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  • Explain how a transformer works.
  • Calculate voltage, current, and/or number of turns given the other quantities.

Transformers do what their name implies—they transform voltages from one value to another (The term voltage is used rather than emf, because transformers have internal resistance). For example, many cell phones, laptops, video games, and power tools and small appliances have a transformer built into their plug-in unit (like that in [link] ) that changes 120 V or 240 V AC into whatever voltage the device uses. Transformers are also used at several points in the power distribution systems, such as illustrated in [link] . Power is sent long distances at high voltages, because less current is required for a given amount of power, and this means less line loss, as was discussed previously. But high voltages pose greater hazards, so that transformers are employed to produce lower voltage at the user’s location.

A photo graph of two plug in transformers operated on voltages other than common one hundred twenty volt AC.
The plug-in transformer has become increasingly familiar with the proliferation of electronic devices that operate on voltages other than common 120 V AC. Most are in the 3 to 12 V range. (credit: Shop Xtreme)
The figure shows a transmission power system. It shows the various stages in a power transmission system from the power plant to the house hold with the help of images. The first image is of a power plant. The voltage generated is at twelve volts. This voltage is shown to pass on to a step up transformer through cables. From the step up transformer the current passes through a high voltage transmission line at four hundred kilo volt. The high voltage transmission line is shown passing on three towers. The current is then passed to a step down transformer substation. The current is step down to twelve volts. This is now passed through power transmission lines on poles. This current reaches a step down transformer which is fixed on a pole. Here the voltage is further stepped down to two hundred forty volts. Current is then supplied to an individual household at two hundred forty volts.
Transformers change voltages at several points in a power distribution system. Electric power is usually generated at greater than 10 kV, and transmitted long distances at voltages over 200 kV—sometimes as great as 700 kV—to limit energy losses. Local power distribution to neighborhoods or industries goes through a substation and is sent short distances at voltages ranging from 5 to 13 kV. This is reduced to 120, 240, or 480 V for safety at the individual user site.

The type of transformer considered in this text—see [link] —is based on Faraday’s law of induction and is very similar in construction to the apparatus Faraday used to demonstrate magnetic fields could cause currents. The two coils are called the primary and secondary coils . In normal use, the input voltage is placed on the primary, and the secondary produces the transformed output voltage. Not only does the iron core trap the magnetic field created by the primary coil, its magnetization increases the field strength. Since the input voltage is AC, a time-varying magnetic flux is sent to the secondary, inducing its AC output voltage.

The figure shows a simple transformer with two coils wound on either sides of a laminated ferromagnetic core. The set of coil on left side of the core is marked as the primary and there number is given as N p. The voltage across the primary is given by V p. The set of coil on right side of the core is marked as the secondary and there number is represented as N s. The voltage across the secondary is given by V s. A symbol of the transformer is also shown below the diagram. It consists of two inductor coils separated by two equal parallel lines representing the core.
A typical construction of a simple transformer has two coils wound on a ferromagnetic core that is laminated to minimize eddy currents. The magnetic field created by the primary is mostly confined to and increased by the core, which transmits it to the secondary coil. Any change in current in the primary induces a current in the secondary.

For the simple transformer shown in [link] , the output voltage V s size 12{V rSub { size 8{s} } } {} depends almost entirely on the input voltage V p size 12{V rSub { size 8{p} } } {} and the ratio of the number of loops in the primary and secondary coils. Faraday’s law of induction for the secondary coil gives its induced output voltage V s size 12{V rSub { size 8{s} } } {} to be

V s = N s Δ Φ Δ t , size 12{V rSub { size 8{s} } = - N rSub { size 8{s} } { {ΔΦ} over {Δt} } } {}

where N s size 12{N rSub { size 8{s} } } {} is the number of loops in the secondary coil and Δ Φ size 12{ΔΦ} {} / Δ t size 12{Δt} {} is the rate of change of magnetic flux. Note that the output voltage equals the induced emf ( V s = emf s size 12{V rSub { size 8{s} } ="emf" rSub { size 8{s} } } {} ), provided coil resistance is small (a reasonable assumption for transformers). The cross-sectional area of the coils is the same on either side, as is the magnetic field strength, and so Δ Φ / Δ t size 12{ΔΦ} {} is the same on either side. The input primary voltage V p size 12{V rSub { size 8{p} } } {} is also related to changing flux by

Questions & Answers

Calculate the work done by an 85.0-kg man who pushes a crate 4.00 m up along a ramp that makes an angle of 20.0º20.0º with the horizontal. (See [link] .) He exerts a force of 500 N on the crate parallel to the ramp and moves at a constant speed. Be certain to include the work he does on the crate an
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Practice Key Terms 4

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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