Three high temp strip heaters

Guide to Industrial Strip Heaters

Temperature control is key to maintaining product quality and extending equipment service life. This is why industrial heaters are so important. There are several types of heaters, among them including strip heaters.

An industrial strip heater, sometimes called a component heater, is unique in that it can provide both convective heat (indirect heating by warm air) and radiant heat (direct heating through the surface of a material). In an industrial setting, the strip heater is bolted or clamped directly onto an object or placed within an environment to provide heat over a large area. They may also have fins that allow them to maximize heated surface area and increase heat transfer.

Strip Heater Construction

Watlow's 375 High-Temperature strip heater

A strip heater has a simple, rectangular design. On a strip heater, the metal heating element is contained within a protective sheath and insulated with mica, magnesium oxide, or ceramic materials. The actual jacket is constructed of aluminum, iron, steel, stainless steel, or other alloy for ease of heat transfer.

Common Applications

A strip heater’s unique and versatile design makes them great for most surface heating and process air heating applications, including:

  • Molds
  • Ovens
  • Dies/Tooling
  • Hoppers
  • Conveyors

Advantages

Some of the benefits of strip heaters include:

  • Easy Installation: Strip heaters are easy to modify and mount to your equipment.
  • High Operating Temperatures: While the resistance varies by design, mica, channel, and mineral-insulated heaters have high operating temperatures. 
  • Fully Customizable: Strip heaters can be designed for your specific applications. Customizable features include strip length, width and thickness, termination types, and power and electrical output requirements.
  • Versatility: Strip heaters have incredibly versatile designs that make them suitable for a wide array of applications.

Types of Strip Heaters

The three primary types of strip heaters include mica, mineral insulated, and channel.

Mica

A group of Mica strip heaters on a white background

Mica heaters feature a high-temperature oxidation metal sheath and high-grade mica insulation resistant to moisture and high temperatures up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Nickel/chromium resistance wire is evenly wound around the heating element, providing uniform and reliable heat distribution. 

Additionally, these heaters are versatile because they come in many shapes, sizes, and termination options. They can also be manufactured with holes in them to fit your needs.

Mineral Insulated

Mica strip heaters on a white background

Mineral insulated heaters are thin, responsive heaters with a nickel-chromium element wire embedded in them. Mineral insulated heaters can withstand temperatures reaching 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Channel

A product image of Tempo's channel strip heater, made with Type 304 stainless steel.

Channel heaters consist of a helically wound resistance coil evenly strung through specially designed ceramic insulators. These heaters can get extremely hot. However, they come in one width and one shape. The channel heater can withstand 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit and is extremely durable.

 

 

How to Select the Right Heater Type

Your specific application will determine the type of heater you need. 

Some of the many factors you will need to consider include:

  • Physical Dimensions: Strip length, width, or thickness.
  • Power Requirements: Watt density, maximum operating temperature, and AC voltage.
  • Required Features:  Coil patterns, enclosed sides, corrosion resistance, open elements, instrumentation cutouts, etc.
  • Termination Types
    • Opposite end posts have a post at both ends of the heater.
    • Tandem posts are located in-line along the length of the heater.
    • Parallel posts are positioned in-line along the width of the heater.
    • Three-post terminals have a single end post on one end and two at the opposite end.
    • Horizontal leads are placed along the length of the heater.
    • Terminal box connections have an enclosure on the surface of the heater.
    • Insulated leads.
    • Metal braided leads.
    • Flexible conduit leads.

Installation Tips

Correct installation and operation of an industrial strip heater is critical to obtaining an extended service life and the best operational performance. Exposing the heater and/or terminals to voltages or temperatures above the manufacturer’s recommendations can cause premature failure.

Additionally, environmental contaminants like oil, dirt, plastics, and even moisture that may travel to the heater windings can cause a short circuit or heater failure. 

Here are some tips on how to correctly install your strip heater:

  • Surface-mounted mica strip heaters should be clamped securely along their entire length to a smooth metal surface, using the mounting slots and metal clamps placed 76 to 127 millimeters (3 to 5 inches) apart.
  • The terminal end should be secured firmly, even when supported at the mounting slots, ensuring one end is slightly loosened to allow for linear expansion.
  • The surface being heated should be as clean and smooth as possible for the most efficient heat transfer and to eliminate small air gaps that can cause hot spots.
  • Do not over-tighten terminal posts because excessive torque could break the wired connection.

Browse Hi-Watt’s Strip Heaters

For over 40 years, Hi-Watt has been Michigan’s leading distributor of strip heaters and other industrial heating solutions. We proudly carry strip heaters from top brands like Watlow, Tempco, and Chromalox. Our constant goal is to provide the best in customer service while stocking the best industrial thermal products on the market.

If you have questions about strip heaters or want to learn more about our customizable options, please contact us today to speak with one of our product specialists. We can also dispatch sales agents to your location within 24 hours after your call.