Although it may be more costly to operate than fuel-fired models, an electric boiler is popular because of its simplicity. Thermal efficiency is directly related to the cost of electricity. Although technically efficient and “green” due to its zero emissions from the burning of fuel, electric steam boilers can be expensive to operate. depending on the local electricity rates.
Packaged electric steam boilers are available to produce low- and high-pressure steam . They are often found in application-specific deployments, including food and beverage manufacturing or packaging. Electric boilers are also often seen in sterilization processes.
A large commercial fuel-fed steam boiler and a smaller electric boiler can compliment each other at the same location. Depending on steam requirements, which will typically be high in winter months, many facilities augment their steam plants with smaller electric units. When the demand for steam is lower, some plants will shut down their larger boiler and switch to their smaller electric unit. This may be to due to high fuel costs or the need for maintenance or repair. Regardless, don’t be surprised if two types of systems are present.
Although the main plant boiler usually supplies steam and hot water for comfort heating and humidification, there may be cases where it is cost-effective to install an electric boiler for localized heating in a plant expansion. Similarly, electric boilers are ideal for new process facilities where large, fossil-fueled boilers are impractical or not required.
Steam generation principles are essentially the same, with electric resistance heating elements that heat the water to produce steam. These units have many of the same operational components as conventional boilers, minus the burner, chimney, and exhaust stacks.
A common application for small commercial steam boilers is in light commercial settings, such as health spas, where there are often steam generators for use in steam rooms. A steam boiler is different than a steam generator, which is typically small-scale and is designed to handle a single limited application.
Maintenance on electric boilers is minimal beyond routine inspections of water levels and monthly inspections of wiring. As with all boilers, they do require scale control measures and periodic blowdowns to maintain their efficiency. Heating element replacement, when required, is easily accomplished through the boiler door.