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Understanding The Basics of Wye Transformer Calculations

Dec 1, 2004 12:00 PM, By Mike Holt, NEC Consultant

Find more articles on: Transformers Last month's Code Calculations article covered transformer calculation definitions and some specifics of delta transformer calculations. This month we turn our attention to the differences between delta and wye transformers and to wye transformer calculations. We'll close by looking at why it's so important to know how to perform these calculations, but you'll likely see the reasons as we go. In a wye configuration, three single-phase transformers are connected to a common point (neutral) via a lead from their secondaries. The other lead from each of the single-phase transformers is connected to the line conductors. This configuration is called a wye, because in an electrical drawin g it looks like the letter Y. Unlike the delta transformer, it doesn't have a high leg.

Fig. 1. Wiring arrangements can have a considerable effect on output voltage. Differences in wye and delta transformers. The ratio of a transformer is the relationship between the number of primary winding turns to the number of secondary winding turns and thus a comparison between the primary phase voltage and the secondary phase voltage. For typical delta/delta systems, the ratio is 2:1 but for typical delta/wye systems, the ratio is 4:1 (Fig. 1 above). If the primary phase voltage in a typical delta/delta system is 480V, the secondary phase voltage is 240V. If the primary phase voltage in a typical delta/wye system is 480V, the secondary phase voltage is 120V. Delta and wye transformers also differ with regard to their phase voltage versus line voltage and phase current versus line current. In a delta transformer, EPhase=ELine and ILine=IPhase3. In a wye transformer, IPhase=ILine and ELine=EPhase3. These differences affect more than just which formulas you use for transformer calculations. By combining delta/delta and delta/wye transformers, you can abate harmonic distortion in an electrical system. We'll look at that strategy in more detail after addressing wye transformer calculations.

Fig. 2. As this example shows, the line and phase currents are equal in a wye transformer. Wye current and voltage calculations. In a wye transformer, the 3-phase and single-phase 120V line current equals the phase current (IPhase = ILine) (Fig. 2 on page C20). Let's apply this to an actual problem. What's the secondary phase current for a 150kVA, 480V to 208Y/120V, 3-phase transformer (Fig. 3 on page C20)? ILine=150,000VA(208V1.732)=416A, or IPhase=50,000VA120=416A

To find wye 3-phase line and phase voltages, use the following formulas: EPhase=ELine3 ELine=EPhase3 Since each line conductor from a wye transformer is connected to a different transformer winding (phase), the effects of 3-phase loading on the line are the same as on the phase (Fig. 4 on page C21). A 36kVA, 208V, 3-phase load has the following effect: Line power=36kVA ILine=VALine(ELine3) ILine=36,000VA(208V3)=100A Phase power=12kVA (any winding) IPhase=VAPhaseEPhase IPhase=12,000VA120V=100A Wye transformer balancing and sizing. Before you can properly size a delta/wye transformer, you must make sure that the secondary transformer phases (windings) or the line conductors are balanced. Note that balancing the panel (line conductors) is identical to balancing the transformer for wye transformers. Once you balance the wye transformer, you can size it according to the load on each phase. The following steps will help you balance the transformer:

Fig. 3. Note the four-fold increase in phase current when working with a delta/wye transformer. Step 1: Determine the loads' VA ratings. Step 2: Put one-third of the 3-phase load on Phase A, one-third on Phase B, and one-third on Phase C. Step 3: Put one-half of the single-phase, 208V load on Phase A and Phase B, or Phase B and Phase C, or Phase A and Phase C.

Fig. 4. In this example, note that the line and phase power and current are the same, since each line conductor from a wye transformer is connected to a different transformer winding. Step 4: Place 120V loads (largest to smallest): 100% on any phase. Now consider the following wye transformer sizing example: What size transformer (480V to 208Y/120V, 3-phase) would you need for the following loads: 208V, 36kVA, 3-phase heat strip; two 208V, 10kVA, single-phase loads; and three 120V, 3kVA single-phase loads? a) three single-phase, 25kVA transformers b) one 3-phase, 75kVA transformer c) a or b d) none of these Phase A=23kVA Phase B=22kVA Phase C=20kVA