This is a close-up view of a part of a transformer that was damaged by space weather. The transformer overheated and caught fire.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of Public Service Electric and Gas and Peter Balma.
How Space Weather Can Damage Transformers
We get electricity in our homes and schools from our electrical power system. Did you know that space weather storms can mess up the power system? When that happens, people are left without electricity. A transformer is a kind of equipment that is used a lot in electrical power systems. A transformer converts electricity from one voltage to another. Transformers can be damaged or destroyed by surges of electricity caused by a space weather storm.
A transformer is designed to work well with AC (Alternating Current) electricity. That's the kind of electricity that normally flows through the wires of our power systems. Space weather can cause DC (Direct Current) electricity to flow through the wires and transformers. DC electricity is bad for transformers.
When transformers get too much DC electricity, they heat up. Parts of the transformer might melt. Oil in the transformer can catch on fire. Some transformers can even explode!
Even if the transformer isn't destroyed, it might be damaged. It might wear out sooner and need to be replaced.
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