Common Reasons Transformers Fail (And How To Prevent It)

Bloggingby Ankita Tripathy02 February 2024


Whether you own your own transformer or are renting one from the power company for your business. There’s always a chance it might start to fail. If you aren’t the original owner, it’s hard to know the exact condition of the transformer. What types of issues it may have had in the past, so it’s crucial. Therefore, you know how to prevent transformer failure to the best of your ability.

One of the major reasons why Transformers are in demand. It is constantly used due to their ability to reduce the voltage of conventional power. What we mean to say through this is there are varying purposes due to which transformers are quite in demand. When you are operating in low-voltage, you will require a transformer.

It is also significantly in use when using low-voltage devices by raising their voltage from electric generators. It is through long distance that electric power is transmitted so that conventional power circuits perform effectively.

A good quality transformer should last for decades, but that’s not always how things go. Here’s a look at some of the most common reasons transformers fail. Along with tips to prevent this from happening to you, you can implement it.

Poor quality

Among the list of reasons transformers fail, poor quality is at the top of the list. For such a big ticket item, you would think everyone would purchase the highest quality equipment on the market. It is due to the changes that they don’t. Some of the add-ons essential to keep a transformer working long-term. To reduce wear are out of their budget, so companies often search for the lowest possible price.

So how will you understand that there is a power quality issue in your transformer? You have to check certain symptoms such as excessive humming, a buzzing sound, overheating or vibration. These aspects might sound alright but in the long term, it can be negatively impactful.

You should also ask the technicians to regularly check the power of the transformers. It is due to the fact that the switching power supplies or evaluating variable frequency drives (VFDs). Overloading or power surges does impact the transformers. Oftentimes, it cannot be detected early if there are no regular technical checkups.

If you happen to be inheriting an existing transformer that wasn’t built to high standards. Additionally, it is only a matter of time before it starts to show signs of aging and premature failure.

Bad design

Simply put, when a transformer isn’t built to withstand the intense heat it’s going to generate, it will degrade fast. Many people witness their transformers failing within two years of purchase, which is often just after the warranty expires.

The design is oftentimes responsible for the overloading of transformers. It is due to the fact that the electrical distribution system is not designed properly. This poses serious challenges regarding the longevity and functionality of the transformers. 

This issue is formed when a transformer is designed in such a way that it is subjected to a load. Due to which it is not capable of taking any further load. It further leads to insulation degradation, potential failures to start and overheating!

Cheap materials

When a transformer manufacturer is trying to save money, they’ll build units with cheap materials. Simultaneously, it will not hold up over any length of time. If the transformer you have rented is made of cheap materials! Additionally, there is a high possibility that the transformer will not function properly.

Do you have a question regarding the best manufacturing materials? It is used to design a transformer, it is a steel core which is used to conduct flux. Furthermore, it is important for the transformer to be made of good magnetic conductive materials. Additionally, the windings should be extensively copper.

The reason behind this is that copper is precise and has high-conductivity. The transformers must have good conductive materials because they make the majority of electrical transfer. Please try and check that your transformer does not have aluminum windings. Even though it costs cheaper, nothing is more risky than aluminum.

What makes a quality transformer?

A reliable, quality transformer consists of several factors:

·  Craftsmanship. Experts who have analyzed thousands of transformer failures say the craftsmanship of a unit influences its longevity most. Details matter, and when transformers are built using machines, important details are skipped. It is therefore proved that an experienced craftsman winding the unit by hand would have caught.

·  High-quality materials. Companies that build long-lasting transformers use high-quality wire and insulation. Accordingly, dry type transformers shouldn’t fail within a couple of months or even a couple of years. But often do because the insulation is thin or poor and can’t withstand the heat on high stress areas.

·  Proper design. Transformers operate differently based on how they are wound. For example, rectangular-wound transformers create wasted energy and noise. While round-wound transformers create less stress, stay cooler, and have less risk of causing a short circuit. Albeit, when a transformer is designed exceptionally well, it will also consume less electricity. Some even exceed the Energy Star compliance standards.

With the above mentioned three features, a transformer will not face any winding resistance or reactance. This way there will not be any losses of copper inside the transformers. You will see that there is no eddy current loss along with no flux being linked to the core. 

You can rest assured that there will not be any leakage flux! Taking the insulation resistance test will assure that no insulation inside the power transformer is faulty. Thus, it will have a higher capacity when it comes to determining the efficiency of power transformers.

The consequences of premature transformer failure

You might think that the damage is only physical when a transformer fails before its time. City transformers fail all the time so they are in need of change or replacement. However, it can be a huge ordeal. For your business, a failed transformer means not having electricity to power your building, which will negatively impact sales. Altogether, customers or clients won’t be able to access your building. You won’t even be able to work at your business.

If you’re a production company people rely on for supplies or raw materials! You won’t be able to fulfill orders, and that can cause a major issue in the supply chain. Although, on top of putting a pause on your operations, paying regulatory fines and face civil lawsuits can be a possibility. Altogether, it depends on the situation. You might even have to deal with a tarnished reputation and damaged credibility. As you can see, the expense of a failed transformer extends far beyond just the immediacy of a lack of power.

The cost of a transformer replacement

If your transformer fails and you need to purchase a new one. You can expect to pay tens of thousands of dollars. Besides, you can go back to renting one from the electric company and pay higher service rates. If a new unit isn’t in your budget, you’ll have no choice but to rent one. 

However, there are many benefits to owning your own transformer, and renting one may not make sense for your situation.

Transformer quality matters – cheap is not better

It might be normal to replace your laptop every couple of years, but that’s unacceptable for a transformer. Ultimately, the best way to prevent premature transformer failure is to purchase a high-quality unit made by a company with a track record of producing long-lasting transformers. You really do get what you pay for, and cheap transformers will inevitably fail far before they should. Transformers should last decades, not just a few years.

Now that you know what is a quality transformer, what do you think is the highest capacity of a transformer? Considering the Transformer core is an important part of the insulation of the transformer, it plays a significant part of the magnetic flux.

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Ankita Tripathy

Ankita Tripathy loves to write about food and the Hallyu Wave in particular. During her free time, she enjoys looking at the sky or reading books while sipping a cup of hot coffee. Her favourite niches are food, music, lifestyle, travel, and Korean Pop music and drama.

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