Duct Heaters Information

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Duct heaters are used to heat moving gas streams. They are installed in the middle of a moving air / gas stream in order to provide forced flow heat convection. A duct heater can also be used to radiantly heat an object as the thermal energy of the air is transferred to an object at the end of the flow stream. This method of indirect heat transfer is useful for drying, baking or preheating solid objects in an enclosed space. 


Selection Criteria

Important parameters to consider when specifying duct heaters are maximum operating temperature, heating capacity and maximum air flow. Other considerations include type of heating element, dimensions and various features. 


Formulas used to calculate wattage requirements, expected temperature rise and required air flow:


Image Credit: BTU Electric Heaters


Maximum Operating or Sheath Temperature 

Maximum operating temperature is the maximum temperature that the sheath covering the heater may reach. 


Heating Capacity

Heating capacity is a measure of how much thermal energy the device delivers over a period of time, usually measured in kilowatts.





Calculating Wattage Requirements

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Maximum Air Flow

The heater's air flow will define the volume of space that the heater is capable of heating. Airflow will also dictate the heating capacity required to maintain a specific temperature. 

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Heating Element

Duct heaters are available with open coil, tubular or finned heating elements.


Open Coil

Open coil heater elements are supported by a ceramic insulators, used to isolate the resistive heating elements. They provide an economical means of heating inert or non-corrosive gases when a protective sheath is not required.

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Tubular elements have a protective sheath that provides electrical insulation as well as a protective barrier. Duct heaters with tubular elements are capable of achieving higher temperatures and can accommodate higher airflow rates.

Image Credit: EXHEAT


Finned heating elements have a protective sheath with flat elongated fins to increase heat capacity when used in confined spaces.

Image Credit: DirectIndustry


Dimensional requirements for proper duct heater installation include opening height, width and depth.



The height of the heater as measured from the face of the installation flange.


The width of the heater as measured from the face of the installation flange.


The depth of the duct required for heater installation.


Image Credit: Tempco




Features common to duct heaters include explosion proof, hazardous location and UL approved.


Explosion-proof heaters are designed to withstand explosions and protect the materials within. Some suppliers include heaters with housings that can withstand sparking and flames.
Hazardous location heaters are designed for use in places where there is a risk of fire or explosion. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and other organizations rate these devices.
• Heaters approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) have been tested and meet the requirements set by their published standards for safety. Products that receive UL approval bear a UL Mark. Typically, documentation of UL certification is available from the manufacturer.



BTU Electric Heaters - Heaters Selection & Sizing


Chromalox - Process Air Heating Design Guide


Dela T - Duct and Pipe Heaters

Related Products & Services

  • Band Heaters

    Band heaters are ring-shaped heaters that clamp onto a cylindrical object and heat via conductive heat transfer.

  • Cartridge Heaters

    Cartridge heaters are cylindrical devices generally inserted into a heated substance.

  • Circulation Heaters

    Circulation heaters are used primarily to heat moving, flowing, or circulating fluid streams. Fluid flows through the heater, which transfers heat to the fluid stream. Any liquid or gas is generally acceptable for use with a circulation heater.

  • Coil Heaters and Cable Heaters

    Coil heaters and cable heaters are heating elements formed from straight (uncoiled) segments of round or square heating cable.

  • Cylindrical Ceramic Fiber Heaters

    Cylindrical ceramic fiber heaters consist of an iron-chrome-aluminum (ICA) heating element and a thick layer of ceramic fiber insulation within a cylinder-shaped housing.

  • Flat Ceramic Fiber Heaters

    Flat ceramic fiber heaters consist of an iron-chrome-aluminum (ICA) heating element and a thick layer of ceramic fiber insulation within a non-curved housing.

  • Immersion Heaters

    Immersion heaters are used in applications that require immersing the heater in the substance to be heated.

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