Isolation transformers are usually so named because they are designed specifically for the isolation of electricity. Power transformers distribute electricity for use in electronic devices. The voltage that leaves a power generation plant is much too high to be appropriate for use in a single home. It must first be transformed by a high voltage transformer. After that, the electricity is transformed by a series of other transformers before it reaches power outlets.
Isolation transformers are not used to change voltage. Instead, they isolate two conductive elements in a transmissive system to prevent unwanted discharge of electricity while still allowing for the controlled transmission of electricity. Isolation transformers are important safety features in a wide variety of electronic devices, particularly hand-held consumer devices like hair dryers and electric shavers.
Isolation transformers are used to reduce or eliminate noise and create the equivalent of a dedicated or isolated ground circuit. An isolation transformer does not impart stepping voltage or current increases or decreases. The “shielding” feature of isolation transformers furthers the assurance that stepping voltage and current rise and fall does not allow power line or electromagnetic noise.
Stand-alone isolation transformers serve the purpose of removing common mode noise. Isolation transformers are used in applications such as audio systems, avionics, data communications, industrial control panels, medical electronics, light fixtures, motor controls, robotics, test and measurement systems, and uninterrupted power supplies (UPS), among others. Isolation transformers use galvanic isolation to prevent the unwanted discharge of electricity.
Galvanic isolation involves the prevention of charged particle movement between conductors. Galvanic isolation still allows for the transmission of charged particles through induction and other means, which means that it does not prevent the functioning of an electrically transmissive system. The development of isolation transformers was a major contribution to the safety of many electronic devices.