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Name: Peter
Status: Student
Grade: 9-12
Location: NY
Country: United States
Date: August 2006

What are 'wingdings' in an electrical transformer?

There are no "wingdings" in an electrical transformer. At least in my opinion, someone else may have a different feeling about it. There are "windings", which of coarse are the conductive copper coils around the magnetic iron core. So I bet you saw a miss-spelling.

On rare occasions an electrical schematic might contain a symbol for a "saturable reactor" type of transformer. It's not used as a transformer (AC in, AC out), but rather as a DC-adjustable inductor (DC current through control winding, AC voltage trying to get through the power winding). Physically it is different from a regular transformer only in small details of the magnetic material used, the shape of the core, and the turns ratio.

All inductors with magnetic cores saturate. At a certain [current x turns] product the material in the core cannot be magnetized any more strongly, so the magnetic field in the core stops growing, so no back-emf is created to oppose current flow from the voltage being applied, so current starts getting much larger. That is why AC power transformers have an input-voltage limit. But in saturable reactors, all the little design aspects are optimized to make it a fairly sharp change instead of a muddy, gradual change, and the control winding is given a DC current to use up a controllable amount of the core's maximum flux.

In the schematic, to distinguish this type from a regular transformer, little right-angle offshoot lines are added to the end of the double-lines which denote the iron core. It is quite reminiscent of the tabs added to the symbol for a diode, to make it a "zener diode". After all, the core "saturates" abruptly at a given magnetic flux, much like a zener diode starts conducting abruptly at a given voltage..

If somebody called those little offshoot lines "wingdings" I would not be too surprised. But those are merely part of the symbol; there is no corresponding part in the actual device.

Jim Swenson

Hi Peter,

Actually, there are no "Wingdings" in a transformer! I think you may have been referring to "Windings". Please note that the word "Wingdings" does in fact appear in several web sites in relationship to transformers, but every instance I have seen is clearly a misspelling of the word "Windings". Perhaps you had seen this rather amusing error and were wondering about it?.

By further explanation, a transformer consists of a magnetic "core" commonly made of a special type of steel or a magnetic material called "ferrite", a "primary winding", and one or more "secondary winding(s)".

These "windings" are many turns of copper wire that are wound around a place in the core. If there are fewer turns of wire that are wound in the secondary section as compared to the number of turns in the primary, the voltage that the secondary winding delivers will be lower than that which is the fed to the primary. If there are more turns of wire in the secondary section than the primary, then the secondary will deliver a higher voltage than that which is fed to the primary.


Bob Wilson

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