trace heating questions 

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Q. What is trace heating (heat trace)?

Q. How does trace heating work?

Electric trace heatingheat trace or surface heating, is the application of a compensating heat source used to temperature maintain or raise pipes, surfaces and vessels. In the form of an electrical heating element, trace heating is run in physical contact with the desired surface.

Electric heat trace / surface heating replaces the losses of heat from a surface, to allow temperature maintenance of the product, which thermal insulation alone can not maintain.

Q. When is trace heating required?

Q. Constant wattage or self regulating, which choice to make?

Trace heating can be used to protect pipes from freezing, maintain the temperature of a hot water system, or maintain process temperatures for smooth and efficient running of process plant equipment.

Engineers and installers using trace heating will always have their preferences as to the type of trace heating cable to use. Take a look at the pros and cons for both cables - CONSTANT WATTAGE OR SELF LIMITING?

Q. What is self regulating heating tape?

Q. What is constant wattage heating tape?

Self regulating heating tape, also known as self limiting, adjusts heat output to equal the heat loss from the pipe work. As pipe temperature falls under no-flow conditions or due to the decreases in external or internal temperature the electrical conductivity of the semi-conductive polymer core increases causing the tape to increase output. As the pipe temperature increases under flow conditions or as a result of increasing external or internal temperature the conductivity reduces and output decreases.

Constant wattage heating tape exist in various forms, of which the more recent zonal parallel circuit devices are the most convenient, since these may be ‘cut to length’, within practical limits, on site. The output of constant wattage tape is virtually constant along the tape length, due to the consistent nature of the wire element.

Q. Do I need to use thermal insulation?

 Q. Can the trace heating tape be cut to length?

Thermal insulation is recommended on all heat trace applications. Without insulation surface heat losses can increase approx 4-5 times.

ESH Trace Heating's range of Parallel Circuit Heating Tapes can all be 'Cut-to-Length' to suit pipework.

Q. Can I use electric surface heating to heat raise pipes and vessels?

 Q. Do I have to spiral the trace heating onto the pipe?

Electric surface heating (ESH) can be used to heat raise pipes and vessels. However, it is usually more economic to maintain heating on a pipeline than to provide a heating system designed to raise from cold. Where it is necessary to make provision for heat raising the time allowed should normally be in the range 12 – 24 hours to avoid high loadings.

The application of the heat trace tape depends on the required wattage. As ESH Trace Heating Ltd manufacture an extensive range of heating tapes most applications can simply be straight traced, reducing costs of materials and installation time without compromising on operational requirements.

Q. How do I terminate the heating cable?

 Q. Can electric trace heating tapes be joined?

Full termination instructions are provided with all our heating tapes or alternatively can be found within the trace heating ancillaries section of the website.

Parallel circuit constant wattage heating tapes can be joined using either the relevant jointing kits or a trace heating junction boxes found under ancillaries within the products section.

Q. Can I use heat trace on plastic pipes?

 Q. Do I have to allow extra heat for pumps and valves?

When using heat trace on plastic pipes ensure that the cable does not exceed 12 watts per metre and is fitted with earth protection. The heat trace tape should be used in conjunction with a thermostat. NOTE: PVC cables and PVC fixing tape MUST NOT be used on PVC pipes.

If the surface area of the pump is substantially greater than that of the adjoining pipework then extra heating cable may need to be considered (depending on wattage of cable installed). Pumps and valves may be heat traced with extra heating tape to allow removal of the valve or pump.

Q. Do you carry out installation work?

 Q. Can you design a full surface heating system for me?

ESH Trace Heating Ltd offer a full Installation and commissioning service carried out by experienced trace heating engineers.

Utilising our in-house design facilities ESH Trace Heating Ltd can design your complete trace heating requirement.

Q. Can you design and make a specialised heating jacket for me?

 Q. Do you make products for hazardous areas?

ESH Trace Heating Ltd manufacture custom made insulated and non-insulated heating jackets, mats and pads for many applications of up to 400°C. All products can be manufactured to suit customer specific application requirements.

ESH Trace Heating Ltd hold approvals for the manufacture and installation of hazardous area trace heating products, within Zone I and Zone II hazardous areas.

Q. Does my trace heating system require maintenance?

 Q. How do I test my trace heating system is working properly?

Generally, no maintenance of our trace heating systems is required but it is recommended that the system is checked for operational and electrical integrity periodically or prior to the winter or production run, depending on application.

System checks depend on the system installed, constant wattage systems can be fully checked for insulation resistance and continuity. Self regulating systems can only be checked for insulation resistance. For assistance on system testing please contact us.