Thread for arguing about "Transformers"

3 Nov 2006
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United Kingdom
refusing to accept that you can have something called an electronic transformer

(and Bernard, sometimes) are just wrong.

My carrier in electronics spanned almost 50 years. What marketing people sell as an "electronic transformer" is an SMPS and as such is totally different from the item that the majority of engineering professionals recognise as a transformer. ( yes 50 years, I never put my true date of birth in public profile )

It has become tolerated to refer to an SMPS as an "electronic transformer" as the word "electronic" suggests the item is not a normal transformer and will not behave as a normal tramsformer. There are serious consequences if one assumes that an "electronic transformer" will act like a normal transformer.

Mod's note
This thread was not created by Bernard, but it holds today's crop of "Transformer" arguments

See also the footing of this post
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What marketing people sell as an "electronic transformer" is an SMPS and as such is totally different from the item that the majority of engineering professionals recognise as a transformer.
It is an ELECTRONIC transformer - it is not supposed to be recognised as the same thing as a transformer, any more than an ELECTRONIC cigarette is supposed to be recognised as the same thing as a cigarette.

There are serious consequences if one assumes that an "electronic transformer" will act like a normal transformer.
There are serious consequences if one holds a flame to the end of an e-cig. Did you have a useful point to make?
Did you have a useful point to make?
Only that marketing people and/or installers of lighting using SMPS units should be aware of the differences between SMPS units and inductive transformers and the effects that SMPS equipment can have on other electronic equipment.
We can all sometimes be wrong, but in case this we were not.
In this case you both are.

BAS, for some reason never admits he is wrong even when he is.
When I am, I do. In this case I am not.

How can I possibly be wrong that they do exist and are called that?

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some Mod said:

because I do not recall myself starting this thread.

And it was certainly not a joking matter for the engineer who turned out close to midnight with an hours drive to attend a failing comms wireless system to find there was nothing wrong with the wireless equipment. The failures ( corrupted data having to be repeated several times ) were due entirely to the switched mode device in a power supply for a lamp unit.
The meaning of a Transformer is referred purely to wound laminated iron core transformers where no electronic parts are involved and just two sets of windings, Primary where you put mains voltage and Secondary windings where you get different and mostly lower voltages, you can also get transformers where both input and out put voltages are the same and they are called isolating transformers, used to isolate earth from supply rails since earth is connected to Neutral, and some applications such as in TVs and other electronic equipment one cannot put oscilloscope directly for measuring and testing and calibrating purpose, and also for running equipment where earth can be a pain in the back side.

Electronic transformers are therefore still uses a small ferrite core transformer but at much higher frequency like several kilo herts, so it doesn't need to be big, it therefore runs of an electronic switching circuit that takes the mains 230v ac and rectifies it to about 330-340v DC! which is then switched very rapidly at many kiloherts (process known as chopping) so this is fed into this smaller transformer and so the efficiency of transformation is increased in respect of Size, using non-electronic transformation requires huge and heavy transformers but using Switched Mode Power Supply or so called electronic transformer requires only a small much lighter transformer, both Isolate mains Primary from their secondary low voltage output.

SMPS are far far less reliable than conventional transformers, because the more components you have in an equipment, the higher is the chance of its failure.
I do not like SMPS as they are vulnerable to shorter life and component failure and age wise conventional transformers can outlast electronic trabsformers, but the advantages is lower weight, smaller size, and more compact, but SMPS are also culprits for generating high amount of noise, noise in sense of radio wave emissions, these have to be kept to very minimum and suppressed using filters etc, they can interfere with sensitive radio receiving equipment, not just at the frequency the chopper circuit is switching the power transistor on and off, but at its other harmonic frequencies, these are 2nd, 3rd, and 4th and so on, so SMPS can play havoc with some equipment unless they are housed in special shielded metal boxes and fitted with RF Filters, normal plastic boxes housing SMPS are therefore not suitable for use in many equipment especially in medical field, like hospitals etc.

As for me, I understand when someone says electronic transformer, it would mean a switched mode power supply supplying a low voltage power such as mobile phone chargers, LED lighting circuits, and a low voltage transformer would mean a heavy laminated core transformers with windings, provided they are not operated outside their limits, they can last longer than a human.

In true sense, SMPS are not transformers as they do not work in reverse mode.
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Oh and yes of course some slightly modified versions of SMPS are now called LED Drivers, all these do is exactly what an SMPS does but it further limits the amount of current, as LEDs are not voltage dependent but current sensitive devices, they emit light when a certain amount of current passes through them, if this current is exceeded they blow up or fuse out, so each manufacturer of LED driver can have different specs, like how many LEDs it can run in series or in parallel combination. As you can see from this thread, securespark is already having problems with his SMPS! (Edit: Not necessarily a problem but he wanted to ask manufacturer a question, but did not get anywhere, though in my view his LED driver will work oK to run two 6.5watt LED lights in M16 fitting, using the electronic transformer or an LED driver. //
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A different Mod said:
Yes there are Electronic Transformers. You said it, there's no point arguing that you're right.

What is important is the fact that electronic transformers cannot be treated and used as an inductive transformer would be used.

This is an informative forum and this difference should be made clear to new readers.
@Bernard, what worries me most now is that in many boilers (gas CH boilers) they now use fans to assist with combustion and removal of waste products, and these fans use electronic control where mains 230v is rectified and converted into DC330V! and a 4 Hexfets are used (typically IRF830) to switch a single set of windings and a permanent magnet armature, with a feed back from a magneto sensor, the control circuit is of such an unnecessary complexity, you would quite laugh at the stupidity of it all, you have like about 5 or 6 different chips, one even large scale multi pin chip, trying to control this mains driven fan, and all it does is run at a constant speed, of course it has feed back mechanism thus telling the circuit if there is an obstruction, which would cause the fan to start drawing more current as it tries to maintain a certain RPM, and so adjust current demand as it suits as the loading conditions change, all just to save a few watts of energy, but at the expense of owners of such boilers where such fans cost an arm and a leg, to replace, an RGI would probably charge £100.00 labour and another £160 the cost of a new fan, so do you see where an owner is being bluffed to be saving energy and running cost when it is actually the opposite, so a replacement fan would cost an owner 10 or more times over in money than it actually saves him any! This is technology for you! My mate who is an RGI brings lots of failed fans to see if I can rescue any, most are due to failure of HEXFETS, some as a result of bad installation where condensate has run into fan electronics and shorting low voltage control circuit with HV 330V DC! so much for reliability, and efficiency and energy saving, but ask at what cost?
Then call them "inductive transformers".

I suspect that is the cause of the arguments - an original name's abbreviation which has become an inappropriate name like
'television' meaning the box you look at.
Different mod.
It's pretty Pointless arguing with each other about your habits, you'll always disagree. Such comments are ALWAYS "off topic" so liable to random deletion - it depends what we see. Nobody reads everything.
Yes there are Electronic Transformers. You said it, there's no point arguing that you're right.
Move on.
Fine - I will move on just as soon as you can stop Winston or Bernard from ever accusing me of being wrong when I am not.

Where is the dedicated topic, BTW?
You're both wrong.

It's time to admit it.

This is what a transformer is:


Any further arguments are immediately void.

This thread has helped explain a lot to me. It seems for years I've been confusing 'Transformers' with 'Transvestites'. I've always wondered why they scream when I connect them to a 230v supply :LOL:
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