What’s a voltage transformer?

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A voltage transformer can step up, step down, or transfer electricity between circuits. It relies on mutual induction and is useful in high voltage scenarios. High voltage transformers are used in power grids, while low voltage transformers are used in electronic devices. They can be used to convert voltage for use in different countries.

A voltage transformer is an electrical component that can step up, step down, or transfer a current of electricity between circuits. Designed to control the voltage of a current, especially in high voltage scenarios, voltage transformers tend to deliver a specific level of power. While most often used for devices that require 500 volts or more, a voltage transformer can also be found in many low-voltage electronic devices.

Regardless of size, a voltage transformer relies on the properties of mutual induction. A current at any voltage is passed through a primary set of transformer coils. The movement of this current past a transformer core creates a varying electromotive force in a secondary set of transformer coils. The amount of turns in the two coils controls whether the current gets stronger, weaker or stays the same. This process is perhaps most useful in high voltage, long range circuits.

High voltage transformers are often used within large power grids. The varying levels of voltage needed throughout a network mean that, at various points, the amount of voltage may need to be lowered or increased in order for equipment to function properly. Substations and power plants often contain significant arrays that include voltage transformers, and civic applications often rely on a high voltage transformer at some point.

In these large electrical networks, maintenance and metering is often required. High voltage transformers are often used to reduce power from a network to the level intended by metering equipment. Lowering the voltage can reduce the load on such equipment without interrupting the overall mains current. The same basic concept is often applied to low voltage equipment.

Many electronic devices contain power transformers that transform household voltage to an acceptable level for a particular device. These voltage transformers can be external, like common AC adapters, or internal, like the components inside a computer power supply. Commercial opportunities arise from the range of devices and electrical currents used around the world.

A low-voltage transformer, for example, might be useful when traveling to a country that uses a different voltage for household power. Commercial voltage transformers are often designed to convert wall power into usable voltage for electronic devices. Like high voltage transformers, low voltage transformers can be used to step up or step down the voltage using transformer coils. Many of the same rules and concepts used in large-scale power grids apply to consumer electronics.

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