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Transformer Monitor

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Traditionally, the manner of determining the risk to any transformer of an excess of
water has been to analyse oil samples to determine moisture content of the oil. By
use of the industry standard Phipher chart, the water content of the paper insulation
can be determined allowing a prediction regarding the life of the transformer to be
made. However, recent development work has shown that it is not simply the total
quantity of water in the transformer that is the determining factor; but it is the active
water, or the rate of change of water migration between the paper and oil as
temperature changes, that is a key factor in the degrading of the cellulose material.
Bowdens have introduced monitoring active water alongside temperature over a
period of time. The data is presented graphically showing both temperature (°C) and
water content in oil (ppm) to demonstrate the sometime dramatic changes in water in
oil ppm values that can occur during the load cycle of the transformer. These
variations reinforce the futility of taking an oil sample without reference to
temperature. This long term graphical information however enables trends to be
established and can show the rate of ageing, and also clearly highlight any
differences between two transformers sharing the same load. Fig 1 below is an
example showing the extent of rate of change in water activity over a two week
period. The water content follows the temperature but lags by some hours.

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