Steam industrial unit heaters use the hot water from a pre-existing steam system to provide heat to an isolated area.
A common example would be a factory that already has a steam plant for production processes. Since steam is already being produced at high volumes, it can be shared with the unit heater and provide heat to the room.
Now that you've selected the application and fuel for your unit heater, it's time to choose those final specifications!
Choosing a Heat Exchanger Material
In most cases, you will have an option of choosing between two heat exchanger materials, copper or cupro-nickel.
Copper is the most common metal used for steam unit heater heat exchangers. Rather than using corrosion-susceptible steel like other unit heaters, steam unit heaters benefit from corrosion-resistant metals like copper, especially in factory settings where humidity may build up easily.
While copper is resistant to corrosion, it is relatively soft, making them not suitable for high-pressure steam systems. If you have a standard, low-pressure steam system, copper is the best choice for you.
Cupro-nickel is an alloy that maintains the corrosion resistance of copper, but also has improved stability - especially at high temperatures. This serves particular importance in high-pressure steam applications, where temperatures can reach extremes. The typical example of this would be a factory or large workshop connected to a commercial or industrial steam plant.
If you have a steam system with a PSI greater than 150, you'll want to go with cupro-nickel. Otherwise, you likely won't notice much of a difference compared to copper except a higher price tag. If you don't know the pressure of your steam system, you can always check the pressure gauge on your boiler.
Choosing an Orientation
Because steam unit heaters don't include a combustion site (i.e. a flame), they can be angled in more ways than a gas- or oil-fired unit heater. Industrial steam unit heaters come in both horizontal and vertical orientations, and your application will dictate which makes the most sense for you.
In most cases, horizontal will be the orientation that provides the best comfort.
Horizontal unit heaters blow air outward from one side of the room to the other.
Especially effective when placed at the far end of a room or in rooms with low ceilings, horizontal Industrial steam unit heaters will provide broad coverage across your entire space.
Vertical unit heaters direct heat downward and allow it to spread out horizontally through natural dispersion.
The primary applications for a vertical orientation would be spot heating or heating spaces with very high ceilings. By pushing air downwards rather than across, you can ensure complete coverage of your space before the heat rises back to the ceiling.
If you know you're only working in one part of the room for the majority of the time or your ceiling is relatively high, vertical unit heaters would be a great fit for you.