Transformers are electrical devices that are designed to change the voltage of alternating current to the desired level. They are solid-state devices meaning they have no moving parts and ensures their longevity given little to no wear and tear. Transformers have high voltage, industrial and residential applications, which make them a versatile electrical device.
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Working Principle of a Transformer
Transformers work on the principle of electromagnetic induction. They consist of insulated coils of wire wrapped around a laminated iron or steel core. The ends are insulated in between using air, oil or other insulating material. The end which is connected to the supply end is termed as the input or primary coil and the induced voltage end is termed as the secondary or output coil.
A current-carrying conductor produces a magnetic field or magnetic flux. This magnetic flux travels through the soft iron core from the primary side to the secondary side, where they are cut by the coils on the secondary side. This cutting of magnetic flux produces an electromotive force or induces a voltage on the secondary side.
This is defined by Faraday’s Law of Electromagnetic Induction which states, that the rate of change of magnetic flux linkage is directly proportional to the voltage induced across its ends. The electrical transformer has a term called the “turn’s ratio” that is simply the number of output coil turns divided by the number of input coil turns. This is also equal to the ratio of output and input voltage.
Having an alternating current as a supply ensures that the direction of magnetic flux continuously changes, so there is a continuous rate of change of magnetic flux as it is a vector quantity. The strength of the magnetic flux depends on the magnitude of the electrical current. Thus, transformers work with alternating current (AC) and not direct current (DC) which as a constant direction of current flow.
Types of Electrical Transformers
Electrical transformers vary depending on construction, supply, purpose, and usage. A few general types are:
- Core or shell type- according to the construction
- Single-phase or three-phase- according to the power supply
- Step up or step down- according to the purpose
- Power, current, instrument, or potential- according to the usage.
Industrial Applications of Electrical Transformer
- Electrical transformers help in the transfer of electrical signals to adjacent circuits
- Eliminate double wiring
- Acts as a boost (increases the output voltage) or buck (decreases the output voltage)
- Step up electrical transformers are used near power plants to increase the voltage before being transmitted and distributed through the Grid
- Steps down electrical transformers are used near homes to reduce the voltage from the transmission lines as they enter homes
- It helps in the isolation of adjacent circuits by creating a barrier.
- Provides electrostatic shielding and transient noise protection.
Residential Applications of Electrical Transformer
- Electronic devices such as laptops, mobile chargers, dishwashers convert AC 220-110V to 6-12V for their application.
- Induction chargers and wireless charging pads
- Induction cookers
The Business of Electrical Transformers
Starting a business that manufactures, distributes and/or sales transformers is a bit different from other businesses. This is mostly a business to business (B2B) model, where companies sell to each other directly. Given transformers are highly specialized devices and not a device that everyone should have a spare in their home, the target market is specific.
Jokes aside, the biggest buyer for electrical transformers are power distribution and power generation companies. Most industrial transformers used are in relation to the National Grid. However, small scale transformers are used in almost all electronic devices from smartphones to laptops, to washing machines and dishwashers to toy cars and drones. These are the sectors you need to focus on.
Given electrical transformers are highly sophisticated devices; they require expertise from engineers, mostly with an electrical background. Toying with electricity is not a safe sport, so you need to ensure your product is top-notch and fits all the safety requirements. Thus, you should redirect most of your capital on the research and development sector (R&D) rather than on marketing and advertisements. The more innovative and efficient your product is, the more units it is likely to sell.
Potential Market Analysis
The electrical transformer market is dominated by big players with a lot of money. These are the Rockefellers of the industry. The market is, however, very fragmented and region-specific. A few top brands include, but not limited to are ABB, Crompton Greaves, SPX transformer solutions in the USA; JSHP, Xian Xiandian Transformer, TBEA Shenyang Transformer in China and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited in India.
Most countries have a National Grid which is overseen by the government. So, unless you have the capital and lobbying strategy to win the tenders and contracts required to sell your electrical transformer, we would advise you not to get in the market.
In conclusion, starting an electrical transformer business is a pretty bold move and requires a lot of connection, money, and network with the right people. Any device which is highly specialized and requires a lot of expert knowledge is expensive and not a consumer product. But, if you have the desire to create a successful business, then why not?
When Nikola Tesla created the first transformer, he didn’t know it would revolutionize and change the world forever. It took decades before people accepted alternating current as of the standard and changed from the direct current model. All the top players in this field had their own fair share of challenges and struggle to go through. But they persevered and eventually succeeded in creating an empire. We are not saying you’ll create an empire just by reading this, but if you made it this far it means you are interested. That’s the first step.