Electric Heat Tracing vs. Steam Heat Tracing

Electric Heat Tracing vs. Steam Heat Tracing

It's been a hot topic in boiler room facilities... electric or steam heat tracing?

No need to get all steamed up about it, but if you are wondering what steam tracing is or how to decide which route would be most effective for your facility, we can help with that.

What is Heat Tracing Process for Boilers?

Heat tracing is a process that keeps pipe temperature up while fluids move through them in order to prevent the fluids from solidifying. This can be accomplished with electricity or steam.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Heat Tracing

Electric heat tracing utilizes an electrical heating element that runs the length of a pipe. The heating element is used to keep temperatures high within the pipe so that the fluids stay in the liquid form. This process is beneficial to plants with no access to steam that may be looking for a smaller initial investment than installing a boiler system. Electric heat systems offer more variety in temperature ranges than steam heat tracing systems, have lower maintenance costs than steam heat tracing systems, and are able to be monitored remotely. These systems are easy to install and utilize energy efficiently. In some situations, where flammable substances are present, it can be impossible to use an electric heat system because they are deemed unsafe by National Electrical Code for use in certain areas or plants. If not monitored carefully, these systems can also overheat and cause damage to the system.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Steam Heat Tracing

Steam heat tracing utilizes a pipe containing low pressure steam attached to and insulated with the pipe containing the fluid. Heat from the steam pipe is used to heat the other pipe and the fluid within it. This type of system is beneficial in a plant that already has access to steam through a boiler. Enabling a steam heat tracing system is not as costly in this system because the steam used to generate the heat is already present through the condensation from the plant's boiler processes. Where steam is already present because a boiler system is in place, steam heating is much less costly. Steam heat systems are also less likely to experience system failure than electric heat tracing systems. They also heat up more quickly than electric heat tracing systems and are considered a safe option. Condensate produced from the heat tracing system can be reused at the boiler, which is also an advantage.

The downfall of a steam heat tracing system is that it requires more labor to install and it also requires more routine maintenance than an electric system and operates best when used in short distances.

WARE can help you evaluate and select the system that would work best in your facility. For help in choosing a heat tracing system, or for more information on boiler systems, call us today at 1-800-228-8861.

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