When products or materials are confined to a large drum, it can be difficult to maintain warmth during the winter. Unfortunately, too much money is wasted on drum heating when a few changes in practice and additional knowledge can help lower the energy costs. Below is more information on how you can specifically reduce your drum heating costs:
Know your types of drum heaters
Drum heaters, sometimes called barrel heaters, are specifically designed to warm the contents of steel or polyethylene plastic drums. For the most part, drum heaters are available in two primary detachable configurations:
- Band heater – this type consists of a wide strap with embedded heating elements; the strap is wrapped around the drum and fastened.
- Jacketed heater – the jacketed heater adds another dimension to the band heater by providing an integrated, insulated covering that surrounds the drum.
Of the two, band heaters are typically the least-expensive to purchase, while jacketed heaters are the highest priced. However, it's important to remember that equipment cost alone shouldn't be the sole determining factor when selecting drum heaters. The overall cost of drum heating can only be reduced by adhering to sound operating practices. Below are four considerations that will help you lower your drum heating costs:
Use natural heating whenever possible
The first thing you should do is evaluate your available resources for heating drums. You may not have thought about it, but you have access to the best free heater available: the sun. Harnessing solar radiation can greatly lower your heating costs. Below are a couple of things you can do to use the sun's energy for heating:
- Place outdoor-kept drums in direct sunlight – if you store drums outside, try to place them where they will be exposed to sunlight for as long as possible. Just be sure that they are kept in a protected south-facing exposure, if possible, to avoid cooling from north winds.
- Use dark-colored drums – though it's not always possible, use black or other dark-colored drums since they absorb solar radiation much better than white or silver-colored drums. Work with suppliers to obtain dark colors, or consider painting your own drums if that is feasible.
Choose jacketed drum heaters
Jacketed drum heaters provide superior heating as compared to band heaters; they heat more quickly, are better at retaining heat, and cool down more slowly when turned off. All of those factors will lower your energy costs since less electricity will need to be utilized to maintain a consistent temperature level. The only drawback is that jacketed heaters are pricier up-front, so you need to balance the financial impact of purchasing jacketed heaters with the operational cost savings you will experience. If higher upfront costs are untenable, try to phase-in purchases of jacketed heaters over time as you remove band heaters from service.
Understand your materials' heat needs
It is important to have a thorough understanding of materials kept in drums and at what temperatures they should be kept. It is a waste of financial resources to heat materials far beyond the necessary level to maintain usability or integrity. As such, you need to conduct the necessary research with material manufacturers and other experts, such as chemical engineers, to make sure you aren't overheating drums. Maintain accurate heating data for all barreled products, and make sure that operational employees have access to data so that temperature controls are properly set.
Ensure your equipment functions properly
Once you know what temperature level is appropriate for your materials, properly adjusting heat settings and monitoring your drums is the next step. Some drum heaters come equipped with built-in temperature controls; others require an external connection to a thermostat or other control devices. Whichever option applies in your situation, be sure you have accurate, calibrated controls that align with desired temperatures. Replace or repair inaccurate or imprecise controls, and be sure that your temperature monitoring devices are also in-line with reality.
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