All electrical devices are rated based on the maximum power it can consume or generate or transfer. When few of them are rated in KW (kilowatts) or watts, few others are rated in kVA (kilo volt-ampere) or VA (volt-ampere). Transformers are rated in kVA or VA and not in kilowatts. It can be noted that all those electric loads such as motors, lamps, heaters etc. are always rated in kW whereas equipment used for power generation and transmission (generators and transformers) are rated in kVA. In this article illustrates why transformers are rated in kVA and why not it is rated in kW.
Any piece of electrical equipment is rated based on how much current it can handle at a particular voltage and the losses occurring in it. The same applies to power transformers also. Transformers are rated based on the maximum power that they can transfer from their primary side to the secondary side while taking losses in the account. Transformers are rated in VA, kVA or MVA and never in KW.
Why is a transformer rated in KVA but not in KW?
KVA stands for kilo-volt-ampere, which basically is the unit of electric power. While calculating kVA of any piece of equipment the power factor is not taken into account.
(i.e.) Power in kVA = Voltage x Current.
This means kVA is the unit of measurement for that equipment in which the output power is independent of power factor. For example Rating of Alternators, Transformers, and UPS etc.
On the other hand, KW (KiloWatts) is also the unit of electric power for that equipment in which power factor plays a role. For example the rating of electric motors. Read More about power factor.
Transformers are an energy transfer device that transfers power from the primary side to the secondary side without altering the energy level (considering zero power loss). Iron loss and copper loss occurring in the transformer are also independent of the power factor. Moreover, the output power factor of the transformer purely depends on the connected load. The transformer does not alter the power factor of its output power.
Transformers are rated in kVA because the losses occurring in the transformers are independent of power factor.
KVA is the unit of apparent power. It is a combination of real power and reactive power. Transformers are manufactured without considering the load being connected. So any kind of electrical load can be connected to it (either resistive, capacitive, inductive or combination loads). If the transformer is rated in KW, there may be confusions regarding the type of load being connected. This is why the transformer is rated in KVA. By doing so we can eliminate the confusions regarding the type of load being connected.