Single Phase Transformers – How do Autotransformers Operate?

If you have varying voltage needs in your operation, you might have different needs for single phase transformers. This is why many companies utilize autotransformers and the benefits they have to offer. Let’s take a closer look at this type of transformer to give you a better idea of how they work and help determine if they are right for you.

What is an Autotransformer?

First, let’s talk about what an autotransformer is “not”. It has nothing to do with the automotive industry, nor does it refer to an “automatic” operation of any sort. Autotransformers are able to change voltage with a single coil, while standard transformers use two coils, which are primary and secondary.

Typical double coil single phase transformers are able to alter voltage because one coil has more (or fewer) windings of wire than the other. The greater the difference, the greater the change of voltage happens. This is not the case with autotransformers.

An autotransformer only has one set of windings which act as both primary and secondary connections. So how is this possible? Imagine the lead in and lead out connections at the coil ends. Now, anywhere you tap into the coil will give you a voltage variance between the tap and one of the leads. In fact, the location of the tap will determine the voltage output you receive.

Benefits of Autotransformers

Standard single phase transformers are either buck or boost transformers. This means they can either step up or step down the voltage. An auto transformer can do both, depending on the configuration of the taps. Plus, if you have varying needs from time to time, you can purchase a variable voltage autotransformer which lets you change the settings with the turn of knob. Because autotransformers have one coil, they are lighter and more compact than two coil transformers.

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