Thermal Fluid Heater FAQs

Graphic that reads Thermal Fluid Heater FAQs

As experts in the industrial heating industry, we field a lot of questions from clients and potential customers about heating equipment in general, as well as the heating systems and system components that we manufacture.

Thermal fluid heaters are one of our specialties. We are proud to offer hot oil heaters that are highly efficient and built to last for decades. Our unique serpentine coil heater design truly sets us apart, and we’re the only industrial heater company in our industry to offer serpentine radiant coils in our standard thermal fluid heater design.

Answers to Common Questions About Thermal Fluid Heaters & Hot Oil Heating Systems

Here, we’ll answer some of the questions we hear most frequently about hot oil heaters so you can be well informed as you explore your options.

What Are The Advantages of Thermal Fluid Heaters?

When compared to other industrial heating solutions, thermal fluid heaters provide a significant number of advantages. These advantages include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased efficiency
  • Flexibility
  • Versatility
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Minimal maintenance requirements
  • Fewer staff requirements
  • No need for pressurization
  • No need for chemical regulation

You can read in more depth about the key advantages of thermal fluid heaters here.

What Are The Different Ways to Build an Industrial Hot Oil Heater?

There are essentially two ways to build industrial hot oil heaters. You can build them with helical coils, which is what most manufacturers do, or you can build them with serpentine coils, which is what we do here at American Heating Company.

Helical coil heaters feature coils that are tightly wound in the radiant section of the heater. They transfer heat via convection, but have limited room for expansion, higher film temperatures thus higher levels of fluid degradation, and limited operation at temperatures over 400°F. They can also be challenging to repair when something goes wrong, which is common.

Serpentine coil heaters feature coils that have space between the tubes, giving them a better radiant heat absorption and are configured for thermal expansion. They are more efficient when it comes to heat transfer, provide longer tube life and a lower level of fluid degradation (lower film temperature), and they are easier to repair. Life of serpentine coils last 2-3 times longer than a helical coil.  Serpentine coil repairs are very rare.

You can explore in more depth the two ways to build industrial thermal fluid heaters here.

How Do Serpentine Coils and Helical Coils Differ?

Helical coils and serpentine coils are structured differently. Helical coils are tightly wound with the coils closely grouped together and stitch welded together. Serpentine coils are built with space between the tubes, which gives them more room for expansion.

Besides being structured differently, helical coils and serpentine coils vary in terms of efficiency, heat transfer, operating temperature, fluid degradation rate, and more. Generally, serpentine coil heaters are more efficient, provide longer tube life, and offer a lower level of fluid degradation. They also make for easier repairs.

Most industrial heating equipment manufacturers use helical coils as their standard in the heaters they build. At American Heating Company, we use serpentine coils.

You can learn more about the differences between helical coils and serpentine coils here.

How Do I Choose Appropriate Thermal Fluid for My Hot Oil Heater?

There are dozens of important factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right thermal fluid for your heating system. These factors include:

  • Operating temperature
  • Pressure requirements
  • Industry
  • Application
  • Local regulations
  • Environmental and efficiency requirements

Choosing the right thermal heating fluid can make a significant difference for your facility’s operations, so making your selection is a task well worth doing the right way. Check out this resource for more helpful insight about what to consider when selecting thermal fluid for your heating system.

Looking for additional guidance? We’d be happy to assist you. Just give us a call at (973) 777-0100 or contact us online and we’ll point you in the right direction.

Can a Thermal Fluid Heater Be Used to Replace a Steam Boiler?

The short answer to this question is yes. Hot oil heaters can be used to replace steam boilers in many scenarios, though all facility situations are different. When possible, we recommend investing in a thermal fluid heater rather than a steam boiler for a few reasons.

Firstly, thermal fluid systems don’t need to be pressurized, they don’t require chemical regulation, and they won’t freeze up in cold temperatures. They also don’t require a licensed boiler operator on staff for operation.

Additionally, thermal fluid heaters are more efficient and safer than steam boilers.

You can read in more detail about the advantages of hot oil heating over steam boiler heating here.

Are Thermal Fluid Heaters Called By Any Other Names?

We typically refer to thermal fluid heaters as ‘thermal fluid heaters’ or ‘hot oil heaters’ but you may also hear them referred to as ‘thermal oil heaters,’ ‘industrial oil heaters,’ or even ‘thermic oil heaters.’

If you’re shopping your options when it comes to industrial heating equipment, it’s important to be aware that different manufacturers may refer to thermal fluid heaters in different ways.

Have Additional Questions About Thermal Fluid Heaters?

Our experts would be happy to answer them!

With more than 30 years in the industry, we’ve established ourselves as leaders in industrial heating and we’re happy to share our knowledge with those looking to make responsible, informed decisions when it comes to choosing equipment for their facilities.

Give us a call at (973) 777-0100 or contact us online and we’ll gladly share our insight and help you find the equipment that’s best for you.