History of Voltage Regulators

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Voltage Regulators owe their existence to over 200 years of discovery and inventions – from the development of the 1st electric battery by Alessandro Volta (Italy) in 1800 to the latest solid state computerised systems of the present day. The current development of 3rd Generation Voltage Regulator was only possible following the inventions of transformers; programmable digital computers and Silicon Controlled Rectifiers (SCR). 3rd Generation Systems uses transformers to change the voltage from one value to another. The computers carry out complex and lightning fast calculations; and the SCR’s switch on and off smaller transformers to change the voltage as and when needed. The earliest discovery that paved the way for the development of the transformer was the discovery of electromagnetic induction – the relationship between electromotive force (EMF) or “voltage” and magnetic flux. This was independently discovered by Michael Faraday (English) and Joseph Henry (American) in 1831. Faraday was the first to publish the results of his experiments and thus receive credit for the discovery.(1) This discovery provided the basis of Faraday Law – still used today as a basic law of electromagnetism relating to the operating principles of transformers, inductors, and many types of electrical motors and generators. The second important development toward the design of a transformer occurred in 1836; and is credited to the Rev. Nicholas Callan of Maynooth College, Ireland(2). Callan designed the first induction coil and was one of the first researchers to realize that the more turns the secondary winding has in relation to the primary winding – the larger is the increase in EMF (Volts). At this time the only power being generated was Direct Current (DC). Induction coils were needed to get higher voltages from batteries. Before the development of transformers, the first electric power generators used DC at low voltages to power a small customer base using electric lights and small motors. As use of electricity grew and transmission distances increased, DC became unreliable and costly. A change from DC to Alternating Current (AC) was required. AC could be generated at higher voltages and at lower amperages. The lower current meant that thinner and cheaper wires could be used in transmission and the higher voltage overcame the losses of transmission to the end user. However, this much higher AC voltage then had to be reduced at the end of the transmission line so that it could be used by the consumer – hence the need for efficient and cost effective Transformers. Voltage Regulator Historical Landmarks for Inventions and Development: 1831 – Joseph Henry (American) and Michael Faraday (English) work with electromagnets and discover the property of induction independently on separate continents(1). 1836 – Rev. Nicholas Callan of Maynooth College (Irish) invents the induction coil(2). 1876 – Pavel Yablochkov (Russian) uses AC induction coils in his lighting system(3). 1878 – Károly Zipernowsky, Ottó Bláthy and Miksa Déri (Z.B.D.) (Hungarian) working for the Ganz Company (Budapest, Hungary) uses induction coils in their lighting systems with AC incandescent systems. 1880 – Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti (English born with Italian Father at 16 years of age) designs one of the earliest AC power systems with William Thomson (later to become Lord Kelvin – English)(5). 1882 – Lucien Gaulard (French) and John Dixon Gibbs (English) first build what they term as a “secondary generator”(6) or in today’s terminology a step down transformer which they designed with open iron core. 1885 – William Stanley (American) of Westinghouse (USA) makes the Lucien Gaulard and Gibbs transformer(7) more practical due to some design changes. 1889 – Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky (Russian-born engineer) developed the first three-phase transformer at the Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft (“General Electricity Company”) in Germany.(8) 1891 – Nikola Tesla (Serbian-born and later American Citizen) invented the Tesla coil(9). 2012 – Vanguards Power (Hong Kong)(23) – Develops a User selectable Wye and Delta wired transformer system for its 3 Phase PropSava to optimise 3 Phase motor power. Voltage Optimisation, Power Optimisation, Voltage Regulators Author: Phillip Campbell – An Engineer, Company Director and Public Speaker. He has published and written a number of technical and business articles about product technologies and business management topics. Phillip is interested in much of the Green Agenda and specifically the reduction of CO2 emissions; and the slowing the destruction of many of the planets limited resources. Voltage Optimisation, Power Optimisation, Voltage Regulators

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