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Why transformer rating is shown in KVA?

Transformers are rated in {VA, kVA, MVA etc.} due to flows of active and reactive power through transformer. In case of transformer we have active power losses as consequence of existence inside resistance of windings (primary and secondary) and existence of active losses of ferromagnetic core and other side we have reactive power losses as consequence of existence losses of magnetic flux (primary and secondary) and existence of reactive power losses of ferromagnetic core.


Transformer is rated in kVA by the manufacturer to inform users about the maximum power (voltage and current) that support it, the reason for not rating it in KW is that the active power (kW) is depend on the loads (lighting, machines..)

The simple answer is: It is because the kVA (or MVA) rating is only rating that matters to express a transformer's "capacity" to allow the “passage" of power. That capacity is the thermal capacity dictated by the current it can carry at a given ambient temperature, regardless of the power factor. So combined with its voltage ratings, kVA (or MVA) is the value that matters. kW rating does not matter as transformer can handle unity power factor or in other words, a transformer can handle kW equal to its kVA rating at any time.

Remember that a transformer, as the name suggests, is only a transformation device or a pass through device and not a power producing device like a generator or an UPS, where their capacity to produce real power (kW) is an independent limit from the thermal ( kVA) limit.

To take it a step further, if you have an ability to cool the transformer further, you can augment the kVA (or MVA) rating of a transformer. This would explain having multiple kVA/ MVA ratings on transformers with forced cooling aids installed on them.

If you think of it, this is not different from a cable or a conductor's capacity expression. Except that a transformer can have more than one voltage levels and different ampacities on primary and secondary, but the kVA rating remains the same on either side. So that makes kVA a more convenient way to express its thermal capacity vs. the amperes alone.

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