Figure (7) shows typical schematic symbols for transformers. The symbol for an air-core transformer is shown in figure (7-A). Parts (B) and (C) show iron-core transformers. The bars between the coils are used to indicate an iron core. Frequently, additional connections are made to the transformer windings at points other than the ends of the windings. These additional connections are called TAPS. When a tap is connected to the center of the winding, it is called a CENTER TAP. Figure (7- C) shows the schematic representation of a center-tapped iron-core transformer.


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Figure (7). - Schematic symbols for various types of transformers.



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Up to this point the part has presented the basics of the transformer including transformer action, the transformer's physical characteristics, and how the transformer is constructed. Now you have the necessary knowledge to proceed into the theory of operation of a transformer.



You have learned that a transformer is capable of supplying voltages which are usually higher or lower than the source voltage. This is accomplished through mutual induction, which takes place when the changing magnetic field produced by the primary voltage cuts the secondary winding.

A no-load condition is said to exist when a voltage is applied to the primary, but no load is connected to the secondary, as illustrated by figure (8). Because of the open switch, there is no current flowing in the secondary winding.

With the switch open and an ac voltage applied to the primary, there is, however, a very small amount of current called EXCITING CURRENT flowing in the primary. Essentially, what the exciting current does is "excite" the coil of the primary to create a magnetic field. The amount of exciting current is determined by three factors: (1) the amount of voltage applied (Ea), (2) the resistance (R) of the primary coil's wire and core losses, and (3) the XL which is dependent on the frequency of the exciting current. These last two factors are controlled by transformer design.


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Figure (8). - Transformer under no-load conditions.


This very small amount of exciting current serves two functions:

  • Most of the exciting energy is used to maintain the magnetic field of the primary.
  • A small amount of energy is used to overcome the resistance of the wire and core losses which are dissipated in the form of heat (power loss).

Exciting current will flow in the primary winding at all times to maintain this magnetic field, but no transfer of energy will take place as long as the secondary circuit is open.



When an alternating current flows through a primary winding, a magnetic field is established around the winding. As the lines of flux expand outward, relative motion is present, and a counter emf is induced in the winding. This is the same counter emf that you learned about in the part on inductors. Flux leaves the primary at the north pole and enters the primary at the south pole. The counter emf induced in the primary has a polarity that opposes the applied voltage, thus opposing the flow of current in the primary. It is the counter emf that limits exciting current to a very low value.



To visualize how a voltage is induced into the secondary winding of a transformer, again refer to figure (8). As the exciting current flows through the primary, magnetic lines of force are generated.

During the time current is increasing in the primary, magnetic lines of force expand outward from the primary and cut the secondary. As you remember, a voltage is induced into a coil when magnetic lines cut across it. Therefore, the voltage across the primary causes a voltage to be induced across the secondary.



The secondary voltage of a simple transformer may be either in phase or out of phase with the primary voltage. This depends on the direction in which the windings are wound and the arrangement of the connections to the external circuit (load). Simply, this means that the two voltages may rise and fall together or one may rise while the other is falling.

Transformers in which the secondary voltage is in phase with the primary are referred to as LIKE-WOUND transformers, while those in which the voltages are 180 degrees out of phase are called


UNLIKE-WOUND transformers.

Dots are used to indicate points on a transformer schematic symbol that have the same instantaneous polarity (points that are in phase).

The use of phase-indicating dots is illustrated in figure (9). In part (A) of the figure, both the primary and secondary windings are wound from top to bottom in a clockwise direction, as viewed from above the windings.
When constructed in this manner, the top lead of the primary and the top lead of the secondary have the SAME polarity. This is indicated by the dots on the transformer symbol. A lack of phasing dots indicates a reversal of polarity.

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Figure (9). - Instantaneous polarity depends on direction of winding.


Part (B) of the figure illustrates a transformer in which the primary and secondary are wound in opposite directions. As viewed from above the windings, the primary is wound in a clockwise direction from top to bottom, while the secondary is wound in a counterclockwise direction. Notice that the top leads of the primary and secondary have OPPOSITE polarities. This is indicated by the dots being placed on opposite ends of the transformer symbol. Thus, the polarity of the voltage at the terminals of the secondary of a transformer depends on the direction in which the secondary is wound with respect to the primary.


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The COEFFICIENT OF COUPLING of a transformer is dependent on the portion of the total flux lines that cuts both primary and secondary windings.

Ideally, all the flux lines generated by the primary should cut the secondary, and all the lines of the flux generated by the secondary should cut the primary.

The coefficient of coupling would then be one (unity), and maximum energy would be transferred from the primary to the secondary. Practical power transformers use high-permeability silicon steel cores and close spacing between the windings to provide a high coefficient of coupling.

Lines of flux generated by one winding which do not link with the other winding are called LEAKAGE FLUX. Since leakage flux generated by the primary does not cut the secondary, it cannot induce a voltage into the secondary.

The voltage induced into the secondary is therefore less than it would be if the leakage flux did not exist. Since the effect of leakage flux is to lower the voltage induced into the secondary, the effect can be duplicated by assuming an inductor to be connected in series with the primary. This series

LEAKAGE INDUCTANCE is assumed to drop part of the applied voltage, leaving less voltage across the primary.

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