09 September 2022

Supplied by Trafo Power Solutions

Insurers are increasingly noting the safety benefits of dry-type transformers and mini-substations in commercial and public buildings. This can translate into lower premiums for developers and owners, as this technology features a much lower risk of fire or explosion when compared to traditional oil-cooled transformers.

Dry-type transformers have long been known for their high levels of safety, as they are cooled by air rather than oil; insurers recognise this too, and it affects their risk ratings.

“We see a trend in commercial buildings and shopping centres, for instance, where insurers themselves are insisting on dry-type transformers,” says David Claassen, managing director of Trafo Power Solutions. “This exposes them to less risk in their coverage of these properties, and can reduce the insurance premiums paid by their clients.”

A specialist in dry-type transformers and mini-substations, Trafo Power Solutions supplies equipment with an F1 safety rating – due to its self-extinguishing and flame-retardant features.

“The fire hazard is significantly reduced by using dry-type transformers, as there is no oil that could ignite,” says Claassen. “There is also less environmental risk, as there is no oil which can potentially leak out into soil or groundwater.”

He highlights the ways developers can reduce the insurance element of their cost-per-square-metre to construct and operate their buildings. Installing a safer transformer will not only reduce risk levels, but can reduce the costs of associated fire detection and suppression systems.

“An insurance evaluation of a building will typically include a strong focus on fire risk, especially in warehouses where valuable stock could be vulnerable,” he says. “Where insurers detect a high fire risk, they many stipulate a range of mitigation measures, the costs of which must be borne by the client.”

Indeed, the lack of specialised systems for detecting and suppressing fires may raise premiums substantially, or even render a property uninsurable, he notes. A direct and effective way of reducing the fire and environmental risk is to install a dry-type transformer. These have been proven to be safe enough to use on ships, in confined spaces inside buildings, and in areas close to human traffic.

“By offering our customers a technical solution with close to zero risk, we open the door to tangible savings from an insurance point of view,” he says. “In addition to being flame-retardant and self-extinguishing, the F1 rating that applies to our transformers also reflects that they will not emit harmful gasses in the event of being affected by a fire in the vicinity.”

He adds that Trafo Power Solutions also offers a specialised assessment service to insurance companies and developers. Where these firms may not have in-house experts in electrical power systems, Trafo Power Solutions can conduct a formal assessment on current installations and apply their technical expertise to advise on future installations. “This will allow clients to achieve an appropriate, fit-for-purpose solution with high safety levels and low maintenance requirements,” says Claassen.

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