Category Archive: Transformers

Step-Up vs. Step-Down Transformers & How They Work


A transformer is an electrical component composed of two or more wire coils that transmit and convert electrical energy through electromagnetic induction. Transformers can increase or decrease electrical voltage by transferring energy from an input coil (known as the primary winding) to one or more outputs (secondary windings). These windings consist of a magnetic core circuit — typically made of iron — and wrapped inside a coil of conductive copper wire. 

The number of times the wire wraps around the core dictates the electrical current’s strength as it passes through the transformer. Voltage transmitted between the primary and secondary windings will step up (increase) or step down (decrease) depending on the number of turnings on each winding. This blog will provide a clear definition of step-up and step-down transformers and how they function. 

What is a Step-Up Transformer? How Does a Step-Up Transformer Work?

Step-up transformers increase the voltage from the input to the output of the transformer. In this configuration, the primary winding features fewer turnings than the secondary winding. This greater number of windings produces a higher voltage in the secondary side, increasing the output voltage. Power companies rely heavily on step-up transformers to efficiently transfer electricity over long distances. The higher voltage supplied across power grids is then reduced to a safe, usable level by step-down transformers.

What is a Step-Down Transformer? How Does a Step-Down Transformer Work?

A step-down transformer decreases the voltage from input to output. With fewer turns on the secondary winding, the voltage from the primary winding decreases as it passes through the transformer. Step-down transformers create safe levels of alternating current (AC) for use in various products, such as televisions and voltage stabilizers, welding equipment, transmission lines, and adapters for electronics like cell phones. 

Key Differences Between Step-Up and Step-Down Transformers

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Step-Up vs. Step-Down Transformers & How They Work

To summarize, step-up and step-down transformers operate under the same principles, but one increases electrical voltage while the other decreases it. The key differences include: 

Voltage Increase vs. Voltage Decrease

Step-up transformers increase voltage from 220v up to 11,000v or greater, while step-down transformers will decrease voltage from 220v to 110v, 24v, 20v, or lower. 

Applications and Usage

Power companies primarily use step-up transformers to increase the voltage for better energy transmission across the power grid. Step-down transformers take that voltage and reduce it to safer levels for use in household appliances, electronics, industrial equipment, and other applications. 

Primary and Secondary Winding

In a step-up transformer, the primary winding has fewer turns, while the secondary winding has more turns. This configuration causes the voltage to increase. In a step-down transformer, the secondary winding has few turns, and the primary winding has more, causing the voltage to decrease as it passes through the transformer.

The primary winding of step-up transformers is often composed of thicker, insulated copper wire, and the secondary winding uses thinner wire of insulated copper. The opposite is true for step-down transformers, which use the thick insulated copper wire in the secondary winding instead. For both transformer types, the wire thickness is gauged based on the wire’s capacity and the intended current flow.

Choose Step-Up & Step-Down Transformers at MPS Industries

At MPS Industries, we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality transformers and other magnetic components for customers in automotive, military, industrial, medical, telecommunications, and more. As a leading manufacturer of specialty electronic components, including custom transformers, inductors, common mode chokes, current sensors, and power supplies, MPS is committed to meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Our rigorous quality management system reflects our commitment to quality. 

In addition, we maintain numerous industry certifications, including: 

To learn more about our step-up and step-down transformers or any other products, please visit our product portfolio. Our solutions include high efficiency 50 Hertz (Hz)/60 Hertz (Hz) power transformers – you can find them here.

To see how we can help with your next project, please contact us or request a quote for your next project or reach out to our experts today.

What Is the Difference Between a Balun and RF Transformer?

Baluns and RF transformers are two distinct types of transformers – while they share similarities, they have many key differences in terms of operational functions and characteristics. In this blog, we’ll overview these two transformer types and their distinctions.

Balun Transformers

Balun transformers are used to convert an unbalanced signal to a balanced signal and vice versa. Commonly used in telephone lines, transmitters, and more, baluns optimize the flow of AC signals and transform impedance between coaxial cable and balanced loads. 

RF Transformers

RF transformers are used to match impedances, isolate DC currents between circuits, and perform current or voltage step-up or step-down. 

What’s the Difference Between Balun and RF Transformers?

Baluns and RF transformers have many overlapping functions, properties, and fabrication methods. Some baluns can even be considered modified RF transformers. Although they can be easily mismatched, each of these transformers have unique characteristics and purposes that differentiate them. Baluns and RF transformers work to optimize interactions between circuits and signals; however, they operate in different ways to do so.

Baluns convert an unbalanced signal to a balanced signal, and they are commonly used in communications applications to allow for the best possible transmission. A balanced line, or signal pathway, needs two 180° out-of-phase signals within a transmission pathway, while unbalanced pathways consist of a single signal with a ground plane return path. One way to fabricate baluns is by properly configuring one grounded and one floating winding-based transformer with a delay line.

RF transformers, on the other hand, use magnetic couplings between two or more circuits to isolate or transform current, voltage, or impedance amongst the coupled circuits. Commonly used in high frequency signal applications, RF transformers are typically composed of twisted-pair or coaxial transmission lines wound around a toroidal ferromagnetic core. However, they are also available in thin-film, thick-film, and planar varieties.

Balun Transformers and RF Transformers at MPS Industries

At MPS Industries, we specialize in high-quality magnetic components, including balun and RF transformers. Our products can withstand operating temperatures ranging from -40°C to 85°C and can handle frequencies ranging from 0.5 MHz to 2400 MHz. Our baluns and RF transformers are ideal for a variety of applications, including CATV, SET top boxes, and more. As optimal safety and performance are top priorities for our products and services, MPS upholds the following certifications:

MPS serves multiple industries, including aerospace, automotive, consumer electronics, medical, military and defense, telecommunications, and more. We ensure optimal quality management, compliance with industry standards, and on-time delivery.

To learn more about our baluns and RF transformers, browse our catalog today.

For questions regarding our products and services, reach out to our team and we’ll be happy to help.

Switch Mode Power Supply Transformers FAQ

MPS Industries is a U.S.-based magnetic components manufacturer specializing in the design of custom transformers, inductors, common mode chokes, current sensors and many other custom magnetics. 

Switch mode power supply (SMPS) transformers use different switching topologies, transferring the required power from input to output in the electronic systems. Here, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this unique and efficient transformer technology. 

How Does a Switch Mode Power Transformer Work?

Switch mode transformers are used within switch mode power supplies to provide power to a range of commercial and industrial electronic systems. These transformers are highly efficient at converting alternating current (AC) main power to direct current (DC) output voltage. The AC main power is filtered through a capacitor when power is switched on, allowing it to be converted from AC voltage with rectifiers to unregulated DC voltage. Using a regulator, the switch mode transformer then converts this unregulated DC voltage into regulated DC output voltage at different voltage levels.

What Are the Common Applications of a Switch Mode Power Transformer?

Most modern electronic applications rely on power supplies that can very efficiently convert low-frequency main AC power to the well-regulated DC voltage required by the circuit. SMPS transformers are often preferred due to their ability to provide a tightly regulated output voltage. A few specific applications of these transformers include:

  • Medical devices
  • Communication devices
  • Commercial power supplies
  • Security systems
  • Support supplies for PLCs
  • Audiovisual products

What Makes Switch Mode Power Transformers Different From Other Transformers?

By internally switching the transistor between an on and off state, switch mode transformers can minimize a power supply’s energy dissipation, resulting in a higher efficiency with less heat produced when compared with those transformers used in linear power supplies. Linear power supplies typically require large power transformers to step up or down voltage before it can be applied to the regulator circuit. In general, linear power transformers tend to be bulkier and substantially less efficient than switch mode power transformers which are smaller and compact given their higher operating frequency.

What Are the Different Switch Mode Power Transformer Topologies?

The topology of a switch mode power transformer refers to its specific circuit configuration. A few of the basic topologies used in power design include:

  • Flyback: The flyback is an isolated topology in which energy accumulated and stored during the “on” state of the switch is transferred to the output during the “off” state. This is one of the simplest and lowest-cost isolated topologies and is best suited for lower-power applications.
  • Forward converter: Rather than storing energy in the core, forward converters directly transfer energy between the primary secondary sides. Like flybacks, forward converters are best suited for lower power applications.
  • Push-pull: The push-pull topology is basically a forward converter with a dual-drive winding, making it much more efficient at utilizing the core of the transformer when compared with flybacks or simple forward converters.
  • Half-bridge: The half-bridge is a type of forward converter topology. Half-bridge topologies are designed so that the load current can flow in two directions.
  • Full-bridge: The full-bridge topology is essentially two half bridges. It has similar switch ratings as the half-bridge but provides twice the output power.
  • Gate-drive: Gate-drive transformers are used in switch mode power supplies to control circuit timing through the delivery of electrical pulses.

What Are the Advantages of Using a Switch Mode Power Transformer?

When it comes to modern electronic applications, SMPS transformers offer several clear advantages over alternative methods of converting DC power. These include:

  • Higher efficiency: The regulator’s switching action allows it to be in either on or off mode. Because of this, energy dissipation is minimal and power can be used extremely efficiently.
  • Lighter weight: Compared with linear transformers, switch mode power transformers are much smaller and lighter. This is possible due to their high operating frequency and highly efficient power usage.
  • Greater flexibility: Unlike linear transformers, switch mode power transformers are capable of creating high conversions in both voltage-boosting and voltage step-down applications.

What Are the Design Considerations for an SMPS Transformer? 

When designing an SMPS transformer, it is important to consider the following parameters:

  • Input and output voltage
  • Output power or current
  • Switching frequency
  • Operating mode
  • Maximum duty cycle of the IC
  • Safety standards
  • Temperature requirements
  • Size requirements

Three primary design considerations are core shape, type, and size, all of which should be chosen based on your application’s power requirements, switching topology, and anticipated switching frequency. Certain core materials have properties that make them better suited for higher-frequency applications. It is also important to make sure the components and wiring do not go above their rated temperatures, as this will affect overall circuit reliability. Industry-specific safety requirements should also be kept in mind to ensure the compliance of your design with relevant regulatory standards.

Are There Any Transformer Design Considerations for IC Chips?

Generally, our customers’ design engineers will start with an integrated circuit/IC chip, which typically has some kind of reference design with suggestions on transformers and other components to be used with the chip. They can either start with the reference design and modify it to suit their application, or they might opt for their own custom design using the chip.  

We currently work with several IC companies and are on some reference designs already. However, we can definitely work with the customer to supply transformers per their reference designs or create a custom design to meet their application needs.

Contact MPS Industries for SMPS Transformer Guidance

At MPS Industries, our electrical engineering team regularly provides magnetic component guidance and design assistance for even the most complex industrial systems. Whether you require minor modifications to a standard product or a complete custom design from scratch, our engineers possess the insight and resources to meet your exact specifications. We uphold a strong quality management system to make sure that every product we deliver meets or exceeds customer expectations and complies with all relevant industry standards.

To learn more about SMPS transformers at MPS, check out the links below: 

Contact us today about any of our magnetic component solutions or services!

What is a Toroidal Power Transformer?

Transformers are electrical devices that rely on electromagnetic induction to transfer energy from one circuit to another. Among the most common types of transformers are power transformers, which are generally used in electrical systems to step up (i.e., increase) or step down (i.e., decrease) voltage levels between circuits. These transformers are available in several variations, each of which offers different performance characteristics. 

The following article focuses on toroidal power transformers, including outlining what they are, what advantages they offer, what industrial applications in which they are used, and how they differ from standard transformers. 

What Is a Toroidal Transformer?

Similar to other transformers, a toroidal transformer operates under the principles of electromagnetic induction. It features a toroidal core surrounded by the primary and secondary windings. As current flows through the primary windings, it produces an electromagnetic force (EMF) that generates current in the secondary windings; this process allows power to be transferred from the primary coil to the secondary coil. 

Advantages of Toroidal Power Transformers

Compared to other types of power transformers, toroidal power transformers offer a number of advantages, such as:

  • Greater efficiency. The unique shape of these transformers accommodates the use of shorter coils, which allows for lower loss levels and, consequently, higher efficiency in the system.
  • Lower operating temperatures. As toroidal transformers are more efficient than other power transformers, they produce less heat during operations, which translates to lower operating temperatures. This quality, in turn, reduces the need for cooling devices. 
  • Smaller footprint. The coils in toroidal transformers can touch and overlap without interfering with performance, which allows these transformers to be more compact than conventional power transformers. 
  • Quieter operation. These transformers produce less mechanical hum than EI transformers. 
  • Better protection against EMI. The primary and secondary coils covering the core act as a shield against the magnetic field produced, which protects nearby sensitive electronic equipment from being affected by the transformer during operations. 

Applications of Toroidal Power Transformers

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What is a Toroidal Power Transformer

Toroidal power transformers find application in a wide range of industries, including: 

  • Aerospace
  • Audio/visual equipment
  • Automotive
  • Consumer goods
  • Lighting
  • Medical 
  • Military and defense
  • Power generation and distribution
  • Renewable energy
  • Security
  • Telecommunications

Due to their compact size, they are often used in electronic devices and systems such as computers. Their quiet operation makes them well-suited for use in amplifiers, audio equipment, televisions, and other audio/visual systems. These qualities, combined with their high efficiency and reliability, are among some of the reasons why they are regularly used in medical equipment. 

Toroidal Transformers vs. Conventional Transformers

The main difference between toroidal transformers and conventional transformers is the core. 

  • Toroidal transformers have a donut-shaped core that is surrounded by the primary and secondary windings. This design allows for a more efficient transfer of power and more compact construction. Some of the other advantages these transformers have over conventional transformers include quieter operation and greater construction flexibility.
  • Conventional transformers—also knowns as EI transformers—have a core consisting of E-shape steel sheets and I-shaped caps. Compared to toroidal transformers, they come at a much lower price point. 

Contact the Transformer Experts at MPS Industries Today

MPS Industries is an ISO 9001:2015 certified manufacturer of standard and custom transformers. We offer toroidal transformers that accommodate between 50 to 30,000 VAC power and operating temperatures up to 70° C. Our products are made in the USA and comply with the following standards: RoHS, REACH, CE, CSA, UL, and ETL. To find out more about our toroidal transformers or other electronic products, contact us today.

 

Exploring Balun Transformers

In the world of electronics, it’s common to hear about two varieties of lines—balanced and unbalanced. Balanced lines have two conductors, which feature equal currents running in opposite directions. An example of balanced lines is twisted pair cables. On the other hand, unbalanced lines feature just one conductor and a ground, like a coaxial cable.

Baluns are two-port components that are placed between a source and a load. They serve to join balanced lines to unbalanced lines. The term “balun” is derived by combining the words “balanced” and “unbalanced.” Baluns are a specific variety of transformer used to convert unbalanced signals into balanced ones (or vice versa). They often isolate a transmission line and provide a balanced output.

Why Balun Transformers?

While there has been recent emphasis on the importance of balun transformers, they aren’t a new development. Baluns have been utilized as a mean of resolving the single-ended/balanced dilemma since the early days of wireless telephony. However, recent expansion in the realm of portable, handheld, and IoT applications has created exceptional demand for small, low-power baluns.
Baluns are often viewed as a passive component and can sometimes be “glossed over” in RF discussions because they do not add obvious value to the RF signal chain. Despite this, baluns have numerous typical applications. They are a critical part of numerous electronic devices that the public relies on daily. Some of these include:

• TVs
• Antennas
• Microwaves
• Cable moderns
• Coax Alliance applications

Recent years have seen an increased use of differential configurations when it comes to RF ICs. Their internal topology allows for improved noise immunity and heightened RF performance at a low-cost increment. The nature of IC designs affords manufacturers the capability to create products with improved capabilities that cost less than their predecessors.

The MPS Difference

MPS-brand balun transformers are known for their exceptional impedance transformation. As with all baluns, they convert unbalanced impedance to balanced impedance and vice versa.

Our balun transformers feature a low profile, making them ideal for specialized applications where larger components may prove difficult. Their compact footprint and high performance translate to tiny powerhouses with exceptional capabilities; they offer higher performance than traditional lumped-element and ceramic baluns.

In addition, our balun transformers meet regulatory requirements and are RoHS compliant. We serve clients in a wide variety of industries, and our baluns are ideal for use in CATV, multimedia applications, wireless infrastructure, and other consumer electronics applications.

Does Your Application Require a Balun Transformer?

At MPS Industries, we’re proud to offer our clients a variety of balun transformers that have been specifically designed to meet the needs of virtually any application. We also offer a myriad of magnetic components intended for use across numerous industries.

Our team has years of experience in manufacturing electronic components, and our clients consistently return to us because of our broad product line, custom design capabilities, and quality services. Our in-house engineering group is always available for local support and we’re committed to providing products that exceed customer expectations.

Interested in learning more about MPS Industries’ balun transformers? Get in touch with us today or request a quote to speak to one of our team members about integrating balun transformers into your next design.

Understanding Power Transformers

Transformers convert an AC system’s electrical power at one current or voltage into electrical power at a different current or voltage without using rotating parts. power transformers provide this critical function as components of electrical and electronic circuits. Besides the common application of stepping voltages up
or down, these magnetic components can also be used to provide isolation for impedance mismatch and other applications.

How Power Transformers Work

Understanding how power transformers work is key to understanding what transformers do. Transformers use magnetic coupling to transfer electrical power between AC circuits—they do not create their own electrical power. The transformer’s core offers a controlled path for the magnetic flux the transformer generates due to the current flowing across the coils.

A basic transformer’s primary components include the input and output connections, the coils, and the core.

Input and Output Connections

A transformer’s input side is known as the primary side as the primary electrical power which needs to be changed is connected on this side. The output side is commonly referred to as the power transformer’s secondary side. On this side, electrical power is transferred to the load. This incoming transferred electric power may be either decreased or increased depending on the load’s requirement.

Winding

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