Voltage and current transformers for low primary voltage or current ratings are not readily distinguishable; for higher ratings, dissimilarities of construction are usual. Nevertheless the differences between these devices lie principally in the way they are connected into the power circuit. Voltage transformers are much like small power transformers, differing only in details of design that control ratio accuracy over the specified range of output. Current transformers have their primary windings connected in series with the power circuit, and so also in series with the system impedance. The response of the transformer is radically different in these two modes of operation.
Whenever the values of voltage or current in a power circuit are too high to permit convenient direct connection of measuring instruments or relays, coupling is made through transformers. Such 'measuring' transformers are required to produce a scaled down replica of the input quantity to the accuracy expected for the particular measurement; this is made possible by the high efficiency of the transformer. The performance of measuring transformers during and following large instantaneous changes in the input quantity is important, in that this quantity may depart from the sinusoidal waveform. The deviation may consist of a step change in magnitude, or a transient component that persists for an appreciable period, or both. The resulting effect on instrument performance is usually negligible, although for precision metering a persistent change in the accuracy of the transformer may be significant.
However, many protection systems are required to operate during the period of transient disturbance in the output of the measuring transformers that follows a system fault. The errors in transformer output may abnormally delay the operation of the protection, or cause unnecessary operations. The functioning of such transformers must, therefore, be examined analytically. It can be shown that the transformer can be represented by the equivalent circuit of where all quantities are referred to the secondary side.
Voltage transformers are designed to maintain the specified accuracy in voltage output at their secondary terminals. To maintain this if long secondary leads are required, a distribution box can be fitted close to the VT to supply relay and metering burdens over separate leads. If necessary, allowance can be made for the resistance of the leads to individual burdens when the particular equipment is calibrated.