A transformer is a device that transfers electrical energy from one circuit to another through inductively coupled conductors or namely the transformer's coils. A varying current in the first or primary winding creates a varying magnetic flux in the transformer's core and thus a varying magnetic field through the secondary winding.

This varying magnetic field induces a varying electromotive force (EMF), or "voltage", in the secondary winding. This effect is called inductive coupling. If a load is connected to the secondary, current will flow in the secondary winding, and electrical energy will be transferred from the primary circuit through the transformer to the load.

In an ideal transformer, the induced voltage in the secondary winding (Vs) is in proportion to the primary voltage (Vp) and is given by the ratio of the number of turns in the secondary (Ns) to the number of turns in the primary (Np) as follows:

(Vs/Vp) = (Ns/Np) = (Ip/Is)

Basic principle of transformer

Power Losses

An ideal transformer would have no energy losses, and would be 100% efficient. In practical transformers, energy is dissipated in the windings, core, and surrounding structures. Larger transformers are generally more efficient, and those rated for electricity distribution usually perform better than 98%.

Winding resistance

Current flowing through the windings causes resistive heating of the conductors. At higher frequencies, skin effect and proximity effect create additional winding resistance and losses.
Hysteresis losses

Each time the magnetic field is reversed, a small amount of energy is lost due to hysteresis within the core. For a given core material, the loss is proportional to the frequency, and is a function of the peak flux density to which it is subjected.

Eddy currents

Ferromagnetic materials are also good conductors and a core made from such a material also constitutes a single short-circuited turn throughout its entire length. Eddy currents therefore circulate within the core in a plane normal to the flux, and are responsible for resistive heating of the core material. The eddy current loss is a complex function of the square of supply frequency and inverse square of the material thickness. Eddy current losses can be reduced by making the core of a stack of plates electrically insulated from each other, rather than a solid block; all transformers operating at low frequencies use laminated or similar cores.


Magnetic flux in a ferromagnetic material, such as the core, causes it to physically expand and contract slightly with each cycle of the magnetic field, an effect known as magnetostriction. This produces the buzzing sound commonly associated with transformers that can cause losses due to frictional heating. This buzzing is particularly familiar from low-frequency (50 Hz or 60 Hz) mains hum, and high-frequency (15,734 Hz (NTSC) or 15,625 Hz (PAL)) CRT noise.

Mechanical losses

In addition to magnetostriction, the alternating magnetic field causes fluctuating forces between the primary and secondary windings. These incite vibrations within nearby metalwork, adding to the buzzing noise and consuming a small amount of power.

Stray losses

Leakage inductance is by itself largely lossless, since energy supplied to its magnetic fields is returned to the supply with the next half-cycle. However, any leakage flux that intercepts nearby conductive materials such as the transformer's support structure will give rise to eddy currents and be converted to heat. There are also radiative losses due to the oscillating magnetic field but these are usually small.

Types of transformer

Leakage Transformer
Audio Transformer
Output Transformer
Instrument Transformer


Iron core
Air core
Toroidal core
Solid core

Application of transformer in Industry 

Symbol of transformer


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