What is Tesla Coil, How Does It Work?

Tesla coil, one of the most important inventions of Nikola Tesla, aims to wirelessly transmit the electrical power by increasing the electrical voltage, with an output with high frequency low current density.

Monday, February 18, 2019 - 07:27

Tesla coil, one of the most important inventions of Nikola Tesla, aims to wirelessly transmit the electrical power by increasing the electrical voltage, with an output with high frequency low current density.

With this principle, invention of radio antenna, fluorescent and neon lamps and magnetic resonance (magnetic resonance-MR), x-ray, the foundation of the devices used in wireless data transfer was founded.

Tesla coil is made of: high voltage transformer, spark gap, high voltage capacitor, primary coil windings number less than secondary coil and secondary coil connected to the high voltage energy output of the conductor (toroid).

The primary coil conductor has a larger cross-sectional area than the secondary coil. A conducting wire is wrapped around a dielectric in the specified diameter and the magnetic field is generated by providing the current flow of the conductor in the helical form.

Figure 1 – Tesla Coil Circuit

The operation of the Tesla coil can be summarized as follows in Figure 1; The high voltage transformer is charged with high voltage capacitor. As soon as the voltages of the spark gap adjusted according to the peak voltage of the capacitor are equalized, a short circuit occurs between the spark gaps. And, the primary coil with the capacitor becomes the parallel circuit.

The primary coil of the full charge capacitor is energized and the secondary coil by the energies and the magnetic field.  Secondary resonance circuit, consisting of the primary parallel resonance circuit in the form of LC, and the capacity of the toroid with the secondary coil high voltage output relative to the ground line,

resonance get in frequency.

Therefore,

and

condition will be fulfilled.

High voltage electrical energy with high resonance frequency occurs at the circuit output and arc scattering is performed on the toroid. By this way, Nikola Tesla was able to perform high-frequency high-voltage electrical energy, which could not be achieved by generators, using air core coils.

According to the switching of the Tesla coil; Spark Gap Tesla Coil, Solid State Tesla Coil using semiconductor power components such as Transistor-MOSFET-IGBT, and a feedback oscillator applying a sinusoidal current to the transformer.

Tesla coil has an electromagnetic field around of the toroid part. The electrons in the nearby fluorescent lamp move, and the lamp illuminates. However, due to the losses, lighting efficiency will be low.

In working system of Tesla coils; high voltage, high electromagnetic field, arcs that can reach long distances, high voltage capacitor explosion, toxic ozone gas production, burn and fire and other extreme dangers can occur. Therefore, experiments about the tesla coil should not be done by people who have insufficient technical knowledge.

Nuri Yunus Kocadağ
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The author completed his undergraduate and thesis master's degrees in the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering at Kırıkkale University. He has been working as an R&D engineer in Asya Traffic Inc. for 4 years in the fields of power electronics, LED lighting and traffic signalization.

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