If you’re shopping for a new industrial heating solution for your plant or facility, you may have come across a new offering on the market: replaceable tank heating fins.
These bolt-on fins seem may seem like a great innovation – and the solution they provide may seem like just what you’re looking for at first glance. But our decades of experience in the industrial heating industry made us immediately wary of this product and its effectiveness.
Upon taking a closer look, we’ve discovered that there are some false claims out there about these bolt-on heating fin systems.
Here, we explain a bit more about these systems, and debunk some of the myths about their functionality and effectiveness.
What Are Bolt-On Heating Fins?
Bolt-on heating fins are aluminum fins that are bolted onto the CS pipe, held in place by metal bands within a tank of material or product that is being stored at a tank terminal.
Their intended function is to increase the heating surface of a bare pipe, therefore improving and increasing the heat transfer of the existing heating system within the tank where they are placed.
Bolt-on heating fin manufacturers claim that these fins provide a number of advantages over more traditional heating coils and tank heating solutions. Unfortunately, the things they are promoting as benefits are unlikely to be true upon closer investigation.
3 False Claims About Replaceable Tank Heating Fins
Don’t be deceived! Some of the key benefits that might tempt you to try a bolt-on heating fin system are actually false claims.
Here are a few of the common misconceptions about replaceable tank heating fins that you should be aware of as you’re exploring your options:
1. They’re More Efficient Than Traditional Heating Coils
Sadly, this claim is the opposite of the truth. Because they are typically made of a different material than the pipe they are being applied to, bolt-on tank heating fins are actually quite inefficient.
The replaceable fins we’ve seen on the market are constructed out of aluminum. The aluminum fins have a different thermal expansion than the CS pipes they are attached to. As a result, when they are heated, gaps form between the two materials. This means that the heat cannot transfer to the fins, which essentially renders the fins useless.
This important detail makes it clear that the fins do not in fact increase heat transfer efficiency.
2. They Are Less Prone to Coking
The replaceable tank heating fin manufacturers claim that their unique fin design is less prone to coking. While coking is clearly an issue you want to avoid when it comes to your tank heating equipment, longitudinal fins are not a solution that will realistically reduce coking.
Longitudinal fins create stagnant flow areas in the spaces between the horizontal fins. These areas are prime targets for coking. Remember a longitudinally finned pipe is more likely to coke than a pipe with a helically wound fin. With this in mind, it shouldn’t be overly surprising that longitudinal bolt-on fins are actually significantly more prone to coking.
3. They Provide a Better Heat Coefficient Than Traditional Coils
Unfortunately, this claim is untrue as well. Because the replaceable bolt-on tank heating coils are longitudinal coils, they actually have a significantly worse heat transfer coefficient than traditional helical coils.
The heat transfer coefficient for a longitudinally finned pipe is about half that of a helically wound fin when placed horizontally in the bottom of a tank. Because of this reduced heat transfer coefficient, it will actually take twice as much surface area for a longitudinal finned pipe to do the same heating as a pipe with helical fins.
Don’t Be Fooled By False Bolt-On Heating Fin Benefits
It may be tempting to give this new tank heating solution a try, but be sure to do your research and due diligence ahead of time. Don’t be fooled by the handful of unrealistic benefits and advantages the manufacturers are claiming and promoting.
Looking for a Tank Heating Solution You Can Trust?
At American Heating Company, we have more than 30 years of experience developing heating solutions for our clients and customers. Whether you’re in need of a standard piece of equipment, or you’re looking for something customized, we can assist you.
Our tank heating equipment, including our coils, are designed and manufactured right here in the USA. They are among the longest-lasting on the market; if you’re looking for a long-term solution, we’ve got what you need!
Interested in learning more about the tank heating equipment we offer? Give us a call today at (973) 777-0100 or contact us online to get the conversation started. We’d be happy to work with you to design and develop a tank heating solution you can rely on for years to come.
Wondering where you can find more information about our tank coils? You can learn more about our storage tank heating coil design here, and get the details about some of the tank coil options we offer here.
Hoping to find alternative ways to improve your plant’s efficiency since these bolt-on heating fins aren’t the answer? We share a handful of opportunities for improving facility efficiency here.