A transformer is an electrical device that is basically used to couple the output signal from one part of the circuit to the other part. During the process, the transformer can also modify the characteristics such as the amplitude level of the input signal. The concept of a transformer was first introduced by Michael Faraday, an English scientist in the year 1831 and the development of the device was carried out by various other scholars, engineers, and scientists in the following years. In the year 1885, the ZBD model alternating current transformer was invented for the first time by three engineers Ottó Bláthy, Miksa Déri and Károly Zipernowsky who were based in Hungary. The name transformer of the device was decided by one of the inventors Ottó Bláthy. A transformer basically belongs to the category of passive electrical components and devices. The changes or the modifications in input signals introduced by the transformers mainly deal with the amplitude of the signal and do not let the frequency of the signal get affected during the process. The operation of transformers is based on the basic principles of electromagnetic induction and mutual induction. On the basis of the power supply phases, type of the core of the transformer, the type of the cooling system used, voltage levels, arrangement of the windings, medium of the core and installation location, transformers can be broadly classified into seven subcategories. The subcategories of transformers typically include single-phase, three-phase, core type, shell type, self-cooled, air-cooled, oil-cooled, step up, step down, air core, iron core, autotransformer, power, distribution, measurement, or protection transformers, etc.
Uses of Transformers in Daily Life
A lot of the applications in our daily life make use of transformers for their basic operations. Some of them are listed below:
1. Alternating Current Regulation
Alternating current can be defined as the current that periodically changes its magnitude as well as direction with respect to time. A complete waveform of an alternating current basically depicts a crest and trough. Here, the crest corresponds to the maximum amplitude value of the signal, i.e., the maximum current value, while the trough corresponds to the minimum amplitude value of the signal or minimum current magnitude. A transformer can be used to regulate the alternating current by increasing or decreasing its magnitude within the system. Regulation of alternating currents basically helps reduce energy consumption and enhance system efficiency.
2. Charging Batteries
The process of charging a battery is yet another example of the daily life applications that make use of transformers. Charging a battery basically involves the transfer of electrons from an electric generator to the energy storing device or the battery. During the charging process of the battery, the electrons tend to flow uncontrollably and may cause rupture or failure of the device, hence to safeguard the battery and prevent any sort of damage to the components embedded in the internal circuitry of the battery, a transformer is required to be connected between the battery and the charging source. Here, the transformer mainly functions to regulate the voltage and prevent current leakage or flow of surge current through the device.
3. Steel Manufacturing
Steel manufacturing plants are a classic example of commercial applications where the use of transformers can be observed easily. The steel manufacturing process basically involves melting, welding, moulding, and cooling the raw material. To melt and weld the elements, a significantly high magnitude current is required; whereas, for cooling the elements down, a comparatively lower current value is desirable. To achieve this frequent regulation of the current throughout the manufacturing process, high voltage transformers are generally employed. In the case of the steel manufacturing industries, the transformers tend to step up or step down the voltage values at different points of the circuit and help the user derive as much current as required.
Electrolysis is a chemical engineering application that usually makes use of transformers for its basic operation. In simple words, the process of electrolysis can be defined as a method of separating a homogeneous or non-homogeneous combination of elements and compounds by breaking down ionic substances into simpler substances. Electrolysis generally involves subjecting the sample substances to a set of chemical reactions and passing electrical energy through the sample substance solution. The chemical reactions involved in the electrolysis process from start to end require a regulated flow of current that can be easily achieved with the help of transformers.
5. Controlling the flow of Electricity through a circuit
Transformers can be used in place of switches and interrupting circuits to ensure that the user has full control on the flow of current through a circuit. This means that a transformer can be used to initiate or terminate the operation of any device or gadget. Also, along with the controlling operation, transformers also provide the necessary security and safety to the circuit, thereby enhancing the product’s life span and avoiding untimely rupture or failure of the device.
6. Audio Transformer
An audio transformer is an electrical device that is generally used to provide isolation to the signals flowing through the circuits as well as help match the impedance values of the source and the load. Audio transformers are generally used in audio equipment such as microphones, loudspeakers, sound amplifiers, etc. Such types of transformers are specifically designed to operate with only the signals that fall within the audible signal range, i.e., the signals whose frequency values lie between 20 Hz to 20KHz or simply the signals that are properly audible to an average age human being. An audio transformer can also provide filtration to the input signal by eliminating the unwanted or noise signals.
When a transformer is used in an air-dry form, it can be used to generate a cooling effect. This property of transformers to generate a cooling effect can be easily utilised in refrigerators to keep food items cold and fresh. Other than cooling, the transformers used in refrigerators and other related applications also provide the necessary voltage regulation to avoid surge current and voltage imbalances, thereby ensuring the safety of the device. Also, transformers help maintain the cooling of refrigerators for some time duration even after the electricity supply gets abruptly terminated.
8. Ammeters or Current Transformers
Ammeters, voltmeters and various other measuring gadgets and devices typically make use of transformers for their general operation. An ammeter is a device that is used to continuously detect the magnitude of the flow of current in a closed circuit. If the magnitude of the current flowing through the circuit is significantly low, then ammeters can be installed in series with the circuit; however, if the magnitude of the current is high, then they are connected to the circuit via a measuring type current transformer. The current transformer tends to provide the necessary security and safety to the circuit by isolating the measuring device from the rest parts of the circuit and suppressing or stepping down the large magnitude current to an optimum value before feeding it to the ammeter. The reliability and accuracy parameters of the ammeters that make use of current transformers are comparatively higher than the traditional ammeters. Measuring type current transformers also help standardize the output current range.
9. Impedance Matching or Impedance Transferring Device
Impedance can be defined as the opposition offered to the alternating current running through the circuit. The components used in the construction of the circuit as well as the wires that are used to make the connections of the circuit tend to offer some magnitude of resistance to the flow of current. This resistance to the flow of current further deteriorates the overall power value of the circuit. To improve and increase the power transfer value of a circuit, impedance matching transformers are usually used. As the name itself suggests, the impedance matching transformers are used to match the impedance of a source to the load. Impedance matching transformers ensure an efficient and reliable transfer of energy between the input and output devices with the help of electromagnetic induction.
10. Air Conditioner
Air conditioners tend to form yet another example of the daily life applications that make use of transformers for their general operations Some prime operations of an air conditioner carried out by a transformer include converting the magnitude of the voltage supplied by the circuit board to the AC unit to an optimal value desired by the user, allowing the working of air conditioner and the fan at the same time, controlling the magnitude of power flowing through the circuit as per the current need, etc. In a similar manner heating, ventilating, and air conditioning devices also employ transformers to ease their operation, enhance their working, and optimize the power consumption.
Stabilizer circuits tend to form yet another example of the real-life applications that make use of transformers. A stabilizer circuit is generally attached to electrical appliances that operate on high current or voltage values for safety and security purposes. The prime function of a stabilizer circuit is to take the input signal from the household power supply and produce an output signal that is approximately equal to the ideal electrical requirements of the system. An electrical appliance being operated through a stabilizer circuit has comparatively fewer chances of undergoing failure or rupture. To frequently modulate and control the voltage or current level through the appliance or gadget, an autotransformer is generally employed in the internal circuitry of the stabilizer. The transformer tends to automatically step up or step down the voltage or current value in case the voltage or current running through the circuit goes high or low by comparing it with the ideally required current or voltage value.
Rectification can be simply defined as the process of converting alternating current into direct current. The rectification of the input signal is usually achieved by making an electronic circuit by assembling diodes, capacitors, regulators, etc. or by simply using transformer rectifiers. A rectifier transformer basically contains diodes and thyristors embedded within the tank. Prominently the rectifier transistors are used for commercial manufacturing or industrial applications; however, they can also be used in railway and subway electric traction systems. Some other applications of rectifier transformers include motor controls, mining, electric furnace, research and development laboratories, high voltage direct current power transmission, etc.
13. Optimize the Voltage Levels
Transformers are primarily designed to optimize the voltage levels through a circuit. For this purpose, the transformers tend to amplify or condense a part of the input signal value and generate the output of the desired magnitude. There are basically two types of voltage transformers, namely, step-up transformer and step-down transformer. A step-up transformer is used to pump up the voltage value in a circuit, while a step-down transformer tends to lower the voltage value. The step up and step down transformers have their applications in devices that require amplification or deterioration of the input signal respectively.
Isolators or isolation circuits are a prominent example of the application of transformers in real life. One major characteristic of the transformers is to prohibit the flow of signal from one part of the circuit to the other, i.e., to isolate different parts of the circuit from each other. This particular characteristic of transformers enables them to be employed as isolators and other related applications. The isolator transformers are often built with a special kind of insulation packing between their primary and secondary windings. The insulation enables the transformer to withstand a high magnitude or value of voltage, thereby forbidding the intermixing of signals from one part of the circuit with the other part.
Voltmeters are the measuring devices that are used to compute the value of voltage or potential difference across two different points of a circuit. Estimating the value of the potential difference between the two points of a circuit is also possible with the help of basic electrical devices such as transformers. For this purpose, instrument transformers are usually preferred. Also, instrument transformers help the user compute the frequency of the input signal, the magnitude of current flowing through the circuit, estimate the power factor, and calculate the overall power and energy of the system.
16. DC Blocker
A transformer can also be used in applications where blocking the DC signal is usually desired. The number of windings in the primary and secondary coils of a transformer, the distance between the coils of a transformer, and the type of insulating material present between the coils affect the working of a transformer and allow or prohibit the flow of a particular kind of signal through the circuit according to the configuration and connection of the transformer and the circuit. In DC blocking circuits, the transformer connected to the circuit in a particular configuration tends to allow the alternating current signal to easily pass through and prohibits the flow of direct current signal through the circuit.
17. Power Transmission and Distribution Applications
Transformers are widely used in various power transmission and distribution applications. Power transmission can be defined as the movement of high voltage electrical energy from a power plant to a substation, while power distribution corresponds to the conversion of high magnitude voltage signals to significantly lower value voltage signals. Further, the lower level voltage signals distributed by the power distribution systems can be used for different domestic and commercial applications. The energy can be circulated from the power stations to the destination through wires and cables. In such applications, the transformers can be used to maintain the frequency and amplitude level of the signal to a constant value.