Practical Inductors

It is impractical to make wire loops 1 million miles in circumference. But lengths of wire can be coiled up. When this is done, the magnetic flux is increased for a given length of wire compared with the flux produced by a single-turn loop.

The magnetic flux density inside a coil is multiplied when a ferromagnetic core is placed within it. The increase in flux density has the effect of increasing the inductance, too, so L is many times greater with a ferromagnetic core than with an air core or a nonmagnetic core such as plastic or wood. The current that an inductor can handle depends on the diameter (gauge) of the wire. But the value of L is a function of the number of turns in the coil, the diameter of the coil itself, and the overall shape of the coil.

In general, the inductance of a coil is directly proportional to the number of turns of wire. Inductance is directly proportional to the diameter of the coil. The length of a coil, given a certain number of turns and a certain diameter, has an effect as well. If a coil having a certain number of turns and a certain diameter is “stretched out,” its inductance decreases. Conversely, if it is “squashed up,” its inductance increases.