How Do I Choose the Best Electronic Transformer?

Andrew Kirmayer

Transformers are available in many varieties designed to handle specific electrical loads. The application an electronic transformer is used in also determines which one is the best to use. Its capacity in Volt-Amps is how much power input the device can handle before overloading. This is generally equal to the capacity limit in terms of the transformer’s wattage. Made of a steel core and copper or aluminum wire windings, a transformer must be used within its rated range or it will overheat and fail.

Electrical transformers are commonly used to reduce electricity flow to devices such as laptops.
Electrical transformers are commonly used to reduce electricity flow to devices such as laptops.

Choosing the best electronic transformer depends on the expected load of the application. Times where the typical load increases should be factored in as well. A transformer that has a higher wattage rating should generally be chosen, so that the normal wattage will run at about 90% of its maximum capacity. This prevents damage or a fire in case an overload periodically occurs. Expected amplitude and length of time of the load need to be determined before choosing an electronic transformer.

The transformer’s structural configuration also weighs on the choice. Power loss in the core is sometimes problematic; transformer cores with magnetic steel or which are laminated typically compensate for this problem. Some transformers are filled with liquid, protecting them from overload, but can be more flammable than dry types. Dry transformers are well-insulated but are safe to use only so long as the insulation remains viable.

It is also helpful to find out how long the electronic transformer lasts. This can save on costs in the long run, but also requires an understanding of how well suited it is for the application. Costs for installation, operating the transformer, and performing routine maintenance should be considered as well. Applications where power surges are common, such as industry, require an electronic transformer that can withstand wide power fluctuations. An appropriate device may be more expensive at first but the expenses of fixing or replacing the transformer later on can be avoided.

There are different types of transformers designed for a variety of uses. Some can be used for general purposes, but an electronic transformer is sometimes intended to work with a battery charger, inverter, or voltage regulator. An electronic transformer does not have moving parts, contributing to the relative safety of using it. When multiple devices are used with one transformer, it is important to add up the wattage of all devices that will be connected. This should ensure the transformer operates most efficiently, and that it can be safely used.

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