What Exactly is an Electrical Transformer?

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

What is an electrical transformer and what does it do? No, we are not talking about the children's toy made by Hasbro. It cannot turn into a jet, a truck or a car. Simply put, a transformer takes a voltage from one power source and converts it into another voltage for a a specific purpose.

All transformers are made up of the same components just varying sizes due to application. . It consists of two separate insulated wires wound around a 2 different magnetic cores. The winding to which we connect the voltage or current to be converted is called the primary winding and the output winding is called the secondary winding. This is the fundamental basics of what makes a transformer a transformer.

Some real world examples would be the big green electrical transformers that you see in every residential neighborhood to the a very small one that would power your under cabinet lights. They come in all shapes and sizes for all different applications. We are going to talk about some of the more common types of transformers and their uses.

Step Down Transformer

A Step Down Transformer by definition is a device which converts a high primary voltage to a lower secondary voltage. The primary winding of a coil in a step down transformer has more turns than the secondary winding.

These types of transformers are very common and you probably have used these items every day. are One good example would be your doorbell in your home. It commonly uses a 120V to 16V to 24V transformer to make your doorbell ring. Another common everyday item would be a cell phone charger. They take 120v and convert it to a voltage of between 5V and 12V.

They are the foundation of countless electronic devices and appliances that are used worldwide. Without step down transformers, there would be no computers, laptops, tablets, etc. They truly are a great innovation that makes all our lives easier to live.

Step Up Transformer

By definition, a transformer that increases the voltage from its primary side to secondary side is called a step-up transformer. There are more secondary winding turns than primary winding turns in this type of transformer. This is the opposite of the the step down type, and also is very useful in creating the world that we live in.

One of the biggest uses that comes to mind is in the context of power generation stations. They take lower Voltage power and high current and convert it into Very High Voltage and low current for transmission purposes on the power lines. Did you know that the voltage can be anywhere from 44,000 to over 765,000 volts depending on the length and distance the transmission line has to go?

Another common example of a step up transformers that most people have used is in microwave ovens and in X-ray machines. In microwaves, this allows your food to cook at a faster rate and the transformers are built into the units. On an X-ray machine, the transformer may be external.

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