How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 255

When you say that a transformer can change a small current with a high voltage into a large current with a low voltage, where do those extra charges come from?
A transformer involves two completely separate circuits: a primary circuit and a secondary circuit. Charges circulate within each circuit, but do not move from one circuit to the other. If the primary circuit of a transformer has a small current flowing through it and that current experiences a large voltage drop as it flows through the transformer's primary coil, then the primary circuit current is transferring power to the transformer and that power is equal to the product of the primary circuit current times the voltage drop. The transformer transfers this power to the current flowing in the secondary circuit, which is an entirely separate current. That current may be quite large, in which case each charge only receives a modest amount of energy as it passes through the secondary coil. As a result, the voltage rise across the secondary coil is relatively small. The power the transformer is transferring to the secondary circuit current is equal to the product of the secondary circuit current times the voltage rise.

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