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6 Steps to Selling Your Surplus Transformers

If you've got an old transformer lying around, you can get some good money for it. Learn the 6 steps to get the most money for your surplus transformers.

Written by:
Tyler Vecchio & Clayton Saunderson

June 17, 2024

Surplus transformer yard

If you’re reading this, you probably have a surplus transformer you want an offer for. Our purchasing team here at Maddox wants to get you that offer, but we’ll need some information about the transformer you’re looking to sell before we can.

Below are the five steps to getting the most money for your surplus transformer:

  1. Take pictures (nameplate, interior, and exterior)
  2. Contact our purchasing team
  3. Review purchase offer
  4. Load the transformer
  5. Receiving and Testing
  6. Get paid

Let's take a closer look at these steps.

1. Take Pictures

Getting the most money for your transformer starts with assessing the unit. Sending us a few pictures lets us make you an informed offer based on the transformer market, current scrap prices, and environmental risks associated with purchasing surplus units. Below are the three photos we need of your transformer:

Nameplate

The first photo we need is of the transformer nameplate, which is usually located inside the cabinet door or outside the enclosure. Nameplate pictures need to be clear and high-resolution—we need to be able to read everything on them. Before putting away your phone, check that you can read everything on the nameplate. If you can’t, neither can we.

Comparison of bad nameplate photo and readable photo

Interior Cabinet

The next photo we need is of your transformer's interior cabinet or enclosure. For liquid-filled transformers, this shows the condition of the bushings, taps, and enclosure. On dry-type transformers, an internal picture helps us examine the core and coil. 

Comparison of interiors of liquid-filled and dry-type transformers

Exterior Tank

Lastly, we’ll also need a photo of the transformer's exterior. We need to see the condition of the cabinet, tank, and radiators to determine our costs for reconditioning the unit.  

Comparison of padmount and substation tanks

2. Contact Maddox

Once you have these photos, send them to a Maddox purchasing rep with any other relevant information. You can do this by filling out the form on our surplus transformer page. Or, if you’re already in contact with a Maddox rep, just send this information directly to them.

The more details you can provide upfront, the faster our team can give you an offer. Here are a few of the questions our team will need answered:

Does the unit still contain oil?

Liquid-filled transformers (padmounts, substations, and pole mounts) filled with oil are worth more than drained units. But even if the unit is drained, we’ll still offer you top dollar.

Where is the unit located?

Maddox buys transformers across the United States and covers the freight cost. Our team will need the transformer's location before sending you an offer in order to determine which Maddox facility to send it to.

Substations arriving at Maddox yard

3. Review Purchase Offer

After reviewing the pictures and information you send, our purchasing team will send an official purchase offer. To keep you legally protected from liability, most purchase offers are contingent on the following terms:

Transformer is Electrically Functioning

Maddox can pay up to 5x more than scrap value for your transformer because we recondition and redeploy units (rather than reducing them in a shredder). With this in mind, we must ensure your transformer is electrically okay (not destroyed beyond repair) before issuing full payment. Our inventory team will test your unit once it arrives (and provide documentation upon request).

Oil Contains Less than 2 PPM of PCBs

The EPA banned the use of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in transformers in 1978. However, PCBs are still found in units throughout the country. Due to these restrictions, Maddox doesn’t buy transformers containing more than two parts per million PCBs. We test every transformer upon its arrival at a Maddox facility. Depending on your transformer’s age, we may even send a DGA kit prior to shipment.

Review this purchase offer and let your purchasing rep know if you have any questions.

4. Load Truck

After reviewing and accepting the purchase offer, you’re just two steps away from getting paid. While Maddox covers the cost of freight, we typically ask sellers to load the truck when it arrives. Our logistics team will schedule a time that works for your schedule to pick up the transformer.

Forklift loading substation transformer onto truck

5. Receiving and Testing

After you load the truck, your work is done. Our team will manage the delivery to one of our locations. Once your unit arrives, it will enter a testing queue with the other transformers we’ve purchased. Within 7–10 business days, your transformer will undergo electrical and (if relevant) oil tests.

Power testing padmount transformer

6. Get Paid

You’ve reached the best part of the process: getting paid for your transformer!

Passes Testing

Thanks to the pre-shipment evaluation process, most transformers pass testing without issues. In this case, payment is issued using your preferred method within one week of the testing being completed. Congratulations—you just earned the best value for your transformer!

Fails Testing

Occasionally, some transformers fail one (or more) of our tests, and if they do, that generally means that the unit has failed in such a way that the cost to recondition it is greater than the value to do so (think of a totaled car). Although this will reduce our offer price, we are committed to helping you get as much as possible for your failed unit. We’ll give you two options:

  1. We’ll offer you the highest scrap value for the transformer and ensure it is correctly disposed of. 
  2. We can ship the transformer back to you free of charge, and you can scrap it yourself.

Selling Surplus Transformers for Top Dollar

Ready to earn up to 5x the scrap value for your surplus transformers? Visit the Maddox surplus transformer page to get started. We’re happy to answer any of your questions and help you get the most for your surplus transformer.

Maddox padmount transformer loaded on truck

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