Transformers are used in almost every industry to step-up or step-down the voltage and currents levels in a circuit while regulating the overall power. Power transformers, typically rated above 200 MVA are extensively employed in power transmission as well as distribution applications of utility networks. They seldom breakdown but when they do, the results are instant and distressing. Besides hindering the electric operations, there can be risks of subsequent fires or shocks.
So, if your transformer is 10- 15 years old, it’s high time to upgrade it. And before choosing a new, power transformer, you must consider the range of factors given below:
- Determine the robustness of a transformer: Before you upgrade to a new transformer, get to know the design, build and materials employed for constructing the transformer. Generally, there are two common types of transformers: dry and liquid or oil filled. Dry types possess less chance of leakage and fire risk. Go for round designs as they are more efficient and reliable, run without noise, stay cooler and have less risk of short circuit. They also consume less electricity and thus save costs. When it comes to the material of the windings, go for copper instead of aluminum as it offers less resistance and thus produces less heat. On the other hand, aluminum generates more heat and reduces lifespan while posing a fire hazard.
- Opt for remanufacturing to Save Costs: If you don’t have a big budget, opt for remanufacturing. A completely remanufactured transformer offers greater security against failures. If you plan to purchase a reconditioned transformer, get it from a genuine seller. Make sure the transformer’s windings are done with brand new voltage bus bars. Also, check that the remanufactured transformer meets/exceeds all American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) standards.
- When Emergencies Arrive: There are many organizations which can’t replace their old transformers fast enough. They can rely on transformer companies that offer an emergency replacement. These agencies prep transformers and ship within hours to help organizations resume their operations in minimal time.
- Get the New Transformer of the same Size: Before getting a new transformer, make sure it has the same dimensions as that of your old transformer so that it can fit into existing switchgear. Obviously, there will be connectivity and mating issues between the substation transformer and the switchgear. So, make sure you wouldn’t need to kluge it together to make it function.
- Another Cost-Effective Solution: Transformers are manufactured in such a way that they can withstand higher loads than their usual design rating as per industry specifications. By elevating the efficiency of dissipation and managing the same without going beyond the specified temperature, transformers can operate safely at increased ratings without reducing their lifecycle. For this, cooling systems of naturally cooled transformers can have new cooler banks installed or heat exchangers or cooling fans can be added to increase heat dissipation. Another method is to install oil circulating pumps in the existing cooling systems. Updating the transformers by these methods is cost-effective than buying the new ones.
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Taking Steps Wisely: There are organizations or university campuses where there are dozens of distribution transformers, underground vaults, and cables, all of which cannot be considered and replaced in a day. For such places, it is recommended to address the oldest transformers first. Replace the worst equipment first to bring down the failure rate so as to prevent instant damages.
The Bottom Line
Power transformer industry constitutes a major portion of today’s market and it continues to grow as electrically reaches more and more developing nations. Because both commercial and industrial transformers represent a large capital investment, it’s required for you to consider each and every factor before buying or upgrading your transformers. If you need to get a brand new transformer, choose the right design, model and equipment on the basis of a specific application. If you aren’t in a position to spend much on the new equipment, opt for remanufactured transformers or look for methods to update your existing model.