Heating Considerations for Cold Climate Operations

As summer comes to a close, cold climate operations need to prepare for the coming water. Colder climates present challenges for projects across all sorts of industries. Preparing for the upcoming challenges now decreases the impact and costs of their impact.

Passive Freeze Protection

From pipelines to storage tanks, freeze prevention is an important consideration in any cold climate operation. When fluids begin to freeze they can become damaged as well as damage equipment. As well, they experience stopped or reduced flow, affecting operations. Freeze damage can be costly, time-consuming, and dangerous.

Fortunately, there are many simple and effective options for freeze prevention. The use of antifreeze can help prevent total freezing, however, it is not suitable for all projects and may still result in partial freezing and disrupted flow rates.

Insulation is an effective passive method to reduce freezing risks. It requires no energy or additive and helps to maintain temperatures at no cost after install. Still, it is important to pick the right insulation materials and to carefully inspect them, especially as the colder seasons approach.

These passive methods of freeze protection help reduce the costs of heating and risks of freezing. However, in cold climates, they are typically not enough on their own.

Active Freeze Protections

Storage Tanks

Storage tanks are often especially vulnerable to freezing. Outdoor tanks, in particular. With little or no flow in the tank, stored mediums can freeze quickly without the right equipment. 

In addition to insulation, the best practice is to use storage tank heaters. In this practice, immersion heaters are submerged in the tank, providing direct heating. Using direct heat means maximum efficiency making these heaters extremely responsive to temperature drops, bringing the target medium above its freezing temperature quickly.

Smaller tanks typically use screw plug heaters which are extremely efficient. Electric flanged heaters are more appropriate for large storage tanks, offering custom heater element configurations to ensure even heat spread.

Freeze prevention heaters do not operate constantly. Instead, they monitor temperature levels and engage whenever they drop below a preset threshold. The temperature setting can be chosen to match the needs of any medium. Once the temperature drops too low, the heater kicks in and brings it back above the freeze point. This method keeps heating costs low, running the immersion heater only when necessary.


Active freeze prevention in piping most often relies on either pipe heaters or heat tracer cables. Trace cables are a cheap and quick-to-install solution. The cables run along the outside of the piping and provide indirect heat. This position, however, leaves it vulnerable to damage from inclement weather. Although the cables are easily damaged, they are also easy and cheap to replace.

Pipe heaters are more protected from external forces. They are welded into the piping, offering greater protection and more efficient heating. Although the installation is more involved, they last much longer and are less prone to failure or damage.

Cooling Towers

Cooling towers are unable to use antifreeze in their basins. As such, immersion heaters are especially important. Most often, they use screw plug heaters. These heaters are welded directly into the tanks with a threaded coupling. They are capable of reaching target temperatures efficiently, quickly, and with high precision.

Electric Heaters

Electric heaters are quickly becoming the preferred option for most heating applications. They are more efficient, more environmentally friendly, have greater lifespans, and reach target temperatures faster and more accurately. In cold climate applications, these benefits are even more important. 

Temperature drops can occur quickly, and a rapid-response heater is the best chance to prevent freezing. As well, electric heaters help to keep your heating and maintenance costs down all season long.

Smart Control Panels

Automated control panels are important for maximizing efficiency and keeping your heating systems responsive. Paired with monitoring equipment like thermocouples and on/off switches they keep your process running smoothly and safely, with low operating costs.

To manage inclement weather in cold weather climates, Wattco digital control panels are available in any NEMA rating. They can be resistant to water, dust, ice, and even explosions.

Cold Climate Heater Quotes

Wattco custom manufactures electric industrial heaters for all climates and major industries. Our team of engineers works with you to select the ideal heater types, designs, and configurations to match your project’s needs and budgets.

Contact Wattco today for electric heater quotes and information.