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TRANSFORMERS The purpose of a transformer is to change electrical voltage to a different value.

For example, a farmer has a large, 480- V, 3-phase motor powering a well. The motor is in a building, and the farmer wants one 120-V circuit for a few lights and a receptacle outlet. A transformer is used to lower the voltage from 480 V to 120 V for the lighting circuit, HOW THE TRANSFORMER WORKS A clear understanding of how transformers work is necessary in order to wire them properly in an electrical system. Understanding input and output current and grounding are particularly troublesome. A dual-voltage transformer can be ruined when power is applied, if the connections are made improperly. An important property of electricity is that a magnetic field is produced around a wire in which electrical current is flowing, Figure 1.

Figure 1. When electrical current flows through a wire, a magnetic field is built up around the wire

The more current that flows, the stronger is the magnetic field. An even stronger magnetic field can be produced by winding the wire into a coil. Now the magnetic fields of adjacent wires add together to form one strong magnetic field. The electrical current flowing in a transformer is alternating current. The current flows first in one direction, stops, then reverses and flows in the other direction. The magnetic field around the winding is constantly in motion. Figure 2 shows the magnetic field during one cycle. Notice that the north and south poles of the magnetic field reverse when the flow of current reverses.

Figure 2. When alternating current is flowing in the coil, the magnetic field is constantly moving

Another property of electricity is important to the operation of a transformer. When a magnetic field moves across a wire, a voltage is induced into the wire, Figure 3. If the wire forms a complete circuit, current will flow in the wire. If a second coil of wire is placed in a moving magnetic field, then a voltage will be induced in this second coil, Figure 4. This phenomenon is called mutual induction. Alternating current in one winding produces a moving magnetic field that induces a voltage in a second winding. Electrical energy is converted into magnetic field and then converted back into electrical energy in a second winding. The trick is to do this witt little or no loss of energy.

Figure 3. When the magnetic field moves across the wire, an electrical current flows in the wire

Figure 4. The two transformer winding are on separate parts on the silicon steel core

The magnetic field loses strength quickly in air therefore; a special steel core is used. The core is composed of thin sheets of a silicon-steel alloy. The magnetic field is concentrated in the core, and energy losses are reduced to a minimum. Figure 4

shows the two windings separated. Most transformers have one winding placed directly over the other to further reduce the loss of energy, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. In most transformers, the two windings are placed one over the other to reduce energy losses.

VOLTAGE AND TURNS RATIO The input winding to a transformer is called the primary winding. The output winding is called the secondary winding. If there are more turns of wire on the primary than on the secondary, the output voltage will be lower than the input voltage. This is illustrated in Figure 6 for a step-down and a step-up transformer. Notice that the winding with the greater number of turns has the higher voltage. In Figure 6, one winding has twice as many turns as the other. In one case the voltage is stepped down to half, while in the other the voltage is stepped up to double. It is important to know the ratio of the number of turns of wire on the primary winding as compared to the secondary winding. This is called the turns ratio of the transformer, Equation 1. The actual number of turns is not important, just the turns ratio.

Figure 6. Schematic diagrams of step-down and step-up transformers.

[1] The step-down transformer of Figure 6 has 14 turns on the primary, and 7 turns on the secondary; therefore, the turns ratio is 2 to l, or just 2. The step-up transformer has 7 turns on the primary and 14 on the secondary; therefore, the turns ratio is 1 to 2, or 0.5. If one voltage and the turns ratio are known, the other voltage can be determined with Equations 2 or 3.


[3] TRANSFORMER RATINGS Transformers are rated in volt-amperes (VA) or kilovolt- amperes (kVA). This means that the primary and the secondary winding are designed to withstand the VA or kVA rating stamped on the transformer nameplate. The primary and secondary full-load currents usually are not given. The installer must be able to calculate the primary and secondary currents from the nameplate information. When the voltampere (or kilovolt-ampere) rating is given, along with the primary voltage, then the primary full-load current can be determined, using Equation 4 (for a single-phase transformer) or Equation 5 (for a 3-phase transformer). Single phase:

[4] Three phase:


It may seem strange at first, but the transformer current will be higher in the winding which produces the lower voltage. This concept is important to understand in order to avoid transformer or conductor overloading. The primary and secondary transformer full-load currents are also related by the turns ratio, as shown in Equation 6.


Transformer no-load phasor diagram The core flux is common to both primary and secondary windings in a transformer and is thus taken as the reference phasor in a phasor diagram. On no-load the primary winding takes a small no load current I0 and since, with losses neglected, the primary winding is a pure inductor, this current lags the applied voltage V1 by 90°. In the phasor diagram assuming no losses, shown in Figure 7(a), current I0 produces the flux and is drawn in phase with the flux. The primary induced e.m.f. E1 is in phase opposition to V1 (by Lenz’s law) and is shown 180° out of phase with V1 and equal in magnitude. The secondary induced e.m.f. is shown for a 2:1 turns ratio transformer. A no-load phasor diagram for a practical transformer is shown in Figure 7(b). If current flows then losses will occur. When losses are considered then the no-load current I0 is the phasor sum of two components – (i) IM, the magnetising component, in phase with the flux, and (ii) IC, the core loss component (supplying the hysteresis and eddy current losses). From Figure 7(b): No-load current,
2 2 I0  IM  IC


I M  I 0 Sin0


I C  I 0Cos0

Power factor on no-load =

Cos0  I C I 0 , The total core losses = V1I 0Cos0

Figure 7. Transformer no-load phasor diagram

Transformer on-load phasor diagram If the voltage drops in the windings of a transformer are assumed negligible, then the terminal voltage V2 is the same as the induced e.m.f. E2 in the secondary. Similarly, V1 = E1. Assuming an equal number of turns on primary and secondary windings, then E1 = E2, and let the load have a lagging phase angle φ2. In the phasor diagram of Figure 8, current I2 lags V2 by angle φ2. When a load is connected across the secondary winding a current I2 flows in the secondary winding. The resulting secondary e.m.f. acts so as to tend to reduce the core flux. However this does not happen since reduction of the core flux reduces E1, hence a reflected increase in primary current I’1 occurs which provides a restoring e.m.f. Hence at all loads, primary and secondary e.m.f.’s are equal, but in opposition, and the core flux remains constant. I’1 is sometimes called the ‘balancing’ current and is equal, but in the opposite direction, to current I2 as shown in Figure 8. I0, shown at a phase angle φ0 to V1, is the no-load current of the transformer. The phasor sum of I’1 and I0 gives the supply current I1 and the phase angle between V1 and I1 is shown as φ1.

Figure 8. Transformer on-load phasor diagram

Equivalent circuit of a transformer Figure 9(a) shows an equivalent circuit of a transformer. R1 and R2 represent the resistances of the primary and secondary windings and X1 and X2 represent the reactance of the primary and secondary windings, due to leakage flux. The core losses due to hysteresis and eddy currents are allowed for by resistance R which takes a current IC, the core loss component of the primary current. Reactance X takes the magnetising component Im. In a simplified equivalent circuit shown in Figure 9(b), R and X are omitted since the no-load current I0 is normally only about 3–5 per cent of the full load primary current.

Figure 9(a)

Figure 9(b)

It is often convenient to assume that all of the resistance and reactance as being on one side of the transformer. Resistance R2 in Figure 9(b) can be replaced by inserting an additional resistance R’2 in the primary circuit such that the power absorbed in R’2 when carrying the primary current is equal to that in R2 due to the secondary current, i.e.
' 2 I12 R2  I2 R2

from which
2 2

I  V  R  R2  2   R2  1   I1   V2 
' 2

Then the total equivalent resistance in the primary circuit Re is equal to the primary and secondary resistances of the actual transformer. Hence Re = R1 + R’2


By similar reasoning, the equivalent reactance in the primary circuit is given by Xe = X1 + X’2

[8] The equivalent impedance Ze of the primary and secondary windings referred to the primary is given by

[9] If φe is the phase angle between I1 and the volt drop I1Ze then

[10] The simplified equivalent circuit of a transformer is shown in Figure 10.

Figure 10. Equivalent circuit of a transformer

Regulation of a transformer When the secondary of a transformer is loaded, the secondary terminal voltage, V2, falls. As the power factor decreases, this voltage drop increases. This is called the regulation of the transformer and it is usually expressed as a percentage of the secondary no-load voltage, E2. For full-load conditions:


The fall in voltage, (E2 - V2), is caused by the resistance and reactance of the windings. Typical values of voltage regulation are about 3% in small transformers and about 1% in large transformers. Transformer losses and efficiency The efficiency of a transformer, usually expressed as a percentage, and is given by

[12] It is not uncommon for power transformers to have efficiencies of between 95% and 98%. It may be shown that the efficiency of a transformer is a maximum when the variable copper loss is equal to the constant iron losses. Auto transformers An auto transformer is a transformer which has part of its winding common to the primary and secondary circuits. Figure 11(a) shows the circuit for a double-wound transformer and Figure 11(b) that for an auto transformer. The latter shows that the secondary is actually part of the primary, the current in the secondary being (I2 - I1). Since the current is less in this section, the cross-sectional area of the winding can be reduced, which reduces the amount of material necessary.

Figure 11(a)

Figure 11(b)

Figure 12 shows the circuit diagram symbol for an auto transformer.

Figure 12

Saving of copper in an auto transformer For the same output and voltage ratio, the auto transformer requires less copper than an ordinary double-wound transformer. This is explained below. The volume, and hence weight, of copper required in a winding is proportional to the number of turns and to the cross-sectional area of the wire. In turn this is proportional to the current to be carried, i.e. volume of copper is proportional to NI.


Advantages of auto transformers The advantages of auto transformers over double wound transformers include: 1 a saving in cost since less copper is needed 2 less volume, hence less weight 3 a higher efficiency, resulting from lower I2R losses 4 a continuously variable output voltage is achievable if a sliding contact is used 5 a smaller percentage voltage regulation.

Disadvantages of auto transformers The primary and secondary windings are not electrically separate; hence if an open-circuit occurs in the secondary winding the full primary voltage appears across the secondary. Uses of auto transformers Auto transformers are used for reducing the voltage when starting induction motors and for interconnecting systems that are operating at approximately the same voltage. Open Circuit Test As the name suggests, the secondary is kept open circuited and nominal value of the input voltage is applied to the primary winding and the input current and power are measured. In Figure 13(a) V, A, W are the voltmeter, ammeter and wattmeter respectively. Let these meters read V1,I0 and W0 respectively. Figure 13(b) shows the equivalent circuit of the transformer under this test. The no load current at rated voltage is less than 1 percent of nominal current and hence the loss and drop that take place in primary impedance r1+jxl1 due to the no load current I0 is negligible. The active component Ic of the no load current I0 represents the core losses and reactive current Im is the current needed for the magnetization.

Figure 13: No Load Test

Thus the wattmeter reading

Figure 14: Open Circuit Characteristics

The parameters measured already are in terms of the primary. Sometimes the primary voltage required may be in kilo-Volts and it may not be feasible to apply nominal voltage to primary from the point of safety to personnel and equipment. If the secondary voltage is low, one can perform the test with LV side energized keeping the HV side open circuited. In this case the parameters that are obtained are in terms of LV. These have to be referred to HV side if we need the equivalent circuit referred to HV side. Sometimes the nominal value of high voltage itself may not be known, or in doubt, especially in a rewound transformer. In such cases an open circuit characteristics is first obtained, which is a graph showing the applied voltage as a function of the no load current. This is a non linear curve as shown in Figure 14. This graph is obtained by noting the current drawn by transformer at different applied voltage, keeping the secondary open circuited. The usual operating point selected for operation lies at some standard voltage around the knee point of the characteristic. After this value is chosen as the nominal value the parameters are calculated as mentioned above. Short Circuit Test

Figure 15: Short Circuit Test

The purpose of this test is to determine the series branch parameters of the equivalent circuit of Figure 15(b). As the name suggests, in this test primary applied voltage, the current and power input are measured keeping the secondary terminals short circuited. Let these values be Vsc; Isc and Wsc respectively. The supply voltage required to circulate rated current through the transformer is usually very small and is of the order of a few percent of the nominal voltage. The excitation current which is only 1 percent or less even at rated voltage becomes

negligibly small during this test and hence is neglected. The shunt branch is thus assumed to be absent. Also I1 = I’2 as I0 ≈ 0. Therefore Wsc is the sum of the copper losses in primary and secondary put together. The reactive power consumed is that absorbed by the leakage reactance of the two windings.

If the approximate equivalent circuit is required then there is no need to separate r1 and r’2 or xl1 and xl’2. However if the exact equivalent circuit is needed then either r1 or r’2 is determined from the resistance measurement and the other separated from the total. As for the separation of xl1 and xl’2 is concerned, they are assumed to be equal. This is a fairly valid assumption for many types of transformer windings as the leakage flux paths are through air and are similar.