Tips For Extending Strip Heater Life

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by Rebecca Schneider

Heaters from leading manufacturers, such as Watlow or Backer Marathon deliver the benefits of advanced construction techniques. They offer high-temperature, high-watt density capabilities, with sheaths made from corrosion resistant materials. Our top strip heaters include: mineral insulated, mica insulated, ceramic insulated and finned strip heaters for efficient air or surface heating.

Avoid Contamination 

  • Contaminants such as oil, plastics, and dirt should not be allowed to collect on heaters, as they will find their way into the heater windings, eventually carbonizing and causing electrical shorts.
  • Avoid moisture, moisture can be wicked up by the leads or get into the inside of the heater causing the heater to fail.

Avoid Over Heating

  • Do not operate heaters at voltages over what the heater is rated for. 
  • Do not expose terminations to higher temperatures than that of what they are rated for. 

Ensure Proper Installation

  • When supported by mounting slots, the terminal end should be secured firmly. Opposite end should be slightly loosened to allow for linear expansion.
  • The surface being heated must be clean and smooth for efficient heat transfer. Small air gaps caused by imperfections can cause hot spots, resulting in heater failure.
  • Ensure terminal posts are not overly tightened.  Posts should be securely fastened but excessive torque could break the connection.

For further installation and maintenance tips visit our Strip Heaters Tech Talk.

Always consult your specific heater manufacturer’s installation and operation manual for best practice and maintenance procedures. All electrical wiring should be done by a qualified electrician.

Common Types of Industrial Electric Heaters

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Band Heaters

Create conductive heat through a pipe or other cylinder with a band heater. These heaters are categorized by maximum operating temperature, AC voltage required and recommended watts. The dimensions can vary considerably. For best performance, consider choosing a heater with an inside diameter measurement that matches the outside diameter of your pipe or other cylinder.

Most heating bands use aluminum, steel, iron or other durable material for the sleeve. Insulation, when used, is typically ceramic. Uninsulated band heaters are available, but are typically less energy efficient. Mount a band heater by clamping it into place using flanges, tabs or barrel nuts. Use terminal boxes, screw terminals or armor cable leads as a termination type to fit your industrial application.

Duct/Air Heaters

Duct heaters aren’t thought of as a part of the manufacturing process, but are still critical to safe operations in your commercial facility. These heaters heat air which is then forced throughout your building to maintain a comfortable interior temperature. Choose either flanged or insert type heating elements to slip in or secure the elements into the air duct.

Compared with gas heating, electric duct/air heaters are safe and energy efficient. Choose a heating element with ceramic insulation to improve the efficiency of your system, prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and reduce the risk of a fire. Size your air heater appropriately to increase its lifespan and reduce the cost of heating your large facility.

Electric Infrared Heaters

Create clean, energy-efficient heat with an electric infrared heater. These versatile units can be used as part of the manufacturing process or to create a comfortable interior temperature for the safety of your employees and equipment. As process heaters, electric infrared heaters are used in these industries:

  • Automotive
  • Energy
  • Medical
  • Mining
  • Thermoforming
  • Construction

Choose an infrared heating element for convenient heating in a number of applications. These heaters rely on radiant heat, so you don’t need a process liquid or air ducts.

Cable Heaters

Distribute heat in a 360-degree circle with a cable heater. These flexible, high-performance units typically come in a small diameter and use fully annealed coils to snake their way through equipment. The high ductility and low mass of these heaters make them useful in a range of difficult environments.

Maintain optimal heat levels in sub-freezing, high-vacuum or liquid-immersion environments. Depending on the situation, these heaters can be used for convection using either gas, air or liquid as the medium.

Flexible Heaters

If you need electric heat at precise levels around an irregular shape, then a flexible heater is a great option. These units are capable of reaching intermittent temperatures up to 500 degrees in harsh environments. The screen-printed, chemically etched or wire-wound heating element uses silicone or other material to create a chemical- and moisture-resistant component.

These heaters are common in military, commercial and industrial applications. The size, temperature and material options are surprisingly diverse. One application for these heaters is melting ice on automotive mirrors.

Strip Heaters

Strip heaters are used to heat air through convection. They use a durable sheath material to prevent oxidation during the process. Common materials include chrome steel, stainless steel and rust-resistant iron. Common types of strip heaters include:

  • Finned strip heater
  • Ceramic insulated heating strips
  • Ring heating tapes

These heaters are durable and unobtrusive in most air duct applications. They work most efficiently in air heating processes, but can also be used to transfer heat through liquids. It will be important to consider optimal thickness and sheathing material of your heating strip prior to purchasing one of these heaters.

Cartridge Heaters

Apply high levels of heat consistently and efficiency with a cartridge heater in your industrial process. These heaters create localized heat up to 800 degrees in a sealed environment. The tube-shaped body of a cartridge heater is inserted into a uniform hole in the side of a container. Flanges or tabs are used to secure the heater and create a firm seal.

The sheathing material varies, but stainless steel is a common option. Be sure to choose a cartridge sheath material that won’t be corroded or otherwise damaged from your process liquid. Both imperial and metric sizes are available to fit a pre-drilled hole.

Immersion Heaters

Compare screw plug, flanged and over-the-side immersion heaters to find the best option to heat a liquid. Barrels or other containers of salts, solvents, oils and water need to be heated at a specific, uniform temperature for your manufacturing process. The shape and sheathing material of immersion heaters may change, but they all are capable of being submerged in the liquid.

Consider the optimal sheathing material to protect your immersion unit. Titanium, steel, copper, cast iron and other materials can all be used to combine chemical resistance, energy efficiency and other performance features your facility needs.

Tubular Heaters

Use a tubular heater in your construction, retail food or manufacturing process. Compared with other types of units, tubular units offer incredibly precise temperature settings. The shape and related controlling mechanisms allow tubular heating systems to be used in virtually any application.

Choose stainless steel, titanium, Incoloy or other sheathing material to create a long-lasting unit. These dynamic units use radiation, convection and conduction heating to deliver heat through liquid, solid or gas systems. Use a tubular heater to warm up grease, maintain a water temperature or heat up oil for optimal lubrication in your construction equipment.

Commercial Heating Specialists

We connect commercial customers with durable process heaters that meet targeted requirements and perform specialized tasks. Our thermal products are designed to give you outstanding value and long life, while also meeting your specific budgetary requirements. We distribute standard and custom electric band heaters, nozzle heaters, cast-in heaters and more.

Our industrial and commercial heaters offer operational innovation, generating the rapid, reliable heat transfers you need for successful outcomes. From flexible silicone rubber heaters to comprehensive thermal control systems, we help to solve space, shape or application heating challenges. Hi-Watt is dedicated to quick response times and fast turnarounds. Call us today to take advantage of our thermal expertise and personalized service.