You are on page 1of 21


What Is A Transformer?
A transformer is an electrical device that by electromagnetic induction transforms electric
energy from one or more circuits to one or more other circuits at the same frequency. By
varying magnetic relationships or values of the input versus the output, a transformer
produces changed values of voltage and current. A transformer works by having the input
windings made around a core of special steel that conveys the pulses of AC current to
output windings around a core of special steel that conveys the pulses of AC Current to
output windings around the same or connected portions of the steel core.
What is A DC Power Supply?
A DC power supply is a device that will deliver DC voltages and currents to your system.
Most DC power supplies used in the industrial environment will convert the AC power
generated by the utilities to DC power. This is achieved through various rectifier
How Many Types of DC Power Supplies Are Available?
DC power supplies come in many sizes and configurations, but will generally fall into
one of four categories: battery, switch-mode, linear, and regulating. Each of these devices
has their own unique application benefits and pitfalls. To determine which type of DC
power supply is suitable for your application, please contact MARELCO's Engineering
Department for application service.
What Is An Isolating Transformer?
An isolating transformer is one which insulates the input (primary) from the output
(secondary) winding. This can be done by several means, including separating the
windings and for more isolation and shielding.
What Is A Step-down Transformer?
A step-down transformer is one in which the input (primary) windings exceed in number
the output (secondary) windings, thus the ratio of voltage is from the high voltage
winding to a low voltage winding or windings. The offset is current, which is higher in
the secondary than it is in the primary.
What Is A Step-up Transformer?
A step-up transformer is one in which the voltage change is from the low voltage winding
to a high voltage winding or windings. High current is used in the primary to produce a
relatively lower current in the secondary.

What Is An Auto Transformer?

An auto transformer has its primary and secondary connected to each other electrically. A
portion of the energy in an auto transformer comes from this connection while the
balance comes directly from the supply. Building inspectors often object to auto
transformers because they do not isolate one circuit from the other. One ground may be at
a considerably higher voltage than the ground in another section of the same circuit.
Local inspectors and utility companies should be consulted before installing auto
transformers. Where the use of auto transformers is not objectionable, they do represent a
considerable saving in price over that of a regular separate winding transformer. This
saving varies as the ratio of windings changes. After the ratio of windings reaches
approximately 4:1 or 5:1, there is very little economy in using an auto transformer. Auto
transformers are most practical where a small percentage of voltage raising or lowering is
required and isolation between the two circuits is not required. Auto transformers can be
single phase or three phase. In neither case is any isolation provided.
What Is Exciting Current?
Exciting current, when used in connection with transformers, is the current or amperes
required to get the transformer to the point where it will operate. A certain amount of
energy is required to overcome the internal resistance of the steel core. The exciting
current on most transformers varies from approximately 10% on small sizes of about 1
KVA and smaller to approximately .5% to 4% on larger sizes up to 1000 KVA. The
exciting current is made up of two components, one of which is a real component and is
in the form of losses or referred to as no-load watts; the other is in the form of reactive
power and is referred to as KVAR.
What Is Voltage Regulation?
Voltage regulation in transformers is the difference between the no-load voltage and the
full-load voltage. This is usually expressed in the terms of percentage: for example, with
a transformer that delivers 100 volts at no-load and 95 volts at full-load, the regulation
would be 5%. Power and lighting transformers generally have regulation from 2% to 4%,
depending on the size and the application for which they are used. For special
requirements such as instruments or computers, see the paragraph describing Regulating
What Is Impedance?
Impedance is the resistance found in all circuits where alternating current is used.
Electrically, impedance is made up of three components- DC resistance, inductance and
capacitance. The inductance and capacitance can be added directly when converted to
like units. One is positive and the other negative. The result of the quantity is then added
vectorally to the resistance. (Vectoral addition is done the same way that sides are added
to a triangle when trying to obtain the hypotenuse.) The impedance of most ordinary
transformers runs between 3% and 6%. Very low impedance transformers tend to give

better regulation. If the secondary of the transformer should be accidentally shortcircuited and the impedance of the transformer is low, there would be a very high current
flow on both the primary and secondary windings. This may cause mechanical
displacement of the windings and a short circuit between adjacent turns. With a
transformer that had an impedance of 5% and the secondary short circuited, the primary
and secondary current would automatically limited to 20x normal current. If the
impedance was 10% the primary and secondary current would be limited to 10x normal
current, and so on within certain limits that need not be explained here.
How Much Power Does A Transformer Consume When Idle?
All transformers consume power when they are connected to a line and there is no-load
connected to the secondary. This amount of power is very small in comparison to the
KVA rating of the transformer. This power consumed is commonly referred to as the noload losses. These losses run on the order of 1% or less for most small and medium size
transformers; for example, a 25 KVA, single phase, 60 cycle, 480 volts to 120/240 volts
transformer would have a no-load loss of about 150 watts or .6% of the name plate rating
of the transformer. This loss appears in the form of heat and is confined to the iron or
lamination of the transformer. Such loss relates to the level of exciting current necessary
to make the transformer operative.
What Is The Efficiency Of A Transformer When Fully Loaded?
Transformers are among the most efficient electrical apparatus commercially
manufactured. Most transformers of sizes form 1 KVA through 1000 KVA will have a
full-load efficiency of from 95% to 98.5%. The items which lower the efficiency of a
transformer are losses which appear in the iron and those which appear in the windings.
The iron losses are explained in the above question. The losses in the windings are due to
the resistance of the wire. When current flows through a wire, losses appear in the form
of heat just the same as when an ordinary electric hot plate is turned on.. The wire used in
quality transformers is generally made of copper. Aluminum is sometimes used in low
quality transformers where life expectancy is not important or transformers which only
have a constant load. These metals are among the best commercial metals for conducting
electricity. They offer the least amount of resistance. Therefore, little energy is lost in the
form of heat through the windings. These losses run on the order of 1% to 2% of the fullload rating. They vary inversely as the square of the load.
What Is The Sound Level of A Dry Type Transformer? What Causes Such Sound?
The sound level of a dry type transformer is the result of the variations of flux in the iron
core. This can be due to physical movement of pieces of core or lamination and the
elongation and contraction of iron during each cycle of the alternating current used. The
National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has set up the following audible
sound level limits for dry type transformers:
Transformer Rating (KVA)

Average Sound Levels (Decibels)



10 - 50


51 - 150


151 - 300


301 - 500


A decibel is the unit of measure of sound level or noise. Decibels are expressed as a
logarithmic function. Therefore, the noise or sound level does not increase in proportion
to the number of decibels. Fifty-five decibels is about the level of noise you would
experience in a large quiet automobile at high cruise speed.
Why Do Transformers Have Taps? What Are Taps?
Transformers are supplied with taps to adjust the transformer voltage to the correct input
or output voltage or to permit selecting various voltages for various purposes,
adjustments, etc. On some transformers the primary is equipped with taps to vary the
primary approximately 10%. For example: we have a transformer that has a primary of
480 volts with four 2.5% taps below and a secondary of 120/240 volts. If the line voltage
or primary is actually down to 432 volts, the output voltage will be only 108/216. By
using the lowest tap on the transformer, we can adjust the primary so that it will be suited
for 432 volts, and full 120/240 volts will be obtained on the output. Most small and
medium size transformers have no-load tap changers. This means that the power must be
shut off and the taps changed on the transformer while it is de-energized. On very large
size and specially built transformers the tap changing can be done automatically. This is a
comparatively expensive method and is not commonly employed on transformers of 1000
KVA and less. Other transformers have taps on the secondary and are used for such
purposes as welders, furnaces and other types of loads where it is necessary to change the
voltage to match the load or to supply different voltages to various sections of a complex
piece of equipment like a motor drive system.
Describe A 2-Winding Transformer
A 2-winding transformer has the primary winding and secondary winding electrically
insulated from each other. Therefore, all of the power flowing through the transformer is
done by transformer action and not by partial conduction as explained under the auto
transformer section. A brief description of how a 2-winding transformer operates is as
follows: The electrical energy flows in through the primary windings and is converted to
magnetic energy which is conducted by the lamination or iron in the center of the coil
This magnetic energy is referred to as lines of force or flux, and varies according to the
frequency of the supply. When these lines of force vary or move, they affect the winding
of the secondary and, therefore, a voltage is generated in the secondary. This voltage may

be larger or smaller or equal to the input of primary voltage, and is determined by the
ratio of turns between primary and secondary. For example, the primary of a transformer
has 100 turns and is connected to 100 volt supply, the secondary has 50 turns, therefore,
the secondary voltage will be 50 volts.
Describe A 3-Winding Transformer
A 3-winding transformer is identical to a 2-winding transformer except that the secondary
has two sections and is quite often suitable for series or parallel. A typical example would
be a 480 volt primary with a secondary of 120/240 volts. "Windings" can be effected by
putting taps at various places on one large winding or by making separate coils (either
primary or secondary).
Describe A 4-Winding Transformer
A 4-winding transformer is the same as a 2-winding transformer except that generally the
primary and secondary are split up into two sections usually suited for series parallel
connection. An example would be a transformer with a primary of 240/480 volts and a
secondary of 120/240 volts. The voltages indicated are such that the primary can be
connected in series for a 480 volt supply or paralleled for a 240 volt supply. The
secondary can be in series for 240 volts or paralleled for 120 volts, or connected in series
with the mid tap brought out for 120/240 volts, 3 wire operation. This is the most
common connection and is found on industrial lighting panels as well as in most
What Is A Combination Transformer?
In broad terms, a Combination Transformer is a single device that will take the place of
two or more transformers or power supplies. A Combination Transformer may be a
simple as a single phase single primary voltage (i.e., 480 volt, 60 Hz. input) with a dual
secondary voltage output (i.e., secondary #1: 120 volts @ 500 VA; secondary #2: 240
volts @ 1 KVA), or as complex as a three phase multiple primary voltage device with
multiple three phase isolation and auto-transformer outputs, multiple single phase
outputs, and multiple DC voltage outputs.
When Can A Combination Transformer Be Used?
Unfortunately, there is no cut-and-dried answer to this question. Usually, if you are using
more than one transformer or power supply, a combination transformer may be suitable
for your application. Where the combination transformer approach works, the end result
is a smaller, more energy efficient, easier to procure and install, and a less expensive
device as compared with a series of single purpose transformers. Please consult with
MARELCO's Engineering Department to assist in determining the possible use of
combination transformers in your applications.
What Is The Effect Of Over Voltage or Under Voltage On The Ratings Of Transformers?

Transformers are rated by their KVA capacity. K represents kilo or 1000; V represents
volts; A represents amperes. The ampere ratings of a transformer are predetermined by
the size of KVA. Therefore, if the voltage is raised or lowered, the ampere rating must
remain constant, otherwise an excess of amperes will cause a higher than planned
temperature rise. An example would be as follows: a 1 KVA transformer primary 100
volts; the primary current would be 10 amps. If you apply 90 volts on this transformer,
you could not draw more than 10 amperes through the windings without causing
excessive heating. Note: when you did so you would cause the KVA to be down to .9
KVA. If over voltage is used on the transformer, it results in excessive core loses and in
turn causes the transformer to operate at higher than normal temperature. High
temperatures tend to shorten the life of a transformer and an approximate rule for
estimating the life shortening effect of high temperatures is approximately 1/2 life for
each 12 degrees centigrade of continuous operation above normal rated temperature.
When A Transformer Is Operated At One Half Normal Voltage, How Does This Affect Its
KVA Rating?
The KVA rating is reduced to one half, or in the same proportion as the voltage, the
secondary voltage is also lowered proportionally.
What Effect Will 50 Cycle Voltage Have On A Transformer Rated For 60 Cycles Of Like
The effect will be higher no-load losses or iron losses, which in turn will tend to raise the
temperature of the transformer. Many small types of transformers are rated for 50/60
cycles. This can be done quite successfully, as the amount of heat can be dissipated from
small transformers without too much difficulty. Generally speaking, larger sizes of
transformers that are designed in any size to operate satisfactorily on both 50 cycles and
60 cycles supplied with like voltages by simply designing the iron core to accept the
higher no-load losses of 50 cycle current. Fifty cycle transformers will operate very
satisfactorily on a 60 cycle supply with a like voltage. A 50/60 cycle transformer will cost
between 5% and 10% more than the corresponding 60 cycle transformer.
What Effect Will A 50 Cycle Supply Voltage Which Is 5/6 Of The Normal cycle Voltage
Have Upon The Rating Of A Transformer?
The KVA rating of the transformer will be lowered in the same proportion as the supply
voltage. In this case the KVA rating would be 5/6/ of the normal 60 cycle nameplate
VOLTAGE ON THE RATINGS OF TRANSFORMERS and remember the importance of
ampere load in transformer heating.
How Can You Tell The Exact Load Of A Single Phase Transformer Which Is Supplying a
3 Wire Circuit By Use of An Ammeter?

When checking the loading of a transformer with an ammeter, all that needs to be known
is the amount of amperes flowing in each of the outside legs or hot wires. You do not
have to measure the amount of amperes flowing in the neutral or grounded wire, but you
have to know the voltage from each of the hot wires or outside wires to neutral. An
example of this is a 3 wire lighting panel 120/240 volts. The ammeter readings for each
of the outside wires are 50 amps and 30 amps. Let us assume that the transformer
supplying this 3 wire power is a 10 KVA 120/240, 3 wire secondary. To check the load,
multiply the ampere reading by the voltage from the line to neutral and divide by 1000.
The first reading of 120 x 50 amps divided by 1000 equals 6 KVA. The second reading of
120 x 30 amps divided by 1000 equals 3.6 KVA. The total of these two equals 9.6 KVA.
The transformer is 20% over-loaded even though the total load is within the transformer's
rating. The maximum current that can be drawn from each hotline is equal to 240 volts
divided into the 10 KVA, or approximately 42 amps. You find that the 120 volt winding
supplying the 50 amp load is working much above its rated capacity and will result in
short life of the transformer. It is important to check the secondary loading of a
transformer. It is important to check the secondary loading of a transformer in addition to
checking the primary loading. For this reason MARELCO always rates its transformers
by the lower of the secondary or the primary KVA capacity rating.
When Can Transformers Be Used In Parallel?
Transformers can be paralleled when their voltages are equal. If the voltages are not
equal, the difference between the voltages will result in a net voltage which will cause
current to circulate on the closed network between the two transformers. This will cause
false loading and, if there is enough difference between the two voltages, the transformers
may actually burn out without any useful load being connected to them. In order to have
transformers with like voltages share the load proportionately, their impedance's must be
similar. In most commercial installations a tolerance of 10% impedance is permissible
when transformers are paralleled. Three phase transformers must have similar angular
displacement, meaning the phasing must be the same on each transformer.
Describe A 3 Phase, 4 Wire Grounded Neutral System
Many 3 phase, 4 wire, grounded neutral systems are 208Y/120. The 208 volts is
measured from line to line and is generally used to supply 3 phase loads such as motors,
ovens or other types of loads requiring a fair size block of power as well as balanced
loading. The 120 volts is obtained from the neutral to any one of the 3 line leads. This
120 volts is a single phase when taken from the neutral to any one line lead. This is an
economical method for obtaining 120 volts for lighting, hand tools and other types of
equipment. Industrial installations commonly also use 3 phase, 4 wire, 480Y/277 volts.
This is similar to the 208Y/120 volts just described, the 480 volts being from line to line
and the 277 volts from line to neutral.
When Is A 3 Phase, 4 Wire Grounded Neutral System Superior To A 3 Phase, 3 Wire

The 4 wire approach is considered to be the safer and more utilitarian. When standard
120 volt lights and other 120 volt equipment are used, the fourth wire on the 208 volt, 4
wire system offers a convenient method for obtaining this 120 volts. The 208Y, 3 phase, 4
wire system offers a safety advantage over the 3 wire, 240 volt system. In the 4 wire
system, the maximum for good safety precautions. On the 3 phase, 3 wire, 240 volt
system, generally one corner of the delta is grounded, which leaves the other 2 line leads
240 volts above ground. That's a helluva lot more juice than 120 volts.
What Is A Delta Connection?
A delta connection is a term used for describing the connections used on 3 phase
transformers, or 3 single phase transformers when connected to a 3 phase supply
(sometimes referred to as closed delta connections). The connection used is very similar
to an equilateral triangle or the symbol delta. each single phase transformer is represented
by one side of the delta or equilateral triangle. The three transformers are connected
together at the corners of the delta. The supply lines or load lines are also connected at
the same junctions from each corner. This results in a 3 wire, 3 phase system.
What Is An Open Delta Connection?
This is a term used for describing the connection of two single phase transformers for use
in a 3 phase power supply for transforming a 3 phase voltage. The open delta is the same
as the closed delta described above except that one transformer is removed from the
closed delta circuit. Open delta is less expensive but it presents certain limitations as
compared with normal 3 phase connections.
What Percentage Of Total Transformer Capacity Is Available In An Open Delta System?
The 3 phase capacity of an open delta system is 87% of the total transformers in the
circuit. An example would be: two 50 KVA single phase transformers connected in open
delta. The 3 phase capacity would be the sum of the two units multiplied by .87 or 100
KVA x .87 which would equal 87 KVA. In the event the third transformer of 50 KVA was
added to this open delta bank to form a closed delta, the 3 phase capacity would then be
the sum of the three transformers in the bank or 150 KVA.
What Is The Relationship Of "Y" To Delta?
The terms "Y" and delta are used to describe the connections on transformers when used
on 3 phase. A "Y" connection is made by connecting the finishes of the primaries or
secondaries of three single phase transformers into a common bank. The starts or other
end of the windings will then connect to the 3 line leads of the 3 phase supply. Should the
fourth wire be available on the 3 phase system, this would be connected to the common
junction or their center of the "Y". When the connections drawn out schematically, it
resembles the capital Y. Transformers connected in "Y" will operate at a higher 3 phase
voltage than their single phase rating. For example, transformers with 120 volts, single
phase windings may be connected in "Y" for 208 volts, 3 phase. The delta connection is

used for connecting 3 single phase transformers for 3 phase operation. Each side of the
delta would represent one winding of each transformer. The 3 corners of the delta are
then connected to the 3 phase supply or load. A delta connection does not offer a way to
make a fourth wire connection. Also, the single phase voltages and 3 phase voltages of a
transformer are alike when the are used on the delta connection. These delta and "Y"
connections are not necessarily limited to single phase transformers, but apply equally
well on connections of coils on a 3 phase transformer.
Why Can't Transformers Connected To Different Phases Of A 3 Phase System Be
Operated in Parallel?
Parallel operation of transformers of different phases, even if they are of like voltages, is
not possible due to the fact that there would be a large circulating current flowing within
the parallel circuit. This is because the instantaneous phase voltages occur at different
Why Is It Necessary To Use A 3 Phase Transformer When Going From 3 Phase To Single
Single phase is obtained from a 3 phase system by simply connecting to any two wires in
the 3 phase system. This applies to a 3 phase system whether it is 3 phase/3 wire or 3
phase/4 wire. Once single phase is obtained as explained above, then only a single phase
transformer is required. Transformers cannot be used to even out a single phase load so
that it will be distributed equally on all 3 phases of a 3 phase system. Transformers may
be used to change any number of phases to any other number of phases other than one.
Are Some 3 Phase Transformers "T" Connected?
"T" connection of 3 phase transformers is commonly used on small sizes up through 9
KVA (or 15 KVA 3 phase). A "T" connection is made up of two single phase transformers
connected in a manner resembling the capital T. This system usually results in a smaller
and lighter package than if 3 coils and cores are used in the above-mentioned KVA
What Does "Scott T Connection" Mean?
Scott T connection of transformers is a method used for changing 3 phase to 2 phase or
vice versa. The name originates from the man who developed it. This connection consists
of two transformers: one with a center tap called the main and one with an 86.6% tap
called the teaser. The teaser is connected to the center tap of the main, and the start and
finish of the main and 86.6% tap are all connected to the 3 wires of a 3 phase supply. The
secondary on the teaser and the secondary on the main each produce a voltage which is
90 degrees electrically from each other. These two voltages make up the 2 phase. There
are other connections used to obtain 2 phase from 3 phase and vice versa, but the Scott T
connection is the most economical. Phase changing transformers can be built in auto
types as well as isolating types.

Describe A 6 Phase Star Transformer?

A 6 phase star system produces a much lower ripple or wave effect than a 3 phase
transformer. Where a 3 phase transformer has the starts or finishes of each coil connected,
with the opposite end to the load, a 6 phase star each coil is center tapped and the center
taps are connected. This leaves double the number of ends (i.e., 6) to be connected to the
load. Each end is thus 180 degrees out of phase with its corresponding end on the same
coil. As a consequence there is more overlap of phases, hence less ripple. In both 3 phase
and 6 phase, obviously, the neutral is brought out for the other side of the load. Six phase
star coils must have double the number of turns of a 3 phase with same line- N volts, so
the 6 phase transformer will be more costly. But this higher cost often can be offset by
savings in the drive motor and controls. It is also a good way to optimize overall system
cost in many cases where a very high quality rectified current is required.
What Is A Zigzag Transformer?
A zigzag transformer is used in connection with 3 phase and is made up of 6 coils
connected in a "Y" manner. Each leg of the "Y" is made up of a coil on a different phase
leg of the transformer. The neutral formed by the zigzag connection is very stable.
Therefore, this type of transformer, or in some cases an auto transformer, lends itself very
well for establishing a neutral for an ungrounded 3 phase system. Many times this type of
transformer or auto transformer, lends itself very well for establishing a neutral for an
ungrounded 3 phase system. Many times this type of transformer or auto transformer will
carry a fairly large rating, yet physically be relatively small. This particularly applies in
connection with grounding applications. The reason for this small size in relation to the
nameplate KVA rating is due to the fact that many types of grounding auto transformers
are rated for 2 seconds. This is based on the time to operate an overcurrent protection
device such as a breaker. Zigzag transformers used to be employed to enable size
reductions in drive motor systems due to the stable wave form they present. Other means
are now more common, such as 6 phase star.
Can 3 Phase Power Be Obtained From A Single Phase Source?
It is not possible to obtain 3 phase power from a single phase source by the use of
transformer. Transformers can be used for changing 2 phase power or any other number
of phases greater than one to any other number of phases including one. For example,
you can use a transformer to change 2 phase to 3 phase, or even 6 phase, or 12 phase.
Once power is down to single phase, it can no longer be changed back to multi-phase by
use of transformers. There are limited methods for changing single phase to 3 phase. The
more common are as follows: operate a 3 phase motor from a single phase power supply
and take off 3 phase from the motor terminals. The power obtained by this method is
about 20% of the nameplate rating on the motor. Also, the output voltages are
approximately 10% to 20% unbalanced. However, this is a very economical way of
obtaining 3 phase power from single phase. Other methods commonly employed are
phase shifting devices such as reactors and capacitors. These devices work quite well
where the load remains nearly constant.

How Do You Select Transformer Ratings For Various Motor Loads?

Fractional HP motors require approximately 2.2 KVA of transformer capacity per HP.
Motors of approximately 5 HP and above can be estimated as requiring approximately 1
1/4 KVA per HP. The most accurate method for determining the transformer requirements
for a motor is to obtain the ampere rating from the nameplate of the motor and multiply
this by its rated voltage. This will give the true KVA required. This applies to single phase
motors as well as 3 phase motors. An example of the first method for estimating would be
a 7 1/2 HP motor. Allot 1 1/4 KVA for each HP. This brings the total required KVA to
approximately 9.4 KVA. The nearest size standard transformer is 10 KVA if the motor is
single phase or 15 KVA if 3 phase. MARELCO can supply any KVA rating required (an
important cost consideration). Motors smaller than 5 HP often require considerable more
than 1 1/4 KVA per HP. Also, motors larger than 50 HP quite often require considerably
less than 1 1/4 KVA per HP.
What Does It Mean To Buck Or Boost A Voltage With The Use Of A Transformer?
Transformers of 2 windings can be reconnected as an auto transformer depending on the
relative connection of the secondary with respect to the primary. One can obtain ether the
sum of the input and output, or the difference between the input and output voltages. An
example would be: 120 volt primary, 12 volt secondary. By connecting the secondary
winding to one end of the primary, the secondary may be 132 volts, or by reversing the
secondary leads the output may then be 120 volts minus 12 volts or 108 volts. The
boosting transformer connection is often used where consistently low voltage prevails.
For example, you may have 105 volts in which case you use a transformer reconnected to
boost this voltage as outlined in the above procedure. The output voltage would be 10%
greater than the input of 105 volts or approximately 116 volts. This type of transformer
connection is often used for boosting 208 volts to 230 volts.
Can Any Air-Cooled Transformer Be Used Outdoors?
Not all air-cooled transformers are designed or manufactured for outdoor installations and
should not be installed outdoors unless the MARELCO Engineering Department
specifically advises. The two main reasons for limitations on the installation of air-cooled
transformers outdoors are moisture absorption in the windings and flashovers due to
lightning. Outdoor use generally requires the equivalent of a NEMA 12 waterproof
enclosure. Epoxy encapsulated NEMA 12 transformers are readily available to your
Is It Dangerous To Disconnect A Loaded 10 KVA Transformer As It Is To Disconnect A
Running 10 HP Motor?
Very much so! A transformer reflects the load from one winding to another. Therefore, if
you have a certain amount of arcing because of a disconnect on one side of the
transformer, you would have an equal amount on the other side, provided the transformer

was a 1:1 ratio. As the voltages increase, energy transfer becomes more of a problem and
the hazards to you and your equipment mount accordingly.
How Does A Regulating Ferroresonant Transformer Work?
Regulating transformers operate on a resonant principle. The resonant network added to
the transformer consists of a capacitor and inductor connected in parallel, which in turn is
connected in series to the load. This type of transformer is generally 4 or 5 times larger
physically than an equal size 2 winding transformer. The price also, is more than a
nominal type transformer. Ferroresonant transformers are used in locations where it is
important that there be practically no voltage variation. A typical example of the
regulation of this type of transformer is 1% variation in output against plus/minus 20%
variation in input. Ferroresonant transformers are commonly used in filaments on
oscillator tubes in radio or similar type circuit, and lamps used for picture development
work where light output is very critical. One of the common objections to this type of
transformer is that the output voltage wave is distorted and resembles a wave with a
square top. Where a harmonic free sine wave is required, specify MARELCO's PLC
Protector CVS type transformer. These transformers provide excellent regulation and a
harmonic free wave form and are made in a range of sizes for all computer and solid state
Why Are Ferroresonant Transformers Oversized when Protecting Computers, PLC's or
Inherent in the design of ferroresonant transformers is a current limiting characteristic.
Current limiting means that the output current will be limited to a predetermined value
regardless of the load demands. This predetermined value is typically 150% of the full
rated running current. Often the power supplies of the computers, PLC's and CNC's will
demand a high current surge. This current surge (often termed inrush VA or inrush Amps)
will typically be 200% of the continuous running current. Obviously, if the Ferroresonant
Transformer has a current limiting value of 150% of its rated output current, it will not be
able to deliver a 200% current surge if sized right at the continuous power level rating.
Therefore, ferroresonant transformers typically are sized with a VA rating 50% greater
than the loads continuous VA rating. MARELCO's PLC PROTECTOR ferroresonant
transformers are designed to be able to deliver the high current demands mentioned
above so that no VA oversizing needs to be considered upon ordering.
What's The Problem Regarding Current Inrush Protection In PLC's?
Conventional surge and noise protection for industrial PLC's are not designed for the
current inrush specifications of switch-mode power supplies commonly used in PLC
applications. Accordingly, when the PLC is turned on and it operates over its internal
cycle, current up to one and one-half times rated levels flow into the system. This can
cause memory losses, data transposition and other problems. MARELCO has solved this
problem with its patented "PLC PROTECTOR" system. This is a high quality constant
voltage transformer (specifically designed for current inrush of switch-mode power

supplies) and packaged in an industrial quality enclosure. Additionally, MOV's and zener
diodes may be added for extra protection at a nominal extra cost. A wide variety of
optional switches, receptacles, wiring and cabinet choices are also available. The key to
the system is the capacity of the transformer which is designed to be 1 1/2 times the rated
capacity, to provide ample reserve for current inrush.
Why Are Resistance Welding Transformers Smaller Than Regular Air-Cooled
Most resistance welder transformers are smaller than conventional transformers due to
the duty cycle and the method of cooling. If a transformer is used less than continuous
duty, the size will become appreciably smaller. An example would be using a 1 KVA
transformer for 3 KVA intermittent load. The transformer will operate very satisfactorily
as well as have a long life expectancy even though it may be operated at several times its
normal continuous rating. The principal precaution which must be taken into
consideration is temperature rise. The hotter a transformer operates, the shorter the life
expectancy of the insulation. Sometimes resistance welding transformers have the
appearance of being dry type, yet there are small copper tubes intermingled with the
windings in which water is flowing. Water is a very excellent material to absorb heat
rapidly, therefore, the heat is dissipated much faster through the water than if air spaces
with fins were used. Development of welding transformers has reached a new high in the
MINI-MAX series of transformers designed for placement at the end of a robotic arm due
to their extremely light weight for their KVA ratings.
Explain Why A Rectifier Transformer May Have Different KVA Rating On The Primary
And Secondary, Whereas It Is The Usual Accepted Fact That A Conventional
Transformer Has Equal Rating On The Primary And Secondary?
The difference in KVA rating on the secondary of rectifier transformers varies depending
on the rectifier circuit used. Some examples are as follows: single phase full wave- the
transformer secondary KVA is approximately 40% greater than the primary; single phase
bridge circuit- the primary and secondary KVA are equal; 3 phase half wave- the
secondary is approximately 22% greater than the primary KVA; 3 phase full wave
rectifier circuit- the transformer primary and secondary KVA are equal. The reason for
the difference in KVA rating on the secondary compared to the primary of the transformer
is due to the irregular wave shape occurring on the secondary. Different types of wave
shapes will cause different amounts of heating. Therefore, the windings of the
transformer must be increased to make allowance for this heating effect depending on the
type of rectifier circuit used.
Why Are Some Transformers Wound With Aluminum Instead Of Copper?
This is mostly a matter of economics in which some manufacturers try to cut cost by
reducing quality. An aluminum wire of the same diameter or cross sectional area has only
about 60% of the conducting properties of an equivalent size copper wire. However,
aluminum weighs considerably less than copper and if you treat the two metals on a

pound versus cubic inch basis, there are about 3 cubic inches of aluminum for each cubic
inch of copper. Since both metals are purchased on a cost per pound basis some
manufacturers use aluminum, even though the resulting transformer is substantially larger
than a quality copper transformer. Not all types of windings nor all sizes of transformers
lend themselves to be adapted to both aluminum and copper windings. Transformers with
aluminum windings must be oversized to the load and generally have about one fourth
the life of a quality copper wound transformer. Aluminum wound transformers perform
best in constant load applications and should not be used for intermittent or varying
What Is The Significance Of Listing The Primary Voltage Of A Single Phase Transformer
as 2400/4160Y Volts?
The 2400 volt indicates the voltage for which the primary is designed; 4160Y volts
indicates that the insulation is sufficient to permit 3 of these transformers to be operated
in "Y" on a 3 phase 2400/4160Y system.
How Do You Select the Proper Size Of Control Transformer For Use On Control
The size or volt ampere rating of the control transformer is determined by the sum of the
VA requirements for each of the devices to be operated. For example, you have a holding
coil which draws 4 amperes when the holding coil is in the closed or sealed position. The
voltage on this coil is 120 volts. The VA required would be 480. However, the inrush
current before the solenoid is closed may be 3 or 4 times value, depending on the design
of the particular holding device. One must know or determine the inrush current and the
minimum voltage at which the holding device will draw into normal position. As you can
readily see, the VA requirements or amperes will tend to cause the secondary voltage of
the transformer to drop below the normal open circuit voltage. In order to determine if
there will be enough voltage present, one should refer to the equipment manufacturer's
specifications. Enough KVA capacity must be provided to cope with the current inrush of
all devices on the transformer's secondary circuit.
How Does A Saturable Reactor Work?
A saturable reactor consists of a coil or winding connected to a DC circuit which is used
to energize a core which has an AC coil or winding. As the DC current increases it
reduces the impedance of the core and allows the AC current to pass at a particular point
on the wave. By increasing or decreasing the DC current the AC current can be made to
average at a desired value. Thus, reactors are used to control AC for heavy loads, current
limiting or where great precision is required in an analog mode. Reactors can also be used
in reverse to measure AC current. MARELCO has long made a wide range of saturable
Does The Voltage across The Load Which Is Controlled By A Saturable Reactor Vary
With Different Load Power Factors?

Yes, in approximately the following values:

Power Factor

Approx. % of Line Voltage Appearing Across Load

















Thus, on an 80% power factor load that the output voltage across the load will be
approximately 76%. Where a nominal 600 volt line voltage appear across the load the
line voltage would be .76 x 600 volts or approximately 456. In this instance, 460 volt
rated equipment may be used. In the even the output voltage is below a usable range, you
can use an auto transformer to boost the line voltage so that the resultant voltage
appearing across the load will be the desired value.
Define Current Limiting In Connection With Saturable Reactors
Current limiting is a necessity when saturable reactors are used to control many types of
metallic heating elements. When a heating element is cold, its resistance is relatively low,
therefore, if it is connected directly to a source voltage such as 480, it will draw about 10
to 12 times the current it would draw when it is heated to normal temperature. This large
demand of current will result in blowing fuses or tripping breakers. Also, it may damage
the heating elements by causing hot spots and mechanical distortion due to the large
magnetic field created around the heating elements. A saturable reactor is an ideal current
limiting device provided an appropriate signal is fed into it to limit the current on the
main load or heating elements. This is accomplished by varying the amount of DC
current in the saturable reactor. When no DC is flowing in the reactor, the amount of AC
current drawn by the load is very small. When full DC is flowing, the load current will be
very large, therefore, current limiting can be adjusted between these limits.
What Are Some Applications For Saturable Reactors?
Saturable reactors can be used on practically any application requiring a variable voltage,
or even a constant voltage with a varying input. Some common applications are:


Control temperature of ovens or other heating devices

Control temperature of molten glass
Reduce KVA demand of equipment requiring high starting current
Reversing 3 phase motors without requiring heavy switches or contactors
Motor starting and speed control
Maintain a constant current in a load
Produce variable direct current voltages when used in conjunction with a rectifier

What Is A Motor Drive Transformer?

All of the above descriptions of various rectified output transformers, e.g. 3 phase, 6
phase, etc., describe various types of motor drive transformers. Although they are like
distribution transformers in appearance, motor drive transformers are intended for use in
a rectifying circuit.
What Is A Machine Tool Transformer?
Any piece of equipment having a high current inrush for starting needs some form of
control. This commonly supplied by what is variously called a machine tool transformer
or control transformer (generally those having a VA rating of 250 or less). By increasing
the transformers impedance, by design, the current inrush is accommodated while
maintaining a stable secondary voltage.
How Is Duty Cycle Taken Into Consideration?
In many applications, a transformer will not be called upon to provide the maximum
amount of current required by a system on a continuous basis. Just like motors which are
rated by a duty cycle calculation, a transformer rated for continuous duty will be bigger
and more expensive than one rated for partial duty. In typical machine tool application,
for example, a duty cycle of 50% is assumed. By calculating the percentage of full-load
use required you can properly size both the transformer and motor in a system. The
square root of the duty cycle times the full-load KVA requirement gives the effective
KVA rating required for the transformer. For example, take a 50% duty cycle for which
the square root is .71. Thus, the transformer will have to be 71% of the full-load rating.
What Is A Choke?
A choke or inductor is a magnetic device which acts as a buffer or "pool" into which a
power surge can be introduced and from which a predetermined flow will be produced. A
choke is basically a single winding transformer. The choke is measured principally by its
current handling capability (like 40 amps), its inductance (such as 2 Mhy) and its
linearity (expressed as linear up to "x" times rated capacity). Chokes permit reducing line
voltage to a given load without substantial power loss. They are typically used in SCR
drives to modulate the current fed by the drive control system to the motor. Many

manufacturers make chokes for use as filters to eliminate stray harmonics. In such cases,
current inrush and linearity are not important. But do not simply pick a filter inductor
from a catalog and expect it to perform well in a drive system because it has the right
amperage and impedance. It may not have the linearity required for smooth performance
at high load. MARELCO chokes are specifically designed and tested for linearity and
charts thereof can be produced for your engineering files if you need them.
What Specific Information Is Required For Specifying A Choke Or Inductor?
Using general parlance a choke is considered to be the device applicable to a DC motor
drive use and an inductor is considered to be the device applicable to an AC motor or
load. Following are the facts to look for when specifying each:


DC current rating

AC current

Peak operating current

AC voltage rating

Inductance (in milli-henry at both current rating and peak



Ripple voltage

Inductance (in millihenry)

Ripple frequency

Temperature class


Surge current

What Is An Air Core Inductor?

Most chokes or inductors are constructed by means of encircling the middle leg of a three
legged lamination of core steel with a suitable coil winding above the open ends of which
a predetermined gap is established and "I" laminations are laid. The fringing which
controls the surge or AC is defined by the gap which is established generally through use
of a piece of insulating material. Some of the newer MARELCO designs do away with
the "I" segments and leave the legs of the core open. An air core inductor performs much
the same function by means of winding the coil around an imaginary core of air. The
current finds it easier to follow the winding than to jump the air in the middle. Surges are
absorbed into the winding. When considering the more exotic type of current controls call
the MARELCO Engineering Department for advice.
What Is A Line Reactor?

A line reactor is a special form of inductor that is typically used between the line and the
load to smooth current inrush, reduce harmonics and noise, and buffer the systems
connected to it. Specifically it is an inductor that adds inductive impedance to a circuit.
These devices are available in either single phase or three phase configuration, with three
phase units being the most common, and are connected in series to the load which they
are protecting. line reactors are typically specified as a percent impedance at a certain
voltage and current level. For example, a 480 volt, 5%, 25 amp, line reactor is a typical
specification. This specification means that a 25 amp load current the line reactor will
have a 5% inductance impedance voltage drop on a 480 volt system. If the load is an
inductive impedance load, the voltage to the load will be 5% lower than the voltage to the
line reactor. If the load is a capacitance impedance load, the voltage to the load will be
5% greater than the line voltage input to the line reactor. If the load is a resistance
impedance load, the load voltage will be less than 1% lower than the voltage input to the
line reactor. Often line reactors are used in circuits to replace considerably larger and
more expensive drive isolation transformers.
When Can A Line Reactor replace A Drive Isolation Transformer?
A line reactor can usually replace a drive isolation transformer when the intended purpose
of the drive transformer is noise attenuation on the load or line circuit. Line reactors and
drive isolation transformers are "two-way" devices: high frequency spikes or notched
generated on either the line input or by the load output will be attenuated before reaching
the load output or line input, respectively. In fact, a line reactor will typically do a better
job of noise attenuation than a drive isolation transformer because it is a nearly pure
inductive impedance device. The impedance of the drive isolation transformer is a
function of the resistive and inductive impedance components. It is the inductive
component of the impedance that plays the role in noise attenuation. A 5% impedance
line reactor will typically have a greater inductive impedance component than a 5%
impedance drive isolation transformer. An iron core line reactor may not be an acceptable
substitute for a drive isolation transformer if the purpose of the device is to limit "fault
currents" to the output circuit. An iron core line reactor will have a much higher fault
current pass through characteristic than the comparable drive isolation transformer.
However, for most systems 600 volts or less, this is typically a non-issue. If fault currents
are an issue, air core line reactors may be utilized in the system. Air core line reactors
will be larger and more expensive than iron core equivalents, but will still be less
expensive and smaller than a drive isolation transformer. Air core line reactors are mostly
used in systems that have line voltages higher than 15 KV.
Can A Line Reactor Be Used To Convert Voltage? (i.e. from a ??? Volt Input To A 230
Volt Output?)
A line reactor is not a voltage converting device. Remember, the line reactor output
voltage will be nearly equal to the line reactor input voltage. However, a line reactor may
by packaged with an auto-transformer to achieve the same voltage conversion and
impedance characteristics as a drive isolation transformer. The line reactor / auto-

transformer package will be about 25-30% smaller and maybe less expensive than the
comparable drive isolation transformer.
What Is A Harmonic Filter Inductor?
A harmonic filter inductor is a specialized inductor that is used in conjunction with power
factor correcting capacitors. The harmonic filter inductor, when connected in series with
the power factor correcting capacitors, will make a tuned LC filter at a specified
frequency. This LC filter network can then be used to either filter out unwanted damaging
harmonic currents, or set up as a "de-tuned" system to prevent parallel resonance between
the power factor correcting capacitors and the inductive impedances on the power
How Do Harmonic Filter Inductors Differ From "Standard" Inductors And Reactors?
There are three major differences between harmonic filter inductors and standard
inductors or line reactors. These differences are:
1. Tighter Inductance Tolerance
When the harmonic filter inductor is used in a "detuned" circuit, or a filter circuit,
the inductance value is very critical to the correct operation of the system.
Harmonic filter inductors need inductance tolerances no great than +/- 5%, and
under some instances as tight as +/-2% or less. Standard inductors will have
inductance tolerances of +/- 10%.
2. Multiple Frequency Current Spectrum Ratings
Typically, harmonic filter inductors have multiple frequencies of current flowing
through them simultaneously. Each of these currents, at their respective frequency,
contribute to the heating effects on the inductor. A standard inductor such as a line
reactor, has a current rating assigned to it that is determined at a single frequency
only. More often than not, the heating effect of the multiple frequency currents, is
much greater than the heating effect of a single frequency current. The harmonic
current responsible for heating (i.e., thermal current) is calculated by using the
square root of the sum of the squares. These currents are determined from the
harmonic current spectrum. Typically harmonic currents can be 50% or more than
a single frequency current seen be a standard line reactor. A single frequency
thermal current rating, even though equal to a thermal current rating by the sum of
the squares method has significantly less heating characteristics.
3. Longer Designed Life Expectancy
Longer life expectancy is both a system characteristic and a customer requirement
in harmonics suppression. Due to the heating characteristics of harmonic currents,
it is necessary to be able to design and manufacture equipment targeted at the
specific application and harmonic current frequencies generated. Because of our
wide experience in the field, MARELCO has developed unique knowledge of
harmonic filter inductor design. This permits us to design and manufacture
harmonic filter inductors with a life expectancy of 25 years or more.

What Is A Motor Starting Reactor?

A motor starting reactor is basically a form of inductor specifically designed for a
particular motor situation to eliminate torque damage, reduce voltage drop and "cushion"
the start of an AC motor. Since the 3 phase induction motors can draw up to 600% of
rated line current when starting, the use of a proper reactor adds to the life of the motor
and usually everything connected to it. MARELCO motor starting reactors are made with
six taps in line permitting selection of a range of starting voltages from 50% to 85% of
full line voltage. A time set relay is used to delay the application of full voltage. This, the
reactor is on line during the startup period only and consumes no power under continuous
operation when the motor is at normal speed. Motors with severe service such as "inching
and jogging" require larger capacity reactors depending on the equivalent of the reactor's
duty rating.
What's So Special About A Miniature Power Disconnect?
Actually, there is nothing special about auxiliary power disconnects in themselves.
Disconnect boxes have been around for many year to provide a supply of current when
the main power supply has been turned off so that maintenance or other procedures can
be performed in a control panel or system. The disconnect on the main panel is
principally an interlock to prevent inadvertent danger to humans when the door is opened.
What's special about MARELCO mini-disconnect boxes is the extremely small size,
about one-third of standard disconnect boxes. This was accomplished by designing an
extremely small class A step-down transformer, selecting components with care about
reliability and compactness and cleverly intermeshing all components so they fit into the
minimum possible space. MARELCO also manufactures a complete line of full size
compact "PAL" disconnect which packs all the features typically specified in a new
smaller configuration.
List Some Quality Indicators To Watch For

Kraft paper- indicates low temperature insulation

Black paint- to hide defects
Gaps in stack- lead to high exciting current
Four by four (or more) stack- cheap to make, costly to use
Variations in dimensions- warning of poor QC in the things you cannot see
Aluminum windings- low cost, short life
Class H insulation system- longer life whatever the heat rise of the design
UR label- available Underwriter's recognition
Two by Two (or better) stack- low exciting current
Square and gap free stack- low exciting current
Clear varnish- you can see the quality
All copper windings- longer life, less size
QC label- individual responsibility inspection

Uniformity- care you can see and rely on

Superior packaging- reduced claims and delays
Individual part numbers- your assurance of continuity and consistency

What Data Should I Give In Specifying A Transformer?

Single or three phase

Primary voltage(s) and connection (e.g., "delta")
Secondary voltage(s) and connection (e.g., "wye")
KVA rating (if known)
Frequency (e.g., "60 Hz" or "50/60 Hz")
Duty cycle (if known)
Heat rise (limitations, if any, are important)
Insulation class (e.g. class "H")
Primary(ies) amperage (if known)
Secondary(ies) amperage (a must)
Transformer use and type (application description)
No-load voltage
Percent regulation
Percent impedance
Dimensional restrictions (if any)
Watts loss (if known) and limitations (if any)
Terminal style (e.g., "Lugs", "board", "Allen-Bradley", etc.)
Enclosure type (if needed)
Lead positioning (if needed)
Mounting dimensions (if applicable)