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Some electrical transformers are made for use inside appliances and other devices, but some transformers are made to be portable, external devices. One type sold to help international travelers is sometimes called a voltage transformer. These devices are made to be plugged into the wall socket in an overseas location so you can use American-made electronics requiring 120 volts. Since many destinations in Europe and elsewhere operate on 240 volt current, the voltage transformer is required; otherwise your electronic components would be overloaded. Some of these transformers are "step down" voltage transformers as described above, while "step up" transformers do the opposite. Some of these electrical transformers are made to step up or down, and are the most convenient for frequent travelers.
You may not be an electrician, but if you are responsible for the planning of your business space and are about to take delivery of a transformer for indoor use, there are issues you should be aware of. Electrical transformers have a variety of operating requirements. Large industrial transformers, dry type transformers and other "oversize" models may need a particular amount of clearance in the area where they are intended to be installed.
How much room is available between the transformer and the wall? An area with a tight fit may not be right for a particular type of transformer. Some transformers are not made to be tamper-proof. If you have security concerns in a particular area you will need to consider adding access controls to the area housing sensitive equipment including electrical transformers or other types of gear. Electricians and other qualified personnel must install the equipment, but it's up to those responsible for planning the building to insure there is enough space and protected access once the job is done.
There are many sizes and types of electrical transformers; from the thumbnail-sized models found in microphones to huge, dry type transformers which must be delivered on palettes and moved with a forklift or other device. If you need to take delivery of a large electrical transformer for your business, there are some things you should do even if you aren't the person responsible for installing the unit.
Having the right equipment is very important, and verifying that you receive what was ordered is often as simple as reading the serial number on the transformer nameplate and comparing it with your delivery receipt or bill of lading. Next, inspect the exterior of the transformer for any damage that might have occurred in transit. A qualified electrician may need to inspect the transformer if exterior damage is observed. It is important to know that transformers can be top heavy; once your shipment is verified to be correct and undamaged, take great care when repositioning or relocating the electrical transformer.
An electrical transformer designated as an industrial transformer does the same job as an ordinary model, but it has been designed to be more rugged than the standard model. This means they can withstand more wear and tear, and can take more punishment. They are built to be used in situations where ordinary transformers could wear out quickly. Industrial applications which run for long hours and demand high amounts of electricity are usually where these tougher, more durable electrical transformers are used. Transformers naturally generate high amounts of heat. An industrial transformer is built to withstand this over long periods, as well as temporary spikes in power demands. So is the equipment built to be used with such electrical transformers. Only those with sufficient experience should install an industrial transformer or attempt to service an electrical system which uses them.
Electrical transformers take many shapes and sizes. For electronic hobbyists, linear transformers, made to deliver quick pulses of electricity, are often part of kit radios and other projects. In televisions and other appliances there are power transformers. In electronic hobby kits, you may have a need to test a linear transformer even though you do not have a failed or defective model, as this kind of testing is part of the learning process. Testing a linear transformer is less complicated than power transformer testing; if AC voltage is present in the primary winding of the linear transformer, there should be power output on the secondary side. If not, you may have a short somewhere.
Power transformer testing is more advanced. If the description of linear transformer testing left you scratching your head, do not attempt to test a power transformer. If you suspect your television or other appliance has a short, a bad transformer or other problem, let a qualified electrician or repair expert take a look.
Installing an electrical transformer isn't as simple as installing a circuit breaker. There are many types of electrical transformers for a wide range of needs. One common type is used in doorbells. Doorbells don't need the full 120 volts from the standard house circuit to operate; installing a doorbell requires a transformer to "step down" the voltage to 24 volts or less depending on the doorbell. A single-button doorbell has three connections. Starting with the power source, the first connection goes from the circuit to the transformer, then from the transformer to the bell, and a third from the bell to the button.
Pushing the button connects the circuit and activates the bell. Without the transformer, there would be far too much voltage and the circuit breaker would trip to prevent damage from an overload. This is one of the most simple electrical transformer installations, depending on your knowledge of electronics you may be capable of more complex installations. If you aren't sure of your abilities, consult a professional instead.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|