An Ultimate Guide to Cartridge Heaters and Tubular Heater


What to Know About Cartridge Heater?

Let’s start by shedding light on the cartridge heater. A cartridge heater is a specialized type of heating element used in industrial settings. This is a cylindrical heater designed to fit into drilled holes, available in multiple sizes for perfectly fitting in the drills.

It has key components like a resistive wire, metal sheath, power pins, insulation, and a sealed end. The metal sheath houses the resistive wiring, carefully insulated for electrical safety. The heater has a smart design with an electrical connection that links the heating wire to power pins. It comes with wire leads for an external power supply. This well-thought-out design ensures controlled and efficient heating, making cartridge heaters important for many industrial processes.

Read this article to learn more about cartridge heaters!

What is a Tubular Heater?

Tubular heaters are versatile heating elements extensively used for both immersion and air heating purposes. These heaters serve various applications, including clamping onto vessels and tanks, integration into milled groove platens, immersion in liquids, or mounting within ducts for air and gas heating. Similar to cartridge heaters, tubular heaters come in single and double-ended variations.

Inside, tubular heaters have a coiled Nichrome wire as the heating part, securely welded to pins at both ends. The heater has a wire in the middle surrounded by MgO (magnesium oxide) in a sheath. This helps stabilize the coil and improve heat transfer. Moreover, this design makes tubular heaters efficient and Differences between Cartridge Heaters and Tubular Heaters?

Now, let’s dive into the key differences between cartridge heaters and tubular heaters to help you understand which one might be the right fit for your specific application.

Function of cartridge  and tubulat heater

The intended uses of cartridge and tubular heaters are where they diverge most. Cartridge heaters offer high watt densities in a small package and are intended for localized heating applications. They are, therefore, appropriate for uses where focused and accurate heating is necessary.

Conversely, tubular heaters are designed for more general uses and provide even heating across larger areas, which makes them perfect for situations requiring even heat distribution.

Materials Used of cartridge  and tubulat heater

Let’s discuss some of the materials commonly used in the manufacturing of cartridges and tubular heaters.

Sheaths of cartridge  and tubulat heater

Covers, or sheaths, are essential for heaters. Special alloys like Incoloy or stainless steel are used in the cartridge and tubular heaters. Tubular heaters may have copper or low-carbon steel covers for water heating when working with materials such as tar or asphalt. The heaters are reliable and adaptable for a range of industrial applications thanks to their diverse cover materials.

Electrical leads of cartridge  and tubulat heater

For cartridge heaters, there are wires going to one end with heat-resistant insulation. Tubular heaters usually have electrical ends on both sides. These ends can have wires, but often, they have separate terminals kept away from the heater by insulation. While you can customize tubular heaters to have wires on one end like cartridge heaters, it’s not the usual setup.

Fins of cartridge  and tubulat heater

One clever way to improve heat transfer with tubular heaters is to add fins. Fins are added to standard tubular heaters using a specialized machine, increasing their heat-releasing efficiency. Whether they are heated by forced air or by natural air movement, this makes them function better.

Mounting of cartridge  and tubulat heater

Cartridge heaters are often put in holes that go all the way through materials, not just partway. This is done to make it easier to put them in and take them out, especially if there’s rust or debris. Using holes that go all the way through helps with installing and maintaining cartridge heaters in industries, making things simpler and more efficient.

Moisture seals of cartridge  and tubulat heater

Hygroscopic MgO insulating material is used in cartridge and tubular heaters. Therefore, they are not totally sealed against moisture. Special sealing materials like silicones, RTV, or epoxies may be employed in high humidity conditions to lessen the possibility of moisture-induced short circuits, even if they can self-dry when triggered.

To guarantee heating components’ best performance and longest lifespan, it’s essential to thoroughly evaluate and adjust them depending on the unique environmental circumstances.

Sheath forming of cartridge  and tubulat heater

Cartridge heater sheaths get their optimal cylindrical shape through a technique called cold swaging, similar to wire drawing. In contrast, tubular heater sheaths undergo roll-reducing and annealing to ease work hardening.

Both can be bent, but care must be taken to avoid breaking them when doing so in the field or during production. For heating elements with tight bends, special dies might be needed to ensure the dielectric strength of the MgO insulation. The effectiveness and longevity of cartridge and tubular heaters in a variety of applications are enhanced by these unique sheath-forming techniques.

Price of cartridge  and tubulat heater

Cartridge heaters can cost anywhere from $6 to $64, while tubular heaters have a smaller range of $26 to $66. The price difference is because of design complexity, materials used, manufacturing methods, and features tailored for specific industries.

The narrower range for tubular heaters might mean more standardized options, while the wider range for cartridge heaters indicates more variability and customization choices. To decide which is cost-effective, consumers should consider these factors and their specific heating requirements.

Size of cartridge  and tubulat heater

Cartridge heaters are straight tubes with diameters from 6.3 mm to 32 mm and lengths from 35 mm to 1500 mm. Tubular heaters are flexible and can be shaped into curves and various forms. They come in a wide range of lengths and diameters.

This flexibility, especially in creating spiral tubes, allows them to deliver more power in tight spaces while distributing the heat consistently. Tubular heaters, with their different sizes, are more versatile and suitable for a broader range of industrial heating needs compared to the more standard sizes of cartridge heaters.

Cartridge Heater vs. Tubular Heater – Which One to Choose and Why?

Cartridge heaters have distinct advantages that make them the preferred choice in certain scenarios. Their simpler shape allows them to deliver more heat per surface area often than tubular heaters. This is because the heating elements in cartridge heaters can be closer to the sheath surface, unlike tubular heaters, where the wire might need to bend or adjust to different shapes.

As a consequence of their simple geometry, cartridge heaters can be fabricated in diameters down to about 1/8 inch, whereas the minimum diameter for tubular heaters is usually 1/4 inch. This makes cartridge heaters the go-to solution for applications where space constraints are paramount.

However, it’s crucial to note that the choice between cartridge heaters and tubular heaters depends on the specific requirements of the application. For instance, if uniform heating over a larger area is essential, tubular heaters might be the more suitable option despite their slightly higher cost and larger size.


Is it Possible to Bend a Cartridge Heater to Fit a Specific Shape?

It is not advisable to bend a cartridge heater, as it is a rigid structure. Trying to bend it can damage internal components and affect its function. If you need a heater for custom shapes, it’s better to consider tubular heaters. Unlike cartridge heaters, tubular heaters are designed to be flexible and can be bent or shaped to fit specific spaces or applications while still performing well.

Can Cartridge Heaters Be Employed for Heating Liquids Directly?

Cartridge heaters are not recommended for touching liquids directly because they have a lot of heat in a small area. They work well for heating solid things but can get too hot or make liquids boil quickly.

Liquids don’t spread heat as well as solids, so it might damage the cartridge heater or change the liquid. It’s safer to use immersion heaters or devices made for heating liquids to avoid problems and get the best performance.

Are Tubular Heaters Suitable for High-Temperature Applications?

Yes, tubular heaters, especially those made from materials like Incoloy, are good for high temperatures. They’re strong and can handle elevated temperatures well, making them a dependable choice for different industrial processes.

Wrap Up!

Choosing between Cartridge Heaters and Tubular Heaters depends on what you need. Cartridge Heaters are great for precise, quick, and high-temperature tasks. On the other hand, Tubular Heaters are excellent when you need even heating over a bigger area.

For customized heating solutions, check out HASTECO. They’re a top provider of heating elements, offering a variety of cartridge and tubular heaters that cater to different industry needs.



Sales representive Luke


As the devoted CEO of Hasteco, I've spent countless years nurturing my passion for heating elements. Warmly inviting you to connect & collaborate for cozy, tailor-made solutions. Get in touch!

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