Heater elements are the heating components within all electric heaters. With critical applications in residential, commercial, and industrial process applications, heater elements are manufactured in a variety of materials and configurations. Heater elements are capable of providing heat from room temperature up to over 1300° F.
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Applications of Heater Elements
Heater elements are widely used, as most appliances that require heat to perform their processes use a heater element of one kind or another.
Many industrial, commercial, and consumer appliances use heater elements, such as:
Industrial processes use heating elements in countless heating applications. In addition, radiating types of heater elements, such as immersion heater elements, quartz heater elements, and infrared heater elements are used to heat liquid or air in industrial ovens, storage tank heating, pressure vessel heating, steam generation, boilers, water treatment facilities, and many other applications.
Heater Element Design
Heater elements within electric heaters are mainly composed of these three elements:
- An Insulating Core
- A Heat Conductive Coil Wrapped Around the Insulation
- An Encasing Sheath Made From Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Nickel, or Iron
Insulating cores are necessary in most types of electric heaters to retain and absorb electrical energy so that it can be released as heat energy by surrounding coils or materials. Coiled wire heater elements, such as those used as household dryer heating elements, have no insulating core but transfer heat directly to the air through blown convection. In higher heat applications, cores are responsible for converting electrical energy into heat energy and are a heating element’s major component. Heater element cores are generally made from either NiChrome, a high resistance 80% nickel 20% chromium compound, or from a Positive Thermal Coefficient ceramic, which is a highly heat resistant barium titanate/lead titanate composite. Ceramics and NiChrome are by far the most common insulation materials, although various heater elements may use mineral insulation, such as magnesium oxide, mica, or fiberglass, depending on the heater's application requirements.
Some of the more common types of heater elements include:
- Tubular Heater Elements
- Ceramic Heater Elements
- Heater Coils