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Transformer basics: How they operate, their many features

  • April 2014
  • Number of views: 496
  • Article rating: No rating

Richard Huber, P.E.
Richard Huber Engineering, Ltd.

Transformers are fundamental to an industrial or utility distribution or transmission system. This article will present basic transformer information that may help the reader appreciate how they operate and their many features. 

Many people consider a transformer to be one of the more basic of electrical machines. As a result, many of the design and operational characteristics are taken for granted. From time to time, it may be beneficial to review these characteristics and refresh one’s understanding. Some of the basic concepts are discussed in the following sections. 

Most of the information presented here will be limited to transformers with two separate windings.

Topics covered in the article include:

  • Transformer design—how a transformer works
  • Volts, amps and flux
  • Wind polarity
  • Excitation current
  • Regulation and efficiency
  • Winding taps
  • Types of transformers
  • Wound cores and stacked cores
  • Shell type and core type transformers
  • Single-phase and three-phase transformers
  • Dry type and liquid filled transformers
  • Isolating and shield transformers
  • Auto transformer

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