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Why commercial properties need transformer testing
July 22, 2022 at 9:30 PM
Image of a commercial property that needs transformer testing.

When you own a commercial property, you’re responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of its systems both to meet regulatory requirements and to keep your staff and customers safe. It can be hard to keep track of everything you need to schedule for inspection and maintenance. That’s why working with professionals who will help you keep your building in perfect working order is crucial. Here’s why transformer testing is an essential part of your yearly maintenance.

What are transformers?

Generally, transformers are electrical devices with current running through them. Different types of transformers have unique purposes, and your commercial property may have several different types depending on their location. As the name indicates, their primary function is to transform the voltage of electricity. They can do it in one of three ways:

  • Decrease voltage from a transmission network to usable AC level.
  • Decrease from an auxiliary system to a generator level.
  • Increase generator output to the system level.

Your commercial property may have transformers located throughout the building for different functions. Because of the high current running through transformers, it’s crucial to have an experienced electrician with experience conducting your transformer testing.

Photo: Tri Nguyen Photography
Design: Uneebo Office Design

What happens during transformer testing?

Transformers are subjected to vibration, which can create misalignment, breakages, or other mechanical failures. These can become more dramatic as a transformer gets older. Testing evaluates the low and high voltage running through the transformer to your commercial property.

There are several tests that commercial electricians conduct to measure the ratio of voltages and ensure that a transformer is operating safely. These tests include:

  • ANSI Hipot Test: evaluates the cable insulation resistance of ground leads and clearance to ensure they’re up to industry standards.
  • ANSI Dielectric Test: introduced a higher voltage to a transformer to ensure it can operate even with a greater low to high ratio.
  • Ratio Testing: concurrently measuring the voltages across the low and high voltage settings.
  • Decibel and Temperature Rise Test: evaluates the decibels at the machine to ensure employees aren’t exposed to levels over 90 and how long it takes the transformer to cool to a safe level.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) sets forth the standards for safe operation in transformers. Testing ensures that a commercial property’s equipment is safe to operate, even as it ages and accumulates anticipated wear and tear.

Ritz Carlton

How often do you need to conduct transformer testing?

Transformers use oil to insulate and cool, which a professional should test yearly. Over time, the oil can degrade and age, causing it to stop performing at the same level. This process is separate from other transformer testing services.

Ratio, hipot, and dielectric testing are generally performed every three to five years because they’re more involved, requiring the transformer to be shut down and cooled.

There are other unique circumstances when you may need to schedule transformer testing outside of the usual schedule, such as:

  • A transformer goes offline suddenly, which can damage its operations
  • Bringing a transformer out of storage for installation into a new commercial property
  • If you move the location of a transformer within a property
  • Accepting delivery of a new transformer

Consulting with a commercial electrician such as Coburn Electric year-round ensures that your entire electrical system gets the maintenance, testing, and repair it needs. We keep commercial properties functioning optimally.

Get in touch with Cogburn Electric to schedule transformer testing for your commercial or industrial property.

Cogburn Electric started as a project to help friends and neighbors with their electrical needs. Over fifty years later, we’re the electricians Marion, Ohio, trusts with their commercial, industrial, and residential properties. We provide a wide range of maintenance, repair, and installation services that property owners rely on to keep their homes and businesses functioning. We go the extra mile no matter what the job is to give our community, neighbors, and team members the best.