What Is a Strip Heater? These electrical heating devices are comprised of a heating element and a metal sheath or sleeve. Typical materials for the sheath are corrosion-resistant iron, steel, aluminum, aluminized steel, stainless steel and zinc-coated steel. Many strip heaters also have insulation made from fiberglass, mica, magnesium oxide, minerals and ceramic materials to reduce heat loss.
The strip is mounted to a surface with provided hardware so that the generated heat warms the object to which it is mounted or the surrounding air. The device may have fins to increase surface area and heat transfer for use as a radiant heater.
There are many options for mounting, including those with tabs or without. Some fit into a slot between two metal plates that allow maximum contact on either side of the heater.
Advantages of using these heaters include:
- Quick and easy heat transfer
- Easy installation
- Low maintenance
- Corrosion resistance
How Do Strip Heaters Work?
Tempco heaters,Watlow heaters, as well as other industrial heaters of this variety, have a simple, uncluttered design for superior functionality and longevity. When attached to an electrical power source, the current is passed through the heating element, where it is then transferred to the metal sleeve.
As the surface of the heater rises in temperature, it warms the surrounding air and the object on which it is mounted.
At low temperatures, these heaters can be used to heat substances with high viscosity and low heat transferability, such as asphalt or molasses. Higher temperatures are appropriate for heating air or metal. Though temperatures can reach as high as 932°F, the application will dictate the proper heat level.
Because they can reach such high temperatures, high watt density heaters are not recommended for volatile or explosive substances and should only be used in environments that have adequate circulation.
How Are Industrial Strip Heaters Used?
These heaters are used in a variety of applications. In fabrication shops for example, strip heaters can help heat the surface of equipment such as molds, dies, platens, piping and tanks or to winterize or dry equipment. Other common applications include warming cabinets, baking ovens and dehydrators, as well as automobile heating.
Some industries that make use of these heaters include:
- Chemical processing
- Defense and aerospace
- Injection mold tooling
- OEM thermal processing
- Plastic processing
- Research and development
Types of Strip Heaters
Heaters from leading manufacturers, such as Watlow or Tempco deliver the benefits of advanced construction techniques. They offer high-temperature, high-watt density capabilities, with sheaths made from corrosion resistant materials. Our top heaters include: channel, mineral insulated, mica insulated, ceramic insulated and finned strip heaters for efficient air or surface heating.
- Mica: These heaters feature a high temperature oxidation metal sheath and high grade mica insulation resistant to moisture and high temperatures. Nickel/Chromium resistance wire evenly wound provides for uniform and reliable heat distribution. These heaters also are versatile because they come in many shapes, sizes and termination options which channel heaters do not. Also mica heaters can be manufactured with holes in them to fit your needs. The temp that these heaters can withstand is up to 900F.
- Mineral Insulated: The MI heater is a thin, responsive heater that uses the most advanced heater construction techniques. A nickel-chromium element wire is embedded in it. Mineral insulated heaters are medium heat heater and are the same as mica strip heaters. These heaters can withstand temperature reaching 1400F.
- Channel: 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 1100F and is still extremely durable.
How to Choose a Heater
Many factors can influence the type of heater that is optimal for your application. Some of the many specifications that you will need to consider include:
- Physical dimensions – Strip length, width or thickness
- Power requirements and electrical outputs – Watt density, maximum operating temperature and AC voltage
- Features – Coil patterns, enclosed sides, corrosion-resistance, open elements, instrumentation cutouts
- 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
Depending on your particular application you may find that flexible heaters, coil heaters, stainless steel strip or ceramic heaters could be the most suitable option. For more information on how these heaters work, and what the best product is for your application feel free to reach out with one of our knowledgeable associates today.