Which Cartridge Heater Should I Use?

Without the humble cartridge heater, many of the modern amenities that we take for granted would simply not exist. These heaters are often used within food production facilities, chemical engineering plants, fuel cells, extrusion machines, die casting operations and numerous other sectors. As you may have already imagined, there are a number of different variants depending primarily upon their application and the environment where they will be utilised. It is therefore critical that the correct unit be chosen. Let us take a quick look at the main types available and the features of each one.

The Physical Environment

One aspect to consider is how the heater will be mounted within a specific device and the materials that it is in direct contact with. The main concern here is that some units may not adhere properly and as a result, leakage can occur. This is particularly the case if dissimilar metals such as aluminium or brass are present. Another issue is whether or not the heater will be exposed to contaminants. Some units are equipped with an anti-seize mechanism that helps to maximise bore integrity. Another advantage of this option is that less downtime will be required in the event that that cartridge heater needs to be serviced or replaced.


By their very nature, cartridge heaters will be exposed to high temperatures during typical operations. It is therefore critical that the correct type of sheathing is chosen, for this will have a direct impact upon the lifespan of the unit. There are several metals employed for this purpose. The most common are 304 stainless steel and 316 stainless steel. The latter choice has a higher temperature rating. However, there may also be instances when extremely high temperatures are encountered. The customer should therefore consider a unit sheathed with a superalloy known as Incoloy. Of course, it is best to consult with one of our experts to determine which option is the most appropriate for your requirements.

High Watt Density Heaters

Certain industries will require that a cartridge heater needs to respond quickly once it is activated. In such instances, those rated for higher wattages are frequently chosen. More reliable performance can be enjoyed and due to their fast response times, they are excellent choices within a high-production work environment. Typical examples of such needs include rubber manufacturing, the production of plastics and the packaging sector.

The Type of Lead Wire

This next variable once again revolves around the temperatures that the heater will be exposed to. Exceedingly high temperatures may cause common materials such as silicone rubber and silicone-impregnated fibreglass to fail, resulting in a loss of power. In the event that very high temperatures are present, it may be best to choose lead wires composed solely of fibreglass. Examples include the wiring harness within a motor vehicle and certain types of industrial applications.

Energy Efficiency

Conserving power is a concern within every sector and modern innovations have enabled some types of cartridge heaters to offer a more energy-efficient construction. This is normally a result of a material within the sheath that offers superior levels of thermal conductivity. There are two main benefits in this instance. First, better transmission rates signify that the heater will respond faster. Secondly, the entire unit tends to last longer. This maximises the return on investment (ROI) associated with such a system.

Choosing the right type of cartridge heater can be a bit challenging. It is always best to speak with a qualified professional in order to determine which variant is the most appropriate. We will be quite happy to address any questions that you have.

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