The term “heating elements” refers to any and all heat generation equipment in electric heaters. Found in equipment of all shapes and sizes and with a variety of configurations and materials, heating elements all have the same goal: to convert electrical energy into heat energy up to 1300°F, and then distribute said heat energy through or to solids, liquids or gases (including air) via convection, conduction or radiation. Heating element varieties used in industrial, commercial and consumer applications include: immersion, quartz, flexible, infrared and tubular heating elements, among many others.
Immersion heating elements are used to heat gasses and liquids; they have the special ability to be immersed in the materials they heat without malfunctioning. Immersion heaters are further characterized by their fast, efficient and cost-effective heating solutions. Types of materials they typically heat include plating baths, mild acids, oils, water, salts, air, and chemical solutions. These services are primarily performed for applications like process systems, boilers, water heaters, heat transfer systems, oil heaters, and storage tanks. Read More…
Quartz heating elements convert electrical currents into infrared rays by running them through special resistors. In doing so, they provide rapid heating. These fast process speeds make them very popular for use with industrial applications like film curing, thermoforming, powder coatings, adhesive sealing, and paint drying, as well as zone control applications in automotive, print, petrochemical, textile, glass and electronic industries.
Flexible heating elements are able to bond to a variety of compounds and shapes and provide direct heating. This versatility is possible because they are very thin and bendable.
Infrared heating elements emit heat in the form of infrared waves, which are a type of electromagnetic radiation known for transferring heat efficiently. Infrared heating elements are used in conjunction with radiating heaters like duct, immersion, and tubular heaters, which heat air or liquid on the large scale. They support industrial ovens, pressure vessel heating, storage tank heating, boilers, water treatment plants, steam generation and more.
Named for their tubular shape, tubular heating elements are found in ovens, dishwashers and more, depending on their form; they may be manipulated into a standard shape or they may be take on a custom shape for a specific application. Usually consisting of an inner conductive material like steel, aluminum, nickel, copper or brass, tubular heating elements are often encased in a protective coating or sheath made from a ceramic.
Most appliances that use heat, use some sort of heating element. Commonly, heating element, whatever their type, are found in the form of coils or wires. In fact, wire heating elements are among the most widely used heating elements for industrial and commercial drying. They are found in surface treatment heaters, kilns, and many other dryers. Another type of heating element, the ceramic heating element, is utilized in convection heating; ceramic elements are built into space heaters, furnaces and semiconductors. Electric heating elements are quite prevalent as well, especially in the service of industrial electric heaters. Cartridge heaters supply localized heat to equipment parts in metal fabricating, foam fabricating, plastic fabricating, food processing and packaging. Coil heaters, band heaters or strip heaters help extruding channels and hoppers maintain the plasticity of materials as they are being extruded.
Before purchasing a new heating element or elements, it’s important to note a few things. First of all, note that heating elements usually have a shorter lifespan than the item they are serving, so expect to replace them from time to time. Generally, manufacturers will offer options stock purchasable or custom made replacement elements, depending on customer needs. More often than not, this replacement process has a fairly quick turnaround time and is considered a part of a regular maintenance schedule. If a heating element goes out in an end-user item, like a hairdryer, however, it’s probably more economical to replace the whole item rather than its heating element. Also note that in order to achieve safe and effective operations, you must correctly pair your heating element and its application. A failure to do so has the potential to result in short circuiting, fires, product damage or equipment loss.
Different Types of Heating Elements
Heating elements power heating appliances of the modern generation. Electric heaters, hair dryers, soldering irons, showers, stoves, toasters, clothes dryers, etc. are some appliances that use heating elements. From households to industries, heating applications play an important role. Whether water-based or dry, heaters use one or more heating element to heat up an application, surface, or area.
Ideally, all heating elements are responsible for converting electricity into heat. For the translation of energy, they follow the theory of Joule Heating. When electric energy goes through an element, it lands on a high-capacity resistance. Heat is the result of this high-profile encounter. By introducing intelligent control systems, the level of heating can be upgraded or downgraded.
For different applications, there are various types of heaters that employ a wide variety of heating elements. Based on their make and working principles, some popular types of heating elements are:
Metal-based Elements: As the name suggests, a greater part of their body is metal. Metal, as we all know, is a good conductor of heat and electricity. That is why, metal-based elements make one of the most effective heating elements, used in everyday and industrial appliances. They can be classified in many sub types –
- Nichrome based – A large number of electric heaters have elements made of nichrome. Nicrome stands for Nickel plus Chromium. In Nichrome based heaters, there is 80% nickel and 20% chromium.
- Resistance wire based – Some metal-based parts are composed by a set of high resistant wires and ribbons. These wires can be sometimes be straight or coiled, as per the design and heating capacity of the appliance. These wires are used as resistance. The applications, in which you can find such provisioning, are toaster and handheld body massager. Kanthal, nichrome and cupronickel are a few most used metals in the conception of resistance wires.
Ceramic Heating Elements: Ceramic heating elements are an innovative technology used in numerous industrial heating applications.
- Molybedenum Disilicide – It is a material that shows the characteristics of both a metal and ceramic. With an extremely high melting point, (to be precise, 3690 º F), Molybedenum Disilicide is considered ideal for a number of high-capacity heating elements, used across industries, including the glass manufacturing.
- PTC – PTC, which extends to positive thermal coefficient for resistance, is a high-profile ceramic material that is utilized in automotive rear-window defrost heaters, space heaters and expensive hair dryers. There are also available polymer based PTC ceramics that are used in many purpose-built heaters. These elements increase the heating as their resistance is amplified. Controlling the heating of these elements is simple, that is because they are the selection for self regulating electric heaters.
Composite Heating Elements: These heating elements are available in many subcategories.
- Tubular – Tubular elements are basically metallic tubes that have a thin coil of nichrome, which heats up the application.
- Radio Active Elements – Radioactive elements are used in a many types of food warmers.
Apart from these, gold coated, ruby coated, and removable ceramic core heating elements are also used in many industrial applications.
Testing the Performance of the Heating Element in Your Heater
The heating element is the main part of a heating appliance. Whether you are using a gas-based heater or an electric one, a heater will have some heating element at the core of it. Most heaters tend to lose their heating capacity over time. When the performance of a heater declines, that simply means there is some issue with its heating element. A key reason your heater’s performance drops is the bad condition of the heating element.
Heaters for different purposes may have different types of elements. This article highlights a step-by-step process to guide you on testing and replacing an old element from your heaters. These tips promote user safety; however, if you are confused at any stage, you should ask an expert to do the testing and replacement–
First, perform a visual inspection. If you see any sign of discoloration, damage, or burning on the coil, then the element will need to be replaced.
If you do not notice anything unusual during the initial assessment, then you should proceed with the following steps.
- Calculate the resistance of the element. This is a mathematical exercise; you can use a calculator to find the resistance of the part. The simple formula for this calculation is: R = (V x V) ÷ P. In this equation, R stands for resistance, V for voltage, whereas P stands for the power that the element needs. These are common and easy to access figures.
- Once you have the resistance, it is time to check the element using a metering tool – multimeter. Set the device to show resistance and choose an appropriate measuring scale for this. Make sure that the heater is not connected to the power supply. Now, measure the resistance of the element by touching the terminals of the heating elements with the leads of the multimeter.
- Match the resistance reading provided by the multimeter with the one that you calculated.
- If there is a match, then there is no problem with the element. In this case, if you noticed any irregularity in the heating of your appliance lately, then there probably is some other issue with it. You need to get that checked by a repair service.
- However, if the observed reading is higher or lower than what you calculated, then you will need to replace the element. You could get this done by a professional service or you could check out a video tutorial for the element replacement.
If you are performing this test in a water heater,
- Then you will need to drain out all the water from the tank and allow it to dry out completely. You should also unplug the device and turn off the breaker panel.
- Once done, carefully remove the electric wires and open the tank to perform the test and replacement.