Transformer efficiency: Minimizing transformer losses

Matching a transformer to its anticipated load is a critical aspect of reducing energy consumption.

06/12/2013


Figure 1: How engineers approach electrical designs can significantly affect transformer losses. Courtesy: CFE MediaIn 2002, NEMA issued a Standard TP-1 in support of the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s guidelines for more energy efficient electrical devices. This standard was based on a previous U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study showing that the typical dry type transformer under normal operating conditions was loaded to approximately 35% of its nameplate rating. Therefore, TP-1 established a table of minimum efficiencies for various sized transformers when operating linear loads (see Table 1). These efficiencies are really quite incredible as they range from 97% to 98.8%. What TP-1 does not tell you is that it is very unlikely that you will ever see such efficiencies in actual installations. In addition, TP-1 does not tell you that using these very efficient transformers will impact your electrical designs significantly. 

Because of the differences among the efficiencies shown in TP-1 and what really happens with real transformers in real applications, the approach you take in your electrical design could be significantly different when attempting to design an electrical system with minimized losses. This article offers suggestions regarding how you approach your electrical designs to maintain minimum losses in the system transformers (see Figure 1). It will also show areas in which you will have greater losses than those shown in TP-1—no matter which design direction you might choose.

Linearity

TP-1 was developed using linear loads. However, in today’s business environment, most of the loads are nonlinear (rich in harmonic content). Computers, fluorescent light fixtures, printers, elevators, or variable frequency drives for motors generate harmonics. Applying harmonically rich loads to transformers can double or triple their total losses. For example, a 75 kVA transformer that would normally have 2% losses at 35% loading would actually have 4% to 6% losses. Therefore, the 26 kVA load (35% of the 75 kVA) would have losses totaling more than 1.5 kW.

Table 1: Dry-type, low-voltage transformer efficiency chart. Courtesy: Lovorn Engineering Assocs.Core and coil losses

Transformer losses are a combination of core losses and coil losses. The core losses consist of those generated by energizing the laminated steel core. These losses are virtually constant from no-load to full-load, and for the typical 150 C rise transformer are about 0.5% of the transformer’s full-load rating. The coil losses are also called load losses because they are proportional to the load on the transformer. These coil losses make up the difference between the 0.5% losses for the core and range from 1.5% to 2% of the total load.

Typically, the total losses for a 75 kVA transformer are about 1,000 W at 35% loading or 1.3%. The actual losses when the transformer is fully loaded can be more than 3,000 W for linear loads and 7,000 W for nonlinear loads. This amounts to 4% and 9.3% respectively—considerably more than the NEMA TP-1 table for minimum efficiencies for a 75 kVA transformer. While the overall concept for requiring more energy-efficient transformers is quite good, engineers may want to be very careful about transformer selection when the anticipated operating conditions do not match the base criteria that were used in developing the TP-1 table. 

By selecting transformers with lower temperature ratings, that is, 115 and 80 C rise instead of the standard 150 C rise transformers, the core and load losses will change. To reduce the temperature rise, the core is increased in size. This increases the core losses but reduces the load losses, so, according to the anticipated operating point, the total losses may be higher or lower than the standard transformer. Due to the smaller core losses, the total losses for the 150 C transformer are less than the total losses of the 80 C transformer up to about 60% loading. With transformer loading above 60%, the total losses are less than those of a 150 C transformer of the same size (see Figure 2). 

A good compromise between core and load losses is the 115 C rise transformer. While the core losses are somewhat higher than those in the 150 C transformer, they are less than the 80 C transformer core losses. Correspondingly, the load losses are less than the 150 C transformer, allowing the total losses to be less than those of the 150 C transformer under normal operating conditions (see “Know the loss data, loading when specifying transformers”). 


<< First < Previous Page 1 Page 2 Next > Last >>

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
March 2018
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Maintenance & Safety
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Industrial Analytics
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
IIoT: Operations & IT
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me