Band heaters have been around for a long time. They are often the go-to option for heating drums, buckets, or barrels. However, band heater users often have a few complaints. Band heaters create uneven heat and too often burn product, thermostats can be unpredictable and overheat, and their life expectancy can be relatively short. For those looking for other options, let’s take a look at some band heater alternatives.
By design, a band heater will provide a lot of heat in one, centralized location of the drum, bucket, or barrel. This extreme, uneven heat causes burnt and overheated product while leaving the rest of the container unheated and unprotected. This makes it virtually impossible to uniformly heat containers and maintain optimal temperature.
Alternative: Blanket and Wrap Heaters
A blanket-type heater can be a great alternative for heating barrels, buckets and drums. Look for heaters that wrap the drum or bucket completely and offer uniform heat from top to bottom. This style of heater offers two great benefits. First, the heat is even and constant (no more concentrated heat around a single band). Second, the bucket, barrel, or drum will be insulated by the wrap or blanket.
Comparison Test: Band vs. Blanket Heaters
Blanket-style heaters are more efficient at heating than band heater. Let’s take a quick look at 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. The temperature of the water prior to heating was 32 degrees F.
The water heated with the 4” 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.
This comparison test supports the ability of blanket heaters to reach higher temperatures more quickly. Additionally, it illustrates the insulation properties of blanket heaters. Compared to the band heater, the blanket heater kept the water warmer for much longer even after the electrical power was turned off.
Spray Foam and Blanket Heaters
The spray foam industry has used band heaters for many years; most of their product is housed and transported in drum, bucket, and tote containers. The Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA), however, recommends using a blanket-type heater. They also recommend avoiding 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.”
Flow-control solutions from Powerblanket are a great option for keeping spray foam containers at optimal, even temperatures.