In our daily life, we often use, many times without knowing it, many essential products for our life at home, or for industries.

Among so many of them, one of the most common are transformers, and among them, the one we will pay special attention to today, is the Isolation Transformer. Let’s delve deeper into the topic.

What is an Isolation Transformer?

An isolation transformer is a device used to transfer electrical energy between two circuits through electromagnetic induction, but without direct electrical connection, meaning the circuits are electrically isolated. These transformers are fundamental in applications where it is critical to maintain the safety and protection of both people and connected equipment.

This means that electricity is not physically moved from one place to another, but rather the electrical energy from the first circuit is transformed into a form more suitable for use in the second circuit.

You might not fully understand it, so here is a good example to help you understand it better.

An example

Imagine you have a factory in the metal manufacturing industry that uses heavy machinery, such as stamping presses and laser cutting machines, to mold and cut steel plates.

This machinery requires a much higher voltage for efficient operation than the voltage provided by the local electrical grid.

That is, the electrical grid provides power at 120 volts in the United States and Canada, or 220-240 volts in many countries of Europe, Asia, or Latin America, but the factory machinery needs to operate at 480 volts to be effective in processing heavy metals.

It is then that companies install a transformer to adjust the voltage. The transformer does not transport the electricity from the electrical grid directly to the machinery.

The electrical current enters the transformer at 120 volts, and due to how the coils inside the transformer are designed (a different turns ratio between the primary and secondary winding), this energy is converted to exit at 480 volts from the secondary side.

What is a Volt?

If you have made it this far in this reading, you might wonder what a volt is, a word you might have heard hundreds of times in your life, such as a 9-volt battery, so commonly used in everyday life.

A volt is the unit used to measure voltage or electrical tension. You can imagine it as the “pressure” that drives electrons through a conductor, like water being pushed through a hose. The higher the voltage, the stronger the “pressure” that moves the electrons, allowing electricity to perform work,

In essence, voltage is an indicator of the capacity of electricity to perform work by moving electrical charges from one point to another through a conductive material.

What is the Electromagnetic Induction Performed by the Isolation Transformer?

isolation transformer

This is the process by which a transformer transfers energy. This occurs when a variable magnetic field in one circuit (created by the flow of electric current) induces a voltage in another nearby circuit.

Imagine you have two ropes placed close to each other, and when you move one, the other also begins to move without you touching them together. This is similar to how a transformer works to transfer energy between two electrical circuits.

In a transformer, when electricity flows through the first circuit, it creates a magnetic field, which is like an invisible force around the wire. This magnetic field is dynamic, which means it changes as the electricity flows.

This moving magnetic field, being near another circuit, induces or generates a new electrical current in the second circuit without there being a direct connection between them. That is, energy is transferred through the air (or space) between the two circuits thanks to the created magnetic field. This phenomenon allows transformers to modify the voltage of electricity to suit different needs without physically connecting the circuits to each other.

Safety in an Isolation Transformer

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, the safety and protection provided by an isolation transformer are key in many environments where sensitive electrical equipment is handled or there is a high risk of electrical accidents.

Isolation transformers, as we have been explaining, physically separate the input circuit from the output circuit. This means that there is no direct connection between the power source and the device receiving the energy. By being electrically isolated, the passage of accidental electrical currents that could cause electric shocks or fires is prevented.

It is worth noting that sensitive electronic devices, such as medical equipment or professional audio systems, can be damaged by “noise” or voltage spikes from the general electrical network. The isolation transformer helps filter out these noises and spikes, ensuring that only a clean and stable energy supply reaches the equipment. This extends the life of the equipment and improves its performance.

In environments like hospitals or laboratories, where highly sensitive equipment is used, any current leakage or electrical failure can be dangerous for both patients and staff.

In other words, isolation transformers significantly reduce the risk of electrocution, as the secondary circuit is isolated from the main circuit, thus minimizing any possibility of dangerous currents reaching people.

The machinery now receives power at 480 volts, which is what it needs to function properly. As we said at the beginning, the original energy has been transformed from a lower voltage to a higher voltage suitable for the specific equipment of the factory.

Conclusion

We hope this article has cleared up some doubts about isolation transformers, and as a secondary matter, explained some concepts you might not have known, encouraging you to continue seeking information and learning!