Large, high voltage transformers undergo prolonged drying processes, using electrical self-heating, the application of a vacuum, or both to ensure that the transformer is completely free of water vapor before the cooling oil is introduced. This helps prevent corona formation and subsequent electrical breakdown under load.
Oil filled transformers with a conservator (an oil tank above the transformer) may have a gas detector relay (Buchholz relay). These safety devices detect the build up of gas inside the transformer due to corona discharge, overheating, or an internal electric arc. On a slow accumulation of gas, or rapid pressure rise, these devices can trip a protective circuit breaker to remove power from the transformer. Transformers without conservators are usually equipped with sudden pressure relays, which perform a similar function as the Buchholz relay.
The flash point (min) and pour point (max) are 140 °C and −6 °C respectively. The dielectric strength of new untreated oil is 12 MV/m (RMS) and after treatment it should be >24 MV/m (RMS).
Large transformers for indoor use must either be of the dry type, that is, containing no liquid, or use a less-flammable liquid.