Air heaters are defined as electric heaters that provide heat for industrial and residential purposes by way of air circulation or a blower mechanism. Air heaters can be rectangular or barrel shaped, large in size, and portable, but other models of air heaters that vary in size and shape are also available. Air heaters are constructed by installing a heating element in an enclosure. The heating element remains stationary, while its air ducts expose sections of the heating element to the circulating air by rotating alternately. Heating elements vary from heater to heater, but most of them are found in the form of wires or coils. Wire heating elements are commonly used for industrial and commercial drying applications, and are most commonly found in machines such as kilns and surface treatment heaters. Ceramic heating elements are used in convection heating. Devices that utilize ceramic heating elements include semiconductors, furnaces, and space heaters. Electric heating elements are commonly found in industrial electric heaters. In industries such as packaging, food processing, plastic fabricating, foam fabricating, and metal fabricating, cartridge heaters are frequently utilized in their equipment. In the extrusion process, coil heaters, band heaters, and strip heaters are used to maintain the temperature of the extruding channels and thus the plasticity of materials as they pass through.
Numerous industries use air heaters to provide heat, assist in the drying process, or reduce humidity in the atmosphere. Industries that benefit from the assistance of air heaters include automotive, packaging, sealing, laminating, drying, welding, plastics, and shrink fitting. In addition to industrial settings, air heaters are used in homes in the form of furnaces or portable space heaters. Other contexts include climate control systems within office spaces, institutions, and stores. The appropriate size and shape of the air heater depends on the size of the room and the type of industry that is using it. There are some industries such as the plastics welding industry that greatly benefit, if not require, more than one air heater to work together. Industrial sized air heaters have the ability to precisely regulate control the air temperature in order for welded plastic to effectively melt and dry. Applications such as shrink wrapping machines use air heaters to heat plastic so it effectively conforms and adheres to the item it is packaging.
There are two methods by which air heaters can operate. The first is the gravitational method, where cool air travels through cold air ducts and enters the heater. The air warms and rises through a large supply duct once it passes through the heating element. Then, the cool air re-enters the furnace and the process begins again. The difference in weight between the warm and cool air keeps the air circulating at a consistent rate. The second method is the forced air method, where a blower mechanism forces warm air through a supply duct. The air is directed by diffusers or registers into the room, and the air returns through a cold air duct to the heater where dust and dirt is filtered. Both of these types of heaters require a central heating element, such as a wire or a coil. Every building, industrial or residential, features a heating ventilation system made up of a series of ducts. These systems help to maintain a controlled climate within the building by regulating the amount of hot and cold air being circulated. The network of ducts are connected to not only each other, but to at least one unit that produces hot or cool air. Most heating and cooling systems are automatic and programmed to where it maintains a specific temperature.
Solar powered air heaters are a recommended alternative to electric air heaters due to how much more cost effective they are. Solar heaters consist of panels that are placed on walls, windows, or on top of roofs. The panels are then heated by solar radiation, and the heated air is directed through a series of ducts. The heated air can be effectively circulated and prevented from flowing back into the panel by placing blowers and dampers in the room. Solar air heaters are cost effective in the long term, although the initial installation cost tends to be more expensive.
Since air heaters are used for a variety of applications, they come in a wide range of configurations and utilize different heating elements. Residences use air heaters every day to warm homes and heat food and water, and industries rely on electric air heaters to maintain a certain temperature for various processes. Therefore, it is important to consider all aspects of the heating system and the application for which the heater will be used in order to ensure maximum efficiency and safety.
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