Insulation is recognized as one of the most important constructional elements of a transformer. Its chief function is to confine the current to useful paths, preventing its flow into harmful channels. Any weakness of insulation may result in failure of the transformer. A measure of the effectiveness with which insulation performs is the dielectric strength. It was once accepted that low-frequency tests alone were adequate to demonstrate the dielectric strength of transformers. As more became known about lightning phenomena, and as impulse testing apparatus was developed, it became apparent that the distribution of impulse voltage stress through the transformer winding may be very different from the low-frequency voltage distribution. 2. Low-frequency voltage distributes itself throughout the winding on a uniform volts-per-turn basis. Impulse voltages are initially distributed on the basis of winding capacitances. If this initial distribution differs from the final low-frequency inductance distribution, the impulse energy will oscillate between these two distributions until the energy is dissipated and the inductance distribution is reached. In severe cases, these internal oscillations can produce voltages to ground that approach twice the applied voltage.
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