CORNELIUS, N.C: A 2016 study in the Electric Power Systems Research Journal showed that the annual failure rate of oil-immersed transformers is about 2%.
Considering that transformers are the costliest and longest lead-time single point of failure on a PV Solar site, it pays to monitor and protect it; preventing months of downtime and lost revenue.
The two leading causes of catastrophic transformer failure are (1) loss of oil coolant and (2) accumulation of explosive gases. The first is typically caused by bushing failures which lead to overheating and oil fires. The second is typically caused by electrical faults or organic buildup in the oil which can lead to an explosion. Fortunately, Solar Operations Solutions, LLC (Solar-Ops) has developed monitoring and control solutions to prevent failures and unnecessary downtime.
The first solution is the El-Jefe Motor Operator, a fully automated switching device that may be retrofitted to electrically disconnect the transformer before a failure occurs. The El-Jefe may be commanded to OPEN using the transformer's local oil health monitoring gauges, or remotely via operator control.
In addition, the El Jefe's included controller may be used to electrically isolate and re-energize a transformer with the push of a button. Eliminating dangerous hot stick operations that require special PPE, training, and supervision.
The second solution is aptly named the XFMR Station; providing oil level, temperature, pressure, and vacuum monitoring. Available in three (3) models, the XFMR Station may also be equipped to provide secondary voltage ground fault and voltage balance detection and revenue grade metering.
Both products provide intuitive visual status indicators, SCADA monitorable alarming, include battery backup for network support during power outages, and are fully compatible with the industry standard Modbus protocol.
Together, the El-Jefe Motor Operator and XFMR Station are the most capable and cost-effective solutions on the market for protecting pad-mount transformer assets.