Current Transformer

Generally current transformers and ammeters are used together as a matched pair in which the design of the current transformer is such as to provide a maximum secondary current corresponding to a full-scale deflection on the ammeter. In most current transformers an approximate inverse turns ratio exists between the two currents in the primary and secondary windings. This is why calibration of the CT is generally for a specific type of ammeter.

Most current transformers have a the standard secondary rating of 5 amps with the primary and secondary currents being expressed as a ratio such as 100/5. This means that the primary current is 20 times greater than the secondary current so when 100 amps is flowing in the primary conductor it will result in 5 amps flowing in the secondary winding. A current transformer of say 500/5, will produce 5 amps in the secondary for 500 amps in the primary conductor, 100 times greater.

By increasing the number of secondary windings, Ns, the secondary current can be made much smaller than the current in the primary circuit being measured because as Ns increases, Is goes down by a proportional amount. In other words, the number of turns and the current in the primary and secondary windings are related by an inverse proportion.

A current transformer, like any other transformer, must satisfy the amp-turn equation and we know from our tutorial on double wound voltage transformers that this turns ratio is equal to:

The current ratio will sets the turns ratio and as the primary usually consists of one or two turns whilst the secondary can have several hundred turns, the ratio between the primary and secondary can be quite large. For example, assume that the current rating of the primary winding is 100A. The secondary winding has the standard rating of 5A. Then the ratio between the primary and the secondary currents is 100A-to-5A, or 20:1. In other words, the primary current is 20 times greater than the secondary current.

It should be noted however, that a current transformer rated as 100/5 is not the same as one rated as 20/1 or subdivisions of 100/5. This is because the ratio of 100/5 expresses the “input/output current rating” and not the actual ratio of the primary to the secondary currents. Also note that the number of turns and the current in the primary and secondary windings are related by an inverse proportion.

But relatively large changes in a current transformers turns ratio can be achieved by modifying the primary turns through the CT’s window where one primary turn is equal to one pass and more than one pass through the window results in the electrical ratio being modified.

So for example, a current transformer with a relationship of say, 300/5A can be converted to another of 150/5A or even 100/5A by passing the main primary conductor through its interior window two or three times as shown. This allows a higher value current transformer to provide the maximum output current for the ammeter when used on smaller primary current lines.

Current Transformer Primary Turns Ratio

The three basic types of current transformers

  • Wound Current Transformer – The transformers primary winding is physically connected in series with the conductor that carries the measured current flowing in the circuit. The magnitude of the secondary current is dependent on the turns ratio of the transformer.
  • Toroidal Current Transformer – These do not contain a primary winding. Instead, the line that carries the current flowing in the network is threaded through a window or hole in the toroidal transformer. Some current transformers have a “split core” which allows it to be opened, installed, and closed, without disconnecting the circuit to which they are attached.
  • Bar-type Current Transformer – This type of current transformer uses the actual cable or bus-bar of the main circuit as the primary winding, which is equivalent to a single turn. They are fully insulated from the high operating voltage of the system and are usually bolted to the current carrying device.

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