Choosing the most appropriate method of cooling for a particular application is a common problem in transformer specification. No clear rules can be given, but the following guidance for mineral oil-immersed transformers may help. The basic questions to consider are as follows:
1. Is capital cost a prime consideration?
2. Are maintenance procedures satisfactory?
3. Will the transformer be used on its own or in parallel with other units?
4. Is physical size critical?
This type of cooling has no mechanical moving parts and therefore requires little, if any, maintenance. Many developing countries prefer this type because of reliability, but there is an increasing cost penalty as sizes increase.
A transformer supplied with fans fitted to the radiators will have a rating, with fans in operation, of probably between 15% and 33% greater than with the fans not in operation. The transformer therefore has an effective dual rating under ONAN and ONAF conditions.
The transformer might be specified as 20/25MVA ONAN/ONAF. The increased output under ONAF conditions is reliably and cheaply obtained.
Applying an ONAN/ONAF transformer in a situation where the ONAF rating is required most of the time is undesirable since reliance is placed on fan operation. Where a ‘firm’ supply is derived from two transformers operating in parallel on a load-sharing basis the normal load is well inside the ONAN rating and the fans would only run in the rare event of one transformer being out of service.
Such an application would exploit the cost saving of the ONAF design without placing too much emphasis on the reliable operation of the fans. Note that fans create noise and additional noise mitigating precautions may be needed in environmentally sensitive areas.
Forcing the oil circulation and blowing air over the radiators will normally achieve a smaller, cheaper transformer than either ONAF or ONAN. Generally speaking, the larger the rating required the greater the benefits.
However, the maintenance burden is increased owing to the oil pumps, motors and radiator fans required. Application in attended sites, with good maintenance procedures, is generally satisfactory. Generator transformers and power station interbus transformers will often use OFAF cooling.
These are specialized cooling categories where the oil is ‘directed’ by pumps into the closest proximity possible to the winding conductors. The external cooling medium can be air or water.
Because of the design, operation of the oil pumps, cooling fans, or water pumps is crucial to the rating obtainable and such transformers may have rather poor naturally cooled (ONAN) ratings. Such directed and forced cooling results in a compact and economical design suitable for use in well-maintained environments.