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Author Topic: "The transformer exploded!"  (Read 5371 times)

Jonathan Johnson

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"The transformer exploded!"
« on: October 28, 2014, 03:16:46 pm »

We've had some stormy weather here in the Pacific Northwest lately, and with stormy weather it seems I hear plenty of reports from people who claim "the transformer exploded!"

I don't think so. I've seen transformers that are overloaded; they usually fail by boiling over. Once enough coolant is lost, the insulation on the winding fails, shorts out, and causes the fuse supplying the transformer to blow. When that fuse opens, it does so with a loud bang and a flash of light.

(I have seen transformer fires too, but only in a substation. A lot of smoke and fire was involved, as well as loud bangs that were probably circuit protectors opening under load. I've never actually seen where a transformer has literally exploded; I think there would be so much collateral damage it would make the news with pictures and everything.)

I believe that when someone says "the transformer exploded!" what they have really observed is the fuse opening. But in reality, the transformer has nothing to do with it; severe weather is unlikely to cause a failure of a transformer. More likely, a tree has come in contact with a primary power line, or the wind has caused the wires of the different phases to come in contact with each other, creating a short circuit that results in the opening of the fuse supplying that line, which it does with a loud bang and a flash of light.

Just last Saturday, the fuse for one of the three phases on the pole at the end of my driveway -- which supplies power to my neighbors up the road -- opened with a bang. There's no transformer on that pole. I didn't see it happen but I sure heard it, and a visual inspection confirmed that the fuse had indeed opened.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: "The transformer exploded!"
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2014, 03:53:48 pm »

We've had some stormy weather here in the Pacific Northwest lately, and with stormy weather it seems I hear plenty of reports from people who claim "the transformer exploded!"

I'll bet if we tried really hard we could make one explode.  ;)
« Last Edit: October 28, 2014, 04:23:58 pm by Mike Sokol »
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frank kayser

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Re: "The transformer exploded!"
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2014, 04:10:17 pm »

I'll be if we tried really hard we could make one explode.  ;)
Yeah, Mike, I bet we could. 


Jonathan,
You invoked a d'oh! moment for me... Of course, a fuse like this would indeed fail as you said - NOT the pole transformer.  Should have known that.  Thanks.  And a transformer would go up in a much larger conflagration than a harmless fuse opening flash and bang.  Should have known that, too.
frank
« Last Edit: October 28, 2014, 04:29:53 pm by frank kayser »
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Tom Bourke

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Re: "The transformer exploded!"
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2014, 04:11:09 pm »

I'll be if we tried really hard we could make one explode.  ;)
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: "The transformer exploded!"
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2014, 04:17:12 pm »

Yes when the fuse on the transformers open it makes a loud report almost like a gun shot.  Common when wind blows a branch onto the high voltage line or a dumb-ass squirrel climbs too close to the sun.

JR
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Mike Sokol

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Re: "The transformer exploded!"
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2014, 04:27:51 pm »

Yes when the fuse on the transformers open it makes a loud report almost like a gun shot.  Common when wind blows a branch onto the high voltage line or a dumb-ass squirrel climbs too close to the sun.

JR

I was driving right beside a transformer a few months ago when we had near-tornado winds. Must have taken a tree or branch into the lines which blew the fuse. It was a really pretty green flash (copper?) and a big bang that sounded like a shotgun blast. Very impressive.
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: "The transformer exploded!"
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2014, 07:38:54 pm »

Common when wind blows a branch onto the high voltage line or a dumb-ass squirrel climbs too close to the sun.

However, when a dumb-ass metal thief enters a substation with wire cutters, he often ends up being the fuse.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: "The transformer exploded!"
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2014, 09:34:44 pm »

However, when a dumb-ass metal thief enters a substation with wire cutters, he often ends up being the fuse.

I would accept the inconvenience of power loss if all the copper thieves would hold hands while cutting live substation lines....

My contempt for what is mostly a meth-addiction crime (in our part of the country, anyway) is very high.
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Ray Aberle

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Re: "The transformer exploded!"
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2014, 09:41:06 pm »

cue..... the photos..... lol.

Nah, we're all adults and have seen them. For the love of god, please don't post pictures of burned shoes or whatever.
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frank kayser

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Re: "The transformer exploded!"
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2014, 09:44:16 pm »

However, when a dumb-ass metal thief enters a substation with wire cutters, he often ends up being the fuse.
At least they found a purpose in life?
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