Electronic – Minimum number of turns on a transformer


I am trying to wind my own transformer for a power supply. How many turns do I need on my primary winding?

I know that the turn ratio determines the voltage ratio, but how do I determine the actual number of turns? I can imagine that for an air-core transformer, having many windings can help keep the flux from leaking. However, the more wire I use the more materially expensive and electrically inefficient it becomes.

If I'm using a toroidal core, can I get away with just one loop for the primary?


Best Answer

Here (from Wikipedia) is a fairly complete linear model of a transformer:

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Note the magnetizing inductance Xm across the primary. If that inductance is too low, you'll get excessive current flowing even with no load on the secondary.

While a single-turn primary is certainly possible, with sensibly-sized cores it implies either a very low voltage (for example, a current transformer, which is typically toroidal) or a very high frequency (or both).

The inductance is proportional to the number of turns squared, and a small 120/240V 50/60Hz mains transformer primary might be some hundreds of turns, so you can see how far off a single turn is. At a fraction of a volt, or higher frequencies at relatively low voltage, a single-turn primary might make some sense.