Normally, transformers are readily available and utility companies don’t have any problem getting as many as they need, whether they’re replacing a single unit in a neighborhood or building out the power infrastructure for a new development.
However, transformers are currently in short supply, and if you’re waiting for one – or planning to buy one – here’s how you can reduce the impact of an exceptionally long lead time.
Source a transformer from a reliable company
The company you buy from matters because not everyone knows how to manufacture long-lasting, durable transformers. Some companies make transformers that only last a few years, and often they can fail prematurely – even within months of installation.
Exceptional companies, like ELSCO Transformers, build transformers that will last for decades without failing prematurely. However, ELSCO is going one step further by modifying their stock units to shorten lead times for people who need a different voltage.
For example, they are retrofitting their in-stock padmount transformers by modifying the low voltage bushing heights with a copper drop-down bus to meet varied customer connection point needs. It means you can get a padmount transformer in 24-48 hours if you’re okay with having one retrofitted to meet your requirements.
It’s possible that this won’t be a workable solution for you, and if that’s your situation, you do have a few more options.
Have your existing transformer repaired
If it’s cost-effective, you might want to get your existing transformer fixed by a professional. This isn’t always cheap, but if you have a good transformer and can get it restored by a reputable company, you might be able to get several more good years of use. Although, it may not make financial sense to repair your transformer, in which case you can always buy a used or refurbished unit.
Obviously, if you don’t have a transformer yet, this option won’t apply to you. However, if you can get your hands on a used transformer that needs some repairs, don’t hesitate to get it taken care of. If you would be better off with any transformer rather than none, it’s worth the effort to get the necessary repairs.
Consider buying a refurbished transformer
Buying a professionally refurbished transformer is an excellent way to save money and get a high-quality transformer at the same time. As long as it was refurbished by an expert craftsman, you won’t have anything to worry about. In fact, your refurbished transformer will function like new when restored by a true professional.
You might even end up wanting to keep your refurbished unit even when new ones become available. It all boils down to whether or not you’ll be willing to go through the process of selling it when you get a new one.
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Look into getting a used transformer
Similarly to getting a refurbished transformer, you can also buy a used one that will get you by until you get the new unit you really want. There are risks associated with buying a used transformer, however, so make sure to have it inspected and even repaired if necessary, by a professional in the industry. Don’t just blindly buy a transformer without having it checked out because you don’t know what you’re getting.
With a private sale, there is no guarantee your transformer will work for any period of time, and it’s not unheard of for used transformers to fail prematurely just months after being installed.
Wait out the shortage
This option isn’t necessarily popular or effective, but if you don’t have any other choice, you’ll need to wait out the shortage. Perhaps you don’t have the budget to buy a brand new transformer at the inflated prices caused by the surge in demand, and you’re not willing to settle for a used or refurbished one. In this case, your only other option is to wait it out.
Be warned, however, that the wait times are now being estimated as up to 150 weeks, which is nearly three years. You could be waiting quite a long time. The demand is incredibly high, so if you even think you might need a transformer anytime soon, it’s wise to buy one now so you can hold your place in the queue. If you end up not needing it, since the demand is off the charts, you certainly won’t have a problem selling it.
Don’t let the inconvenience stop your project
No matter why you need a transformer, don’t let the shortage stop you from working on your project. You have the option of buying a used or refurbished unit. You might pay a premium, but if you need it – it’s worth it.
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