A ceramic heater has heating elements that come into direct or near-direct contact with the area or substance that it heats. Ceramic heating elements can be used in products that melt, cook, dry, warm, seal and reform substances. Many commercial and consumer products also contain ceramic heating elements, such as hair dryers, space heaters, toasters and irons.
An example of such a heater would be a heater used to keep food products warm. The heating element directly warms the substance rather than indirectly via fans or ductwork. In some cases, ceramic heating elements can be used in immersion heaters. An immersion heater involves heating elements that can be immersed in a liquid; the heating element then heats the surrounding material directly.
Ceramic heating elements are capable of generating high, evenly distributed heat. They are considered by many professionals to be superior to wire heating elements because of their higher heat generation capacity and the evenness with which they are capable of distributing heat. They also tend to last longer than wire heating elements and are less prone to causing fires.
Ceramic heating elements are such effective heaters because of their high electrical resistance. The extent to which a heating element is electrically resistive determines its heat generation capacity.
Ceramic heating elements are also more durable and longer lasting than other heat element varieties. Ceramic heating elements can be found in rectangular, square, flat, cylindrical, or partial cylinder shapes. In many cases, particularly in the case of very small heaters, a ceramic heating element may be no larger than a few short fibers. In other cases, as is the case with hair straightening irons, the heating elements can be long, flat plates.
The shape and size of a given ceramic heating element depends on the demands of its intended application. All heating elements should be chosen carefully based on the demands of their application in order to ensure safe and effective operation.