New US Department of Energy (DOE) efficiency standards for distribution transformers go into effect on January 1, 2016. Small increases in efficiency can result in substantial savings because transformers typically operate continuously. Over the next 30 years, the benefits of this action are expected to eliminate the need for 3.63 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy.
To ensure a seamless transition to DOE 2016 compliant transformer designs, Eaton is expanding three of its Milwaukee-area plants to help meet growing demand from its utility, commercial and industrial customers for distribution transformers and voltage regulators.
Transformer size, weight and cost are likely to change as a result of the new standards. However, there are multiple ways to increase efficiency. Eaton is optimizing transformer designs to meet the new DOE requirements while maintaining customer-specific attributes including dimensional and weight constraints.
The DOE 2016 standards will impact distribution transformers manufactured for sale in or imported into the US, including liquid-filled medium-voltage distribution transformers. The efficiency increases required by the 2016 standard vary by transformer type and voltage rating.
While on a percentage basis, the efficiency increase in the DOE 2016 standard is greater for certain dry-type transformers, the actual efficiency of liquid-filled transformers is significantly higher, says Eaton. This results in less radiated heat to contend with inside buildings, lower losses and significantly reduced operating costs for liquid filled transformers.