Power transformers are among the most valuable assets of the electrical grid. Since the largest units cost in the order of millions of dollars, it is desirable to operate them in such a manner that extends their remaining lives. Operating these units at high temperature will cause excessive insulation ageing in the windings. Consequently, it is necessary to study the thermal performance of these expensive items. Measuring or estimating the winding temperature of power transformers is beneficial to a utility because this provides them with the data necessary to make informed decisions on how best to use their assets. Fiber optic sensors have recently become viable for the direct measurement of winding temperatures while a transformer is energized. However, it is only practical to install a fiber optic temperature sensor during the manufacture of a transformer. For transformers operating without fiber optic sensors, the winding temperature can be estimated with calculations using the temperature of the oil at the top of the transformer tank. When the oil temperature measurement is not easily available, the temperature of the tank surface may be used as an alternative. This paper shows how surface temperature may be utilized to estimate the winding temperature within a transformer designed for research purposes.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.