There are many heater manufacturers and what can seem like an endless array of heater design options. Each of these myriad designs was conceived with a particular application, environment or budget in mind. Here is a review of a few important factors to consider when comparing heater types and heater options.
Cost is always a factor for any purchase; however, the true cost of a heater is more complex than just the initial purchase price. The tradeoff between capital costs, operating costs and long-term maintenance costs must be considered in a proper evaluation. A well-designed and engineered heating system may cost more initially than an off-the-shelf heater, or one with a lower efficiency. However, the less expensive options can become far more expensive than you think. Once operating costs such as fuel costs, thermal fluid replacement, parts and maintenance begin to accumulate over the first years of use, the initial purchase price savings may not seem as significant. Fuel efficiency requirements vary depending on fuel type, fuel availability, application and run times.
A simple process requiring low supply temperatures and an inexpensive thermal fluid may not demand a customized, highly efficient system. In these cases, a less expensive heater option may be ideal. In direct contrast, a more complex or demanding application requiring high temperatures and a more expensive fluid will certainly see the benefits of a properly designed, engineered heating system. The difference in cost for a system designed specifically for an application with higher efficiencies, higher heating temperatures, or heavy-duty operation typically can be made up in short payback periods when looking at the total equipment operating costs.
It is important to pay close attention to the method of fuel efficiency calculation used by different vendors. These numbers can be skewed based on the chosen method of calculation, and seemingly small differences in efficiency can actually represent large differences in operating cost. Compare carefully, and do not be afraid to ask potential vendors to explain their efficiency claims, support their design calculations and guarantee the stated efficiency at your operating conditions.