Transformers can be found wherever Alternating Current (AC) electrical energy is at use, and they serve the purpose of trading voltage for current in a circuit without affecting the overall electrical power provided to the system. This means that they take high-voltage electricity with a small current and alternate it into low-voltage electricity with a large current. As transformers are only applied to equipment that use AC, they cannot be utilized for Direct Current (DC) applications, making it imperative that all electrical technicians and/or engineers understand when and where transformers can be most beneficial.
In operation, electrical transformers can function in two ways: they can either increase (step up) or decrease (step down) integrated circuit voltage. This is done by the means of electromagnetic induction as a way to change the voltage level in an AC circuit and increase/decrease inductor or capacitor values in an AC value. Additionally, they can also isolate two electrical circuits while preventing the passage of one direct current to another.
Often a part of a larger system, transformers are necessary among power generation sites, helping to step up voltage levels before transmission and distribution can take place. As such, they are commonly found in places like power generation units, windmills, pumping stations, railways, commercial establishments, and other industries. Because of their various applications, different types of transformers exist to facilitate electricity within different environments depending on their exact purpose, end-use, construction, and demanded power supply.
When deliberating a particular transformer, types that should be considered include step up and step down transformers, distribution transformers, and current transformers. While the aforementioned step up/down transformers operate for the purpose of raising or lowering circuit voltage, distribution transformers are essential for providing the final voltage transformation needed along distribution lines before reaching a customer. On the other hand, a current transformer (CT) is designed with a secondary coil that must produce an identical AC current similar to its primary input. This additional coil allows a CT to scale high voltages, and works to reduce them to a value that is smaller and easier to to read by meters and protective relays.
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