An inductor, also called a coilchoke, or reactor, is a passive two-terminal electrical component that stores energy in a magnetic field when electric current flows through it.[1] An inductor typically consists of an insulated wire wound into a coil.

When the current flowing through the coil changes, the time-varying magnetic field induces an electromotive force (e.m.f.) (voltage) in the conductor, described by Faraday’s law of induction. According to Lenz’s law, the induced voltage has a polarity (direction) which opposes the change in current that created it. As a result, inductors oppose any changes in current through them.

An inductor is characterized by its inductance, which is the ratio of the voltage to the rate of change of current. In the International System of Units (SI), the unit of inductance is the henry (H) named for 19th century American scientist Joseph Henry. In the measurement of magnetic circuits, it is equivalent to weber/ampere. Inductors have values that typically range from 1 µH (10−6 H) to 20 H. Many inductors have a magnetic core made of iron or ferrite inside the coil, which serves to increase the magnetic field and thus the inductance. Along with capacitors and resistors, inductors are one of the three passive linear circuit elements that make up electronic circuits. Inductors are widely used in alternating current (AC) electronic equipment, particularly in radio equipment. They are used to block AC while allowing DC to pass; inductors designed for this purpose are called chokes. They are also used in electronic filters to separate signals of different frequencies, and in combination with capacitors to make tuned circuits, used to tune radio and TV receivers.

An electric current flowing through a conductor generates a magnetic field surrounding it. The magnetic flux linkage {\displaystyle \Phi _{\mathbf {B} }} generated by a given current {\displaystyle I} depends on the geometric shape of the circuit. Their ratio defines the inductance {\displaystyle L}.[2][3][4][5] Thus

{\displaystyle L:={\frac {\Phi _{\mathbf {B} }}{I}}}.

The inductance of a circuit depends on the geometry of the current path as well as the magnetic permeability of nearby materials. An inductor is a component consisting of a wire or other conductor shaped to increase the magnetic flux through the circuit, usually in the shape of a coil or helix, with two terminals. Winding the wire into a coil increases the number of times the magnetic flux lines link the circuit, increasing the field and thus the inductance. The more turns, the higher the inductance. The inductance also depends on the shape of the coil, separation of the turns, and many other factors. By adding a “magnetic core” made of a ferromagnetic material like iron inside the coil, the magnetizing field from the coil will induce magnetization in the material, increasing the magnetic flux. The high permeability of a ferromagnetic core can increase the inductance of a coil by a factor of several thousand over what it would be without it.

One intuitive explanation as to why a potential difference is induced on a change of current in an inductor goes as follows:

When there is a change in current through an inductor there is a change in the strength of the magnetic field. For example, if the current is increased, the magnetic field increases. This, however, does not come without a price. The magnetic field contains potential energy, and increasing the field strength requires more energy to be stored in the field. This energy comes from the electric current through the inductor. The increase in the magnetic potential energy of the field is provided by a corresponding drop in the electric potential energy of the charges flowing through the windings. This appears as a voltage drop across the windings as long as the current increases. Once the current is no longer increased and is held constant, the energy in the magnetic field is constant and no additional energy must be supplied, so the voltage drop across the windings disappears.

Similarly, if the current through the inductor decreases, the magnetic field strength decreases, and the energy in the magnetic field decreases. This energy is returned to the circuit in the form of an increase in the electrical potential energy of the moving charges, causing a voltage rise across the windings.

Types of Inductors

  • Air-core Inductor. The commonly seen inductor, with a simple winding is this air-Core Inductor. …
  • Iron-Core Inductor. These Inductors have Ferromagnetic materials, such as ferrite or iron, as the core material. …
  • Toroidal Inductors. …
  • Laminated Core Inductors. …
  • Powdered Iron Core Inductors.