Down with the decibels: Ultralow-noise power transformers

2013-04-04 - Originally developed for deployment in Manhattan – which probably has the strictest noise regulations in the world – ABB ultralow-noise power transformers have set new industry benchmarks for transformer noise emissions in metropolitan areas and other noise-sensitive applications.

By ABB Communications



Transformers produce a characteristic humming sound. In sparsely populated areas, this is of little concern, but in urban areas it can cause discomfort and even fall on the wrong side of noise emission regulations.

New York City is thought to have the strictest noise regulations in the world. In 2003, Consolidated Edison (ConEd), the power utility that serves the city, asked ABB to design a power transformer with a noise level that was 15 to 20 decibels (dB) lower than was then typical.

Those were not the only design challenges that ConEd gave ABB. Limits were set not only on the total noise level but also on the noise contributed by each of the frequency components, as well as on the transformer’s weight, width and height, impedance variance, and hot-spot temperatures.

The maximum total noise level required by ConEd for a 93 megavolt ampere (MVA) power transformer was about 54 dB (A) at full load. In comparison, transformers of this size would typically have noise levels in the 70 dB (A) range for no-load noise alone - a huge difference.

Designing power transformers with such ultralow-noise levels, while satisfying all the other performance and size constraints, required a significant research and development effort by ABB over a period of several years.

This resulted in ABB delivering the first three ultralow-noise transformers to ConEd in 2005. All three had a power rating of 93 MVA. ConEd followed this with an order for ultralow-noise 65 MVA transformers, which ABB delivered with noise levels several decibels lower than those specified.

As a result of this success, ConEd ordered more 93 and 65 MVA transformers for delivery in 2008 and 2009. Meanwhile, ABB had upgraded the designs and significantly reduced the weight and noise level of the transformers.

The ultralow-noise transformer technology developed by ABB over the life of this project has set new industry benchmarks for transformer noise emissions. It is now being used by ABB power transformer designers worldwide to produce designs for low and ultralow-noise transformers for other customers in noise-sensitive metropolitan areas around the world.

To date ABB has delivered 12 ultralow-noise transformers to ConEd. Some of these transformers are only three blocks away from the United Nations building in Manhattan and the rest are deployed in residential areas in Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn.

Click here to learn more about this project and ABB’s ultralow-noise transformers.

Left: An ABB third-generation ultralow-noise transformer without sound enclosure or panels.
Right: Reduction in weight and noise level between original and most recent designs.





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    ABB ultralow-noise transformers are deployed in a ConEd substation in the heart of Manhattan, three blocks from the United Nations headquarters.
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