New Efficiency Standards Mean New Incentives For Refurbished Transformers | Solomon Corporation

January 29, 2015

New efficiency standards being introduced by the Department of Energy (DOE) will affect nearly all newly-manufactured distribution transformers starting January 1, 2016. These will replace the current efficiency standards, which were put in place in 2010. With few exceptions, all new distribution transformers manufactured in or imported into the US and its territories will have to meet these new, stricter energy efficiency standards.

Increased energy efficiency may be good for the environment, but what do these new standards mean for utility customers and other users of transformers? Transformers manufactured under these new standards will represent a bigger up-front investment. The currently mandated energy efficiency standards are already hovering around the 98-99% mark. This means that any further efficiency improvements become more challenging to achieve. Building transformers to meet the efficiency requirements will require a variety of approaches all having a higher price tag associated with them.

One way to meet the new efficiency standards will be the use of a better core steel. These lower-loss cores are made of thinner laminations, laser-cut steel or a higher grade of steel such as amorphous metal. Not only will this drive up costs for new transformers but it may also mean longer lead-times to have a transformer manufactured. One recent study showed that less than 20% of the electrical grade steel in the world is made in the US. And, many manufacturers don’t have the capacity or the facilities to create the kind of specialty steel that a lower-loss core would require. This limited capacity may mean extended lead-times for materials, which in turn will mean longer deliveries for new transformers.

Transformers manufactured under the new standards may also be larger and heavier than current transformers. This could lead to problems for end-users whose transformers have to fit into confined spaces, or it could mean that new poles or concrete pads have to be installed to bear the increased size or weight. It may even necessitate investments in new equipment just to handle the larger transformers. Bigger transformers also hold more oil, so contingency plans for fluid leaks may have to be adjusted to take that into account.

This may sound like a lot of doom and gloom, but the new efficiency standards aren’t all bad news, especially for Solomon Corporation customers. The new efficiency standards only apply to transformers that are newly manufactured after January 1, 2016. They don’t affect rebuilt, reconditioned, remanufactured, or repaired transformers. That means an added incentive for people who don’t want the expense, delay, or hassle of purchasing a newly manufactured transformer. It’s also a good reason to look into having your old transformer repaired by Solomon Corporation instead of replacing it when it has a problem. Rebuilt and reconditioned transformers can be as good as new, and since we can make them to fit your needs, or refurbish your own old transformers, they’re guaranteed to fit without a lot of costly infrastructure replacement and modifications.

We’re all concerned about the environment. Increased efficiency standards mean good news for everybody, but what could be more efficient or greener than literally recycling your old transformers into newly repaired or rebuilt ones from Solomon Corporation? It keeps old transformers out of the landfill, and saves on materials and energy expended to build new ones, so everybody wins.