Transformers, by definition, are electromagnetic components that are used to convert different levels of voltage and transfer energy from one circuit to another. The role of power transformers, particularly, is crucial in ensuring that energy is safely and efficiently transferred from a power supply line to a system of circuits, most notably in homes or businesses.
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Design of Power Transformers
Power transformers come in a variety of configurations. Some examples include wall-mounted, pad-mounted, and pole-mounted transformers, and can feature three or four enclosures. Power transformers are also equipped with sets of conductive windings, which are typically made from copper or aluminum. Some varieties of transformers are also made to transfer electric currents through underground power lines. Transformers are essential in transferring power within commerce and consumer contexts, no matter the size of the electronic device.
Types of Power Transformers
A specific example of a configuration of a power transformer is a toroidal transformer. This variety of power transformer is donut-shaped, or toroidal, and can be manufactured with two sets of primary and secondary coils each. This allows for the transformer to be highly versatile in both its voltage intake and output. In addition, these sets of coils are isolated from both each other and the transformer’s core, which allows for minimal electric discharge. A specific example of an industry that uses these transformers extensively is the medical industry. It is important that the voltage level is carefully regulated so that it does not damage sensitive medical equipment and in turn compromise the safety of patients and medical employees. Transformers are vital for use in medical lab equipment, hospital beds, patient monitoring equipment, and dental chairs. Outside of the medical industry, items such as electric shavers, hair dryers, and other hand-held devices greatly benefit from these transformers.
Process of Power Transformers
The process of transforming power consists of a series of steps, and a transformer is required for each step in changing the voltage level during transmission. These steps involve the transformation from the power plant to a substation, then from the substation to a transformer, and from a transformer to a business or home. Within a power plant, electric power travels through a high voltage line. The voltage level of the power at this stage can reach up to several hundred thousand volts. The high voltage power is transferred to power substations, which involve a series of transformers that lower the voltage level to as low as 7,000 volts. From the substations, the power travels down several transmission lines, each transmitting 7,000 volts, to another transformer. This transformer is typically found mounted on utility poles outside of various buildings. These transformers are responsible for converting the voltage to a level which is suitable for the corresponding home or business. In the United States, the voltage level is reduced to as low as 120 to 220 volts by the time it leaves the transformer and reaches power outlets.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Power Transformers
There are several considerations that can be made in finding the appropriate transformer for your desired application. These considerations include:
- Amount of Voltage
- Voltage Load Required for the Equipment
- Current and Future KVA Load
- Single or Three-Phase Requirement
- Hz Frequency
- Whether the Transformer will be Utilized Indoors or Outdoors
Manufacturers of power transformers fabricate their products with countless combinations of features. Therefore, it is highly recommended to consult with a manufacturer, as they will work with you in finding the right equipment.
Power transformers have quite a few capabilities, but they are not without fail. These devices play such a crucial role in providing power for everyday appliances that it can be worrisome to think about what an extended outage can lead to. Sometimes, temporary outages can happen due to the failure of power transformers, much like the way a power line can fail due to exposure to certain conditions. Causes of a transformer failure can range from animals, wind, rain, sun, snow, fallen trees, or some other object that crashes into it. Sometimes the cause of the outage can be internal, such as the transformer overheating.
With today's technology, it typically does not take long to identify the problem and get the transformer up and running again. Since manufacturers do not fabricate power transformers frequently, natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and solar flares could lead to power plants becoming damaged and manufacturers being unable to provide an immediate replacement. Fortunately, recent technology has enabled us to predict when and where natural disasters can occur, as well as its severity. Research in natural disasters can play a role in ongoing technological developments to improve how power plants and transformers operate.