Why An Electrode Boiler May Be Right For Your Needs

When industrial and commercial boilers are brought up in conversation, the odds are high that most people think about them as oil or gas fired devices. While it is true that fossil-fuel powered boilers are still common, there are excellent alternatives for facilities managers and others who have a need for boilers. One technology that has emerged in recent years is electrode boilers. Below is more information about how electrode boilers from places like Nationwide Boiler function as well as several reasons why you might want to consider using one to meet your facility's needs:

What are electrode boilers and how are they different than electrical boilers?

An electrode boiler produces steam by heating feed water with direct contact with electrical current. Conventional electrical boilers, which are also less common than fossil-fuel units, send current through a resistant heating element which in turn transfers generated heat to the feed water. Electrode boilers "cut out the middle man" by eliminating a need for heating elements.

Advantages offered by electrode boilers

The concept behind the operation of electrode boilers is simple and effective, and it provides numerous advantages for users. Several of these advantages are detailed below:

  • Near-perfect energy efficiency - electrode boilers are able to rapidly transform electrical current to heat energy with close to 100% efficiency. That means that only the smallest amounts of electricity are lost during operation, and this benefit is compounded when boiler use is intermittent.
  • Rapid-response operation – electrode boilers are capable of generating steam and hot water within a short period of time. Conventional electric and fossil-fuel boilers take time to heat water to usable temperatures. This makes electrode boilers particularly suitable for applications where near-instant steam availability is a must.
  • Less-intrusive installations – if you are searching for temporary boiler capacity, then electrode boilers are a good fit due to their compact installation needs. Fossil-fuel boilers require fuel storage, transport and regulation equipment, as well as burner units themselves. All of those items are costly and take up space, and electrode boilers eliminate the need for their presence.
  • Less-expensive crewing – by eliminating fossil-fuel heating, an electrode boiler also provides a simpler operating platform that is accessible to a much wider range of users. This reduces your need to hire high-wage operating crews and allows you to train your own operators without the need for licensing and costly oversight.
  • Lower-profile operations – electrode boilers are quiet and emissions free at the local level. There is no smokestack present to serve as an eyesore or produce noxious combustion byproducts. In addition, eliminating loud burners makes for a less-obtrusive setting that is less-likely to disturb others in the vicinity.
  • Safe for operators and building occupants – since electrode boilers can't operate with the presence of feed water, they eliminate the possibility of explosions that can occur from firing an empty boiler. This self-regulating nature is a key safety advantage over all other types of boilers, including conventional electric units.

Considerations to keep in mind before obtaining an electrode boiler

With all of the advantages offered by electrode boilers, it is difficult to find reasons where they are not an ideal fit for most any operation. However, it is important for would-be users to understand all the possible angles and potential considerations posed by the use of electrode boilers:

  • Scale formation lessens efficiency – with electrode boilers, internal scale formation can greatly hinder operating efficiency. It is vital that electrodes be kept clean; otherwise, they will serve as an electrical insulator and prevent the free flow of current across the feed water.
  • Constant use scenarios – even though electrode boilers are highly efficient, they do consume a greater amount of electrical energy when in constant operation for lengthy periods of time. An electrode boiler is perfect when steam needs to be produced quickly and for short periods of time, but you may want to compare other alternatives if you expect long, continuous run times.
  • High-voltage and amperage considerations – some electrode boilers utilize electricity that is being fed into units at thousands of volts under high amperage conditions. The potential hazards associated with this type of current cannot be overstated, and there must be an appropriately designed and monitored means of transferring electrical current into the boiler. Otherwise, the risk of electrocution or electrical fires can become too great to permit operation.