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The Best Approach to Designing an Efficient Transformer

Designing an efficient transformer can be a daunting task that requires careful planning and attention to detail. Efficient transformer design involves choosing the right components, verifying they are of sufficient quality and more. Here are some things people must consider doing when building one.

Use Models to Shape Efficient Transformer Design

Challenges and opportunities exist because there’s more than one way to design an efficient transformer. However, a high-tech model, such as a digital twin, can help people understand the effects of making certain choices without carrying out those changes in real life.

For example, in 2020, various groups collaborated to create the first digital twin of a power transformer. The people involved believed the model would substantially improve the engineering of such equipment by enabling better life cycle management and evaluation of what happens as a machine ages.

An even more involved project involved a digital twin of a substation in China. Representatives said it would improve power reliability for 160,000 residents. In addition to showing all the transformers and other electrical equipment on the site, the models had details about cable trenches and building layouts. The substation’s location posed particular challenges due to its proximity to residential properties.

Efficient transformer design is not the only aspect a digital twin can facilitate. It can also answer questions about size, shape or other details people must figure out in advance to avoid costly mistakes.

Let Clients Assist in Designing an Efficient Transformer

People who need transformers designed and manufactured for their purposes engage in various actions that ultimately affect how well the equipment works and whether it meets expectations. These clients may spend time browsing providers’ websites to learn about existing options and how they could customize their transformers.

Eventually, these potential buyers get to the stage where they’ll fill out forms to create a request for quotation (RFQ). It specifies what the client needs and by what date, as well as where the provider must deliver the item. The RFQ also notes whether companies could use alternative materials when making the product.

However, understanding wants and needs often requires asking the right questions to extract the necessary details. Only then can the relevant parties go about designing an efficient transformer that works well and meets or exceeds what the client expects.

One research project involved making a chatbot. People also used virtual reality headsets to see transformers in 3D before submitting their RFQ. They could engage with the chatbot to ask questions about what they see or explain what their ideal design entails. This approach also showed people realistic models of the transformers’ internal and external parts, displayed at scale.

The setup took people through the transformer design considerations associated with having the equipment indoors or out and in harsh environments. A final aspect allowed customers to choose replacement parts related to their transformer. Such flexibility ultimately affects efficient transformer design by dictating how easy it is for people to source components when needed. Although this example is quite high-tech and elaborate, it shows what’s possible when letting clients participate in the design process.

Make Clients Aware of Care and Use Requirements

Applying all the best practices for efficient transformer design does not eliminate the need for customers to do things that support the best performance and the longest life span. One necessity is to use the right transformer oil.

Data suggests that more than 2.5 million transformers worldwide use ester-based transformer oils rather than mineral oil. Moisture reduction is one of the primary benefits of that type. Ester-based oils can pull out and hold moisture 10 times more effectively than mineral-based oils. This is significant since excessive moisture can shorten a transformer’s life span.

Relatedly, clients should know that the transformer’s load affects its efficiency. They are most efficient at approximately 75% of the full load. After that point, the transformer experiences a more extensive voltage drop in its windings, leading to decreased efficiency.

The expected operating environment relates to transformer efficiency, too. For example, some transformers are characterized by a lower-than-average temperature rise when operating low-resistance windings. When these transformers are highly efficient, people can run them indoors with fewer air-conditioning and ventilation requirements than they’d otherwise need.

Design the Transformer According to Published Efficiency Directives

Designing an efficient transformer can also align with long-term goals that affect more than the client’s requirements. In July 2021, the European Commission enacted the Tier 2 Ecodesign Directive, which applies to transformers.

The suggestions should improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions by approximately 20%. However, some exemptions exist, such as for submerged transformers or those used for offshore purposes.

Even if a particular transformer does not follow the directive, the associated documentation about making the equipment more efficient may inspire some design changes.

Eco-friendly transformers are increasingly more common, and their benefits go beyond efficiency. Some enable safer energy distribution by reducing their chances of catching on fire. The equipment in this category is also often quieter. Statistics also suggest that the winding insulation used for eco-friendly transformers may last five to eight times longer than conventional models.

These benefits show why it’s necessary and wise to speak to clients about applying eco-friendly practices in design. That results in a future-ready model that’s more efficient and offers other appealing perks.

Thoughtfulness Goes a Long Way

Designing an efficient transformer is not something that can or should occur haphazardly. It requires thinking about the short- and long-term client requirements, the customer’s budget, and more. Fortunately, making an efficient transformer design is easier thanks to many technologies and innovations. They often allow for improved planning, reducing the chances of mistakes or costly oversights.

That doesn’t mean the design will likely proceed from start to finish without any issues. However, people who learn from those pitfalls and apply their new knowledge to future projects will naturally pursue continuous improvement, helping everyone benefit. Collaboration is valuable, too. When people share their knowledge, there’s a greater likelihood of learning new things and working together to solve or avoid problems.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. She has over six years experience writing articles for the tech and industrial sectors. Subscribe to the Revolutionized newsletter for more content from Emily at
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