Why Use a Steam Boiler?

Steam boilers are, as their name suggests, a tool to create steam. A boiler transfers heat to water in order to create steam. This steam, in turn, is used to power an engine or industrial power station. Traditionally, these boiler systems have been used to power locomotive engines, though the technology was soon transitioned into industrial settings.

Today, the technology is still used because of the high volume of energy carried in a small amount of steam and cleanliness of the vapor released. Since the steam vapor is primarily water, it is non-toxic, non-flammable and safe. These steam systems, when used to heat, are less expensive with little to no waste. While steam boiler solutions can be expensive, companies like ESI Boiler Rentals have options available for rental while deciding what system is best.

Steam Boiler Options

While there are countless options in steam boiler systems, the primary two choices are watertube and firetube steam boilers. While both function traditionally, they use different kinds of internal heat sources to power the mechanism. In a watertube steam boiler, the water remains inside the tube surrounded by the by-products of combustion outside of the tubing. The by-products of heating, called “flue gas,” remain inside the mechanism.

In firetube steam boilers, water and flue gas locations are reversed. Flue gas, or by-products of the heating source, remains inside tubes while the surrounding water is heated to create energy. These systems are slightly more complicated, with three to four “pass-throughs,” where the flue gas moves between the water chambers.

While both watertube and firetube steam boilers are effective sources of energy, each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Watertube Steam Boilers

Watertube steam boilers, a safe and smaller volume design, support extremely high pressures. The mechanisms are also more durable with a longer lifetime if cared for correctly. Moreover, if working with a project with multiple stops and starts, a watertube boiler system re-heats quickly. If the current pressure is not sufficient, modifications can be made to increase the heat source, allowing more created steam and more power.

With these boiler systems, though smaller volume with a longer lifetime, maintenance issues are common and difficult to solve. However, pressure ratings listed on the mechanism are tangible and the watertube boiler is equipped to precisely follow load swings. For a varied project, this boiler system is the right choice.

Firetube Steam Boilers

Firetube steam boilers are smaller volume, lower capacity and lower pressure mechanisms. These systems require significant water since heat and flue gasses are carried within the tubing instead of water, and also require considerable time to start. However, for a consistent workload, the firetube system is ideal as it retains heat and maintains a steady output.

These systems also require less maintenance. The internal mechanisms are easily accessible and replaceable when necessary without causing additional issues with the machine. However, firetube steam systems are not equipped to handle high pressures and should always be operated lower than stated on the nameplate.

Which Should You Choose?

Comparing firetube and watertube boiler systems is not easy since the systems are already created for unique projects. Choosing a boiler is a difficult task, though understanding the mechanisms of each is instrumental in making a decision.

About ESI Rental Boilers

ESI Boiler Rentals, LLC, is a wholly owned subsidiary of ESI, the Steam and Power SPECIAL FORCES®. Our rental boilers are STATE-OF-THE-ART and quickly available for dispatch to your project location across North America. Our dedication to customer service is SECOND TO NONE in the Industry. We specialize in “No Hassle” Steam. Go online to request a quote at rentalboilers.com.

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