Transformers are one of the main components of electrical circuits. Whether to raise or decrease the power voltage, having high-efficiency equipment allows you to increase your operational capabilities, resulting in fewer energy losses. Although its initial cost is higher, operating costs decrease and make them a good option for various installations
Thanks to the phenomenon of electromagnetic induction, discovered by Michael Faraday in 1831, the invention of the transformer in 1884 represented an incalculable advance as regards the transmission and distribution of electrical energy. The first commercial AC system that used transformers was put into operation in 1886, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, USA.
Transformers are static electric machines whose mission is to increase or decrease the voltage in an electrical circuit. When the value of the electric voltage rises to obtain a higher voltage, the transformer is called an elevator; if, on the contrary, the value of the voltage is reduced and delivered to a smaller one, the transformer is known as a reducer.
They are also an essential part of the electrical systems (generation, transmission, and distribution) since they allow the transport of electricity from distant places to the consumption centers. In the same way, they allow optimizing the distribution of the alternating current, using the most appropriate and economic tension levels for each sector. In its simplest form, they are formed by two coils wound on a closed core of silicon steel, which is called: primary and secondary; meanwhile, its main components are the core and the coils.
For its operation and installation, the transformer requires other components and accessories that help in cooling, monitor its temperature and make its operation safer, such as insulation, fittings, terminals and connections, tank, radiators and temperature meters.
In their process of transformation (operation), these static machines have energy losses that occur in their two main components:
- Core It is formed by thin sheets of steel that in its operation presents some losses called “losses in iron” and is formed by eddy currents in the nucleus (Foucault currents) and magnetization losses (hysteresis cycle), which are less if the laminate forming the core is thinner (thinner); that is, the efficiency of the transformer increases as the thickness of the sheets forming its core decreases. Being a transformer with better technical characteristics, its price is higher
- Coils (winding). These are wires or sheets of copper wrapped around the core. The losses in them (loss in the winding or loss by Joule effect) are due to the very small resistance that the coil presents to the passage of the electric current. In order to decrease the resistance, the quantity (the cross section) of copper used is increased; in this way, losses and heat generated in the transformer are reduced. By increasing the amount of copper used, the efficiency of the transformer is increased, giving rise to the so-called high-efficiency transformers
Copper windings are preferred for their high efficiency, low resistance to electric current, malleability, and ductility, and because they are 100% recyclable, among other characteristics.
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High-efficiency transformers, compared to conventional transformers, have a higher acquisition price, although having greater efficiency, the operating cost decreases, making them highly attractive for new installations or replacing conventional ones in operation, even if they have some years left. Useful life.
The recovery time of the investment is from one to three years, depending on the application, with a lifetime greater than thirty years.
On the other hand, high-efficiency transformers help to protect the environment, thanks to the fact that by registering fewer losses, it requires burning less fossil fuel for the purpose of generating electricity, thus reducing the carbon footprint. In addition, they have several advantages:
- They have copper windings, whose technical characteristics are superior
- They generate less heat, increasing their useful life
- The use of copper helps improve the design, performance and operation characteristics
Because spending on electricity is important in the final cost of products and services, it is necessary to use high-efficiency transformers in new electrical projects and to replace standard efficiency transformers with high-efficiency ones. Although the standard (in operation) still has some years to live, the return on investment occurs in one and three years, so it is necessary to select those with superior technical characteristics achieved thanks to the use of copper windings, managing to reduce the consumption of energy and the generation of greenhouse gases.