How To Take Apart A Scrap Industrial Transformer

So you got lucky and got your hands on a big industrial transformer ready for scrap. Good for you. That’s a great score. This will be a great item to cash in and something you may want to consider taking apart.

What Can I Get Paid for a Scrap Transformer?

Without Taking It Apart…

Depending on how your scrap yard grades transformers (copper or aluminum), you may get anywhere from $0.02-0.15 per pound depending on current market conditions and the grading of material, which is up to the discretion of your scrap yard.

How Much Copper Is Inside A Transformer?

You should get a higher price per pound if you have a copper transformer. But the steel casing is so heavy that we don’t suggest expecting anything of too high of value. Unfortunately, as the size and weight of these transformers vary wildly, it’s hard to give an exact number. In most, you can expect 10-35% of the weight of the transformer to be copper.

If you have an aluminum transformer, you will get a lower price for the whole unit than the copper ones. Again, this is due to aluminum being worth less per pound and the steel attached.

Is It Worth It To Take A Transformer Apart?

When you want to make the most money on your scrap transformer, we almost always suggest taking apart at least the copper transformers, and you should consider taking apart the aluminum ones if you have the correct time/experience/tools.

Take apart your copper transformer…because the price of copper is always much higher than steel, we suggest cutting the copper coils out and scraping them separately from the steel.

Sometimes, take apart your aluminum transformer…while we recommend doing it, it’s not always a make or break. It could be worth it if you have experience taking apart a transformer with the right tools and time. But if you don’t have the time and want to scrap it, that’s ok too.

How Do I Take Apart An Industrial Transformer for Scrap?

Estimated Time: 45 min – 1 hour

Estimated Profit: 200-300% Increase

So you’re ready to take apart a scrap transformer, and you need to know what steps and tools are required. You’re in luck! We have an excellent video below for you to start with, along with the tools you need.

What Tools Will I Need:

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When you are ready to start, we have the essential tools you will need to remove the coils from the steel casing. Some other tools you may need are a wrench set, safety glasses, and leather gloves (so you don’t get cut).

Steps for Taking Apart Scrap Transformer:

  1. Cut Bolts – Grab your sawzall and a new blade to get started. Cut the steel bolts from the top of the transformer.
  2. Cut Attached Connections – Whether aluminum or copper, windings will be connected to the steel plate on the top. Cut those away from the coils below for a better working area.
  3. Begin Cutting Corners – Cut the corners of the coils on one of the outsides. You will want to cut the other side, too, so that you can pull the “C” shaped coil away from the center of the transformer.
  4. Pull Coil Away  – Once you cut the coils, you should be able to pull away the layers from the center of the transformer by using a crowbar and leverage to pry it out.
  5. Cut the Other Side – Repeat the previous two steps on the other side and pull the coil away from the center.
  6. Remove Remaining Cut Coils – Where you previously pulled the “C” shaped coils away on either side, you will have the remaining pieces of coils in the middle of the middle coil. Use your hammer and crowbar to remove this from the center to have a more clear area to work.
  7. Cut the Center Coil – You will cut the corners of the center coil and remove it similar to the outside ones, but this one may have to be pushed through on an angle with the hammer and crowbar.
  8. Remove All Remaining Coil Pieces – The coils (whether they are copper or aluminum) will have some paper around them that can be sticky and prevent all the coils from coming off clean. Make sure to use your crowbar or hammer to remove the coils.
  9. Weigh Up Steel Casing – When you go to your scrap yard, you will want to get the steel casing weighed separately from your coils. Typically, it weighs anywhere from 500-1,200 pounds depending on the size.
  10. Weigh Your Coils – Aluminum coils weigh much less than copper, but you can expect anywhere from 100-250 pounds of Aluminum and 150-350 pounds of Copper, depending on the unit size.

Do you have more questions or wonder if it’s worth taking apart your scrap transformer? Join our Facebook group and chat with some of your fellow scrappers.