Finned Tubular vs Open Coil Heater Elements

Tubular Heating ElementsOne of the main components of an industrial heater is the heating element. The heater element transfers the heat to the target medium either through direct contact or from inside a protective sheath. 

Electric heating elements offer a high degree of customization with important and diverse uses. They can be built to withstand corrosive environments and temperatures up to 1600℉. Designs are variable as well. The two most common types for industrial use are finned tubular and open coil elements.

This article discusses the benefits of both types and their appropriate use.

Benefits of Finned Tubular Elements

Finned tubular heating elements are the most common heater element due to their versatility and reliability. They can provide effective heat transfer via conduction, convection, and radiation. Custom sizing, shaping, and materials allow for superior performance in any application.


The element coils of finned tubular heaters are insulated. This reduces unnecessary heat loss and increases safety. If the heater coils are in a position where they have the potential to come in contact with people, this insulation can prevent injury.


With their protective sheath and rugged design, tubular heater elements can withstand more. Their design aims for longevity and durability without sacrificing performance. 

If there is potential exposure to weather or physical contact, such as at a construction site, tubular elements are ideal.


Unlike their open coil counterparts, finned elements require mounting in a heater assembly. While this has some disadvantages in the extra cost and space the assembly requires, there are also benefits.

The assembly has a variety of mounting and material options that can make them safe and keep them out of the way of other operations. They also allow for easier removal and servicing of the heating elements. It also provides additional protection for (and from) the elements.

Benefits of Open Coil Elements

Open coil heater elements have open circuits, making them extremely efficient and cost-friendly. Their design offers minimal maintenance and fast heat-up times. Their most common application is in duct heaters, although they can be used in tank, pipe, and metal tube heating.

High Temperature

Open coil elements are capable of achieving high temperatures quickly. This means faster processes and short run times, making for efficient operations. 


These elements offer consistent, reliable performance. Not only offering efficient heating, but also uniform heat distribution – even over a large area. They are very low maintenance, and if problems do occur, replacements parts are inexpensive and easy to install.

Their special design makes these heater elements well-equipped to manage pressure drops and voltage spikes.

No Insulation

Because open coil heaters do not use insulation, they are extremely efficient. They have more direct contact with the target medium ensuring quick heating. This efficiency decreases operational costs, and the lack of insulation keeps the initial purchase cost lower.

The possible downside of no insulation is that the coils are exposed. This leaves them more vulnerable to damage from weather or physical contact. As well, the coils can present a danger to people. They are generally best used indoors and out of the way of machinery and people.

Electric Heater Element Quotes

Wattco custom manufactures electric finned tubular elements and open coil elements for industrial heating. Our team of engineers works with you to determine the right heater element type, configuration, materials and mounting for your project’s specific needs and budget.

Contact Wattco today for electric heater element quotes and information.