary windings is defined as a step-down transformer.
Whether the transformer increases or decreases the voltage level depends on the relative number of turns between the primary and secondary side of the Dry Type Transformer.
If there are more turns on the primary coil than the secondary coil than the voltage will decrease (step down).
If there are less turns on the primary coil than the secondary coil than the voltage will increase (step up).
While the diagram of the transformer above is theoretically possible in an ideal transformer – it is not very practical. This is because in the open air only a very tiny portion of the flux produced from the first coil will link with the second coil. So the current that flows through the closed circuit connected to the secondary winding will be extremely small (and difficult to measure).