Tubular Duct Heaters

Whether it’s an open coil duct heater, a tubular or a finned tubular duct heater, each duct heater serves the main purpose which remains the same – to heat up a large area in the most efficient and economical method. However, the type may vary based on their construction, advantages, disadvantages and functionality differences.

Construction and Working of Duct Heaters

Tubular duct heaters are electric heat transferring products whose construction is composed of various components that include a terminal housing, individual elements and controls. At the tubular center, it has a heating resistive wire made of chrome and nickel alloy. Magnetic contactors can be present to ensure full power cut-off when needed. The power wiring is also set to standard values to meet your industrial requirements. An airflow switch is present to provide proper air flow near the heating elements. An automatic switch is present called primary thermal switch which is used to stop the whole unit when the temperature limit is reached to maximum value. As soon as the value of temperature comes below the maximum limit, the switch is reset on its own. Similar switch is present which is operated manually. It is called secondary thermal cut-off. A disconnect switch is present to interrupt the electric power supply at the time of heater’s service and maintenance. There is another relay whose purpose is to make sure the fan is ready and energized before the heater. This relay is called fan interlock relay. The duct heater has bushings to bear the mechanical stress on device. These bushings are made of steatite ceramic due to its high value of dielectric strength and resistivity to mechanical and thermal shocks. The terminals of open coils are composed of steatite as well, while those of tubular duct heaters are not. This way these insulators give secure and safe electrical power transfer between elements and the control panel. A transformer is also present with a primary voltage rating of 120-600 volts. To protect the aluminum and copper wires, there is a protective covering in the form of a terminal block made of stainless steel. A ground connection is also present for extra safety.

Types of Duct Heaters

There are various types of duct heaters. Some of the commonly used duct heaters are named below.

  • Tubular Duct Heaters
  • Finned Tubular Duct Heaters
  • Open Coil Duct Heaters

Constructional Difference between Tubular Duct Heaters and Finned Tubular Duct Heaters

The main difference are the fins that are present around tubular elements. Each fin wraps around the tubular element in order to maximize the surface area of a tubular element. The heat that is generated is then dissipated more quickly and, increases the life of the tubular element. Steel fins are normally used in cases where there is low moisture areas. They are also a good heat transfer source as oppose to stainless steel fins. Stainless steel fins have other advantages such as their rigidity in processes that have more vibrations.


The following dimensions are same for all tubular heaters Diameter of Tube (inches)– 0.260, 0.315, 0.375, 0.430, 0.475 The most commonly used are 0.315 inches and 0.430 inches. However, the extra dimension added in this type of tubular heater is that of fins. Typical Thickness of Fin (inches)– 0.020 Typical Number of Fins/ inch– 5 Typical Width of Fin (inches)– 0.375


The following dimensions may be changed as per individual requirements. Total value of Square Inch/linear inch-8.30, 9.20, 10.10, 10.83, 11.60 Maximum length of Sheath (inches) – 240 Minimum length of Sheath (inches)– 11 Outer diameter of Fins (inches)– 1.01, 1.07, 1.13, 1.18, 1.23


Shown below are the maximum values of voltage for duct heaters. Maximum value of Voltage (volts)-120, 240, 300, 480, 600


Maximum value of wattages can be: Maximum value of Wattage (watts)-3600W, up to 2 MW

Favorable Features of Tubular Duct Heaters

The tubular duct heaters provide a great mechanical strength, preferable for harsh environments.

  • They are not prone to moisture and dust that easily.
  • These duct heaters are quite easy to mount.
  • They are durable and require easy maintenance
  • The presence of variety of termination styles makes this heater flexible in use.

Control Details

There are two main factors which greatly control the reliability of these tubular duct heaters. They are: -Watt Density -High watt densities offer quick heat by calculating the amount of wattage over a surface area. For applications that require quick heating time, a high watt density is desired. In those cases however, the life of the heater might be shortened as per the laws of thermodynamics. -Material of sheath -This factor is of critical significance for two major reasons. The first one is the temperature of operation. The second one is related to material corrosiveness under which the heater will work. Given below are certain temperature values at which the heater is safe to operate. Material of the Sheath- Steel, Copper, Incoloy, Stainless Steel Operating Temperatures (F) – 750, 350, 1500, 1200

Clearance of Duct Heaters

Those duct heaters whose power rating is 50 KW or less are suitable for installation in places where there is no distance between the combustible materials and heater. While, those who have ratings that exceed 50 KW must be placed with minimum spacing.

Industrial and Commercial Applications

Tubular Duct Heaters may be used in many industrial applications to ensure constant heat provision. A few of these applications include: painting, load banks, process heating: Finned Tubular duct heaters are used in demanding applications such as dirty locations or when airflow is not uniform. Rugged construction eliminates hazard of electric shock Explosion proof environments for hazardous locations. Process air duct heaters designed for ovens, autoclaves and other forced air industrial systems for drying, baking or heat treating.

Heaters in Commercial Refrigeration

These heaters are used in commercial refrigeration to prevent freezing.

Industrial Forced Systems

The duct heaters are readily used in industries where forced air system is needed. It can be used there for heating, drying and baking purposes. Other applications include:

  • Heating of platens and molds
  • convection or radiation methods of heating
  • Air Dryers
  • Load Banks- Resistive
  • Industrial ovens
  • Industrial cabinets
  • Preheating
  • Reheating
  • Laboratory testing


The tubular duct heaters offer a number of options. They are:
  • Linear cutouts
  • Airflow switches
  • Fan relays
  • Thermal cutouts
  • Magnetic contactors
  • Pilot lights
  • Pilot Switches
  • Pneumatic Switches
If you want to increase the efficiency and functionality of your business with the perfect custom build duct heating solution for your industry, contact us at the given details below and make sure you have the duct heater your industry needs.


At Wattco, we have a dedicated team of experts ready to provide you with the answers and assistance you need. Whether you're a seasoned professional looking for technical specifications or in maintenance inquiring about our products, our team of knowledgeable professionals is here to help. 

  • Can be designed for up to 2 MW of power on voltages up to 600V, 1 or 3 Phase
  • Sheath thickness of the elements are 035 inch for excellent heat transfer
  • Brackets are evenly spaced every 12 inches to rigid and sturdy installations.
  • Digital controls, Contactors, Relays, SCRs available for the most accurate temperature readings
  • Disconnecting switches, airflow switches to help control unexpected pressure drops
  • Fuse blocks and optional fuses available for low resistance and cool operations.
  • Highest quality copper stranded wiring is used with wiring diagrams
  • Manual reset limit thermal cutout is used to prevent excessive temperatures with this the terminal housing
  • Tubular Duct Heaters are rigid to withstand harsh environments
  • They can be used as supplemental duct heaters to an existing system
  • Typically used for outdoor applications or in environments that are too harsh for open coil elements
  • Can be manufactured in Steel, Stainless Steel, Incoloy or Titanium materials
  • Reinforced frame allows for minimum vibration and elevated temperatures
  • Sturdy support brackets allow for easy replacement of elements when needed