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AC Line Reactor

See also;   Acme AC Line Reactor Transformers, Marcus Line Reactors & Hammond Line Reactors

AC Line ReactorLet's first define what a reactor is. Essentially a reactor is an inductor.  Physically it is a coil of wire that allows a magnetic field to form around the coil when current flows

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through it. When energized, it is an electric magnet with the strength of the field being proportional to the amperage flowing and the number of turns. A simple loop of wire is an air core inductor. More loops give a higher inductance rating. Quite often some ferrous material such as iron is added as a core to the winding. This has the effect of concentrating the lines of magnetic flux there by making a more effective inductor.

Going back to basic AC Circuit theory, an inductor has the characteristic of storing energy in the magnetic field and is reluctant to a change in current. The main property of a reactor is it inductance and is measured in henrys, millihenrys or microhenrys. In a DC circuit ( such as that of the DC bus in an AC drive), an inductor simply limits the rate of change of current in the circuit since current in an inductor wants to continue to flow at the given rate for any instant of time. That is to say, an instantaneous increase or decrease in applied voltage will result in a slow increase or decrease in current. Conversely, if the rate of current in the inductor changes, a corresponding voltage will be induced.

Like most things there are side-effects to using a reactor. Though these issues should not prevent the use of a reactor, the user should be aware of and ready to accommodate these effects. Since a reactor is made of wire (usually copper) wound in a coil, it will have the associated losses due to wire resistance. Also, if it is an iron core inductor ( as in the case of most reactors used in power electronics) it will have some "eddy current" loss in the changing magnetic field and the iron molecules being magnetically realigned. In general a reactor will add cost and weight, require space, generate heat and reduce efficiency.

Sometime the addition of a line reactor can change the characteristics of the line you are connected to. Other components such as power factor correction capacitors and stray cable capacitance can interact with a line reactor causing a resonance to be set up. Ac drives have exhibit a relatively good power factor and do not require the use of correction capacitors. In fact, power factor correction capacitors often do more harm than good where AC drives are present. 

With these side effects, why use a reactor? The fact is there are good reasons to install a reactor under certain conditions. Let's start with the input side of a drive.

Use an AC Line Reactor at the Input to reduce Harmonics:

As you may already know, most standard "six pulse" drives are nonlinear loads. They tend to draw current only at the plus and minus peaks of the line. Since the current wave-form is not sinusoidal the current is said to contain " harmonics". For a standard 3 phase input converter (used to convert AC to DC) using six SCR's or six diodes and a filter capacitor bank  the three phase input current may contain as much as 85% or more total harmonic distortion. If a line reactor is installed the peaks of the line current are reduced and somewhat broadened out. This makes the current somewhat more sinusoidal, lowering the harmonic level to around 35% when a properly sized reactor is used. This effect is also beneficial to the DC Filter capacitors. Since the" ripple current" is reduced. The capacitors can be smaller, run cooler and last longer.

Using an AC Line Reactor as a line voltage buffer:

In some cases, other switch gear on the line such as contactors and disconnects can cause line transients, particularly when inductive loads such as motors are switched off. In such cases, a voltage spike may occur at the input to the drive that could result in a surge of current at the input. If the voltage is high enough, a failure of the semiconductors in the DC converter may also result. Sometimes a reactor is used to "buffer from the line".  While a DC link choke, if present will protect against a current surge, it cannot protect the converter from a voltage spike since a link choke is located after the converter. The semiconductors are exposed to whatever line voltage condition exists. For this reason a reactor at the input to the drive may be of some help.

A reactor does not fix grounding issues nor does it provide isolation. Keep in mind that while a reactor provides some buffering, it does not provide isolation and cannot take the place of an isolation transformer.

AC Line Reactors at the drive output to increase load inductance:

Applying a rector at the output of a drive is sometimes necessary, Again, all of the "side- effects" as previously stated hold true. If the motor has a "low leakage inductance" a reactor can help bring the total load inductance back up to a level that the drive can handle. In some rare cases where a strange motor configuration or a motor with 6 or more poles is used, the motor inductance may be too low and a reactor may be needed. Running multiple motors on one drive may also result in a low inductance load and the requirement of an output reactor.

Reactors at the drive output to reduce the effect of reflected wave:

A reactor at the output of a drive is sometimes installed in order to prevent a reflected wave voltage spike when long motor leads are required. This is not always a good practice. Though the reactor will slope off the voltage rise time providing some benefit, it is not likely to limit the peak voltage at the motor. In some cases, a resonance can be set up between the cable capacitance and reactor that causes even higher voltages to be seen at the motor. In general, a motor terminator is a better solution. If a reactor is installed at the output, it is most likely part of a specially designed "reflected wave reduction" device that also has damping resistors in parallel. If a reactor is used at the output, it should be located as close to the drive end as is possible. 

Sizing an AC Line Reactor:

The first rule is make sure you have a high enough amp rating. In terms of the impedance value, you will usually find that 3% to 5% is the norm with most falling closer to 3%. A 3% reactor is enough to provide line buffering and a 5% reactor would be a better choice for harmonic mitigation if no link choke is present. Output reactors, when used, are generally around 3%.  This percent rating is relative to the load or drive where the reactor impedance is a percent of the drive impedance at full load. Thus a 3% reactor will drop 3%3# of the applied voltage at full rated current.

A reactor is not a magic wand but can prevent certain problems when applied properly. Reactors can be helpful in providing some line buffering or adding impedance especially for drives with no DC link choke. For small drives they may be needed to prevent inrush or provide reduction in current harmonics when many small drives are located at one installation. At the output they should only be used to correct low motor inductance and not as a motor protection device.

Use a reactor:
To add line impendence.
To provide some light buffering against low magnitude line spikes.
To reducing harmonics.
To compensating for a low inductance motor.
Only as part of a filter for reflected wave reduction

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 Power Transformer Information:

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Power Transformer Types

Step Up and Step Down Transformers Step Up and Step Down Transformers to Power transformers to step-up ( raise) or step-down (lower) the electrical voltage.
Isolation Transformers Isolation Transformers allows signal or power to be taken from one device and fed into another without electrically connecting the two.
Toroidal Transformers Toroidal Transformers are devices that transfer electrical energy from one electric circuit to another, without changing the frequency, by electromagnetic induction.
Custom Transformers
Custom Transformers are designed to meet certain performance specifications and size requirement that you require. There is a wide range of custom transformer types.
Buck Boost Transformers
Buck Boost Transformers is a ideal solution for changing line voltage by small amounts. Often used to buck (lower), or boost (raise) the voltage from 208v to 240v for lighting applications.
Pole Mounted Transformers
Pole Mounted Transformers are mounted to poles for overhead electrical lines. Used in various applications. Are available in single phase or three phase transformers.
Medium Voltage Transformers
Medium Voltage Transformers are used with a medium range of voltages. They come in a full range from liquid-filled, convention dry type as well as cast coil.
Pad Mounted Transformers Pad Mounted Transformers are a excellent choice for commercial and industrial such as manufacturing facilities, refineries, office buildings, schools, hospitals, restaurants, and retail stores. They come in various sizes and can be used underground as well.
High Voltage Transformers High Voltage Transformers typically these voltage transformers are used in power transmission applications. High voltage transformers are also used in microwave.

 Power Transformer Manufacturer

  • ACME Transformers - With Acme Electric being in business over 80 years, they have always believed in offering there customers superior service, quality and technical expertise in the transformer market.
  • AMVECO Transformers - AMVECO designs and manufactures toroids transformers, current transformers, and auto transformers. Most AMVECO products are custom designed utilizing their state-of-art proprietary CAD programs.  The AMVECO engineers can quickly generate designs in a matter of hours, if needed.
  • Federal Pacific TransformersFederal Pacific is a division of Electro- Mechanical Corporation, a privately held, American owned company founded in 1958. Federal pacific offers dry-type transformers from .050 KVA through 10,000 KVA single and three phase, up to 34.5 KV, 150 KV BIL with UL approval through 15 KV.
  • Marcus Transformer - Ever since they opened their doors for business a half a century ago, they have been a leader in innovative transformer design. As a family-owned company they are proud of the reputation they have earned for making quality-built transformers that deliver exceptional performance and savings.
  • Hammond TransformersHammond Manufacturing was founded in 1917 in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. In the last 3 decades it has expanded to the US and the international markets offering many types of power transformers. 
  • TEMCo Transformers - TEMCo Transformer, a family-owned business which has been manufacturing and distributing electrical products since 1968. They focus on transformers that significantly reduce power consumption over 30 percent compared to competitive makes.
  • GE Transformers - GE has been a key player in the energy industry for more than a century.  Since the installation of their first steam turbine in 1901. They have become number one provider of high-technology power generation and distribution equipment.
  • Jefferson Electric Transformers - Jefferson Electric has been a pioneer and innovator of magnetic products since 1915. Jefferson broad line of dry-type transformers are backed by quality assurance systems so stringent that each and every unit gets thoroughly tested before it goes out there door.
  • More power transformer brands - Check out more companies by clinking this link.

 Power Transformer Types

  • Distribution Transformers - Distribution transformers are generally used in electrical power distribution and transmission power. This class of transformer has the highest power, or volt-ampere ratings. and the highest continuous  voltage rating.
  • Substation Transformers - Substation Transformers are large devices which usually weigh tens of thousands of pounds.   They are filled with tens of thousands of gallons of heat transfer fluid.  Although they are typically 99.8% efficient in the transforming of electricity from one voltage to another, processing hundreds of Mega Volts-Amps of electricity force the liberation of hundreds of BTUs per second.
  • Medical Grade Isolation
     Transformer -
    Medical Grade Transformers generally refer to the transformers used in medical devices as well as hospital, biomedical and patient care equipment. There are a number of strict safety rules, guidelines and laws governing the design, construction and the test of these transformers.
  • Drive Isolation Transformer - They are used to isolate a drive from a main power line to prevent the transmission of harmonics that the drives produce back into the power line.  They stop drive harmonics from disrupting computers and other sensitive equipment.
  • Toroidal Transformers - Toroidal Transformers are more efficient than the cheaper laminated EI types of similar power level. Some of the advantages are smaller size, lower weight, less mechanical hum, (making them superior in audio amplifier), low-off-load loss.
Capacitor for Motor Resources


 Power Transformer Types

  • Step-Up Transformers - A Step-Up Transformer is one whose secondary voltage is greater than its primary voltage.  This kind of transformer "steps up" the voltage applied to it. -
  • Step-Down Transformers - A Step-Down Transformer is  designed to reduce voltage from primary to secondary.  They can range from sizes from .05 KVA to 500 KVA
  • Isolation Transformers - An Isolation Transformer is a device that transfers energy from the alternating current (AC) supply to an electrical or electronic load.  It isolates the windings to prevent transmitting certain types of harmonics.
  • Buck Boost Transformers - Buck Boost Transformers make small adjustments to the incoming voltage. They are often used to change voltage from 208v to 240v for lighting applications.  Major advantages of Buck boost transformers include; low cost, compact size and light weight. 
  • High Voltage Transformer - There are many different types of voltage transformers. A High Voltage Transformer operates with high voltages. Typically, these voltage transformers are used in power transmission applications, where voltages are high enough to present a safety hazard.
  • Medium Voltage Transformers - A Medium Voltage Transformer can be connected directly to a primary distribution circuit and generally has the most load diversity. These voltage transformers have installation practices that are generally in accordance with application recommendations from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).
  • Low Voltage Transformers - A Low Voltage Transformer is an electrical device that transforms 120 volts (line voltage) into 12 volts or 24 volts (low voltage). Some uses for low voltage transformer are in landscaping lighting.
  • Single Phase Transformers - In electrical engineering, single-phase electric power refers to the distribution of electric power using a system in which all the voltages of the supply vary in unison. Single-phase distribution is used when loads are mostly lighting and heating, with few large electric motors.
  • Three Phase Transformers - Three Phase Transformers must have 3 coils or windings connected in the proper sequence in order to match the incoming power and therefore transform the power company voltage to the level of voltage needed while maintaining the proper phasing or polarity.
  • Custom Transformers - Custom Transformers are designed for a certain performance specifications and size requirements.  The company works with your engineering specification. 
  • Industrial Control Transformers - Industrial Control Transformers are used to convert the available supply voltage to the required voltage to supply industrial control circuits and motor control loads.
  • Pad Mounted Transformers - Pad Mounted Transformers are usually single phase, or three phase, and used where safety is a main concern. Typical applications; restaurant, commercial building, shopping mall, institutional. 
  • Pole Mounted Transformers - Pole Mounted Transformers are used for distribution in areas with overhead primary lines. Outside a typical house one can see one of these devices mounted on the top of an electrical pole.
  • Oil Filled Transformers - Oil Filled Transformers are transformers that use insulating oil as insulating materials.  The oil helps cool the transformer. Because it also provides part of the electrical insulation between internal live parts, transformer oil must remain stable at high temperatures over an extended period.
  • Dry Type Transformers - Dry-Type Transformers are available for voltages up through 34.5 kV (although the most common upper limit is 15) and KVA ratings up through 10,000 (with 5000 as the usual limit). Dry-type use air as a coolant, lowering health and environmentally concerns.
  • Auto Transformers - An Autotransformer is an electrical transformer with only one winding. The winding has at least three electrical connection points called taps. Autotransformers are frequently used in power applications to interconnect systems operating at different voltage classes, for example 138 kV to 66 kV for transmission. Another application is in industry to adapt machinery built for 480 V supplies to operate on the local 600 V supply.
  • More power transformer types - Read further about additional transformer types and their uses.


 Power Transformer Term Definitions

  • Electrical Transformers - Electrical Transformers are devices used to raise or lower the voltage of alternating current. For instance, power is transported over long distance in high voltage power lines and then transformers lower the voltage so that the power can be used by a business or household.
  • Isolating Transformers - An Isolating Transformer is a transformer, often with symmetrical windings, which is used to decouple two circuits.  An Isolation transformer allows an AC signal or power to be taken from one device and fed into another without electrically connecting the two circuits. Isolation transformers block transmission of DC signals from one circuit to the other, but allow AC signals to pass. 
  • Transmission Power Lines - A Transmission Line is the material medium or structure that forms all or part of a path from one place to another for directing the transmission of energy, such as electromagnetic or acoustic waves as well as electric power transmission. Components of transmission lines include wires, coaxial cables,  dielectric slabs, option fibers, electric power lines, and waveguides.
  • Transformer Voltage - The measure of the amount of force on a unit charge because of the surrounding charge.
  • Transformer Phase - Most transformer are either single phase or three phase.
  • Transformer Frequency - The transformer cannot change the frequency of the supply. If the supply is 60 hertz, the output will also be 60 hertz.
  • Transformer K Factor - Some transformers are now being offered with a k-factor rating. This measure the transformer's ability to withstand the heating effects of non-sinusoidal harmonic currents produced by much of today's electronic equipment and certain electrical equipment.
  • Primary Voltage - The coil winding that is directly connected to the input power.
  • Secondary Voltage - The coil winding  supplying the output voltage.
  • Harmonic Cancellation - Harmonic cancellation is performed with harmonic canceling transformers also known as phase-shifting transformers. A harmonic canceling transformer is a relatively new power quality product for mitigating harmonic problems in electrical distribution systems. This type of transformer has patented built-in electromagnetic technology designed to remove high neutral current and the most harmful harmonics from the 3rd through 21st.
  • Weatherproof - Enclosed transformers come with a weatherproof standard set by NEMA.
  • Epoxy Encapsulated - A process in which a transformer or one of its components is completely sealed with epoxy or a similar material. This process is normally preferred when a unit might encounter harsh environmental conditions.
  • More power transformer terms - Such as inductor, ground fault, core saturation, current transformer, faraday shield, etc.

Related Transformer Products

  • Voltage Regulators - A Voltage Regulator is an electrical regulator designed to automatically maintain a constant voltage level.  It may use an electromechanical mechanism, or passive or active electronic components. Depending on the design, it may be used to regulate one or more AC or DC voltages.
  • AC Line Reactor - AC Line Reactors is a three phase transformer used in conjunction with AC variable frequency and DC motor drive. They are a bi-directional protective filtering device.
  • Line Power Conditioners - Power or Line Conditioners regulate, filter, and suppress noise in AC power for sensitive computer and other solid state equipment.
  • DC Power Supplies - Conversion of one form of electrical power to another desired form and voltage. This typically involves converting 120 or 240 volt AC supplied by a utility company to a well-regulated lower voltage DC for electronic devices.
  • Rotary Phase Converters - Rotary Phase Converters are commonly used in home or small commercial or industrial settings. Rotary phase converters convert single-phase power into three-phase power. This is a very cost-effective way to power three-phase electric motors and other three phase equipment.
  • Frequency Converters - A Frequency Changer or Frequency Converter is an electronic device that converts alternating current (AC) of one frequency to alternating current of another frequency.
  • Voltage Converters - A Voltage Converter changes the voltage of an electrical power source and is usually combined with other components to create a power supply.
  • Magnetic Motor Starters - Magnetic Motor Starters are essentially heavy duty relays mounted in boxes, often equipped with heater/thermal overloads matched to the motor they start.
  • Motor Starting Auto Transformers - An Auto Transformer starter uses an auto transformer to reduce the voltage applied to a motor during start. The auto transformer may have a number of output taps and be set-up to provide a single stage starter, or a multistage starter.

For an additional resource the Best of Industry Web Directory : Electrical Power Transformer Directory section is quite useful.