Wattco Immersion Heaters: A Guide

Immersion Heaters

circulation heater horizontal

Immersion heaters are some of Wattco’s most popular products. They are one of the best heating solutions available due to their precision, efficiency, and low maintenance costs. Immersions heaters, according to their names, are directly immersed in the substance being heated. This direct contact between the heating element and the item being heater means that only a minimal amount of energy is lost during the heating process.

Wattco’s immersion heaters are valued by our clients for their quality, efficiency and cost. We produce our heaters in-house and have a range of solutions available for any industry. From fully custom builds for complex projects to more cost-effective pre-built solutions, we are capable of meeting any requirement. We even offer a special rush order system to deliver customized replacements in under 2 weeks from the order date.

Our heaters come from a variety of materials and can use a number of unique customizations.

Immersion heaters can provide a number of different configurations, depending on the situation and end goal of the process. For detailed information on how our immersion heaters can be ordered and customized, please refer to our guide.

There are also several implementations of immersion heaters available depending on your situation including tank heaters, flanged heaters, circulation heaters, over the side heaters and screw plug heaters. For more details on each heater type, click on their names to skip ahead to that section.  

Electric heaters vs. other heating types

Unlike other forms of heating, such as gas heaters, electric heaters need no further form of energy than electricity. All industrial processing facilities require at least electricity in order to function. So that means that electric immersion heaters can be added to almost any industrial processing facility with little to no installation or support costs.

In fact, our clients frequently experience large improvements in the efficiency of their heating systems after installing a Wattco immersion heater.  

1. Heating Efficiency Advantageswattco heater

Electric resistance heating, the method by which all electric heating methods work, is 100% efficient. Using the correct term, electric heaters operate at nearly 1– AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency). All of the electrical energy used is turned into heat.

When compared to an alternative such as natural gas, the advantages of electric heating are obvious as heat created by burning natural gas is only on average 32-38% efficient. That means that 60-70% of the potential energy in natural gas is lost and is not used to produce heat. However, the question as to are electric heaters more efficient than their counterparts is more complex than that.

While the actual creation of heat during the industrial process is 100% efficient, getting that electricity to you and how that electricity is made can also factor in. As electricity is transmitted, some of it is lost. The amount of loss varies state by state, with Wyoming being the lowest and Idaho being the highest. The amounts range from 2.2% to 13%. Why do this matter to an industrial facility? Because you’re charged by the electricity company for the amount of electricity that they had to lose while shipping it to you. In general, the more remote your facility, the more you’ll have to pay for the same amount of electricity.

Energy Transportation & Distribution

Natural gas also has to be shipped and, like electricity, some of it is lost in transmission. In a study by the EPA, it was found that 1.5-2.5% of natural gas is lost in transmission. This means that there is slightly less loss of ‘fuel’ when using natural gas compared to electricity. However, since you only get 32-38% efficiency out of that fuel when it is actually used for heating, the cost of electric heating for industrial processes is typically lower than natural gas.

At the end of the day, however, it will depend on the relative costs of electricity vs other fuel sources in your area. We would like to note, however, that the fixed costs of installing any additional electrical lines necessary to power an industrial electric heating system will likely be much lower than the costs of installing a whole new fuel system as you would for natural gas or other fuel sources. However, that advantage will be discussed in greater detail in the ‘total cost’ section.

However, our heaters don’t just improve the efficiency of industrial processes, they also work to improve maintenance requirements and overall cost.  

2. Maintenance advantages

Since they are immersed directly in the substance being heated, all immersion heaters will require regular maintenance. This is to ensure that the heating system meets safety requirements and also that it continues to work as efficiently as possible. This is the same for any immersion heating system. One of the largest advantages of electric heaters comes from maintenance savings in the required infrastructure.

Natural gas and other similar heating systems require extensive fuel circulation systems. Some even require onsite storage. The cost of this additional infrastructure is an important consideration when deciding on a natural gas vs. electric immersion heater. Each part of a natural gas distribution system will require regular maintenance and upgrades.

Electric heaters, on the other hand, require significantly less supporting infrastructure. Put frankly, electrical wiring is cheap to install and maintain and there is significantly less risk of catastrophic failure.

Safety Compliance & Maintenance

Another important factor in the reduced maintenance costs of Immersion heaters is the reduced amount of safety compliance required. Using natural gas or any other form of potentially explosive fuel source requires specific safety procedures to be put in place. This includes equipment costs as well as manpower costs in training and certification in order to safely allow natural in your facility. Since Immersion heaters use electricity, the safety framework required is significantly reduced. This helps reduce the overall maintenance costs of electric heaters vs. natural gas heaters.

While it may seem cheaper to use natural gas as a heating source, all costs need to be considered: the cost of getting the fuel source to the heaters, how efficiently the heaters use that fuel source and how much it costs to continue to use that fuel source (safety and infrastructure upkeep). We have established that electric heaters are more efficient at actually producing heat; they also cost less in regards to regular maintenance. The only advantage that natural gas has over electric heating is that sometimes the ‘fuel cost’ is slightly reduced.  

immersion heater3. Overall Cost Advantages of Electric Immersion Heaters

On top of the already noted cost savings from the use of electric immersion heaters, they also offer an advantage in terms of the upfront purchasing price.

  • Maintenance costs are less
  • Safety factors are reduced
  • Replaceable parts are less expensive and easily available
  • Electric heaters are more portable than gas heaters making them more practical for multiple tank operations

On average, electric immersion heaters cost 45% less than other forms of heaters to manufacture and install. This cost savings analysis is derived from:

  • Setup time: Especially concerning skid immersion heaters, the installation time for a new heater can be as little as 30 minutes.
  • Customization: Immersion heaters are easier to customize, as they do not rely on a more dangerous or restrictive form of fuel such as natural gas, this reduces the cost of building the immersion heater.
  • Build Time: Since there are fewer infrastructure concerns when building an immersion heater, the costs of building immersion heaters are reduced. Custom designed heating systems can be made quickly reducing mission critical downtime.
  • Highest grade of raw materials is always used.

When combined with the noted improvements to industrial processes and maintenance requirements, it is clear that installing electric immersion heaters can greatly affect the bottom line of any industry that requires immersion heaters.  

Flanged heaters

Flanged Heaters are a very adaptable form of immersion heater that can be used to heat up various tank systems. The heater is immersed directly into a portal in the tank and secured to the flange. They usually come integrated with a temperature probe. The probe can sync with a control panel to follow a heating protocol.

By installing similar sized portals in different tanks, you can allow for your flanged heater to be transferred from tank to tank based on need or to cycle out tanks for cleaning cycles.  

Screw plug heaters

Similar to a flanged heater, screw plug heaters are installed directly into a tank so that the heating elements are completely immersed. The main difference, however, is that instead of a flange, these heaters are screwed into place. This method of installation means that they can are easy to move between tanks, but its simplicity is the most attractive feature of this product. Thermostatic controls are integrated with the unit to allow direct control of temperature settings.  

Circulation heaters

Circulation Heaters are a variation of immersion heaters that are used in cases where a fluid is in circulation, hence the name. The heater connects directly to the pipe system being used. The fluid is temporarily routed out of the system and into the heater. It is heated and then transferred back to the main system.  

Over-the-side heaters

Over-the-side heaters are typically used in outdoor situations, where heating is required to combat shifts in weather. Over the side immersion heaters are attached to the side of large tanks so that the heating element can be immersed in the liquid.  

Unique considerations when choosing an immersion heater

Below you will find some of the unique considerations that you may have to deal with when deciding on an industrial heater:  

  • Desired temperature: The range of temperatures that you will need to reach and maintain will play a key role in what type of immersion heaters we recommend.
  • Type of medium being heated (ie. Water, Glycol etc…): Certain mediums are corrosive to different building materials. Luckily, the building material for a heater can be changed to accommodate corrosive mediums.
  • Temperature controls that are required: Industrial heating often requires highly specific temperature maintenance. Attaching a temperature control to the immersion heater can help automate the process.
  • How fast do you need the medium to reach its desired temperature?: This can also dictate the kind of heater that we will recommend.
  • What is your budget for the project?: Once we understand the budget that you have available, we will better be able to make recommendations to suit your needs.
  • What voltage is available?: Electric Immersion heaters do require specific amounts of voltage and they can be calibrated for different voltage types. Having this information ready means that we can recommend the ideal heater.
  • What amperage is available?: Similar to voltage, electric immersion heaters can be calibrated for different amperage level.
  • Is it in a standard or an explosion-proof environment?: Wattco immersion heaters can be customized to meet an array of safety standards. Let us know what specifications you need to meet.


The Wattco buying process

If you’re ordering a complex piece of machinery, like an immersion heater, it’s important to understand the process. For first time buyers, follow these steps to order your new immersion heater:

  1. industrial heaterQuote or contact submission on the website: If you have exact details as to the machinery you will need, we encourage you to submit a quote for the specific device you will need (circulation heater, screw plug heater, over-the-side heater or flanged heater). The quote process requires exact specifications in order to successfully submit, if you are unsure about a particular item, it may be better to submit a contact form. One of our specialists can walk you through the quote process. Alternatively, you may begin the process by calling us directly.
  1. Quote generation: Once the details of your requirements are settled, a quote will be generated for you. Typically this occurs within 24 hours of you submitting your request by phone or online.
  1. Sales order and approved drawings: Once you accept the quote, a sales order will be generated confirming the specifications, timelines and prices discussed. Upon request, we will also generate product drawings/designs.
  1. Credit approval process: The next step of the process involves confirming your credit in order to approve you for the purchasing amount.
  1. Production: Once the sales order is signed and you have been approved, production will begin. The time to completion may vary depending on the customization chosen, however, we typically complete production within 2 weeks of receiving approval to start.
  1. Shipping: Once the heater has been completed, it will be shipped, using the agreed upon shipping method, to the agreed upon shipping destination. We will include key information such as the purchase order number, packaging slip. We also offer setup and installation services on demand for more complex or custom products.