Transformers experience losses due to the electrical current flowing through the coils and the alternating magnetic field in the core. The losses associated with the coils are known as conduction losses, while the losses arising in the core are referred to as core losses. Conduction losses occur due to the resistance of the coil wire, causing some of the electrical energy to convert into heat energy. Core losses are caused by eddy currents, hysteresis, and other magnetic effects that occur in the core when the transformer is energized. These losses result in a decrease in transformer efficiency and can have a significant impact on its performance. It is essential to consider these losses when designing and operating transformers to ensure optimal performance and reduce energy waste.
How Losses Affect the Operation of a Transformer
Losses are a significant factor that affect the operation of a transformer. When a transformer operates, it generates heat due to the opposition of electrical current flow. If the temperature of the transformer increases beyond its maximum allowable limit, it can cause damage to the insulation, reducing the transformer's lifespan. Losses can also result in reduced efficiency as the resistance of the transformer's windings increases, causing more energy to be lost as heat. This can lead to decreased voltage regulation and increased energy consumption, making the transformer less cost-effective to operate. Various factors can also impact the insulating properties of a transformer, including overloading, moisture, insulation type, and extreme temperatures.
Types of Losses in a Transformer
Different types of transformer heat loss may occur and affect its performance and longevity. These losses include:
Iron loss occurs when the transformer’s core experiences alternating flux, and it can develop into either eddy current or hysteresis loss.
Transformers may also experience hysteresis loss when magnetization variation develops in the core. As the magnetic force alternates, each electromagnetic field (emf) cycle sees the tracing out of a hysteresis loop, leading to heat loss that wastes power.
Eddy Current Loss
Eddy current loss is the power loss due to the heating of conductive material caused by the induced currents in the material by a changing magnetic field.
Conductor Loss or Ohmic Loss
As an electrical current passes through a transformer's conductors, loss results as the current produces heat. The nature of this loss also leads many to refer to it as winding loss.
Transformers may experience stray loss due to flux leaks in different sections of the transformer. Flux leaks can occur anywhere in the transformer, lending this type of loss its name.
Dielectric breakdown refers to the damage that could occur in the insulating materials of a transformer, which can affect both solid insulation and oil within the transformer, and may result from the use of poor-quality insulating materials, damaged insulation, or old and ineffective oil.
How Can the Efficiency of a Transformer Be Increased?
Minimizing loss can help increase the efficiency of transformers. While you may benefit from a more efficient generator that produces lower amounts of heat waste, it's important to remember that transformers may experience temperature increases based on the level of transformer heat output.
If you want to boost your transformer's efficiency, the following are some ways to reduce transformer losses and improve performance:
- Loop area: The loop area in a transformer must prevent heat loss in the form of hysteresis loops.
- Insulation: Sufficient insulation will help prevent the formation of eddy currents and dielectric loss.
- Primary and secondary coil resistance: Minimize electrical resistance through the use of stable primary and secondary coils.
- Flux coupling: Transformers must contain wound coils that facilitate efficient power transfer between coils.
Why Choose Triad Magnetics
The best transformers and magnetic products will help reduce temperature heat loss and keep your transformer performing optimally. For a selection of some of the best products available in this industry, turn to Triad Magnetics. We offer solutions for many industries across the globe, including everything from power conversion and medical to commercial equipment and telecommunications. We achieve the ideal results through the use of state-of-the-art technologies and advanced cellular production methods. We have more than 80 years of experience behind us to provide the best available solutions for a wide range of applications.
Our list of standard product offerings includes the following:
- Current sense transformers
- Audio transformers
- Wall plug-in transformers
- Power transformers
- Power supplies and LED drivers
- Chokes and inductors
- Engineering design and development sample kits
- High-frequency magnets
For more information on how temperature can impact your transformer's performance, download our Transformer Temperature Considerations eBook today.