Well-Oiled Machine: Here’s How Regular Maintenance Can Benefit Transformer Oil

By North Central Electric,

  Filed under: Electrical
  Comments: None

Just like a car’s oil is crucial for keeping it functioning properly, a transformer’s oil is crucial for keeping it functioning properly. Unlike with a car, which uses oil to keep its inner workings well lubricated, a transformer uses oil to keep it insulated and to prevent it from overheating. Similar to how you get your car’s oil changed—and bring it in for routine maintenance—your transformer also needs to be regularly maintained. At North Central Electric, we make transformer oil processing easy by offering on-site oil processing. Here’s why you need to get your transformer on a consistent oil maintenance schedule.

Oil Quality Affects the Quality of Your Transformer

Because transformer oil is mineral based, when it gets contaminated or becomes oxidized, the oil’s quality is jeopardized. The following is a quick breakdown of how these processes can affect your transformer oil:

  • Contamination – Water or particles can find their way into transformer oil, and when this happens, the oil becomes contaminated and reduces the oil’s insulation abilities.
  • Oxidation – This occurs when the acid in the oil is exposed to oxygen and turns it into sludge. When this happens, sludge forms and the oil is not able to properly cool the transformer, making it run too hot for proper function.

6 Tests That Will Ensure Your Transformer Oil is High-Quality

In order to ensure that your transformer is a well-oiled machine—which will keep it working safely and efficiently—it’s important to have the oil regularly tested. With these five tests, you won’t just keep your transformer working properly, you will also add years to its life:

  • Dielectric Breakdown – When oil is contaminated, its dielectric voltage decreases. This test will measure the dielectric strength of the oil by analyzing the voltage the oil creates.
  • Neutralization/Acid Number – If oil has oxidized, it results in a buildup of acid in the oil. This test will determine the oil’s acidity level.
  • Interfacial Tension – Whether oil has been contaminated by water or transformer deterioration particles such as paint, varinish, paper, etc., this test will evaluate any polar compounds that may be present in the oil.
  • Color – Testing the color of the oil will reveal the quality or age of the oil, as well as any contamination present in the oil.
  • Water – Testing oil for water will reveal if there is a decrease in the dielectric voltage.
  • Dissolved Gas Analysis (DGA) – Testing oil for gases can help determine pre or existing fault conditions within the transformer.  This test will give a picture of the overall “health” of your transformer.

After transformer oil is tested, an NCE expert will be able to provide you with the best plan of action to get it back into a high-quality state.

Whether you need your transformer oil diagnosed, analyzed or maintained, or you are looking for transformer disposal, the team at NCE can take care of all your transformer needs. Contact us to schedule your transformer appointment today!