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The Transformer Principle


AIM: To investigate how the output voltage of a transformer depends upon the
number of turns on the secondary coil.

Electrical power supply set at 2 V a.c.
Connecting leads
2 a.c. voltmeters or multimeters [it is possible to do this experiment with 1 voltmeter]
Iron C-core with primary coil of 30 turns of wire on it.
Access to various iron C-cores with 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 turns of wire

Always switch off the power supply before making any changes to the circuit

1. Connect up the apparatus as shown in the diagram.
2. Don’t switch on until you are ready to take measurements. Make sure that
the coil connected to the power supply has 30 turns and that the power supply is
set to 2 V.
Primary coil with Secondary coil with
30 turns 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or
60 turns

2V V V

3. Using the 10 turn secondary coil measure the input and output voltages. Switch
4. Repeat the measurements using C-cores with different numbers of turns of wire
on the secondary coil. Keep the primary coil with 30 turns.
5. Record all your results in a table.


Primary Turns Secondary Turns Input Voltage/V Output Voltage/V

30 10 2.16 0.71
30 20 2.16 1.45
30 30 2.16 2.18
30 40 2.16 2.93
30 50 2.16 3.50
30 60 2.16 4.38

Step-up transformers National Grid, X-Ray machine
Step-down transformers National Grid Phone charger
Isolating transformer Shaving socket (same voltage)

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The Transformer Principle



AQA P3 13.9
OCR21C P5.4
OCRG P3 2 b

The coils could be wound on cardboard tubes, which slide over the C-cores.

It is important that the two C-cores clip firmly together ensuring an iron-to-iron contact. A
layer of enamel or paint will reduce the magnetic field considerably and consequently the
output voltage. Placing a sheet of paper between the two C-cores can have a similar effect.

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The Transformer Principle

For a striking demonstration, use a transformer with 60 turns as primary and 1200 as
secondary. A couple of bits of wire on the 1200 turn side (not held by hand!) produced a
spark. With a 1.5V cell on the 'primary' I could get no obvious spark on making the circuit,
but on breaking it could get a spark to jump across a gap of up to 4mm (ish).
Swapping to an EHT supply I needed to go off the top of the 5kV calibrated range to get a
spark with only a 3mm gap, and got no spark at all with the 4mm I had been able to bridge
(and again bridged, just to check) using the 1.5V cell.
This implies an output p.d. of around 6kV or more with the 1.5V cell. If the response of the
system is linear then a 9V battery might give approaching 40kV, but I didn't have time to
check this out.

1. Write up your experiment with a labelled diagram, a brief account of the experiment,
and the results.

2. The method includes safety precautions. Say what these are and why they are
necessary. Switch ON only after checking circuit each time. Check range of
voltmeter and supply voltage is set to 2V ac.

3. State the independent, Number of turns on Secondary coil, dependent, Output

voltage and all the control variables. Supply voltage set to 2V ac and Number of
turns on Primary coil kept at 30 turns.

4. What kind of variable is the independent variable? Choose the word that best

5. From your graph or the results describe carefully how the Output Voltage depends on
the Number of turns on the Secondary Coil. Output voltage is directly
proportional to number of turns on secondary coil as shown by a
straight-line graph passing through the origin, and output voltage found from
equation below.
number of turns on secondary coil
output voltage = × input voltage
number of turns on primary coil
6. What was the range of values that you used for the independent variable? Was this a
sensible range? Give a reason for your answer.
10 turns to 60 turns. Sensible YES, less than 10 output voltage too low, above
60 output voltage too high.

7. For transformers, which are 100% efficient, the output voltage can be calculated
using this equation.
number of turns on secondary coil
output voltage = × input voltage
number of turns on primary coil
a. Use this equation to calculate the expected output voltage for 40 turns on the
secondary coil with the input voltage you used.
Output voltage = 40/30 x 2.16 = 2.88
How does this answer compare with your results? Actual output voltage is
2.93V which is within 2%

b. If the output voltage is less than the calculated voltage, the transformer is
less than 100% efficient.
Use your results to investigate the efficiency of this transformer set-up.
If Output voltage is 10% less then output power is 20% less
as power = voltage2/R

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The Transformer Principle

8. In your experiment you would have used a voltmeter.

a. Was the RANGE over which this meter was capable of measuring suitable? Give
a reason for your answer.
Expected range 0 - 15V

b. Was the SENSITIVITY of this meter suitable? Give a reason for your answer.
Yes, meter read to 0.01V

9. Explain carefully why a transformer will not work if the supply voltage is not
alternating. To generate a voltage the secondary coil needs a varying magnetic
field. This is produced by the varying, a.c. current in the primary coil

10. Transformers can have a low efficiency if they produce a lot of heat. The higher
the input voltage, the more heat they produce. This suggests the question, “Does
the input voltage affect the efficiency of a transformer?”
Plan an experiment to test how whether the efficiency of the transformer is affected
by the input voltage.
Independent variable – input voltage, dependent variable – output voltage,
control variables – number of turns on primary and secondary coils.
Secondary coil must be connected to a load eg. a lamp, to produce a current
and heating.
Plot graph of output voltage (y-axis) against input voltage (x-axis)
If graph is a straight line with gradient = 1, then Transformer is 100% efficient.
If graph is a straight line with gradient < 1, the efficiency is constant but less
than 100%.
If graph is a curve then efficiency varies with input power.

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