Heating applications in industrial settings are not often thought of as prime areas where businesses can save on operating costs. However, designers can engineer efficiencies into heating applications that can deliver significant cost savings over time.
Below, you’ll find seven methods engineers can use to help ensure their heating application designs are both energy and cost efficient.
1. Take the outside environment into account
The air used to heat the building will come from outside the building, so the climate where the facility is located is a critical element. Heating systems are usually designed to maintain a temperature of 64 to 68°F (18 to 20°C). Transmission losses (which occur through walls, floor, ceilings, doors, and windows) will become lower as the outside ambient temperature gets closer to the desired inside temperature. For that reason, heat generation requirements will usually be less for facilities in warmer areas—designers can keep costs down by defining a smaller heating system that’s appropriate for the geographic region.
2. Don’t overlook boiler efficiency
Not all boilers are created equal. When you’ve determined the application’s heat generation requirements—based on square footage, geographic location, incidental heat gain that is generated by manufacturing processes or sunlight, etc.—research the boiler that is most efficient for that output. Sellers can greatly assist in providing technical information as well as real-world experience.
In addition, a boiler that doesn’t have to constantly operate at maximum output during colder months can help conserve energy and keep costs down; so it may make sense to augment the boiler with extremely efficient modern technologies such as positive temperature coefficient (PTC) heat. PTC uses ceramic stone or chips rather than traditional metal heating elements to provide a heat source that is customizable and scalable. A PTC heating solution can offer a defined maximum temperature at which resistance increases sharply, thus creating a self-regulating element that delivers a specific amount of heat right where it’s needed, rather than taxing the entire system.
3. Distribute heat sources
Since heat rises, engineers typically place the boiler in the lowest part of the building. However, designers of industrial heating applications typically face challenges presented by long, low buildings that make dispersing heat from a central location especially difficult compared to residential or high-rise situations. Often, one or more substations may be needed in addition to the primary system. Once again, the spot application of PTC heating can be a cost-efficient way to deliver targeted heat evenly and safely.
4. Consider the impact of control systems on overall efficiency
Different areas of a building may have different heating requirements, so it’s important to build some adjustability into the system. However, beware of giving individuals too much control over their work area—this can be counterproductive for the application as a whole. It’s a good idea to research the interfaces that will go in each area, how much adjustability they’ll allow, and how they’ll work with the main boiler control system. Computerized control and supervision will go a long way to ensuring that the application realizes all the efficiencies designed into it.
5. Don’t skimp on pumps, piping, and circulation
As noted earlier, industrial buildings are often long, low structures that make dispersing heat from a central location particularly challenging. For maximum efficiency, consider including a number of evenly distributed sub-stations of fans, heaters or pumps. Several smaller systems operating at peak efficiency will be much less expensive to operate than running a central boiler at a high output for extended periods.
6. Put heat vents where they’ll do the most good
Another characteristic of designing industrial heating applications is that manufacturing processes often generate their own heat. By spacing heating stations evenly throughout the facility, you’ll be able to increase efficiency by allowing users to introduce heat where it’s needed and shut it off where it isn’t needed. And while machines generally don’t need heat, people do; you’ll likely want to concentrate vents in spaces like offices where people will generally spend the most time. PTC heating solutions may be an ideal way to maintain specified heat levels automatically in a variety of different locations.
7. It’s difficult to have too much insulation
Insulation is vital to an efficient heating design application. Insulation on pipes, ducts, and outside walls helps ensure that heated air stays heated longer, and can be delivered over longer distances. That means boilers run less, lowering heating and energy costs and prolonging the boiler’s service life. In addition, insulation works both ways by keeping heat from going where it isn’t wanted; for example, near electronics that are sensitive to higher temperatures. And finally, it’s relatively inexpensive and can serve its purpose for decades.
These are just a few ways that designers of industrial heating applications can deliver significant cost savings for users over time.
You can learn more about PTC heating solutions that we offer with this eBook: