Basic Electronic Component: How Inductors Work?

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An inductor is a passive electrical device introducing inductance into an electric circuit. It is a coil of wire with numerous windings that wraps around a core made of a magnetic material. The simplest of an inductor is made of a coil of wire. The third and final type of the basic electronic component is the inductors.

How do inductors work?

It is about as simple as the electronic component gets. It is a coil of wire that turns out that a coil of wire does some interesting things because of the magnetic properties of the coil.

The basics of inductors

In Henries, the capacity of the inductor is controlled by four factors:

  1. Number of coils. More coil means better inductance.
  2. Material the coils are wrapped around
  3. Cross-sectional area of the coil. More area means better inductance
  4. Length of the coil. Short coil means narrower coils, which means more inductance.

Placing iron in the core of the inductor can give much more inductance than the air or non-magnetic core would. The standard unit of the inductance is the henry.

Inductor application in the traffic light sensors

For example, take a coil of wire of 6 ft in diameter that contains 5 or 6 loops of wire. You need to cut some grooves in the road and place the coil in the grooves. Attach the inductance meter to the coil and see the inductance of the coil. Now, you may park a car over the coil and check the inductance again.

The inductance is much larger because of the large steel object positioned in the magnetic field of the loop. The car parked over the coil acts like the core of the inductor. The presence changes the coil’s inductance. Most traffic light sensors use loops in this way.

The sensor constantly tests the loop’s inductance in the road, and when the inductance increases, it knows a car is waiting. You use a much smaller coil. One big use of these inductors is teamed up with the capacitors creating oscillators.

Uses of inductors

Inductors are used in different applications:

  1. Filter. The inductors are used too often with the resistors and capacitors to make filters for analog circuits and signal processing.
  2. Sensor: The inductors are used to magnetic fields from a distance. These inductive sensors are used at traffic light intersections.
  3. Transformer. The combination of inductors used is to make a smaller and more lightweight transformer.
  4. Motor. It uses magnetic force to shift electrical energy into mechanical energy. Motors are very trustworthy.
  5. Store energy. Like capacitors, the inductors can be used to store energy with some limitations.

Select the right inductors considering some factors, such as:

  • required inductance value
  • current rating
  • saturation current
  • operating frequency

You must take into account the package and physical size of the inductors to ensure they fit the design.

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