Transformer Upgrades Are Good Business

transformer.gif“Turn off the lights.” “Shut the refrigerator.”

If you have kids, you’ve probably asked them to save energy more than once over the past week. As energy costs rise, we take measures to eliminate waste in our homes. Be more efficient using energy and you save.

Your commercial and industrial customers are most likely trying to save, too. They build more efficient buildings, and they upgrade lighting, motors, controls, HVAC, solar – whatever they believe saves energy and delivers a reasonable payback. But they’re overlooking significant savings from infrastructure that wastes energy every day – even when not in use: Transformers.

U.S. commercial and industrial locations are filled with old-technology transformers that are inefficient by today’s standards. These dinosaurs needlessly waste money – converting energy to waste heat even when there’s no load. Even worse, older transformers may be at or near the end of their design life. That puts them at greater risk for failure and the business consequences of an unplanned outage.

Every Facility Is a Prospective Upgrade

Nearly every building larger than a single-family home has at least one transformer. An elementary school may have five or six. Your local mall has at least 15. Factories, data centers, or hospital campuses could rely on as many as 100 to manage the power throughout their facilities. Every one of those transformers is wasting energy every minute of every day – regardless of the load.

With older transformers performing at about 95 percent efficiency and newer transformers at 99 percent efficiency or more, there is a huge savings opportunity. That means less wasted energy and reasonable payback.

The reasons for inefficiency are many. As an engineer, I could discuss winding resistance and core losses. I could tell you how higher efficiency transformers require good-quality steel for the core, and larger diameter wire, etc., until you fall asleep from details that really don’t matter to your customers. The important fact to remember is the evolution of transformers over the past decade. In 2007, a new Department of Energy (DOE) standard, called TP-1, took a significant step forward in improving transformer efficiency. Transformers manufactured before this new standard are the most inefficient. They are serious candidates for upgrades, regardless of their condition.

We’re preparing now for a changeover inTP-1 transformers about to become obsolete with a new DOE standard for ultra-efficient transformers slated to take effect January 1, 2016. These standards will be, for some models, more than 99 percent efficient. They upgrade transformer engineering and performance to deliver a payback in as little as three years compared to existing pre-TP-1models and a lifetime of savings. Plus, these ultra-efficient upgrades undertaken now help your customers stay on the leading edge of technology, efficiency, and environmentally positive performance.

Figuring the Savings Opportunity

Every facility is different. In addition to equipment configurations, load profiles based on building use greatly affect potential waste and savings. So it’s important to assess building load demand. Some types of losses are constant regardless of the load level – so even at nearly no-load levels, significant losses occur.

GE created a calculator to help you assess the savings potential for your customers. It gives you a good idea of the improvements you can expect from upgrading to ultra-efficient transformers compared toTP-1 and pre-2007 non-TP-1 units. The calculator uses building type (such as office building, school