Band heaters have been around for a long time. For a while, people mistakenly viewed them as the only option for heating a drum, bucket, or barrel. But, if you’ve ever used them, you know that no one likes them. They get too hot and burn product. They are unreliable. The thermostats are unpredictable and will over-heat. And, the life expectancy is short.
By design, a band heater will provide a lot of heat in one, centralized location of the drum, bucket, or barrel, and that is not good. The extreme heat causes burnt and overheated product while leaving the rest of the container unheated and unprotected. This makes it virtually impossible to uniformly heat your container and maintain optimal temperature.
A blanket-type heater is an alternative to band heaters and I recommend it for a drum heater or bucket heater. This style of heater wraps the drum or bucket completely, offering uniform heat top to bottom. This helps provide consistent heat everywhere while also insulating your product from the wind, cold, and other unfavorable ambient conditions.
The spray foam industry has used band heaters for many years as most of their product is housed and transported in drum, bucket, and tote containers. The Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA) also recommends the use of a heat blanket-type heater and to avoid the use of band heaters, “low heat flux blanket-type heaters work well to maintain drum temperatures. Avoid use of band-type heaters or other high heat flux heaters.”
Heating blanket-type drum heaters are also more efficient at heating than a band heater. The data below details the results of a comparison test between a 720 watt blanket-type drum heater and a 1200 watt 4” silicone band heater. Each heater was used to heat a 55 gallon barrel filled to capacity with water. Beginning temperature prior to heating was 32 degrees F.
The results show the water heated with the 4 inch silicone band heater reached a maximum temperature of 61 degrees F above ambient temperature in approximately 42 hours. After removing electrical power from the heater, the water temperature fell to the ambient temperature of 34 degrees F in approximately 33 hours. The blanket-type drum heater heated the water to 70 degrees F above ambient temperature in approximately 22 hours. With an additional 72 hours the water reached a steady state temperature of approximately 110 degrees F above ambient temperature. After removing electrical power from the heater the water temperature dropped to the ambient temperature of 34 degrees F in approximately 164 hours.